Interviewee: Dick Pettigrew
Interviewer: Julian Pleasants
Date: May 23, 2001
P: Today is May 23, 2001. This is Julian Pleasants. I am in Miami, Florida, talking
with Dick Pettigrew. Would you tell me when and where you were born?
Pe: Yes. I am told [that] I was born in Charleston, West Virginia, at the Mountain
State Hospital that no longer exists there, on June 10, 1930.
P: Growing up, who influenced your character development and your values?
Pe: Obviously, my parents, and my mother's grandparents with whom I spent a lot of
time every summer. We would go up to northeast Tennessee to a little
community called Harrogate, which is the home of Lincoln Memorial University.
My grandfather was a former member, briefly, of the Tennessee legislature, [and]
very interested in politics. I spent a lot of time with him talking about politics. My
father was not that much involved in politics, although he had gotten into the
edges of it with a teachers' union back in the 1930s in Jacksonville. My mother,
of course, was deeply religious, and she had a considerable impact on my
P: You also had another ancestor, I believe, who was involved in South Carolina
Pe: Yes. Just how I am connected with James Louis Petigru (spelled the Huguenot
way) is not totally clear, but supposedly [he] is a part of the family tree, along with
General James Johnston Pettigrew [Confederate General in the Civil War],
who was on the left side of Pickett's Charge at Gettysburg and who was fatally
wounded in the retreat across the river back into Virginia.
P: I guess any side of Pickett's Charge would have been a bad side. When you
grew up, you did a lot of farmwork and worked in tobacco. How did that impact
Pe: My grandfather had a small allotment, like half or three-quarters of an acre I
forget what his allotment was up in northeast Tennessee, and that was his
cash crop. He paid his taxes and so forth on that crop, but he did not smoke and
he bitterly opposed any smoking by me. So I did not smoke until about my
twenty-first birthday. But I understood that the small farmers in northeast
Tennessee were dependent heavily on that crop and [the] allotment that each
farmer had, who had established an allotment. Otherwise, as soon as I learned
about the Surgeon General's report, I [quit] smoking, and after a while, I finally
quit when my last child was born. My wife and I both smoked, and when she got
pregnant with my son Grady.... She always quit smoking during pregnancy, in
fact, did not want to smoke. I committed that if she would not resume smoking, I
would quit, and we successfully pulled that off in 1965.
P: Talk a little bit about growing up during the Depression. Obviously, you were very
young. Did that have any influence on you?
Pe: I was part of the group of families that moved off the farm [and] into the city. We
lived in north Jacksonville, [near] Lem Turner Park, during much of the time that I
remember of my childhood, although I have vague recollections of Crystal River,
where we first moved, [and] where my brother James was born. Then we moved
up to Baldwin, outside of Jacksonville, where my father was teaching school. He
was actually a coach and teacher. Then he moved into Jacksonville, in the
northeast section initially, close into downtown, in Springfield. We rented a house
there for a year or so before I went to grammar school. Then we moved out to
Lem Turner Park, which was then outside of the city-limits of Jacksonville. We
had a large lot next door that my father owned, as well. We had a cow at various
times, and we had chickens, and we may have I do not think we ever had a
hog. My grandfather, of course, had hogs. So, I continued to have an association
with farming at that point. Then my father, when I went away to college, bought a
farm out in Mandarin, Florida, which is now a real-estate subdivision, but it had
citrus on it that was later frozen back and out. He ran cattle. When he died, we
planted it all in pine trees to maintain the agriculture] exemption. My mother was
living there alone for a period of time after my father's death in 1966. So, there
was another farming experience in the Mandarin area with citrus. My father grew
okra and a variety of fruits. Anyway, I always had some association [with farming]
until I moved to Miami.
P: When you were young, what sort of career plans did you have?
Pe: I was raised a Baptist with the Mainstream Baptist Church, and for a while when I
was nine, ten, or eleven [years old], something in that area, maybe a little later, I
had thought about becoming a medical missionary, of all things, to Africa. I
remember thinking about that. I went from that phase into an interest in politics, I
think because of my grandfather's influence.
P: I also read somewhere that you were influenced by corruption in Jacksonville
Pe: Yes. Jacksonville was notoriously corrupt at the time, and I was offended by that.
[I] thought people ought to try to correct those kinds of problems, so that helped
inspire me to public service, as well, [the idea] that people ought to get involved
and stop those kinds of things.
P: What kind of corruption and graft was going on? Do you have any examples?
Pe: Well, it later turned out that Haydon Burns, [Mayor of Jacksonville, 1949-64,
Florida governor, 1965-7] during his administration, there were all kinds of
kickback schemes involving the contractors who were building the toll roads
through this town.
P: Haydon Burns was then the mayor of Jacksonville.
Pe: He was a strong mayor. He ran to be a strong mayor, and he was a strong
mayor. The business community liked what he was doing from the standpoint of
infrastructure development of the city and that sort of thing. He had a close, cozy
relationship it appeared from afar and he was able to survive all of that and
go on to become governor. But his reputation was such that when he did the
road bond proposal statewide, which I supported, but Lawton Chiles and some
others fought successfully, it [the opposition] was because they were concerned
about [Burns] bringing his practices to the state road department.
P: Why did you decide to go to the University of Florida?
Pe: I had very little choice. I had to pay my own way, and I thought it was a good
institution, and it turned out to be so.
P: While you were there, you had to do a lot of work, did you not, to help pay the
Pe: Yes. I started out [working] in the cafeteria for my food and later became a
cashier in the Campus Club, which was the short-order place that people could
go [to] any time of day to get food. Then I worked as a dorm counselor initially,
and on the debate team, I was the debate manager and got a little money. So, I
did those kinds of things while at school, and then every summer, except for the
first summer when I went to summer school, I would take summer jobs to earn
some money so I would have spending money.
P: When you were at Florida, you were very active in campus politics.
Pe: Yes. I had worked an additional six months after graduating in June of 1948 from
Andrew Jackson High School. I went up to Harrogate, and my grandfather was
named acting-postmaster for a little post office there in Harrogate, and I became
his assistant. A little nepotism, and I earned enough money to have a little
spending money to go to college on. Back in those days, tuition was $50, and
you earned your dorm room by being a counselor, and you get your food, and
you are pretty well covered.
P: Now, your activity in politics, is this with an eye to a future political career, or
were you just interested in making decisions that would affect other students?
Pe: I think I was interested in a long term career. I got there in February in 1949, and
I immediately ran in the spring elections for freshman representative. There were
several representatives from the freshman class. Most of them who were running
had been there since the fall, so I was kind of behind schedule because I did not
know people that well. I did a lot of dorm visitation campaigning for it and
survived, [and] made it, along with someone with whom I had graduated at
Andrew Jackson High School who had moved on to Tampa. His name was
Terrell Sessums [Florida state representative, 1963-1974, Speaker of the Florida
House of Representatives, 1972-1974].
P: Later Speaker of the [State] House [of Representatives], as well?
Pe: Right. We were back-to-back Speakers. [Pettigrew, Speaker of the Florida House
of Representatives, 1971-2].
P: It is interesting to note, a lot of the individuals I have talked to, particularly Reubin
Askew [Florida governor, 1971-9; state senator, 1969-70; Florida state
representative, 1958-62], went to Florida and FSU [Florida State University,
Tallahassee] with the design of running for office [and] getting to know people.
That was certainly true of people like Bill Clinton [U. S. president, 1993-2001]. A
lot of people who have been successful politicians really started in college, did
Pe: Yes, they did. In those days, the University of Florida was such a pervasive
influence throughout the state that the networking you established there was very
important, and was very important later on when I made my bid to be Speaker of
the House. Being from Miami, at the time representing Miami was kind of like
being from the city of New York [and] going to [the] New York legislature. It is that
alien place that people are very suspicious of.
P: You thought you were like Al Smith [New York governor, 1919-1920, 1923-1928;
Democratic nominee for U.S. President, 1928], I guess, from the election of
Pe: [Laughs.] That is right.
P: When you were an undergraduate, what kind of student were you, and what
courses influenced your thinking?
Pe: I was fortunate to be taught by some great professors. "Wild Bill" Carleton taught
the introductory courses. He would lecture, and he was a very flamboyant but
very influential professor. Dr. Manning Dauer [Distinguished Service Professor,
Department of Political Science, 1933-1987] in political science I majored in
political science later was a significant influence and good friend for life. So,
Manning and "Wild Bill" Carleton were very important. Dr. Bartley was another,
and I am sure there are a number of others. There was a history professor, Dr.
[Ashby] Hammond. Then my debate team coach, his name will not come to me
P: What kind of student were you?
Pe: I was invited to Phi Kappa Phi because of my grades. I started off with a 3.96 my
first semester, and a 4.0 the summer-school thereafter. I maintained very good
grades the first two years, and then I got so enmeshed in politics that they came
off a little bit, but I still was at about a 3.4 [grade point] level when I finished half
of my senior year and then went into law school.
P: You started law school before you got your B. A.?
Pe: Right, and I had a disastrous first semester in law school because Terrell
Sessums was running for president of the student body and all that spring while I
was supposed to be becoming a first year law student, I was playing campus
politics, helping him get to be president. I was kind of one of the key figures for
him. I was the Phi Delta Theta political representative and very active with lots of
folks. Anyway, I kind of assumed I could do what I usually had done, which was
cramming, and law school was a little tougher than that. I learned that and had it
bad. I had been invited to join Phi Kappa Phi, the academic organization, and I
was not a Phi Beta Kappa, but the grades I made the second half of the last year,
what otherwise would have been my senior year, brought me down below. I did
not have the money to pay to join the organization at first when they had invited
me, and I was going to wait until I finished and got my B. A., and then I fell just
below by one point or something, or less than one point. Some way, I just missed
the cutoff. That was always a frustration, that I had not been able to pay at the
time to join that organization. That is kind of silly, but nonetheless, I was not a Phi
Beta Kappa, that is for sure.
P: Why did you decide on law school?
Pe: Because I thought it was important to a political career, as a good background for
it, and I was a debater and was interested in litigation.
P: You have a break in law school because you were in ROTC [Reserve Officer
Pe: Right. What happened was, I went back to law school that fall, and the fall
[student political] campaigns came up. I got involved in those a little bit after, you
know, insisting I was really going to get down to this law school business. Then I
had an appendicitis attack and was out [for about] three weeks. On top of the fall
political campaign, I suddenly realized I was in a bad situation. So, I transferred
back to undergraduate school and finished my B. A. and then went off to service.
P: Was that voluntary?
Pe: Yes, voluntary. I foresaw that I had gotten too far behind already in the second
semester of law school, and I knew I was under-the-gun to do better.
P: You ended up going to Air Force photo interpretation school, is that correct?
Pe: Yes, I did. Air photographic intelligence school and radar intelligence schools, all
out at Lowry Air Force Base in Denver. In my second year, I got married and took
off to Korea.
P: This is after the truce?
Pe: This was after the truce. The truce was in effect. We were replacing people who
were there [when] the truce came into effect, so I guess the truce was in [effect].
I went in 1954. I think it was April.
P: 1953, yes.
Pe: I went into the service in 1953, and then I had a year of training. I thought I would
not be going to Korea because of the truce, but then got word that I was being
sent. The odd thing was [that] my wife's uncle was [a] chief congressional
supporter he had an automobile dealership in Charleston, South Carolina of
L. Mendel Rivers, who was a congressman there at that time.
P: L. Mendel Rivers [Lucius Mendel Rivers, U. S. Representative from South
Carolina, 1941-1970; South Carolina state representative 1933-1936].
Pe: Yes. [He was the] number two [in charge], I think, in the Armed Services
Committee in the House. Some of the family suggested that Mendel could get me
out of going to Korea and had made some contact, without my knowledge, to his
office. When I learned of it, I was horrified, and I called up there and said [that]
under no circumstances do I want any change made in my assignments. So, I
went on to Korea.
P: You were there about, what, eight months and were at the DMZ [demilitarized
Pe: I was near the DMZ. I was at K14, which is about fourteen miles south. It was the
main airbase from which most of the aces in that war flew. They were still flying
along the DMZ and along the east and west coasts of North Korea with a black
photography, so we were examining that photography. The thing I remember so
distinctly was that when we replaced all these people who had been sitting there
since the truce, [who] had been doing photo interpretation, [we found] they had
not been doing anything. We found all kinds of facilities that they were supposed
to have been noticing for months that had been reconstructed.
P: Plus, things were still very tense then.
Pe: Things were very tense. Virtually the first night I got there, we had an air-raid
alarm, and Bed-Check-Charlie [term for North Korean planes] was still coming
down testing air defenses and flying near the base, and we all had to get out in
our trenches. That was an interesting experience.
P: Were you glad for the opportunity to travel and live in Asia?
Pe: I thought it was a great experience. I did not get to see much of Korea. I went into
Seoul once but did not get to see much other than the countryside and the rice.
The honey buckets that would be brought in every night would create a nice odor
around the camp, as they were moving the honey buckets out to the fields, to put
on the rice fields.
P: A little fertilizer. Now, you finish your service and come back to law school.
P: Is this a different experience for you than the first time?
Pe: Yes. I did much better in law school and still was in Florida Blue Key and became
president of Florida Blue Key during that period. So, I still was involved in the
campus to some extent, but I was pretty serious about studying at that point, and
did reasonably well.
P: What professors influenced you in law school?
Pe: A number of them come to mind. Dean Finn and Maloney. Ernie Jones. Bob
Mautz. He was my ethics professor and corporations professor. Dr. Day, my
real-estate teacher, was unbelievable. P. K. Yonge was my teacher in rules -
federal and state rules of practice.
P: When you finished law school, what were your plans?
Pe: I was interested in going to a major city. Jacksonville was still in a situation where
people had long-term runs to become partner, and it was pretty difficult to break
in there for somebody of my background. I was still very concerned about the
atmosphere in Jacksonville. It was not a progressive city, and my views had
become quite different than those I was raised with. I was very strongly in favor
of civil rights for blacks. That was a very strong commitment I had developed.
Jacksonville was kind of a hopeless-segregation-town at the time, and I was
discouraged about going back there. So, I did not make a hard run at
Jacksonville. I did make a hard run at both Tampa and Miami and got on in
Miami. In fact, Manning Dauer recommended me to Bill Lantaff, [U.S.
Representative from Florida, 1951-1955; Florida state representative, 1947-
1950], who was with the law firm I went with. It was Walton, Lantaff & Atkins -
Schroeder, Atkins, Carson & Wall at the time. Bill Lantaff had been a
congressman for a couple terms here in Miami before he decided he did not want
to continue in politics.
P: Let me ask you where your early commitment to civil rights came from?
Pe: It was influenced by my early religious views and those values, and I thought
there was tremendous hypocrisy here. And then, the overall impact of college. I
had been very protected at Andrew Jackson High School. I had never heard of
evolution. I knew nothing about astronomy and all kinds of things. Going to
college just kind-of opened my mind, and all of a sudden, I began questioning all
kinds of things. I was constantly amazed by very bright people I knew. I
remember one of the stars of the school was Al Gamage, who was, I think,
chancellor of the honor court and a 4.0 student. He was head of the Baptist
League. That was an off-campus Baptist I think it was Baptist... I do not think it
was Georgia Seagle Hall. I cannot remember what it was. Anyway, he was [head
of the] Baptist Student Union or something. I always thought he thought in
compartments, and I could not figure out how evolution and what we were
learning about astronomy and all these other things about the world and the
cosmos and all this, was not impacting him. It impacted me dramatically. I
became an agnostic, basically. At the same time, I was nonetheless deeply
embedded in the values of Christianity. It became obvious to me that segregation
was a horrible institution.
P: Then you went to Miami. You had graduated, I understand, [from] law school [in]
P: And in five years or so, you decide to go into elective politics.
P: Had that been your plan all along?
Pe: I was interested, generally, in it. There was not much of an opportunity. I
immediately became involved in the Dade County Young Democrats and worked
my way up to president of the Dade County Young Democrats and then the state
president of the Young Democrats. Then reapportionment occurred, and that
gave me the opportunity. I approached Bill Lantaff, and his idea was that I would
spend some time in the legislature and then I would be able to take over his
lobbying activities. He was the lobbyist for Hialeah Race Course, and that was
one of the things that had induced him to leave Congress. He had this
opportunity to do that, and in those days, every session, virtually, you fought over
the [race] dates. There was a big fight over [race] dates.
P: There still are.
Pe: Yes. So, I did not make any commitment about becoming a lobbyist, but that was
what he had in mind. I had a little different agenda. I had a real interest in
pursuing a political career. But anyway, the firm supported me, allowed me to
run. They did not give me much financial support other than my salary, but it was
very helpful to have Bill Lantaff and others helping me.
P: This was 1963?
Pe: 1963, a special election.
P: And there were something like twenty-seven...
Pe: Twenty-seven opponents.
P: That is huge.
Pe: We ran an ad saying it was three baseball teams.
P: How did you manage to win that election?
Pe: Because of my Young Democrats activities, and other activities and the Bar
Association, Junior Bar I became Junior Bar President I was pretty well-
known. We were running countywide. I got half of the unions helping me [by]
putting out signs. I was very active in making speeches and campaigning. The
field was so large that I then got the [Miami] Herald endorsement and the Miami
News endorsement, and that gave me a great advantage. Then, the person I
wound up running against was not the most serious of the opponents. Probably
the most serious was Sherman Wynn, who later became a county commissioner
and state senator. But a fellow by the name of Christmas, who was mistaken for
a former mayor of the city of Miami. He actually had run unsuccessfully for
Justice of the Peace in the north end of the county, so then with the wrong
Christmas, I had a breeze in the runoff. Of course, we had no Republican
opposition at that point.
P: At the time, a newspaper described you as an urban progressive. What did that
mean in 1963?
Pe: It meant I was a southern liberal who was going to advance the cause of urban
interests in the state legislature after many years of rural reign.
P: When you get to the legislature, it is a dramatic change because all the power of
the Porkchoppers has now been changed. I think Dade County had, what, eleven
new seats or something like that.
Pe: Eleven new seats, I believe it was. we became fourteen. I think that
is right. Yes, initially, the change was not as dramatic because the power was still
in the rural bloc, but it was weakened substantially by the initial round of court-
ordered reapportionment. Later, we had a series of further court rulings rejecting
apportionment plans that had been adopted previously. It was not until 1966 that
we had the final one-man-one-vote kind of impact in both houses. By that time,
we had learned enough about how to manage the rules and to gain power, and it
formed enough of an urban sense of a bloc that we began to really take over.
Ralph Turlington [Florida state representative, 1950-1974] had been Speaker [of
the Florida House of Representatives, 1967], and he was kind of an interim
because he had been kind of associated with the rural people but also with the
urban people; he was sympathetic to a lot of the urban interests, as well. He was
a fine transition. Then I ran against Fred Schultz [Speaker of the Florida House of
Representatives, 1969-70], and it came down in a caucus. We were just head-to-
head, and then finally, some people who would never be elected from Pinellas
County broke ranks and went with Schultz, and I lost the caucus vote for
Speaker. It was that close.
P: What year was that?
Pe: That was 1968. It was the caucus of Democratic nominees that was held in the
fall of 1968. That included a lot of people who were just nominated and who lost
in Republican counties, like Pinellas. The Republicans were beginning to come
on, of course, at that time. I was first elected with Farris Bryant being governor
[1961-65], and then Haydon [Burns; Florida governor, 1965-1966] had his two
years. Then [Robert] "Bob" [King] High [Mayor of Miami, 1957-1959; Democratic
candidate for Florida governor, 1966] knocked him off in the  primaries,
and then he could not win and we got Claude Kirk [Florida governor, 1967-71]. I
handled the thing in such a way that [Fred Schultz] was not offended by my
campaign, and he named me head of the governmental organization, the
Efficiency Committee of the House, which was charged with doing what we had
prescribed and I had put in the Constitution, and that was a mandate that the
executive branch be reorganized into not more than twenty-five departments,
plus the constitutionally-named departments, which made it twenty-eight. There
were some 150 agencies at that point.
P: Let me get back to that in just a second. I want to get into some details. Let me
go back and comment on how Florida politics was changing at this time because
when you get there, there are going to be a lot of influential progressive young
legislators Reubin Askew and Lawton Chiles [Florida governor, 1991-1998;
U.S. Senator, 1971-1989; Florida state senator, 1966-1970; Florida state
representative, 1958-1966] and later Buddy MacKay [acting governor, 1998-
1999; lieutenant governor, 1991-1998; U. S. Representative, 1980-1983; Florida
state senator, 1974-1980; Florida state representative, 1968-1974] and Bob
Graham [U. S. Senator, 1987-present; Florida governor, 1979-1987; Florida state
senator, 1970-1978] and [Talbot] "Sandy" D'Alemberte [president, Florida State
University, 1993-present; Florida state representative, 1966-1972] and all of
these. It is really a rather dramatic shift in terms of the quality and the influence of
these new legislators, is it not?
Pe: Yes, it was. It started out in 1963 with Murray Dubin and myself and Kenny
Myers and Maxine Baker and some others, and then gradually Graham came
on and others came on. MacKay was kind-of at the end of that surge of talent
that came into the legislature. I think MacKay was elected in 1970. He was a
freshman legislator when I was a Speaker.
P: Also, I think in the very first year, or very early in your career, you won all kinds of
legislative awards, I think the best freshman legislator.
Pe: No, I was not best freshman. I was second session member showing the greatest
development. [Both laugh.] I was not the outstanding freshman. That was an
ambiguous honor. Then I was outstanding in committee and then outstanding
member in 1969.
P: What makes a good legislator?
Pe: An ability to listen and to make friendships. Be collegial. Be focused on what your
agenda is and what you are trying to accomplish. There are a lot of people who
go to the legislature who do not have the vaguest idea why they are there, and
there are others who go there with an agenda. I was interested in modernizing
state government, which was, I thought, in the backwater of the federal system at
P: So, that was your main focus as a member of the House?
Pe: Well, it was not my main focus, but it was a major focus.
P: What else were you pursuing?
Pe: I was very offended by welfare payments at the time. They had been frozen since
the early 1950s, I think. Aid to families with dependent children had been $81 for
four or more in a family, for twelve to fifteen years when I got there. It was just
awful. The idea was that this was going to stop people from having babies. That
was the myth that people had. In my earlier battles on the floor with numerous
amendments trying to attack this in different ways, I was holding up the whole
appropriations process. Then there were two Chesterfield Smiths [President,
American Bar Association, 1973-1974; Chairman, Constitutional Revision
Commission, 1965-1968] in Tallahassee; one was the lobbyist and lawyer we all
know, and the other was Chesterfield Smith from Arcadia, I guess it was, an
interior county. Chesterfield Smith was chairman of the appropriations committee
in the [Florida] House [of Representatives], and he said, look, Dick, if you will
stop putting your amendments on the FDC [Families with Dependent Children], I
will do something in conference committee to change the $81. I knew I was going
to lose anyway, so I said I will take it. Chesterfield came out of the conference
committee with a great increase of $4. And I kept fighting about that. First, we got
it to 60 percent of the poverty level, and then we got it to 80 percent at some
point when I was Speaker, [which was] still bad but in Florida it has really been
tough to move in the social-services area. I was very interested in the social-
services delivery system. I had been vice-chair of the elections committee. First
of all, E. C. Rowell, an old rural Speaker [of the Florida House of
Representatives, 1965; elected to Florida House, 1956], taller than Mallory
Home [Florida state representative, 1954-1964; Speaker of the Florida House of
Representatives, 1962-1963; Florida state senator, president of Florida Senate,
1973-1974], had named me to the Constitution Revision Commission. There, I
fought for a lot of things, but one was two terms for the governor. Secondly, I
wanted to abolish the Cabinet system, because that offended me as an anti-
democratic institution that had no accountability, because people were elected
for one thing and were doing all kinds of things they were not elected to do, and
nobody knew what they were doing.
P: Comment on Claude Kirk as governor. You served in the [Florida] House during
Pe: Right. Claude was, of course, flamboyant and had totally strange ideas about
how to go about what he was doing. I never will forget, I snuck out of my law
office and went over to see [Kirk's inauguration on] a television set. I found a
television set next door at a little hotel, and I was sitting there at the bar watching
the inaugural speech of Claude Kirk. He began by saying he was hiring the
Wackenhut Corporation [private investigations agency] to ferret out corruption
among law enforcement and public officials all over Florida. I almost fell off my
chair. I could not believe it. He got into trouble, politically, very quickly his
mystery wife and all kinds of things. But then, we were working [for]
governmental reorganization. I am getting ahead of the constitutional revision
now, but after we had gotten the 1968 [Florida] Constitution and the mandate to
reorganize, and I chaired this committee to do that, we had worked through a
very far-reaching, tough reorganization. We could not abolish Cabinet officers,
but we dramatically strengthened the governor and the budget, in [designating
the governor as] the chief budget preparer and submitter to the legislature,
[whereby we] cut out the Cabinet in that process, and did a lot of other things in
consolidation. The Senate, on the other hand, was doing nothing. They were just
papering over with some people on top of agencies without any real scheme to
do a good job in reorganization. We had hired the Arthur Anderson Company and
McKinsey & Company as advisors to assist us in the reorganization, so we
were really going, putting like-functions together and eliminating a lot of agencies
that no longer were justified and so on. Claude, being in desperate political
trouble, and we, having just eliminated the constitutional limits on salary, decided
it was time to start out at a decent level in salary. The question was whether we
were going from $1,200 a year to $10,000 or $12,000. I insisted we go to
$12,000 because we were going to take a hit either way, and if people were
upset about it, they were upset about it. But Don Reed, my minority leader on the
Republican side and others had gone to Claude and said, we are going to do
this, we need to do this as an institution, and all of us are hurting badly because
we have been up here in special session [after] special session [after] special
session, on not only reapportionment but education and so on, and we are all
dying financially, and we have got to have more help by way of salary, and we
want you to accept this and help us with it. He had agreed, and then he changed
his mind when he saw he was in such political trouble.
P: I know the Orlando Sentinel said, these guys are getting [a] 1,000 percent pay
Pe: Right, and that triggered his veto. He thought this was going to be a great way to
come back politically. At [that] point, we had the bill ready to move out of
committee, this major bill of the session in 1969. So, when that veto came down,
I was already designated as Speaker for the next term, for 1970. I said, we
cannot take this bill out now [because] it strengthens the governor's office
dramatically vis-a-vis the Cabinet, the Democratic Cabinet; this is the wrong time;
we have got to get this bone out of our throat first. So, we overrode his veto, and
then about two weeks later we brought the bill out, brought it up, and we still had
a tremendous struggle to get it passed, even in the House. We had a revolution
almost, in the House. I almost was deposed, and Fred Schultz was almost
deposed as Speaker.
P: A lot of Democrats walked out, did they not?
Pe: They walked out.
P: That was because they wanted to keep the Cabinet?
Pe: Yes. They wanted to keep the strength of the Cabinet, and they kept trying
amendments. I had the urban voters, a few people from the country but not
many, and all the Republicans voting with me. I had put that coalition together.
Well, they were frustrated and they were close to a majority, and they walked out,
had a big rump caucus. Turlington was involved in it, too. They wanted to protect
Doyle Conner [Secretary of Agriculture] and all of the crew. They were all
concerned about losing power. So, Fred [Schultz] agreed to appoint people from
their group to the conference committee along with the people managing the bill.
P: So, these are some of the old Porkchoppers?
Pe: These were E. C. Rowell and others who were going to vote with the Senate. So,
Fred nonetheless appointed them. [John E.] "Jack" Mathews [Jr.] was president
of the [Florida state] Senate [1969-1970]. Every time we would have a
conference committee meeting and any substantive issue would come up, these
people would all vote together and take the wrong action, so we stopped meeting
that way. I started negotiating with particular leaders [who] were handling various
aspects, or were the leaders in various aspects of this. I dealt with Lawton
[Chiles] on personnel issues and the general services committee. We had
budgeting and general services together in a single committee, and we broke it
out and gave some protections to the Cabinet officers and their closest
appointees. That was one compromise I negotiated.
P: I am sorry. Let me interrupt you because I am still a little unclear. This is the
government reorganization in the House?
Pe: And in the Senate. The Senate had come out with its bill, and it was 180 degrees
away from where we were.
P: And this is after constitutional revision?
Pe: This is after constitutional revision. This is 1969. We had, in 1967, put the
Constitution on the ballot first, and it was voted on in November [of] 1968. So, it
was the 1968 session, I guess, that we finally got it all together.
P: Let me go back and talk a little bit more about Claude Kirk. One of the things that
was very controversial during his term as governor, is when he intervened in the
school busing conflict in Manatee County and went down and took over the
schools. What was your reaction to his decision?
Pe: I was horrified that he was departing from the tradition that LeRoy Collins [Florida
governor, 1955-61] had established to try to work these things through in ways
that would be helpful to blacks, who were so discriminated against. The courts
had approved busing, and he was trying to play politics with the issue.
P: Do you think he was trying to get attention so he could be on the Republican
Pe: Possibly. He was very ambitious. He had the idea that he and Nelson Rockefeller
[U.S. vice president, 1974-1977; New York governor, 1959-1973] could run
together. I do not know. That would not be something that would necessarily
endear him to Nelson Rockefeller, you would not think.
P: Maybe he was trying to get with [Richard] Nixon [U. S. President, 1969-1974].
Pe: I think he was trying to salvage his political standing. I think he wanted to run for
re-election, and he was playing the game.
P: What about his commitment to environmental issues? When you look at his
record, he did quite a good job of calling attention to the issues.
Pe: Right. Nat Reed [Kirk's aide on environmental issues and later assistant
Secretary of Interior under Richard M. Nixon] had a tremendous influence on him
as his environmental advisor, and, yes, I agree.
P: How about bringing Disney World [to Florida] and setting up the Reedy Creek
District. Were most legislators in favor of that?
Pe: Yes. It was a great economic development for the state at the time. Walt Disney
was a name that was incredibly popular, and most legislators were willing to give
Disney whatever Disney wanted to come in.
P: Looking back on it, was that a wise decision?
Pe: I think it was, even though we gave [away] taxing power and all kinds of rights. It
has enabled us to survive on a terrible tax base because of the contribution of
tourists. So, from a revenue standpoint, I think it has been very positive, although
it has certainly created a huge urban sprawl in the Orlando area.
P: When you look at Claude Kirk overall during his four years, how would you
evaluate him as governor?
Pe: Negatively. He was so unorthodox that he could never develop a consensus
approach to get major things done. When he was dependent on legislative
cooperation, he blew it over and over again. He alienated all the sheriffs in the
state and a lot of other people unnecessarily. His political sense, at times, was
pretty good, but other times it was just disastrous. It was so obvious that he was
in trouble, that I was able to get governmental reorganization done, strengthening
P: Knowing he would not be there.
Pe: Arguing that he would not be there, and people had to accept that and make a
leap of faith before they could say, we want to give him this interim boost for his
last two years.
P: Let me go to the Constitutional Revision Commission. You were appointed by E.
C. Rowell, and Chesterfield Smith, the ABA Chesterfield Smith, appointed you to
work on executive reorganization. Is that correct?
Pe: No. I was on local government, but he asked me to speak on the subject of
executive reorganization to the full commission. I made a pitch in one of our early
sessions of the Commission that this Cabinet system no longer served the public
and that we had way too many agencies and that we needed to streamline [the
P: At that time, as I understand it, each member of the Cabinet had one vote on the
Budget Commission. Is that right?
Pe: On the Budget Commission, there were about twenty some-odd agencies from
which either all the Cabinet officers sat and had an equal pull with the governor.
[On] some of [the agencies], the governor had some greater authority, like he
had to concur in an action, but mostly he was just one vote with chairing
committees. That was very offensive, the whole idea [that] the Secretary of
Agriculture is making all these decisions on public parks and all kinds of things
[which] he was not elected to do.
P: Did they serve as the Board of Education, as well?
Pe: Yes, members of the state Board of Education.
P: Part of the problem was you had a Republican governor and a large portion of
the Cabinet was Democrat.
Pe: All. All the Cabinet members were Democrats.
P: So, you have got gridlock, in a sense, do you not?
Pe: Yes, and I think Claude was frustrated by that and wanted to see it changed, as
well. He was a supporter of governmental reorganization. He just was not willing
to bite-the-bullet on the pay raise because he saw his great opportunity there to
make political headway, he thought, so he almost sacrificed governmental
reorganization by his veto of the pay raise.
P: And part of the issue is that you favor a lieutenant governor, the governor [for]
two terms, annual sessions of legislature.
P: Explain to me why you thought those changes were necessary?
Pe: I really favored the federal model. From my political science, I believe strongly
that you need a strong executive and a strong legislative body who checkmate
each other where it is important and at other times work together cooperatively
for the good of the country. I felt that the Cabinet system we had in Florida, with
one term for the governor and indefinite terms for the Cabinet members, was a
monstrosity, but the most I could get [in negotiations] was two terms for the
governor. I would have gone for unlimited terms for the governor, as far as I was
concerned, just as I would favor unlimited terms for the president. As long as we
have a Supreme Court and a strong legislative body, I do not fear the people
electing somebody again as President or as governor. That was my approach,
[but] I had to settle for two terms. I also wanted a lieutenant governor, and I lost
that in the Constitutional Revision Commission. I brought it back when the
legislature took it up, and I won on it and got the lieutenant governor, and I put in
the tandem running.
P: Mainly for succession purposes?
Pe: Succession, the horror of [Charley E.] Johns becoming [acting] governor [1953-5]
when Dan McCarty died [Florida governor, 1953, died in office, 9/28/53] and
things like that, together with political accountability. I did not want somebody of
another party to succeed as governor. I thought that would be a disaster. Very
offensive that all of a sudden if you got a governor killed or [who] died in office
again, and some other Cabinet member were designated as his successor and
he happened to be in the other party, or she, all of a sudden right in the middle of
elections, you have got all kinds of changes of personnel and a huge directional
change, in all likelihood. That, to me, was something we should not have.
P: Was there much opposition to the annual session of the legislature? I know some
citizens said, we do not want them up there more than once every two years.
Pe: No. There was a lot of resistance, but that resistance basically came from people
who did not know much about state government. They did not realize that if you
meet every two years, you have to delegate to somebody, the authority to do all
kinds of things in the interim, between sessions, on your budget and other things.
P: Plus, things change very rapidly.
Pe: Things change very rapidly, and what we had been doing was delegating to the
Budget Commission, the governor and Cabinet, authority that was so broad that
the legislature would come back two years later and find new programs initiated,
new buildings constructed, new bonding done. It was ridiculous. The legislature
was just a rubber stamp, effectively. [It] could have very little impact on the
ordinary day-to-day operations and no effective oversight of agencies and no
control of the appropriations process.
P: Reubin Askew, I think, was heavily involved in this, in changing and reorganizing
the judiciary, making that into a two-tiered system.
P: Talk a little bit about the thinking behind that change.
Pe: We had, in the 1885 Constitution, gradually developed a bunch of specialized
courts in various counties because of the deficiencies of the old system. In Dade
County, for instance, we had a criminal court-of-record, we had a civil court-of-
record, we had justices-of-the-peace who were not even required to be lawyers,
although they had some important judicial functions [and] we had municipal
courts. Every city had its own separate court system. We thought it was both
inefficient and that the quality of the judges was weak. We had an elective
system for circuit judges, and most judges came to office because of the death of
someone and an appointment by the governor of a successor for his term, and
then with that appointment was able to get elected. A lot of thinking had gone into
ways to change that, and the Missouri system was in-vogue.
P: Explain the Missouri system.
Pe: The Missouri system involves people being selected on merits and then subject
to a periodic yes-or-no vote as to whether they should be retained.
P: In the beginning, was it based on Bar Association recommendations? Who
presented the names?
Pe: No. It was a Judicial Nominating Commission that had Bar representation, but
gubernatorial representation as well. If I recall correctly, some non-lawyers were
also included. We had Judicial Nominating Commissions, and the second thing
that was very deficient was [the] removal of judges and the disciplining of judges.
There was really only an impeachment process, [which] was rarely invoked; only
for the most egregious misconduct was there ever an impeachment brought. So,
we put in the Judicial Qualifications Commission to enable people to have an
alternative to the impeachment process to discipline a judge or remove him, and
that has worked out pretty well. The nominating process has worked very well,
too. I am very concerned about what we have done now, [which] is, I think,
politicized it a great deal in the most recent change in the legislature.
P: I talked to Chesterfield Smith about this, and he really thought that was a
significant change that improved the quality [of judges] across the board.
Pe: No question about it. Yes. Judicial Nominating Commissions were committed.
Those people selected were good representatives of the profession, concerned
about the quality of the judges and in bringing better quality judges to the bench.
There are some glaring examples of failures of these institutions, whatever they
are, but in the main, they [state legislators] have been very successful in
elevating the quality of judges in the whole state. And, by having a simplified two-
tiered system rather than this mess that we had before, we have been able to
insure that those involved in traffic tickets and the most minor of issues that come
up in [the] everyday affairs of people have a competent person responsible for
making judicial decisions about them.
P: One issue you mentioned earlier [that] was important for you is the concept of
home rule, giving more power to local counties and municipalities.
Pe: On the Constitutional Revision Commission, I worked with John DeGrove and
others on eliminating local bills. Unfortunately, we bring them through the back
door now in ways that are disturbing to me. But we wanted to get legislators out
of the business of running local government, which is what they were doing
through their local bill process, so they could focus on statewide issues and
affairs. We went as far as we could in allowing professionals to run things, if
people elected to do so tax assessing, appraising and collection, and other
ministerial tasks that should be professionally administered rather than elective
offices but the best we could do was [to] get [the] authority to abolish those
positions and put in professionals, and it has not gone very far in practice. We did
not [actually] abolish them because we did not have the ability to do that. What
we did was, by charter, enable people, if they wanted [to], to adopt a charter to
eliminate the sheriff and these other elected local officials, and make them a part
of the administration of the county government or city government.
P: Plus, you increased the bonding authority for port authorities and things like that.
Pe: Yes. We improved bonding capacities and authorities, and I worked on that, as
well, in a committee on the Constitution. We also dealt with the amendments
process. Chesterfield [Smith] gives me a lot of credit for the periodic
constitutional revisions that are automatically established so that somebody other
than the legislature can put things directly on the ballot. I supported that, [but] I
do not think I deserve the credit he tries to give me for it. It was somebody else's
idea, and I thought it was a good idea.
P: How has that worked out, do you think?
Pe: It has not resulted in any significant major changes to date. The 1968
Constitution has not been changed that much. We tried this budget thing that
was a disaster and screwed up the authority of the Commission to deal with
finances. So, trying to get major change in the capacity of the state to raise
money has not come about. There has been no attempt at a personal income tax
or anything like that.
P: In fact, I think once you were asked about evaluating the success of the
Constitutional Revision Commission, and one of things you came up with was
that it did not effectively deal with the taxation situation in the state of Florida.
P: What would you have liked to have seen happen? Was it possible you could
have gotten an income tax?
Pe: I still doubt it. You would have to carefully develop the rationale for it and educate
the public with a somewhat lengthy campaign that would really highlight the
needs. The alternative, of course, is a services tax. That is the more likely
alternative. [Bob] Martinez [Florida governor, 1987-1991] had it right when he did
it, but, unfortunately, he backed off. It ruined his re-election, I think, [because] he
had it done. It was over with. It was in place, and badly needed. I am appalled
that we have abolished the most progressive part of the property tax, the
intangible tax, in this state. We are in the process of doing that. Shifting the
burden to other forms of property tax, which is all real-estate. We have already
done much to eliminate or dismantle personal property taxation, equipment and
so forth. Now, we have dismantled the most progressive part, that which 5 or 10
percent of the people in this state have and benefit in this tax haven that we
have, with homestead exemption and the inability to sue people and affect their
homesteads and so forth.
P: Plus, there are a huge number of exemptions.
Pe: The exemptions are horrendous. We really had done a good job in eliminating a
lot of the exemptions in sales tax, and now the legislature just piecemeal over
time...[added the exemptions back]. See, what had happened when
reapportionment occurred, was that all the old relationships of powerful interests
in the state that had dominated the rural legislature, all those personal
relationships and ties and political support, had been broken, and all of a sudden,
here is a whole new wave of people who are not dependent on the trucking lobby
or Ed Ball [head of St. Joe Paper Company, administrator of Alfred Dupont
Pe: Exactly. All those powerful interests who had run the legislature. They had to
agree if you were going to become Speaker. You could not become Speaker
unless you had their blessing. I was one of those who did not have their blessing,
and it took me forever to finally overcome the opposition. They kept running
people against me after I had been designated as Speaker.
P: And over a period of time, you see special interests like dry-cleaners. They end
up getting these exemptions, and the number has expanded so dramatically that
it costs the state millions and millions of dollars.
Pe: We had that brief period of several years, almost a decade, in which the lobbyist
influence was dramatically reduced. Now, it has come back, and now the
lobbyists are just running the place. They are really important, and it is very
difficult to overcome their opposition to things.
P: Reubin Askew told me in the old days before reapportionment, some of the
lobbyists were writing some of the bills and holding committee meetings.
Pe: Absolutely. The legislative reform that I was a part of instituting in the state was
to build legislative staffs that would give members access to the right information.
They were not dependent on the executive lobbyists or the private lobbyists for
information, for analysis. They had their own staffs of professionals who could do
that. That part has been very helpful to the institution, very critically important to
the legislature. I do not think term limits has helped at all. I think that is a disaster.
[When] people like Ralph Turlington can no longer serve in [the] House after
eight years, [that] means you have to start picking out your Speaker after they
are around for a couple of years, and they start getting in line to be Speaker. It is
just [that] people are not well-prepared, not well-seasoned, and they are thrown
out automatically by the Constitution. In a democratic society, that is a terrible
P: And you can only serve one term as Speaker.
Pe: Well, that is not mandated anywhere. That is just tradition.
P: But no one has served more.
Pe: Yes, one. [Donald] "Don" [L.] Tucker [Speaker, Florida House of Representatives,
1975-1978] succeeded himself.
P: When was that?
Pe: He followed Terrell Sessums, so that was 1974 to 1978.
P: Okay. While we are on that, what is your idea of legislators now working to be the
Speaker in 2008, trying to get commitments six years ahead?
Pe: If you are going to rotate every two years, that is the way the process almost
inevitably has to work. It is not a great system. I commissioned a study that
recommended that Florida go to non-rotating leadership. I think Tucker was
influenced by it. I could not convince Terrell to run again, and I could not [run
again]. I ran for the U. S. Senate, so I was not interested in serving another term
as Speaker, but I was hoping Terrell might consider it, and then Don [Tucker] did.
Don was kind of strong in his handling of things, and I think he kind of hurt the
idea of permanent leadership for others.
P: Let me get back to the constitutional revision. One issue that was rather
controversial was lowering the voting age.
P: What was your view on that?
Pe: I was in favor of it. I was persuaded by the issue of the military people having to
serve in the military and not being able to vote seemed wrong.
P: This was really at the height of the Vietnam War.
Pe: Right. Bill Braggs was one of the great proponents of the eighteen-year-old
vote. He had a lot of influence on that issue.
P: When you look back at the Constitutional Revision Commission, one of the
issues that you ultimately came up with was the reduction to twenty-five
[legislatively created state agencies]. How did you decide on that number, and
how did you decide to consolidate?
Pe: I wanted to go to twenty, and I had to agree to a compromise of twenty-five.
Somebody had come up with thirty, and I got it down. That was twenty-five
legislatively created agencies, in addition to those enumerated in the
Constitution. So, if something is in the Constitution, it is excepted from that
number. My idea was that when you fragment like-functions among several
agencies, nothing much happens that is very qualitative, and that we ought to try
to get major functions together. You know, we had an Egg Commission that was
promoting egg sales, and we had an Aid to the Blind [program] separated from all
the other social services, and so on. Everybody wanted to create a special
program for each separate social service, and it just created a disastrous delivery
system. There was no delivery system, with respect. It was in the interest of
being more comprehensive in dealing with people in the social services area and
the environmental area and other areas. I wanted to abolish the Game and Fish
Commission and consolidate it with [the] natural resources [agency], but I could
not get around the constitutional insulation of that agency. There were still a lot of
hunters out there who were scared to death that we were going to do something
bad in that area. But, you know, we had the freshwater cops, the Game and Fish
guys, [and] then we had the Marine Patrol, the saltwater cops, and then they had
to fight over and develop territorial agreements about brackish water and
jurisdiction. I tried to change all that because I thought there were too many
different cops. [The agencies] did not have boundaries that were sensible, and so
P: Now, you had to get this through the legislature.
P: How difficult was that the whole package?
Pe: The whole package, it was an extremely difficult battle, one of the toughest that I
think has been seen up there. I had a great committee people like Sandy
D'Alemberte, George Caldwell and Joel Gustafson and a bunch of legislators
who were top quality from both parties. We went at it on a nonpartisan basis as
far as the committee was concerned. The federal government has the same
problem multiple granting agencies with all kinds of strings down into the
states. I was trying, first, to get the state organized so it could meaningfully do its
own thing. I was interested at the federal level in trying to consolidate the
fragmentation there, and that is why I went to Washington to try to work on that.
P: This is what Nixon would have called New Federalism?
Pe: Yes. I think it is right that we need certain functions in this society moved down
[and] out of Washington. I think the only reason that much power went to
Washington after World War II was because the states were just not dealing
effectively with the problems. They were so dominated by special interests that
they could not move, and they did not have the financial ability with, generally,
regressive taxation to deal with their problems, so they were bypassed by the
federal government going directly to the cities, and bypassing state government.
My theory was, let us strengthen state government, let us give it the capacity to
act, let us give it the financial ability to act, and then where the federal
government can help, let us bring in the resources and have the capacity to deal
with them close [to] home. I still think the federal government has a major role
because of the disparities among states and their relative capacities to do things.
I wanted to strengthen state government so it could really deal with the issues in
the state effectively, and I did not think we were close to doing that.
P: What changes did you have to make to get the legislature to accept this
Pe: As far as the Constitution was concerned, first the Commission made its product.
It did not recommend abolishing the Cabinet. It recommended two terms for the
governor, [and] no lieutenant governor. So, it was not dramatic in that area. It
was dramatic in annual sessions, in eliminating pay caps, and opening up year-
round operation of the legislature so that we could have staffing year-round, we
could have meetings when we wanted to, [and] we could initiate our own
meetings, greatly strengthening what legislative leaders could do on their own.
Then the Commission's product went to the legislature, and both houses
grappled with the product and, I think, strengthened it overall, particularly by
putting in the [position of] lieutenant governor, which I think presaged what is
happening now, [which] is the elimination, gradually, of these independently
elected Cabinet officers. There is no need for most of them. They almost, in this
last constitutional revision, were able to eliminate the Secretary of Agriculture,
but at the last minute those guys came in and lobbied very heavily. on
the Commission to they were just able to overcome.
P: Well, they made some progress.
Pe: They made good progress. It is incremental, but it is important.
P: Now, let us go over to your attempt to get to be Speaker of the House. Why did
you decide that you wanted to be Speaker?
Pe: I thought it was premature for me to try to run for governor or something else,
because I was not well-enough known, and I thought that would be a good
credential, although it has not been particularly a great credential to run for
statewide office. But I thought it was the most important legislative post that had
great potential, often never exercised in ways that I thought it should be
exercised. So, I kind of established an evolving but a stronger model for the
Speaker's office. Maybe it has had good and bad effects. I am not sure. Anyway,
I brought in key staff people. I brought in Art England [Florida Supreme Court
justice, 1975-1981] to head our effort on the corporate income tax. I brought in
Janet Reno [U.S. Attorney General, 1993-2001; state attorney for Dade County,
1978-1992] in [as a] judiciary [staff person]. She became the key person dealing
with both Sandy D'Alemberte, who was chairman of the House Judiciary
Committee, and Dempsey Barron [Florida state senator; president of Florida
Senate, 1975-1976], who was chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, [and]
very interested in judicial reorganization for somewhat different reasons. He
thought judges were lazy and did not work enough and [that] they needed to be
disciplined and so on. But Janet could talk with him effectively and communicate.
She became, effectively, the staff of both houses on that issue of, judicial
reorganization. In 1968, we had to take it out. We lost, and so the 1968
Constitution did not address Article V. Then in 1970, the Half-Baked Provision
got put on the ballot, and it was defeated. We were determined to have a strong
P: When you decided to run for Speaker, how did you go about getting
Pe: My theory was not to promise committees. I approached it on the basis that I had
been raised in Jacksonville, had gone to the University of Florida, knew the state,
had good relationships, and that it was important to the Democratic party that all
of the sections of the state that were critical to the Democratic party -
Jacksonville, the Panhandle, Tampa, the Tampa Bay area and Southeast Florida
rotate the Speakership. That was one of my arguments, that it was South
Florida's time. [Thomas E.] "Ted" David had been a Broward County Speaker [of
the Florida House of Representatives] many years ago  with blessings of
the Porkchop Gang, but there had never been a Speaker from Dade County in
the history of the state. I argued that it was right to do that at this point, and I had
certain credentials that had been recognized. Lou Wolfson in our delegation
was interested in running, too.
P: Also from Jacksonville, right?
Pe: No. This Lou Wolfson was [a] state representative from Miami. But I got the
delegation to support me instead of Lou and started to run, as I said, against
Fred Schultz in 1968 and almost was nominated then. Anyway, after he was
elected, the next caucus designated me, and I just continued the campaign. My
theory about becoming Speaker was I was going to do the best job that could be
done with the Speakership, and if that helped me or hurt me later, it did not make
any difference; this was an opportunity, and I had to maximize that opportunity. I
nonetheless had a great deal of difficulty. E. C. Rowell, after I had been
designated, was working with Don Reed and the Republicans to try to put a
correlation Speakership in. He ran for awhile and then got out. He could not
make it. Ray Maddox ran, and then Miley Myers from Tallahassee ran.
P: These are more conservative legislators.
Pe: These represented the conservative block and rural interests and some of the big
lobbyists and the Republicans who wanted to get power, [and] share power.
There was a lot of activity [with them] trying to beat me after I had been
designated. I finally, with the help of Ted Phelps and others, developed our own
effort to raise money. We went out to the lobbyists who were fighting us and
demanded they help contribute to us. I was going to be Speaker, and if they
wanted some access, they better help us. We raised a kitty of money and helped
the legislators out there who were part of my team, who were having some
difficulty in the primaries. That helped strengthen my relationships with them, and
so I was able to hold the coalition together.
P: Plus, if they had been defeated, then that might have changed the dynamics a
Pe: Right. So, that was the first Speaker's fund. We did not raise much money,
maybe $75,000, but it was helpful to put that out. Now, it has become an outrage.
We never raised money during a session. We would not have thought of that.
Now, there has been a lot of fund raising in the sessions like there is in
Congress, and I think it is a terrible practice. The night before I was to be sworn
in as Speaker and elected as Speaker, Miley Myers finally conceded. I did not
know for certain that I was going to be Speaker until he conceded. It was that
P: They challenged it to the very end.
Pe: To the very end.
P: I never could quite get a good answer to this question. How powerful was Ed
Ball, and how much did he influence state politics?
Pe: I could not see his fingers on things, for instance, when I was running for
Speaker. He was there, but to my knowledge his fingers were not evident. So, I
do not know. Certainly, Winn-Dixie was very potent at that point and a bunch of
others, and I am sure Ed had his key people. I just do not know what he was
doing. He was not overt in my race. He was certainly important through the
history of the state his fights with Claude Pepper [U.S. Senator, 1936-1951;
U.S. Representative, 1963-1989] and all the rest and his ability to control his
empire and all the politicians in that part of the country where he needed things.
P: So, behind the scenes, he was certainly...
Pe: He was there, and he was not overt, and so I really could not tell.
P: What was your position during the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of 1966?
Pe: I supported [Robert King] High.
P: When Kirk wins, then obviously by 1970 it is pretty clear the Democrats have got
a good shot.
P: What position did you take in that 1970 campaign?
Pe: I initially supported Jack Mathews, who was the only one who was comfortable in
the Senate. He had helped me get reapportionment done. I had called Jack, and
I said, we are about to have a big train-wreck over governmental reorganization. I
was an old friend of Jack's, and we had developed a good relationship. He was a
great legislator, was President of the Senate. He had this terrible committee on
governmental reorganization that George Howell chaired. They were doing
nothing, waiting for the House. Then we had this verbatim, as I mentioned, so I
had a conference committee I could not work with. I had to go around the
conference committee, so I went directly to Jack. I said, Jack, we are about to
have a great train-wreck. I said, here are the issues that are fouling us up; I
cannot get any movement on them. He designated people I ought to work with.
Most of them were not on the conference committee Wilbur Boyd [Florida state
representative, 1958-66; Florida state senator, 1966-?], Lawton Chiles, Louis de
la Parte [Florida state representative, 1963-5; Florida state senator 1966-?] and
others. I worked out arrangements with them, the Senate conferees agreed with
what they had worked out, and we went around official votes until I got everything
done. So, it was out of the Sunshine [reference to Sunshine Laws]. The
conference committee was not meeting; it was me meeting with others, and
P: So, you were very grateful to Jack Mathews for that.
Pe: Not only that. He had a reputation as a great legislator, and he shared my view
about the Cabinet, which was very important to me. I just thought we had the
strength in the governorship for the state to provide real leadership. Reubin
[Askew] was [a] defender of the Cabinet system at that time. He later says, you
were right, Dick; I was all wrong. So, that is the reason I went off with Jack. Jack
was not a great campaigner. He was a great Senate president and a great
senator, but he was not the right person like Reubin was out on the stump and in
projecting gubernatorial-type visions.
P: The favorite was, as I recall, Earl Faircloth [Florida Attorney General, 1965-
1971]? Is that right? Was he attorney general then?
P: Nobody, and Reubin admitted this, nobody really expected [Askew] to make a
serious run at it.
P: And that his purpose always was to make the runoff.
P: Now, once [Askew] is in the runoff, do you then support him?
Pe: Yes, I did, enthusiastically. I guess that was against Faircloth, wasn't it?
P: I think so, yes. During the general election, I think it was pretty clear that Askew
was going to defeat Claude Kirk.
P: So, when he comes in as governor, apparently you all sit down and work on his
agenda because you are going to be the Speaker and he is the governor, and
obviously that is a significant responsibility for both of you.
Pe: Ted Phelps had been my staff director for governmental reorganization, and so
he was scheduled to be my chief of staff. Gene Stearns, who was also working
for us, had become a key person in the brain trust that was involved with
Reubin's campaign. They worked on the corporate income tax and influenced
Reubin to take that chance, to go for the corporate income tax. Stearns was very
close to Reubin, and Reubin was much influenced by his counsel. Phelps [was]
designated, when I became Speaker, as my chief of staff, with Stearns on the
staff and a fellow by the name Bob Rhodes, whom you probably know [as]
general counsel for St. Joe [Paper Company] but [who also] had been in the
state executive branch after he left me when I was Speaker. He was my
legislative liaison with all the committee chairs, on a policy level. Phelps felt that
he, as chief of staff, should deal with the governor's office, and not Stearns, with
whom I wanted to deal because of his close relationship. Phelps told me it was
either he was going to do that or he did not want the job, and I accepted his
resignation, and I made Gene Stearns chief-of-staff. Reubin had run on the
corporate income tax. He was interested in judicial reform but did not have a
broad agenda that he had thought out about what else he wanted to do as
governor. At least, it was not evident to any of us. He was not to take office until
January. We took office in November. We established committees designed to
do major things in every committee area. We brought in, as I indicated, very
strong people to staff those committees high-level professionals, well-paid. Jim
Tate was finance director and worked with Arthur England on corporate income
tax and other tax issues. As I mentioned, Janet Reno [was head of the judicial
committee]. There was a fellow by the name of John White, who worked with
Paul Donahue [on] community affairs.
P: Arthur England, I believe, was later on the state Supreme Court?
Pe: And Chief Justice. Right. My model for the Speakership is that you develop an
agenda. It is a party agenda. It is an agenda for the state, as well. You charge
your committees to come up and deal with these major issues facing them. We
developed a huge agenda before Reubin became governor and was sworn in.
Then we took it to Reubin, through Gene [Stearns] basically, and convinced him
this was a program he should endorse. [Tape interrupted.] We really worked out
an arrangement whereby we had a joint agenda, the governor and the House. It
was not a public agenda, [not] publicly acknowledged, but the truth was that this
relationship that I thought could occur with Stearns did work. Reubin and I got
along well generally, and Bob Rhodes, as well, and Jim Apthorp, who was his
chief of staff, and so on. We proceeded to have, I think, in a two-year period the
most productive legislative period I modestly say in Florida history. I say this
because of the monumental bills that became law during that two-year period.
P: Which were the most important?
Pe: It depends on your point of view. We did the corporate income tax as a
constitutional amendment. [That was] a tremendous struggle. Then we did the
implementing statutes the following session, the second year, without any special
interest exemptions. We kept it clean. Which was one of Reubin's big objectives
and our's. We did the judiciary article, and then we did the implementing statutes
that implemented that constitutional change. It was very far-reaching the
Judicial Qualifications Commission, the Judicial Nominating Commissions, the
two-tiered system of trial courts replacing the municipal courts, JPs [justices of
the peace?], city courts, and all the specialized courts that had been established
P: An important, I think, long-term [legislation] was the Land Management Act.
Pe: The environmental legislation was very, very important. One was a citizen's right
to sue agencies for failure to enforce the law. The second was the Water
Resources Act that created the five water management districts in the state,
declared underground water supplies [to be] property of the state held in public
trust, rather than privately owned, and therefore subject to regulation. Any use
had to be permitted beyond single-household wells. The Land and Water
Management Act saved the Florida Keys by having it authorized to be designated
as an area of critical state concern, along with the Green Swamp and the Big
Cypress areas that [were] later added by the federal government as a part of
[the] public lands, and developed the whole development of regional impact
process and state oversight of local land-use decisions. The first state planning
act, and that was a surprising change because prior to that time, planning was
like socialism right out of Moscow. I mean, that was the atmosphere when we
first got to the legislature about state planning, and we thought that was so
important. Every corporation has a five-year plan for its future strategic
development and so forth, and the state was just planless, basically.
P: And five-year plan is not a good term to use there.
Pe: No, it is not. But nonetheless, we passed no-fault divorce, which was critically
important. We passed the Baker Act that ended institutionalization of mentally ill
people who could make it out on their own. Supposedly, we were going to
establish clinics and other out-service facilities to provide assistance to the
mentally ill who were being deinstitutionalized. That led also to the
deinstitutionalization of the retarded. That was a fundamental change in that
area. We passed the no-fault insurance law, which says all the small cases do
not have to be tried before a jury, and tie up all the court time and all of that. That
was a major battle with the trial lawyers, who wanted to protect every bit of that,
and got me in hot water with those folks. Those were some of the highlights of
what we did. In criminal justice, we did a number of things. [Tape interrupted.]
We did a very solid reapportionment of the state. What we had were smaller
multi-member districts. Rather than Dade County at large and so forth, we
subdivided the county into smaller units, but we still had multiple-member
P: One of the crucial issues during this time was busing.
P: Talk about your position on that issue, and [how] Askew sponsored his
Pe: Yes. I planned to take the floor and to oppose the busing resolution. I had
dictated, to my secretary, a speech off-the-cuff, just in rough [draft form], of what
I wanted to say. I was in the chair, and the resolution came up. My plan was to
leave the chair and to go down and try to make a plea to oppose it.
P: What exactly did this resolution say?
Pe: It was opposed to busing. I forget the terms of it now, but it was a strong
statement that we ought to, I do not know, amend the Constitution, amend the
appellate authority of the courts. I do not remember all of the issues that were
encompassed in it, but it was an assault on busing, and it was going to put us as
a state on-record against any form of busing. As I indicated, I was in the chair,
and the emotions were so high by the time it got up and started being debated,
that all of a sudden there was a motion to close out debate. Clearly, two-thirds of
the place were going to go for it, so there was nothing I could do but accept the
motion. I could not stop this train. It was running down the railroad track.
Regretfully, I had to accept the motion to close off debate, and it passed by two-
thirds vote. Later, Martin Dyckman [Tallahassee Bureau Chief, St. Petersburg
Times] asked me what I had done, and I told him I had dictated this speech, and
so that is what ran in the St. Pete Times, and then they truncated it and ran it in
the New York Times. I guess you have seen that.
P: Yes. Then Governor Askew decided he wanted to sponsor a referendum.
Pe: Yes. He wanted to try to water down the effect of the resolution by putting a
parallel referendum up that said, effectively, that we were for civil rights and
equal treatment and all that. He thought that would help, and it did help blunt the
adverse publicity nationwide of the busing and of busing I wanted to kill
the damn thing in committee, and I could not stop it. It was brought out of
committee. By two-thirds vote, you can do that, and that is what happened to us.
It was a very sad chapter during my Speakership, but it was the tenor-of-the-
P: One of the areas you obviously got very involved in is environmental issues. How
did you come to get so interested in environmental issues?
Pe: At the time, you know, there was all the publicity about the damage to the
environment [that] the chemicals were causing, [and] that wetlands were being
consumed. My father was a strong hunter and outdoorsman, and he loved to fish,
as well. I did some hunting, but not much, and loved to fish and loved to be
outdoors in the wilderness. When I came down to Miami, I started going down to
Flamingo to fish in Everglades National Park, and I was enraptured by the beauty
of that area, and wanted to protect it, and saw that growth was consuming much
of our natural system. I became interested in the area, and it was evident to me
that this was...oh, and another thing that we did at that time was pass a
$50,000,000 state bond issue to acquire recreational and endangered lands.
P: Sort of the precursor to Preservation 2000?
Pe: Right. It was the first major statewide run at a bond issue.
P: Did Rachel Carson's book Silent Spring have any effect...?
Pe: Well, I never read it, but I knew its contents and was very sympathetic to it. I had
read articles about it. I was so busy, both as a lawyer and as a legislator, [that] to
read books of that nature was very difficult. I just did not have the damn time. So,
I got the message from newspapers and magazine articles.
P: One of the issues that you were involved in was trying to stop the cross-Florida
barge canal. Why was that so difficult to end?
Pe: Some powerful people [William V.] "Bill" Chappell [Florida state representative,
1954-64, 1966-8, Speaker, Florida House of Representatives, 1961; U. S.
Representative, 1968] and Congressman [Charles Edward] Bennett [U.S.
Representative, 1949-1993] and even Claude Pepper were for this idea of
creating this barge canal, even though it would have been antiquated once built,
because it was too narrow, too small. I had once been with my grandfather and
my father on a fishing trip, and we had gone down and entered the mouth of the
Oklawaha from the St. Johns, up in that beautiful area. We did not catch any fish,
but the area was just spectacular. How Lancaster, who was my chairman of the
Agriculture Committee and was so strongly pro-barge canal, took me down
fishing once to the area, after they had gone through and cut huge areas of that
forest down that was just in the water. It was just the most devastating thing I
have ever seen. I just thought that was a horrible, horrible mistake. That was one
of the great things Nixon did. In addition to stopping the jetport in the Everglades,
he did some very good things in the environmental area. He stopped the barge
canal. But now, because of George Kirkpatrick and your new senator and
others, we cannot get the final restoration done. We are still fighting about that. I
am hoping [Jeb] Bush [Florida governor, 1999-present] will stay the course on
P: You also were involved, if I can step back just a second, in 1968 with LeRoy
Collins when he ran for the Senate. Were you the campaign manager?
Pe: I was only [involved] in the fall campaign, after he had just barely eked out a
victory over [Earl] Faircloth in the primary. We all knew it was a big uphill struggle
from there. In 1967, I was forced to leave my law firm by a Florida Bar ethics
opinion that came down in the middle of a campaign for re-election in the special
election. It said that a lawyer-legislator's law firm may not lobby the legislator,
even if the legislator, [as] in my case, had run on a pledge to avoid the issue of
conflict by recusing myself and not ever trying to influence any member of the
legislature concerning the race-day issued, which my partner was
P: Hialeah [race track].
Pe: Yes. So, I thought I had effectively recused myself, and I had, under the existing
rules, but the ethics opinion came down because, I believe, it was Mallory
Home's partner, [who was] lobbying for green stamps, that triggered the
complaint. I do not know that for certain, but I think that is what it was. The
opinion came down, and he was still in the legislature somehow. Horne was
Speaker when I first came to the legislature in 1963. He may have been in the
Senate. He was not yet Senate President, but he was in the Senate. Anyway,
there was this thing that was going on. I had no notice of it or any awareness of
it, and they came down and they said a lawyer-legislator may not recuse himself
by having his firm accept employment that forces him to do so, because he is
denying his constituents] their right that he protect them and vote for their
interests. That was the theory of the opinion. So, all of a sudden, here I am about
to run for Speaker, in fact already starting the Speaker's campaign, against
[Fred] Schultz, or maybe [I] was just planning to, having those ambitions, and all
of a sudden the law firm, which was my sole means of support, either had to give
up Hialeah, which was a major client of the firm, or I had to leave the law firm. I
chose to leave the law firm. I literally went out on the street, without a client,
without any connection. I made an interim arrangement and became head of a
small firm that two other people were running, and it was not working out
[between them]. One of them had a serious alcohol problem [that] I did not know
about, and the other had a mental breakdown. About that time, LeRoy [Collins]
asked me. Somebody suggested my name, and he asked me to become his fall
campaign chair. So, I suffered through that campaign. We did the best we could,
but we could not raise money. This whole sell-my-business and the race issue
just could not be overcome. He was one of our great statesman in Florida.
P: People saw him as just too liberal.
Pe: Yes, on that issue.
P: Why do you think Ed Gurney [U.S. Representative, 1963-1969; U.S. Senator,
1969-1974 ] was able to win that election?
Pe: Because he was opposing LeRoy Collins. It was like Bob High. It was that kind of
a situation where, whoever was up against him had the great benefit of the anti.
He just barely eked [victory] out over Faircloth. He had all the Republicans
generally unsympathetic. The combination was just deadly.
P: What does this say about the rise of the Republican party in the state of Florida?
Pe: Well, I had thought that it would be much more rapid that it really turned out to
have been. I thought we were headed, from the time of Claude Kirk's election, to
a major shift to the Republican party immediately. But only because we had
Askew and Graham and Chiles were we able to hold that down as long as we
did, because the demographics were changing so in this state that it seemed
inevitable to me, and the disaffection of the Panhandle undermining statewide
P: There was a huge influx of Midwesterners who voted Republican.
Pe: All Republicans down the west coast [of Florida]. Then, Dade County had been
the Democratic bastion of the state. It was like Broward County is today. It is the
place where you get this huge lead. Today, because of the Hispanic or the
Cuban influx, and their anger over the Bay of Pigs [April 17, 1961; failed U.S.
invasion of Cuba] and all of that, the Democratic party was associated with it and
we just lost that [support]. While we can barely carry the county sometimes, as
we did with [Al] Gore, [Jr., U.S. Representative from Tennessee, 1977-1985; U.S.
Senator from Tennessee, 1985-1993, U.S. Vice President, 1993-2001],
amazingly, it is no longer the Democratic bastion, and it is mostly electing
Republican legislators and Republican congresspeople.
P: Is the issue here that the Democratic party was split to a large degree on race?
Pe: No. It is the Republican party that associates the Democratic party as being soft
on Castro. The militancy here of the leadership, including the radio and radio
shows in Spanish, intimidate any Hispanic from speaking out in anything but the
hardline against Castro.
P: Certainly true with the Elian Gonzales [Cuban boy rescued off coast of Florida in
1999, returned to father in Cuba in 2000] case, was it not?
Pe: Oh, yes, and that has made it unified. Pluralism was developing in the Cuban
community prior to [the] Elian [case], and now it has been brought back largely
together because of the emotions involved in that.
P: While we are on that subject, did you agree with Janet Reno's decision?
Pe: Absolutely. Yes, I did. You do not take a child away from his father because of
your ideological disagreement with a regime. I mean, that would be a hell of
P: Probably helped Castro.
Pe: [It] did [help Castro]. The most unstable Castro has ever been was when Jimmy
Carter [U.S. President, 1977-1981; Georgia governor, 1971-1975] opened up
travel of Cubans back to Cuba. All of a sudden, large numbers of people were
going to Cuba from the Cuban community here, and they were beginning to
understand the tremendous economic improvement that had occurred with the
Cuban population coming here and what [a] contrast it was to what they had, and
that provoked his Mariel [Mariel Boat Lift, April 1980-September 1980,
approximately 125,000 Cubans fled for the United States and were admitted by
President Carter] decision. That was a very unstable time for Castro. But the
Cubans here just do not get it. They hate Castro so badly, in the main. I mean,
there are a lot of people who quietly do not agree, but they are intimidated. If they
say something, they are likely to be assaulted for days on the radio.
P: I talked with Carl Hiaasen [writer, The Miami Herald] the other day, and he wrote
columns supporting Janet Reno, and he got surreptitious phone calls and e-
mails, but no one would give their name because they literally feared retaliation.
He said these people wanted to agree with me but could not do so publicly. That
is pretty powerful intimidation, is it not?
Pe: It is. Well, you [know the] history of bombings and all of that in this community is
remembered by lots of folks, so there is a lot of fear that goes through [people].
P: Let me get your overall evaluation of Reubin Askew as governor.
Pe: Reubin did an outstanding job of providing moral leadership in this state, as well
as strong policy leadership, and, I think, was one of our most successful
governors in the history of the state. More far-reaching legislation occurred,
mainly, I must modestly say, or immodestly, during the first two years. [The]
legislative accomplishments kind-of are reduced in volume and dimension, but he
still moved forward in ways that are critically important to the state. We had good
policy direction in those days, and because of the recent addition of the corporate
income tax and other tax reforms, we had a stronger [tax] base, so he had a little
money to play with to do things that needed to be done.
P: Once you finish your term as Speaker, you then decide to run for the state
Senate. Why did you make that decision?
Pe: I did not think it was a good idea to stay in the House, as an ex-Speaker. It was
time to move on. I was interested in the 1974 race against [Ed] Gurney. I thought
being in office was better than not being in office, which was probably a mistake
in retrospect. The other factor was that I was interested in running for the Senate.
P: Are you talking U. S. Senate?
Pe: No. At the time, in the state Senate. I was interested in running for the Senate
because I thought I needed to still be in office when I was running for the United
States Senate. But the question was, what opponent. Senator George Hollahan
[Florida state representative, 1957-61; Florida state senator, 1963-1972] had the
votes, supposedly, to be the next Senate president, but I was very disturbed
about his honesty. It turned out later that what he was doing as Rules chairman
in the Senate, and this and that, was sharing fees with a lobbyist to whom he
would steer people who wanted things out of the Senate. He would recommend
that they go hire him, and he would get a referral fee, a third of the fee.
P: Was that common?
Pe: Not to my knowledge-it was not common, but it is absolutely improper and a
form of extortion or bribery or something. I did not know all of that. I just knew
that he always had a lot of cash on hand, and he did a lot of things with cash. He
did not ever seem to work much, but he had declared a substantial income from
his law practice. He had an office that was also a Senate office, and his secretary
was paid by the Senate and not by him from his own funds. So, I decided to run
against him. He was a tough opponent. He had a little [campaign] ditty I cannot
remember how it went now about Hollahan. He was a veteran who had done a
lot of things for a lot of folks in the Senate and in the House. You recall that in
1972 we had a general election for the presidency, and I was a big [Edmund S.]
Muskie [U.S. Senator from Maine, 1959-1980, Democratic candidate for U.S.
Vice President, 1968, Secretary of State under Jimmy Carter, 1980-1981]
supporter, partly because of his environmental record, but beyond that I thought
he was a giant in the Senate and would make a great president. Then we had the
disaster, from my perspective, of [George] McGovern [U.S. Representative,
1957-1961, U.S. Senator, 1963-1981; Democratic presidential candidate, 1972]
getting the nomination, running on a very strong populist message that would not
have cut it in Florida in any way. I had already gotten into this race against High
and realized, based on the 1968 election returns, that the district that had been
subdivided in south Dade Monroe County was south Dade and all of south
Dade through the grove [Coconut Grove] and up through Sweetwater, west
and south. It was larger than Dante Fascell's [Florida state representative 1950-
1954; U.S. Representative, 1955-1993] congressional district, but in analyzing
the 1968 race against Hubert Humphrey [U.S. Senator, 1949-1964, 1971-1978;
U.S. Vice President, 1964-1968; candidate for U.S. President, 1968], I realized,
and we realized, after we had already announced, that this was a very
conservative district, a very tough district, against a Republican, much less a
Democrat who was strong, and [it] turned out he had all the leadership in Monroe
County tied up. Anyway, I ran against George [Hollahan]. I went down into
Monroe County and took him on. He had introduced a local bill to exempt Monroe
County from state dredging requirements. I used that and ran kind-of an
environmental campaign in the Keys, the first one, I think, that had ever been run
down there. That was enough to split the vote up enough that I could survive in
the district, by a 52 to 48 percent margin.
P: One of the issues was his opposition to collective bargaining and right-to-work
laws. Was that part of the campaign?
Pe: You know, I do not recall.
P: I am sure you got, in this campaign, quite a bit of support from labor, did you not?
Pe: Yes, but it was not a heavy labor district. There was not much labor influence in
P: My information said you helped kill the right-to-work law and that turned out to be
Pe: It could have been.
P: You defeat Hollahan. Then you have to defeat the Republican in the general
P: How close was that race?
Pe: That was 51 to 49 [percent], and this was [a campaign against] Mike Thompson
who had scared [Dante] Fascell, I think in 1968, almost upset Fascell. He was
an advertising executive and had talked on the radio a lot. Was a very right-wing
conservative. He put up billboards all over the district, and they said, McGovern
and Pettigrew, Nixon and Thompson. It was just devastating stuff. I did a lot of
door-to-door campaigning, and campaigning in Dadeland and major shopping
centers here in south Dade and People said, are you going to vote for
McGovern, and they would really put it to me because it was clear they were
hostile to McGovern. McGovern ran, and I think it was like 68 to 32 or something
like that in the district for Nixon over McGovern. So, to survive that was an
P: How did you answer that question?
Pe: I said, as Speaker of the House, I am a major party official, as well, and I have to
P: The Democratic ticket, as it were. Yes. Okay, what was your term in the state
Pe: Mallory Horne was president in the Senate, and Dempsey Barron [Florida state
senator] kind-of ran the Senate with Mallory, and the Republicans.
P: Although Dempsey at that time was a Democrat.
Pe: Yes. Mallory honored me by making me Chairman of the Criminal Justice
Committee. I developed a very strong proposal about prisoner education [and]
rehabilitation efforts, trying to improve the chance of their making it on the
outside. I got it out of committee, but I could not move it. I also had gotten an
LEAA [Law Enforcement Assistance Administration] grant when I was Speaker
for a study of the Florida criminal code. That grant had come through, and I, with
a House member, jointly chaired a committee to rewrite the criminal code of the
state. Janet Reno was our staff for that joint committee. We rewrote the statutes
[and] did a pretty good job of it. [We] tried to eliminate some egregious things.
For instance, we tried to eliminate sodomy as a crime. We finally got it down to a
misdemeanor in the Senate. Things like that [were accomplished], and [we]
modernized the code and so forth. It was a good product. It came to the last day
of the session, and the bill came back from the House restoring sodomy as a
felony and doing a couple of other things and went backwards. So, I refused to
accept it, and then we let it die for that session. We brought it back the next
session, and with the concession that sodomy would be a misdemeanor, rather
than a felony, we got it passed. Janet [Reno] had gone on, at that point, back to
Miami to become Assistant State Attorney and later, State Attorney. I was very
frustrated that I could not get the reforms that my committee had developed,
adopted. I just could not get them up on the floor. Mallory would not put them up
on the floor, and Dempsey, I think he was chairman of Rules, and he did not like
it. I could not convince Mallory to bring it out. We had been fighting with the
Senate for two years when I was Speaker, and Jerry Thomas had been Senate
president [1971-1972] when I was Speaker. We had these big broad policies,
and as we got near the end of our first session with Jerry, I had the must-pass
bills that I wanted, and I sat down with Jerry. He wanted some local bills affecting
Palm Beach County. That is what his interest was. He just had no vision of what
he was about. It was a great disappointment. He had started out as a very honest
guy, very well motivated, and hopefully we had two urban leaders who were
going to do great things together. But we could never cooperate.
P: So, your one term in the state Senate was a little bit frustrating for you.
Pe: Yes. I resigned to run for the U. S. Senate in 1974.
P: Although you did not have to.
Pe: I had a four-year term, but I elected to resign and run for the U. S. Senate.
P: Talk about that campaign. Now, there were eleven candidates. You tend to get
into these campaigns with either difficult struggles or lots of candidates.
P: Who were the favorites going in?
Pe: [Bill] Gunter [Florida state senator, 1966-1972; U.S. Representative, 1973-1975]
and [Richard] Dick Stone [Florida state senator, 1967-1970; Florida Secretary of
State, 1970-1974; U.S. Senator, 1975-1980] and I were the three leading
candidates, but we had....
P: Glenn Turner dare to be great.
Pe: Glenn Turner, who was a sideshow. I had a strong program on antitrust. It was
a responsible program, and he would just, every public appearance, take
positions way beyond where I was and just confused everything. It was a mess.
P: And Mallory Home was also a candidate.
Pe: Mallory was a candidate. He was the fourth major candidate in that race.
P: I looked at some early polling, and the polling was really interesting because a
statewide poll by Ken Lewis ended up being almost right-on-the-money in terms
of how the election came out. They had Gunter at 20 percent, Stone at almost
14, you at 12.5 and Mallory Horne at 11.7. Of course, you were strongest in
South Florida. Now, when you looked at that poll, what was your strategy? Did
you want to try to get in the runoff?
Pe: Yes, [the goal] was to get in the runoff. Election night, WTVJ had a statewide
straw poll [or] exit poll, and they showed me in the runoff, they declared me in the
runoff, but when the Panhandle came in, Stone, who had his little campaign
organizations in all sixty-seven counties, had enough votes there to overcome
P: Was anti-Semitism an issue in this campaign? Many people probably did not
even know Stone was Jewish.
Pe: They did not know he was Jewish in the Panhandle. They supported him. He had
good relations with the Ku Klux Klan and people like that. It was amazing what he
put together in a group. Later, it was his undoing because when he got to the U.
S. Senate and had to vote on the Panama Canal and he voted for the treaty, all
those people left him.
P: Plus, he had said he was not going to [vote for the treaty] originally, I believe. I
think he changed his mind on that.
Pe: I do not remember what he said originally. The Carter administration [1977-81]
twisted his arm.
P: In this campaign, as you look at the polling, it was pretty close. They had 32 to 29
percent almost all the way through. How did you plan to overcome that 3 percent
Pe: I had the liberal activists around the state, women and environmentalists, and I
had some black support, although Stone went in and bought some leaders. It
was sad, just really disgusting to see some people in the black community at the
time selling out their positions. Very disgusting. After I had gone way out [to
support civil rights?] throughout my career, and here is Stone playing around
in one area of the state with the Ku Kluxers. Anyway, he was Secretary of State
and he had good statewide organization, and mine was confined to major cities. I
was poorly organized in rural counties, particularly in the Panhandle, and I got
P: A problem, of course, always is money.
Pe: I had very little money. I raised $300,000 [or] $350,000. I cannot remember
exactly what the figures were. But I had good momentum, and I thought I had
closed the distance between us. I did not realize that Gunter was going to run out
so far ahead of both of us, but I should have realized that, because I knew we
were splitting [the votes] in Dade, even though I carried Dade against Stone.
P: Do you presume you split the Jewish vote?
Pe: Yes, I did at that time. Not the second time I ran, but the first time.
P: So, the issue, to a large degree, was not so much religion as your position on
Pe: Positions, right. I was the liberal, and Stone was more conservative.
P: One thing you said after the election: "I was a little too careful, too cautious, too
Pe: Yes. I was a very poor speaker because I was so afraid I would say something
that was imprecise and therefore could be used against me somehow. While I
came across, I think, as a sincere speaker, I was not emotional enough. I learned
that, unfortunately too late, before my 1980 campaign. In the 1980 campaign, I
had some speech help from an expert at one of the universities there in the
Washington area who was wonderful, about how to speak on television, how to
be more effective as a speaker, and I became quite a good speaker. I am today a
far better speaker than I was back in those days. I was just too boring because I
would not emote.
P: Do you think your term as Speaker of the House might have hurt you, if we look
at your stand on busing and against the cross-Florida barge canal?
Pe: I fought every special interest in the state. I made all kinds of enemies as
Speaker of the House. No doubt about that. I alienated a lot of folks. My feeling,
as I expressed before, is I did not care; I was going to do the best job I could; I
was going to establish as strong a record as I could. I had tremendous
newspaper support around the state because of that record, but I could not
combine that with the money that I needed to project more and to effectively
overcome all the enemies I had made.
P: If you had gotten in the runoff, do you think you could have defeated Gunter?
Pe: I think I could have because I would have combined Dade, Broward and Palm
Beach and come out of here with a huge lead.
P: Now, in the runoff between Stone and Gunter, you really did not support either
candidate, did you? I think what you said [was] you would support the winner.
Pe: I guess it was the second race that I endorsed Gunter. The first race, I think you
are right, I stayed out of it.
P: Anticipating that you might want to run again?
Pe: No. Maurice Foray came over from the Stone camp and was proposing that I
help Stone against Gunter, and I did not feel like I wanted to do that, and Gunter
was not somebody I thought was going to be a very effective senator either. So, I
just decided to stay out of it.
P: One of the things I wanted to talk about is you had a really well-thought-out and
comprehensive platform. Talk a little bit about some of your issues. You wanted,
for example, indexing for tax rates in oil depletion allowance, minimum tax for
people in high brackets. That is not going to endear you to a lot of...
Pe: To campaign contributors.
P: Do you think in retrospect your campaign was too esoteric, too economically
based, perhaps? Sort of like [Adlai Ewing] Stevenson [Democratic candidate
for President, 1952 and 1956] in 1956.
Pe: Possibly. I have not thought about that very much. The leading thing I was talking
about was the antitrust issue, which is a White Paper [issue and policy report]. I
guess we copied the success that Reubin had, and [Gene] Stearns was an
influence on this. We needed a theme we could go forward with and we hit on
antitrust, and it just did not excite people very much. It was a little too esoteric, as
P: And it mainly was that you were very upset about the monopolistic pricing,
particularly by oil.
P: But you also had a very strong energy platform more mass transit, smaller
cars, solar heat, energy-efficient machines, alternatives to petroleum. Now, of
course, this comes about during the oil embargo, and clearly energy was a
P: Did that help you at all?
Pe: Probably not, except among environmentalists. [That issue] excited that base.
P: But you would have had their support anyway.
Pe: Well, I should have, and I probably did have it. Gunter had some claim in the
environmental area. Stone had chaired a committee looking at the pollution of the
Miami River and what to do with it, and they had done some little facial things
that did not make any difference, and he had a big PR [public relations] thing
jumping into the Miami River saying, it is really swimmable now. It was not, of
course. It was in terrible shape. I mean, it was a dangerous thing for him to do,
but he got huge publicity for it. So, people thought he was sensitive to the
P: Yeah, I do not think anybody in their right mind would have done that. They
probably still would not jump in there.
Pe: No, they should not.
P: Also, you talk about in this campaign of cutting back overseas military bases and
getting rid of these aircraft carriers because they are kind of wasteful, and you
talk about national health insurance. Were some of these issues, perhaps, not
very well-received in the Panhandle?
Pe: [Laughs.] That is for sure. You know, most people who looked at it thought we
were spread out way too much and unnecessarily so, and we were spending way
too much money overseas and on big things like carriers that no longer had any
relevance in a missile age, or did not have as much relevance. We did not need
to continue to multiply them that was my point.
P: If you had to do it again, if you were presenting your platform, would you focus
more on certain issues?
Pe: Yes. I would have had a less comprehensive set of policy pronouncements. I
would try to give people a flavor of where I am coming from, without
unnecessarily brandishing every unpopular tough issue that there is, in their face.
P: The simpler, the better, I guess.
P: And nowadays, with these sound bytes Ronald Reagan was successful with
"Morning in America" about as vague as you can get.
Pe: That is right.
P: Is there a problem in communicating with the voter? I mean, do you have to
dumb it down? Do you have to be emotional and avoid issues?
Pe: By being emotional, I am not talking about appealing to emotions as much as
evincing emotion, passion about what you are saying. I think you have to
communicate effectively, and that means you have to speak in terms that people
understand. In that sense, you do not discuss technical issues with technical
language. You have to explain it in ways that are more effective. I have learned
to do that pretty well, but probably back at that point, I was way too pedantic.
P: How important was Watergate in the Democratic primary?
Pe: I do not think it was a major issue among us. It might have been in a [Edward J.]
Gurney campaign. You know, I anticipated Gurney was going to be the
opponent, and I was the early entrant against him, and then things changed. But
with Stone and Gunter and Home, that was not a major issue.
P: When you look back on Watergate, what is its significance in American history?
Pe: Well, it shows that if you get a person who is bright and willing to do things
beyond the pale of the law, you can get this country into a real mess. Dante
Fascell, I remember very distinctly, was very concerned with [the idea that] this
guy [President Richard Nixon] was going to become a dictator if he kept on going
the way he was going. He thought things were horrendous in Washington at the
time. I did not get that overwhelming sense, and I still do not think [he would
become a dictator], but he was trying to misuse the CIA [Central Intelligence
Agency] and the FBI [Federal Bureau of Investigation]. Those are very
concerning things in a democracy, running roughshod over people's rights. The
Constitution was really being ignored very deliberately.
P: Do you think this is one of the greatest scandals in American history or, as Nixon
explained in his memoirs, [that] it was a case of public relations and an
Pe: No, I do not think you commission burglars to go to a psychiatrist's office and
burglarize with the commission of the United States President. Those kinds of
things taking cash money in and handing it out, doing everything illegal that you
can think of [in order] to achieve certain political objectives those set a horrible
precedent, and a dangerous precedent for the country. I am glad that we had
such a strong reaction to it when we learned what had been going on. I think
Nixon really destroyed himself when he was trying to accomplish certain things -
P: As Teddy White [Author of Breach of Faith, book about Watergate] put it, it was a
breach of faith.
Pe: Yes, breach of faith. There is no question about it.
P: When you look at this scandal, it seems to me that, as a lawyer, Nixon must have
been aware [of] a misprision of a felony. I mean, he was committing a series of
P: Bribery, suborning of perjury, all of these things.
Pe: He was the first president I am aware of who went that far in the assertion that
the president is above the law. We have never had a president who has been as
overt in what he has done. I am sure that Lyndon Johnson did some things that...
P: ...he did not get caught at.
Pe: Yes, that he did not get caught at, and maybe Roosevelt, too. I do not know. You
do not know of any of that now, despite history. Here is a guy who just says, I am
above the law; I do not have to obey anybody. That is really twisted thinking.
P: You were critical of [President Gerald] Ford's [U.S. President, 1974-1977] pardon
Pe: I am not so sure I was right at the time about it, but you felt that this man was not
above the law and should have been subjected to all of the consequences for the
felonies that he perpetrated.
P: Some people argued that he could have gone to court, all the details come out,
and then he could have been pardoned. What Ford pardons him for are crimes
he may have committed.
Pe: It was a comprehensive pardon of anything he might have done.
P: I know you probably noticed that Ford got The Profiles in Courage Award [award
given by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation to recognize political
leadership and courage]. Clearly, he underestimated the political damage, but he
knew there would be some fallout.
Pe: He knew there would be fallout. If you agree with the decision that he made, it
was a courageous decision. There is no doubt about it.
P: In the election, once the runoff takes place and Stone beats Gunter, now Stone
takes on Ed Gurney. What participation did you have in that campaign?
Pe: I think I offered my support. I do not really remember being active in it, but I
certainly wanted Gurney to be replaced, even by Stone, for whom I did not have
P: You are an issue in the campaign because at one point, Gurney blamed you for
[him] being indicted in Leon County for failure to report campaign contributions.
Do you remember that?
Pe: No. I was never indicted.
P: No, he was, and he blamed you for [his] somehow getting that indictment.
Pe: Oh. I have no idea what he was talking about.
P: Obviously, he was hurt by that indictment and by his vociferous support of Nixon.
P: Do you think he [Gurney] would have lost that race anyway?
Pe: That is a good question. He would be a tough opponent. I thought he was going
to be a tough opponent, but I thought he needed to be removed. If he had not
been indicted, Gunter and Stone probably would not have jumped in.
P: You think that was critical. You were going to run anyway, right?
Pe: I was running, yes. I had already made it clear I was running.
P: He was not a particularly effective United States senator, was he?
Pe: No, I did not think so.
P: So, he was vulnerable.
Pe: I felt he was vulnerable, but a lot of people did not [and] thought he would be very
tough because he had a war-hero image.
P: And he looked like a senator.
Pe: He looked like a senator, no question. I felt I could have taken him, but who
knows. I mean, [politics] is so tough.
P: Gurney ends up withdrawing from the race, and ultimately, I guess, Paula
Hawkins [U.S. Senator, 1981-1987] is nominated, and then Stone defeats Paula
P: What was your assessment of Paula Hawkins at the time? Did you think she
would be a strong candidate?
Pe: I thought she was a lightweight.
P: Were you surprised she beat Jack Eckerd [founder, Eckerd drugstores; two-time
candidate for governor; one-time candidate for U.S. Senate]?
P: Jack Eckerd had a lot of money and name recognition.
P: What happened to the influence of money in politics?
Pe: Well, sometimes you cannot overcome an officiousness. Jack [Eckerd, in the
1974 Senate race] just did not have it as a pol [politician]. I think he was in the
P: He did well in his business career but....
P: Do you think [that if] you had survived a runoff and you had won the Democratic
nomination that you could have beaten Paula Hawkins?
Pe: Yes, I do.
P: I am going to skip ahead a little bit. Discuss your decisions, in terms of both your
legal and political career, in 1974, after you lose the nomination for the Senate
Pe: Well, I had to go back to work as a lawyer to try to make ends meet because I
had never accumulated anything other than the value of my house, [which] had
accreted in value somewhat. I was still struggling to make a decent living. I went
back to the practice, was practicing a couple of years and doing pretty well. Then
Jimmy Carter came calling. Came to my office and asked me to help him. He
was doing this all over [to] the defeated senatorial candidates; he was picking
them up all over.
P: What year was this? He announced in 1974.
Pe: Yes. He had certainly announced. I was familiar with the fact that he as governor
[of Georgia] had spearheaded governmental reorganization, and that impressed
me, and his position on race issues, by that time, [that] he was articulating, not
necessarily his history coming up through the [Georgia] state Senate, but as
governor. I thought he was a progressive governor in the South and therefore
someone who could carry the South in a presidential election. He came across
as a very bright guy. He is very effective one-on-one. We talked about
reorganization and so on, and I was impressed. I kind of liked [Al] Gore, Jr.
[Vice-President under Bill Clinton 1993-2001], but I thought Carter had a better
P: That was just a huge field. I think there were thirteen candidates there Jerry
Brown [California governor, 1975-1983; mayor of Oakland, California, 1999-
present] and Frank Church [U.S. Senator, Idaho, 1957-1981] and Lloyd
Bentsen [U.S. Representative, 1948-1955; U.S. Senator, 1971-1993;
Democratic candidate for Vice President, 1988] and Terry Sanford [North
Carolina governor, 1961-1965; president of Duke University, 1969-1985; U.S.
Senator, 1986-1993] and Fred Harris [U.S. Senator, Oklahoma, 1964-1973,
unsuccessful candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, 1976].
P: But in that group, particularly I think of Terry Sanford, who was a very
accomplished, successful Southerner. They are both very much like Jimmy
Carter a new Southern governor. Why was his bid not successful and Carter's
Pe: I do not remember. Was he an ex-governor?
P: He was an ex-governor of North Carolina.
Pe: Had he been defeated for re-election?
P: No. It was just the one term.
Pe: Or for the Senate?
P: Yes, he was when he ran for the Senate. But at that time, he would have been
president of Duke [University], so he was in a nonpolitical office.
Pe: I do not know. There was something about his situation, [and] I just did not think
he would have the appeal that Carter did.
P: Although Carter was not well-known in the country at the time.
Pe: Not at all, but he had some of the ingredients that I thought were necessary his
cleanup of the post-Watergate mess was one of the things he was stressing, and
because he was thinking about doing some reorganization of the federal
government, which I was strongly sympathetic with I thought this message was
missing among the Democratic candidates, this idea of making government work
better as a focus [point of campaigns].
P: Which has sort of been a central focus of your career.
Pe: Right, because I think government is important, and the institution has been
neglected, and there are a lot of institutional things that need to be done to
improve the way it works. That was my effort.
P: And he also had at least the beginnings of an energy policy, which would have
been fairly close to what you were talking about.
P: What was your assessment of [Carter's] campaign for the Democratic
nomination? Hamilton Jordan [director of Carter's campaign for U.S. President,
1976; White House Chief-of-Staff, Carter administration] persuaded him to run in
all the primaries, and you know Jerry Brown and Church were just out west do
you think that was a sound strategy?
Pe: It turned out to be so. He took on the early primaries. He had to make it in the
early primaries to get name recognition nationally. He concentrated on Iowa and
did great there, and that is what really launched him.
P: Yes. He won the Iowa poll with something like thirteen percent of it, but he was
the top vote-getter.
Pe: That is what he needed.
P: That was all he needed name-recognition and money. But the issue for a lot of
people was that the key primary was Florida, and he had to beat George
Wallace, and he did, if I recall, with something like thirty-four to thirty-one
percent. It was close.
Pe: I was asked by Hamilton Jordan, I believe, to come and speak at the Democratic
state convention on behalf of Carter. I had a tremendous liberal activist group at
that convention, so my endorsement of Carter was very important to Carter at the
time. I remember Hamilton was there, and I made an impassioned speech for
Carter. It helped swing that convention, and so they were very grateful for my
participation, particularly in that event. It was also a milestone for Carter in the
P: Because it proved it could he could carry the South.
Pe: And that he could broaden his appeal to the liberal activists in the state, in
addition to the centrist, moderate Democrats.
P: I do not know whether this was a letter or a statement. You talked about once,
that with this election, the South is now changing, and it is sort of becoming a
new South. You argued to some degree that Wallace's appeal was not just
based on race but that he was to a large degree a populist, that he was opposed
to big government, opposed to federal intervention, and that had more to do with
his appeal than race. Is that a fair assessment of your [argument]?
Pe: No. I thought he was a racial demagogue but that he also picked up an anti-
bureaucratic concern that people had as well. He hit a lot of buttons in addition to
just race, but the race [issue] was his main button in my mind.
P: But in this case, it appears as though Carter steals a little bit of his populist
thunder, as it were.
P: And that sort of helps him in the Panhandle. Carter is already good on race, but
he needs the middle of the road and some conservative votes.
Pe: Yes, and that is where his taking on the federal bureaucracy and reorganizing it
had resonated. Unfortunately, his staff was divided about reorganization, they did
not think it had the political importance that I did, and that is what undermined his
own conviction that that [is what] needed to be done. A lot of the initiatives that
were begun in reorganization when I was there there was a system on that
subject died of within the White House because Hamilton did not
think it was politically helpful, and Jack Watson, this intergovernmental relations
guy who ran for governor, was absolutely opposed to reorganization. When I first
went to Washington, I was invited to the Woodrow Wilson Foundation or
something, and they had a discussion of reorganization, historically and what
Carter wanted to do and so forth. I was there on behalf of the president to make
an appeal for this effort, and be damned if Jack, who had been head of his
transition team, did not make a speech the same day opposing it, saying all it
does is create grief and disruption, and it was politically harmful and it was not
worth [it], and you could do it indirectly and [with] cooperation and so forth was
better. I was just astounded. Well, that was just a tip-off of what was going to
P: Let me go back to this 1976 election. How much participation did you have in the
Democratic primaries and in the general election?
Pe: I was pretty active. I went to the convention, [and] I had been very active in the
presidential primaries, [and] I made some speeches. I do not remember in detail
what all I did.
P: Talk a little bit about the campaign against Gerald Ford. Obviously, Ford is hurt
by Ronald Reagan's challenge to Ford. I think that drained a lot of money and a
lot of support. Why do you think Carter won that election?
Pe: I think it was [that] he [saw] the post-Watergate concerns of the country, and
[voters] saw him as one who would start a new kind of approach to responsible
governments handling the presidency in a way I will not lie to you to establish
trustworthiness in the presidency [and] that people could rely on him. I think he
captured that, and the country was in that mood. They wanted to be assured that
we were not going to have a repeated Watergate.
P: But the electoral vote was very close.
Pe: It was one that he almost lost.
P: Is part of that his ability to present himself as a very moral person, and this smile
and openness, but a lot of people really did not like Jimmy Carter and they liked
Gerald Ford. I hate to reduce it to that, but is that a factor?
Pe: That was [a factor], but Gerald Ford, after all these years in Congress, does not
know Poland is in the Communist bloc. That was just an astonishing problem.
Everybody had to have been just amazed that that statement could have been
P: Plus, it took him two days to correct it.
Pe: Yes. I do not know what he was doing.
P: I think that hurt him.
Pe: Oh, that was a fundamental wound.
P: Talk about your time as assistant to the president for reorganization. Why do you
think he asked you, and why did you agree to serve?
Pe: He and his staff had patterned their efforts in Georgia much after what we had
done in Florida, and he was aware of our effort and came to learn that I was the
key person involved in it. They needed political appointments from Florida, and
Alfredo Duran was out trying to enlist people to present to him, and my name
came up somehow, so my name got floated. Hamilton remembered my talk, I
guess, and so on, because he was there at the Democratic caucus, so he knew I
was a strong supporter of Carter, so it seemed to fit.
P: How did you feel about going to Washington?
Pe: Well, I thought it would be [for] eight years, and I thought Carter would have an
ambitious program because he had made such a strong pitch about it in the
campaign. So, I had to make a real career decision. I thought it would help me if I
wanted to come back and run at some point. I really anticipated staying in
Washington for two terms, and I was willing at that point to do that, even if it
meant no further political career in Florida. So, I went up, and initially I was going
to head a commission. I was going to chair a commission, like I did later here,
and develop reorganization proposals for the president. That was what I was
signed on to do initially, and then Bert Lance learned for the first time when I
was already up there in the White House that I was up there to become head of a
commission on reorganization, when Lance was out telling the business
community, as head of Office of Management and Budget, he was going to do
reorganization. That created a big problem, and so the next two or three visits I
had up there, the whole thing got turned off. They argued that a commission
would limit the president's flexibility and options. He would be bound by the
decisions of the commission, [and] he would have to go forward with them even if
he disagreed with them. You know, he could not refuse his own. They made a
bunch of arguments to... So, the definition of the job got changed to become an
assistant to the president for reorganization. I would be working the interest
groups and [also working] a certain amount in the Congress, and I would not be
able to develop the actual reorganization plans with input from me to the extent
that I wanted to add input on particular plans.
So, I did both of those things. I would work on the reorganization plans,
make comments on them, [and] interact with the staff that was developing them
in particular areas. At the same time, I would be responsible for taking all of the
affected stakeholders, and every department of government in Washington has a
clientele-group of people who either are supporters or supplicants in those
departments. They have, of course, ties to Congress, congressional staffs that
have jurisdictions over those departments. You have to work all of those to
accomplish anything, so my role became more and more [a role of] bringing
those groups in, briefing them, getting their comments, seeing what we could do
to work together, and trying to get their support for the plan, rather than to co-opt
them, so that they would not be big opponents and obstacles. Campbell [full
name?] was head of the Civil Service Commission, and he led a big effort to
reform the whole federal civil service system. That became one of our major
thrusts, and I worked a lot with him, although he had the ideas for reforming it.
He created the Office of Personnel Management and the Whistle Blower
legislation and the system of rather than doing what we have done in Florida
just now, taking civil service protection away from middle-level managers, he put
them on an incentive program goals and bonuses and so on which was a
very innovative thing. The problem is that when things like that get to Congress,
while they are adopted, they then, in another context, put caps on civil service
pay so that it does not get above congressional pay at the top. That compresses
everything down so that these very people who are supposed to be entitled to
these big bonuses, because of the capping effect, could not get bonuses. So,
they thwarted the whole effort after the bill was passed. We got the bill passed,
and I tried to encourage a new representative in Tallahassee a freshman being
faced, [by] her constituency of the civil servants in Tallahassee, and [the civil
servants believed that] all of a sudden [she was] doing this to them. I tried to
suggest to her, try this alternative and see if you can get this to work rather than
putting them at will and making them highly politicized; let us give them civil
service protection, but tie their pay and bonuses to incentives. I still think that can
work if properly implemented. Anyway, that was one of the major things we
passed [and] got done.
P: Did you get Whistle Blower Protection?
Pe: Whistle Blower Protection was a part of this legislation, and it is still effective.
P: Where did you work out of? Did you work out of the White House OMB [Office of
Management and Budget]?
Pe: No. I was at the Old Executive Office Building. I had a huge office over on the
west side of the Old Executive Office Building.
P: Did you have much contact with [Hamilton] Jordan and Carter?
Pe: Yes, I had some. Initially, we attended all the Cabinet meetings, and then he
threw us all out and decided everything was leaked and nothing was being
accomplished. There were too many people in the room. But I enjoyed those
meetings, as well. Jordan, I had certain contacts with, but he and his Georgia
Mafia, as they called them, really did protect and isolate the president, so it was
difficult to get through to the president, except that I had direct written input to
him, as did all the staffs. The way the president operated, he got up early in the
morning, turned on the classical music, and sat and had options that he was to
make, decisions he was to make and here are the options, and he would choose.
He would just checkmark them off, and that would become the marching orders.
My greatest achievement in that regard was overruling OMB and other offices,
other staff, components in the White House on the new Department of Education.
What came out of the OMB study, the management study, was something I
disagreed with, and that was to pare back this new Department of Education,
rather than taking all the education functions of the federal government and
putting them in a single department, which was the very function of
reorganization, as far as I was concerned. All OMB did, to avoid controversy,
was to peel out of HEW [Department of Health, Education and Welfare], the E
[Education] portion that was about 2,000 employees out of 150,000 federal
employees and no functions from any other area. I used an example, the
miserable Indian education being performed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs and
the Department of Interior, [and showed that program was] just a scandal and
desperately needed attention. And [to] not include the several thousand people
administering Indian education in this new department, I thought, was
horrendous and an embarrassment to the president. I put all this into a strong
memo to the president, and everybody else was endorsing this. The next
morning, the whole White House was a-buzz because the president agreed with
me, and all these people.... Anyway, it went up to the Hill, but one of the
problems was that this was not run through the Indian Nations, and they had this
history of an anti-Indian effort to amalgamate the Indians back into American
society and to destroy their culture [to] take them off the reservations and
assimilate them. This assimilation fear of the Indians drove them to oppose it, so
in Congress, [Barry] Goldwater [U.S. Senator, 1953-1965, 1969-1987;
Republican candidate for President, 1964] and others took it out, but it was
included in the president's recommendation as still [being] right, still the thing that
ought to happen. That has not improved that much.
P: Jimmy Carter claimed in his autobiography that he read a lot of these reports and
actually went through them and thought about them, unlike Ronald Reagan who,
you know, had a yes-no option.
P: Was that your experience?
Pe: Oh, he was very detail-oriented. He read everything, tried to understand
everything and the implications. He was very thorough.
P: The criticism is that he ultimately got into too may details and missed the big
Pe: Well, in certain ways. [Tape interrupted.] He had one little tennis court there on
the White House grounds, and it was a great honor to play on it. At least, it was
thought to be a great perk. So, I applied for Champion, the deputy
secretary of HEW and myself and our wives to go play. My impression is that I
know initially he was approving the use of that, and I think he approved that, as
well, so we got to play once on the White House tennis courts. But that is an
amazing use of a president's time.
P: Yes. You would think the president would have a lot more important decisions to
make than who plays on the tennis courts.
Pe: Absolutely. Carter is a brilliant guy, but he often thinks like an engineer, I think.
He thinks in compartments, and he sometimes isolates one problem from
another. In areas like human rights, that was not true. He got that picture, and
that was one of the fundamental contributions, I think, his presidency made.
P: Some people argue that he, by pursuing human rights, had a policy that was
really impractical, that he did not understand the realities of the world.
Pe: Yeah, the [Henry] Kissinger [Secretary of State, 1973-1977; Assistant to the
President for National Security Affairs, 1969-1975] types thought that, but you
could see the impact of the human rights [campaign] in Latin American as
dictator after dictator were thrown out, and it has impacted places like Poland
and other places. I think it was a fundamentally important message that was
underestimated by the realpolitik-types who think it is all power.
P: Talk about something a little more critical here. What about the issue of the
Panama Canal Treaty?
Pe: I went down on another foray to the Democratic state convention and made a big
strong pitch on the Panama Canal Treaty at that time, helping Carter on that
subject. I was strongly in favor of the treaty, as was the president, of course, and
the White House. So, I did get out of my regular job to do that political work. Of
course, [Dick] Stone was brought aboard that train, and he was an important
P: Well, [Carter] needed it. [The vote] was 68 to 32 [with two=thirds need for
Pe: He had become, by that time, a major spokesman for the Jewish community and
[he was] working very closely with the lobbyists.
P: This is Dick Stone?
Pe: Yes, and so I think that he was motivated, his arm was twisted, because of that
relationship that he was trying to maintain. He was a strong proponent and
advocate of interests in Israel, and so to be persuasive at the White House in that
area, I think he felt compelled to go with the Panama Canal Treaty. I do not think
he did it for the right reasons, but he did vote right, and it was somewhat of a
courageous vote because it was unpopular, particularly in the Panhandle, which
later deserted him.
P: Do you think that Carter made a mistake in pursuing that controversial treaty right
out of the blocks, that maybe he should have waited?
Pe: I think those are the kinds of things that a president has to do if he is going to
lead. There are no good times to do things that are going to be very
controversial. Sometimes it is better to show your mettle early on and get it done,
[rather] than waiting.
P: Your view of the Camp David accords and, in general, Carter's foreign policy.
Pe: I thought the Camp David accords were a great achievement at the time, to bring
[Menachem] Begin [Israeli Prime Minister, 1977-1983] along after his [unclear] -
you know, he is almost like Ariel Sharon [Israeli Prime Minister, February 2001-
present]. I think what we now see is that the Palestinians desperately need new
leadership. They need leadership that is willing to try to bring about peace. I just
do not think [Yasir] Arafat [President, Palestinian National Authority, 1996-
present; Chairman, Palestine Liberation Organization, 1968-present] has the guts
to do what needs to be done even when he is given a tremendous offer, which
was given during [Ehud] Barak's [Israeli Prime Minister, 1999-2001] regime and
Clinton's negotiation. At the time, I had great hopes that those accords were
going to be carried out. I think they did help bring about a period of relative
tranquility compared to what had been going on, but things have degenerated
P: What about his boycott of the Olympics based on [the] Russian invasion of
Pe: I did not have a problem with that. I thought we stood for something, and I think it
was important to make a statement. That may not have been the best way to do
it, but it was certainly a very visible way to do it.
P: In retrospect, his energy policy looks very prescient...
Pe: Yes, exactly the word I was thinking of.
P: ...but he had such a difficult time getting his program passed by Congress. Why
Pe: Carter was much more willing to grapple with tough issues than the Congress
was. Congress was very political, and none of these measures are very easy to
sell to your constituents smaller cars, fuel efficiency, less dependence on
gasoline and converting to other forms of energy. You run into huge lobbies and
industry groups that are opposed [to energy conserving measures]. Once the oil
prices began to come down, the sense of crisis dissipated, and it is very difficult,
other than in a crisis, to move tough [ideas] forward.
P: You have to wait until California runs out of energy.
Pe: That is right. You have got to have a major crisis to get something tough like that
P: A lot of people criticized him. I know [Thomas P.] "Tip" O'Neill [U.S.
Representative from Massachusetts, 1953-1987; Speaker of U.S. House of
Representatives, 1977-1987], in his autobiography, was very upset because he
felt like Carter did not do a good job of working with the Congress, [O'Neill said]
that Frank Moore [Congressional liaison] was not a very good liaison man, that
Carter had a weak staff and he called, as you know, Jordan "Hannibal Jerkin"
and all that sort of thing. Was that a weakness of the Carter administration?
Pe: I think it was a fundamental weakness. He had a Congress that was much more
liberal than he was. He had the experience of the Georgia legislature, which was
a very weak institution. He had served in it one term. Then he went over to
governor, and he was used to being able to run over the legislature. Frank Moore
was the prototype of the guy who would intimidate and be a tough old guy
wheeling and dealing. Congress is much more sophisticated than that. It is a very
sophisticated institution with very bright people, both at the staff level and overall
in the Congress itself, and it is a very independent thing because political parties
have been weakened a lot in our society. Particularly in the Democratic party,
there is not much discipline, not nearly as much as in the Republican party.
Frank Moore was an evident failure from very early on, and Carter, out of loyalty,
would not move him out of there. He got some good support staff under him, and
he tried to solve it that way. But he was not philosophically in-tune with a lot of
the congressional leadership. They were more liberal than he was, and he did
not want to go that way. He tried to bring Bob Strauss to help him. He was about
the only one outside the Georgia Mafia that he would let in.
P: So, he was really kind of parochial, was he?
Pe: He had that problem of [having had] little public experience. I mean, he came out
of running a peanut farm and warehouse, after being in the service in a nuclear
submarine, to one term in the [Georgia state] Senate and then one term as
governor, and all of a sudden he is [the president of the United States]. It is kind
of like George [W.] Bush [U.S. President, 2001-present; Texas governor, 1995-
2001] now, but Bush had his father's team to put in place with him, which Carter
did not. He had his Georgia team that had been associated with making him
P: He did not really trust anybody else, did he?
Pe: He had a problem in widening his inner circle.
P: It is interesting that Southern governors who become president tend to think they
can operate the White House like they do the State House.
Pe: Yes. That was part of Clinton's problem.
P: Exactly. It took him a year or two, but he caught on. Carter did not.
Pe: Yes, and [Clinton] was not parochial in reaching out for staff. He brought in staff
from all over. You know, [Leon] Panetta [Chief of Staff under President Clinton,
1994-1996; Director of the Office of Management and Budget, 1993-1994; U.S.
Representative from California, 1977-1993] is a very sophisticated guy.
P: Yes, and as a former congressman, he knows how things work.
P: Was a problem that Carter had particularly, although as you know he never said,
this malaise he was very negative and fired several members of the Cabinet
and talked about how difficult times were and that the American people wanted
a little more optimism in their president? Do you think that sort of cynical attitude
may have hurt him?
Pe: Well, the malaise speech was a disaster, I thought. I mean, it just hit the wrong
tone at the wrong time. American people are very optimistic, and they want an
optimistic leader who will tell them the hard truth, but remain optimistic and
upbeat. He was kind of, I think, personally going through a downturn. I think
personally, it seemed like he was a little depressed at the time himself, so he
could not project that optimism and that upbeat tone that needed to be set.
P: And that really hurt him, I think, in 1980 against Reagan.
Pe: No question, yes.
P: Did you personally like Jimmy Carter?
Pe: Yes, I did. I think he is a good person. I think in certain respects he is kind of
naive, but in certain things like human rights, I think that became a strength
because, you know, his values came through. Pat Darian is here, who was his
human rights person. She and Carter have had some pretty strong
disagreements since that period; she wanted to go much further, I think, than
Carter was willing to go in that area. But I still think he did what his values
dictated to him were right, and it was in face of [what?] We were still in the Cold
War, and a lot of people just wanted to do the Kissinger realpolitik-type thing. He
was really trying to reverse that. He was trying to reverse the dictatorships in
Latin America and other places in the world. I think strategically it was the right
thing to do, as well, even in the Soviet Union.
P: It is interesting that since he has left office, it is pretty clear that he has continued
to pursue those goals.
P: Some people would say he is our best ex-president.
Pe: No question.
P: How [do] you think historians will evaluate his one term as president?
Pe: On policy grounds, I think they will have a lot to like. I think they will fault him on
his ability to project leadership for the country.
P: In the long run, what we might see is that Carter's evaluation will get better and
Reagan's will go down. Do you think that is possible?
Pe: I think it certainly will happen because Carter did the right things when he was in
office. Basically, I do not fault his policies. I think he did some pretty courageous
things. The Panama Canal Treaty is certainly one of them.
P: The problem, of course, when he runs in 1980 is that inflation was high, interest
rates were high, and Ronald Reagan said in the debates, are you better off than
you were four years ago, and everybody would say no.
P: Do you think it was the culmination of the economic situation and the political
skills of Ronald Reagan?
Pe: It was the Iranian [hostage] situation, which [Carter] handled poorly by closeting
himself in the White House, saying he was going to stay there until they were
freed and putting way too much of his personal stake in an outcome that he could
not control, or come close to controlling. He just handled that very poorly.
P: And the [Senator Edward] Kennedy [U.S. Senator from Massachusetts, 1962-
present] challenge did not help him any.
Pe: Down here, the Mariel boat lift was a disaster. Destroyed my [political] race, that
is for sure. With the combination of the Iranian [hostages] and the Mariel boat lift
and the high interest rate runaway, I do not know how he could have gotten re-
elected. It was amazing to me that he was even close in the early fall.
P: Some people argue that Reagan was such a good campaigner, that regardless
of the circumstances, he would have beaten Carter.
Pe: I think if the economic situation had been quite different, I do not necessarily
think that is true. Carter was not hated in the country, and there was sufficient
support within the Democratic party to have elected him, but you cannot
overcome those interest rates. That was the killer from the beginning. But to add
on the Iranian mess and then the Mariel boat lift he turned off Florida
something fierce for that.
P: Did you see Reagan's election as a conservative revolution?
Pe: Yes, I did, and I think George W. [Bush] may be the first one to carry it forward
He is certainly appointing the same kinds of people and moving in that
direction again. We are continuing to enlarge the disparity between the rich and
the poor in the country. We turned off the whole effort to make the earth a more
hospitable place for human beings and other life, which we desperately need to
be attending to. I just think his policies are a disaster. I remember so well back,
talking with an Exxon lobbyist [during] my service up in the White House. He was
complaining about Carter and saying we got to drill for oil, we got to drill for oil,
and he wanted an open drilling policy. You can tell that that mentality now runs
the White House, just straight out.
P: There are a lot of oil men in key positions.
Pe: There sure are. [Tape interrupted.]
P: Talk about your decision to run for the United States Senate in 1980.
Pe: I was very disappointed in the way Stone had performed, and as much
as I had expected. The thrust of the reorganization effort, I concluded, was over,
that even in a second Carter administration, I did not anticipate that
reorganization would be a focus because of the internal resistance within the
White House to reorganization and the gradual submergence of that thrust to
other issues that had become more compelling for the president. I regretted this
because I thought he had the potential which was kind-of picked up by Clinton
of being a new Democrat and forging a make-government-work-better kind of
program that would appeal to the broad center of the country, but it was just not a
part of the so-called Georgia Mafia's focus. I concluded that after we had made a
hard run at consolidating all of the economic development activities of the federal
government that were scattered about in many agencies. We tried to create a
Department of Housing and Economic Development, or Economic Development
and Housing I cannot remember how we had styled it but we tried to take the
grant programs that were focused at rural economic development and urban
economic development and commerce, agriculture, housing and various other
agencies, small businesses and the like, and consolidate them into a single
department. This ran into serious opposition within the White House staff, and we
could never get it out of the White House. It died of the management. Jim
Mclntyre had become Director of [the Office of] Management and Budget, and
Jim and I worked very hard to put a program together that would have broad
support. We did a lot of consultation with governors and legislative leaders and
others. Then, other segments of the White House would go back to those same
people making [it] clear that they did not agree with this whole effort, and they
would kind of report back to the president [with] a different version of the position
of that governor or [leader]. I remember Jay Rockefeller [West Virginia governor,
1976-1985; U.S. Senator from West Virginia, 1985-present] was one, and others
at the time.
P: Governor of West Virginia.
Pe: Right. So, then all of a sudden, these people were caught in a shootout within the
White House, and they were being variously reported to the president by various
staffs as having differing positions. And they were qualifying things because they
were under pressure. They could tell [whether] somebody had a point of view
and they wanted them to agree with them, so they would trim their view or their
comment to us, and then it would be twisted around. It caused a lot of confusion.
The president was puzzled about, you know, where was this program. He
directed that we go back, and together come back with an agreed report to him.
We went through that process, and by that time, we had just lost that. The
second and the last major run was at a department of natural resources,
combining NOAA [National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration] out of the
Department of Commerce that had been put there to punish Wally [Walter]
Hickel, the former [Alaskan] governor [1966-1969 and 1991-1995] who was
Secretary of Interior [1969-1970], who came out against the war and broke with
the president [Richard Nixon]. He had been promised that the newly formed
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would go to Interior, and he
was punished by the president's decision to move it over to Commerce, and it
has always been an orphan child there. The Secretary of Commerce is worried
about economic development, not environmental conditions on the outer-shelf of
the United States and so on, even though these are very important resources of
the country. We had a wonderful bill, from my standpoint, combining all the
management of natural resources in the country, including [pulling] the Forest
Service out of the Department of Agriculture. The president said we have to have
a spear-carrier in the Senate. He had alienated a lot of the Senate because of his
public power and water projects vetoes early in his administration. I had done
some traveling out West to try to repair fences. So, we got this one through,
through the White House staffs, all of the staffs that were so nervous about these
reorganizations that Jim Mclntyre and Harrison Wellford, who was working
directly under Jim Mclntyre on reorganization, had developed. I was very pleased
with this program.
Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson [U.S. Representative from Washington,
1941-1953, U.S. Senator from Washington, 1953-1983] agreed to be the spear-
carrier in the Senate. The night before the whole bill developed by the president
was to go to the Hill with all the justification, rationale and report, Jackson called
the president and advised that he had to break with him on the SALT [Strategic
Arms Limitation Talks] Treaty and lead the fight against it and he could not be
carrying his reorganization bill at the same time. So, the president said, you know
we have got no chance; pull it. I was deeply disappointed, of course, but I
understood that decision because he was right. We had to have a very prominent
Western senator carry the bill. We did try to put some trade functions together
and had a minor executive order doing some trade things. We had done the civil
service reform, we had created the Department of Education, and we had a
couple of other relatively minor executive orders that the president was
authorized to execute. I thought he had not exercised as many of those as he
might have, but the complications I have reported to you made it very difficult to
move on major reorganizations. Seeing that, I said, here is a staff in the White
House that needs to be reorganized, and I sent a memo to the president
suggesting that my position and my staff be reorganized out of business. And I
was interested in coming back to run against Stone.
P: Do you feel like your efforts were undermined by the White House staff?
Pe: Many of the efforts were. It was a collision between Office of Management and
Budget. I worked very closely with them, and except in this Indian education
example I gave you, we would come together and reach agreement on what we
should push and recommend to the president. But then [Jack] Watson's staff on
intergovernmental relations would always dump on it. Anne Wexler had come
over from [the Department of] Commerce and she had a Commerce perspective,
so she became a part of the group that was opposed to reorganization initiatives.
The domestic policy advisor was, at best, lukewarm, [his name was] Stuart
P: This is a new group of Democrats, and based on what Carter started out with,
you would assume that his staff would have supported this reorganization. It
would have been different if they had been entrenched bureaucrats.
P: Why do you presume that they had this opposition?
Pe: Well, Watson had come away from the experience in the Georgia reorganization
with the view that it was not worth doing and, I think, because the liberals in
Congress were not focused on reorganization and greater efficiency. They
wanted more programs. They kind of liked the competition, grant programs in
[the Department of] Agriculture, grant programs in [the Department of]
Commerce, and grant programs in HUD [Department of Housing and Urban
Development]. If you could not get it from one window, you could go to another
window and get a little different criteria applied and get your money. Combining it
all and making it more difficult to run all the hoops necessary to get the grants
and to have one agency controlling it, raised issues [regarding] jurisdiction in the
House and Senate committees that are fiercely protected by staffs. If you move
functions away from committees, you might lose staff, and so there is resistance
there. There are all kinds of arguments then that develop [in which people argues
that] Agriculture is the only department that can deal with rural economic issues,
because they are out there [involved in those issues], and so on. Unless you
have got a hard push from the White House, and all those staffs are pulling
together to move a major program of reorganization, you cannot get it through.
P: Plus, Carter had already used up a lot of his clout and had all these other key
issues he had to go to the wall for, and that is going to take second priority, is it
Pe: That is what happened. So, I thought, regardless of whether he was re-elected,
the president was not going to continue this reorganization thrust that he had
made prominent in his first campaign. That is why I proposed to him that my staff
be abolished, and that ended the effort. I left in September of 1979 and came
back and began trying to put together a new run for the Stone Senate seat. Then
Gunter jumped in, and then [Buddy] MacKay got in. MacKay had a million dollars
of his own money he could put into the campaign. There were just too many of us
for me to be able to emerge from that group. Actually, having been away from the
state in a relatively non-visible role in Washington hurt [me] because my name
recognition was down.
P: A poll said that 53 percent of the people in the state did not know much about
P: Did not some of your friends advise you not to run because of the really powerful
Pe: There was some discouragement, but it was not a heavy amount of opposition.
First of all, I still had some good newspaper support in the St. Pete Times and
the Palm Beach Post, but the thing that I underestimated was the degree of
defection within the Jewish community and the fund-raising, the lack of ability to
raise money in that community, which had been a very strong part of my first run.
I had underestimated how Stone had become very important in that community in
protecting interests concerning Israel, and physicians' funding and so on. I
miscalculated there and thought I could continue to defeat Stone in Dade County,
and that turned out not to be the case.
P: Now, your strategy, as I understand it, was to use all your money at the end of
the campaign in the fifteen largest counties and [to] use television.
P: Why did that not work?
Pe: I did not have enough money to do the television work adequately.
P: Were you surprised at the number of votes that Buddy MacKay got?
Pe: Well, I knew that he was going to do much better because he had the television
and he had a wonderful record, as well, and he is a good friend. I was not
surprised. I was surprised at how poorly I did, but I sensed during the last days
that I just did not have the visibility. If I had had a million dollars to put in the race,
I could maybe have won that race.
P: And once again, the idea was to get to the runoff.
P: The issue that was interesting to me when I talked to Buddy MacKay about this,
he said that in retrospect, he probably should not have run because he did not
have enough statewide name recognition. Again, [there was a] strong field and,
even though he had money, he did not have enough money. So, he now looks at
that as probably a decision that if he had to do it again...
Pe: The two of us should not have been in the same race. That is the bottom line.
Gunter had name-recognition, but he did not have enthusiastic kinds of support
in most areas of the state, and one of the two of us should have been able to
overcome Gunter. But there was enough anti-Stone [sentiment]. Gunter had the
money, and he was able to capitalize on that.
P: There were a couple of committees. One was the Committee for Early
Retirement. Did that come from your campaign?
Pe: I do not think so.
P: My sense was that was partly put out by labor. Did you get labor support in this
Pe: Yes, I did.
P: Your issues in this campaign seem to be very similar to the issues you presented
P: You talk about wage and price controls, antitrust, education, that sort of thing.
Were there issues you might have brought up that would have resonated more
with the voters?
P: The wage and price controls, I think, was the principal thrust at the time because
we had this unbelievable inflation and [incredibly] high interest rates and the like.
I knew we either had to have a significant recession or we had to try to moderate
it down through temporary controls, as Nixon had utilized when he put them in.
That just did not sell. People just were not interested in that approach, and that
hurt. I should have used another theme, but trying to come up with some kind of
response to the economic mess that we were in it was hard to find another way
to do it. I felt that we were in an economic crisis. Of course, what happened was
that Reagan plunged us into a recession. That hurts a lot of poor people and low
[to] moderate-income people, and those who are better off can better sustain
themselves during that kind of a period. I was trying to offer something to
demonstrate that I was concerned about that and wanted to address it effectively.
In retrospect, I should have tried something else. Then the Mariel boat lift came,
and that just spoiled any benefit of having been associated with President Carter.
The Iranian thing was being compounded then by the Mariel boat lift, so I just
was battling impossible odds going upstream.
P: When the final tally is in, you ended up with 108,000 votes, which was fewer
votes than you got in 1974. Obviously, you were disappointed in that. Who did
you support in the runoff?
Pe: Gunter. I felt it was important to get rid of Stone.
P: Did you assume that at that point Gunter was electable?
Pe: Yes. I thought he would win, and I was deeply disappointed. I think Reagan was
the key factor in his not being able to succeed.
P: So, the Reagan landslide sort of pulled Paula Hawkins into the Senate.
Pe: Yes, I think so.
P: But Gunter had some ethical problems as insurance commissioner with
accepting large donations from insurance companies. Do you think that might
have hurt him a little bit?
Pe: He was such a clean-jean kind-of-a-guy. I do not think people ever thought he
was crooked or anything. I never got [the] impression that that was a serious
problem for him.
P: Again, what does this mean for the state of Florida? Now, there is another
Republican United States senator.
Pe: I had thought with the previous elections of Kirk and Gurney that we were going
to see this transition to a Republican party occur more rapidly than it actually
occurred. But this resumed the momentum that had been short-circuited by poor
performance by the first two statewide-elected Republicans.
P: Let me push ahead a little bit and bring this political issue up to the present. I
would like to get your view of the 2000 presidential election in Florida. What is
the long term significance of that particular election?
Pe: I think it is a hopeful situation. I think it revealed that there is a statewide base for
the Democratic party that makes it possible to run statewide and win. Al Gore
would have won had people been able to vote as they intended to do. He clearly
would have won. I was shocked about how well he did in Dade County, despite
the Elian event that had so traumatized the Democratic party in the county during
the time that it was occurring. A number of people associated with the
Democratic party who were leading the fight for Elian switched parties after that,
or became independents. It was a traumatic thing for the Democratic party. I was
struck by the fact that things continue to change in this state, and some of the
changes are positive for the Democratic party. I think the non-Cuban Hispanic
vote, particularly the Puerto Rican [vote] and [the voting pattern of] other
Hispanics are turning Orange County into a two-party county again, much more
strongly [so] than in the past. St. Petersburg, which has originally been a strong
Republican bastion, is now moving much more Democratic in statewide voting.
One of our major obstacles and problems is that we do not control
reapportionment, and the Reagan White House saw the benefit of using the Civil
Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act to create all black districts. That left all the
non-predominantly black districts [as] almost all Republican, because it took out
what had previously been the situation which would balance demographics
where, even though the blacks in many districts were in the minority, they
supplied votes for Democratic candidates against Republicans. Now, that is gone
because of the over-concentration of blacks with gerrymandered districts to
create almost all-black constituencies.
P: So, it is okay to give one congressional seat to Corrine Brown [Florida state
representative, 1983-1993; U.S. Representative, 1993-present] because that is going to
help the Republicans statewide.
Pe: Absolutely, because in the House and in the Congress, they gained. That is a serious
problem. I thought the Supreme Court was moving in the right direction saying you
cannot gerrymander in the Brown-type seat just to create an all-black or an all-minority
district, and then Sandra Day O'Connor [U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1981-present]
joined with the liberals in saying that is okay, which is, I think, not okay at all. When we
were wrestling with reapportionment and trying to use the League of Women Voters'
formulas for creating apportionment in the state by taking it out of the legislature's hands
or setting up criteria that you had to apply to limit this gerrymandering problem. We
wanted to keep contiguous districts, observe political boundaries, counties, cities and so
forth, and have some rational process of putting people together and having some balance
so that you do not have wealthy districts, poor districts, minority districts [that are] all
segregated, but rather having some balance within districts. That improves the quality of
the representation and the balance in voting. But what has happened now is [that the
districts are] so badly skewed that the Democrats are seriously disadvantaged, and the
Republicans will do everything they can to continue that in this coming reapportionment
P: If you look at ,\//i/' v. Reno, it looked like the court was going to eliminate these 98
percent [minority] districts.
P: But now...
Pe: The latest decision reversed that.
P: They have shifted back, yes.
Pe: And it is amazing that we have been very suspicious of the Supreme Court's decision in
the Gore election, that it was political, and Sandra Day O'Connor was one of the key
figures in that vote. Then, in this particular vote, which helps the Republican party
dramatically, here she comes again, and she is the deciding vote again. She used to be, I
think, majority leader in the Arizona Senate, so she understands these issues and the
impact of these issues. So, I found it passing strange that she winds up being the deciding
vote on this most recent decision on apportionment.
P: Talk about that decision, then, the 5-4 Bush v. Gore decision by the Supreme Court. Do
you believe that decision was partisan? The argument is that the [Chief Justice William]
Rehnquist [U.S. Supreme Court Justice, 1972-present, Chief Justice, 1986-present] court
never makes decisions based on equal protection and the Fourteenth Amendment.
Pe: Right. Yes, they suddenly discovered that provision they had not previously focused on
at all. I thought it was outrageous that they stopped] the count, and I thought it was over
when they stopped the count and emphasized only the irreparable harm to [George W.]
Bush, totally ignoring what it was doing to Gore. To have the vote completed was
something that I thought was terribly important for the ultimate judgement of history that
this was a fair resolution of the matter. Both sides made errors in the way they
approached the thing. There should have been, in retrospect, an effort to get a statewide
recount of every vote, [including] over-votes and under-votes. Had that occurred, Gore, it
appears, would have won. But using the Florida Supreme Court's interpretation of the
election law that you follow voters' intent...
P: Which is, of course, vague, and the [Florida Supreme Court] did not give not give any
specific standard. Dexter Douglass said that [the Democrats] would have lost either way
if the [Florida] Supreme Court had set a standard for determining intent, they would
have been legislating; if they did not, they violate the Fourteenth Amendment. So, he
argues that it did not matter what happened, the Florida Supreme Court was going to lose
that decision. Would you agree with that assessment?
Pe: Well, I think they finally got it right and corrected the deficiencies of the earlier Gore
strategy of just focusing on certain counties and said [to] do it statewide. I thought the
majority got it right there. We are in this box about what is voter intent and whether
you can have an identical standard statewide or whether you need to, since the law
confers discretion in ascertaining voter intent to a three-person body in each county. You
can argue that that is not a bad way to go if they are to follow voters' intent. But as we
said, we suddenly found the Fourteenth Amendment, and it had not been applied in this
fashion before; and, they say never again is this precedent to be used for anything, which
makes it much more political, as an outcome, to me.
P: Of course, the argument is that the standard in, for example, Palm Beach County and
Dade County was different.
P: And that that was unfair in terms of determining voter intent.
Pe: I understand that. I was hoping the Supreme Court would bless a specific proposal, the
Texas proposal or Texas law or something, as a guide.
P: That is, what, two hanging chads or two corners.
Pe: I forget how they did it, but they included dimples. You know, whatever the voter intent
P: It was a very generous standard.
Pe: Yes. The Florida Supreme Court might have been able to say, because of voter intent
being persuasive, whatever indication there is on a ballot that would clearly indicate
intent is to be used, and leave it at that without getting into whether one chad, one side,
one corner is enough, or two covers is enough or whatever.
P: I have talked to many of the election supervisors and Judge [Charles] Burton [Palm
Beach County elections official], and they will tell you that in many cases it is very clear
what the intent is and in many cases there is absolutely no way [to determine voter-
intent]. I mean, in one case, one person voted for all six presidential candidates. You
have to throw that out. But in many other cases, where it was circled rather than filling in
the bubble, one could look at that and say that vote was for Bush.
Pe: Yes, and that is why I was saying, if they had said you have to liberally interpret voter
intent, but it has to be a clear indication, I think that might have been adequate to meet
equal-protection muster. But who knows? They were so frightened by what the Supreme
Court had indicated to them, how they were concerned, that I guess going beyond that
and more clearly preferring a more liberal standard would have been, as you say, putting
it further at risk under the Fourteenth Amendment.
P: It is interesting to note Judge Burton and he is a Democrat, agreed with the U. S.
Supreme Court decision because he thought after thirty-six days the country was in
somewhat of a crisis and there had to be an end to it.
Pe: I never was persuaded by that. I thought until Congress receives the report and makes a
decision, there is no crisis. We have got plenty of time to deal with this. I thought Judge
[Charles T.] Wells [Chief Justice, Florida Supreme Court, 1994-present] put the rest of
the court in a bad position by arguing that you had to have a decision in a circumscribed
time before the electoral college met, or the votes were tallied I forget how it goes now.
I thought that was artificial and need not have been there. I mean, there was precedent
that decisions on a vote-challenge will be reviewed and determined by the Congress
when they are finished, so long as they are finished in time for the meeting of the next
P: What was your reaction to the Florida legislature stating that without a formal clear
certified vote that they would take on the responsibility of selecting the winner?
Pe: I thought that was unconstitutional as it could be. I thought there was no power left to
them to do that because the critical date under the Constitution was the date of the
election. If they wanted to decide that they were going to take away direct votes, they
might have had that power in advance of the vote, but nobody would think of that in this
era. It shows a serious problem in the Constitution that needs to be addressed now that
whole system was established before parties were developed in this country. So, it needs
[to be] addressed. It would be very difficult to address, I understand.
P: So, would you say you need to get rid of the whole electoral college or just fine-tune it
Pe: Well, I am trying to figure out an approach that might have a way to get past the small
states who feel protected. One might be requiring that they be divided based on the
popular vote. Something like that, I think, would be fairer than what we have got now.
P: Yes. Somebody proposed electoral votes by congressional district.
Pe: Right. That might be a fair way to do it.
P: When we look at this election, what do you think the long-term impact will be in the state
Pe: I think it rallied the Democrats in a way that will carry forward some momentum into the
next election cycle, into the governor's race. I think it will be a factor. I think there is so
much disappointment that it will have a rallying impact for Democrats in the next
election. Now, how significant that will be, I do not know. It depends on who the
candidates are and whether other things are falling the right way.
P: It has led to some election reform.
Pe: Absolutely. That has been extremely important, and thank God we do not ever have to go
through another election with that [butterfly] ballot.
P: Other people argue that it has really caused voters to be more aware of their
responsibility and the value of their vote.
Pe: I think that is absolutely true. I think it has driven that home. We preach it a lot, but an
example is much more effective.
P: Were you distressed by the failure of many of our citizens to be able to vote properly?
For example, in Palm Beach County with this butterfly ballot, 96 percent of the people
voted correctly. So, it was not machine error so much as it was voter error. Literally, they
did not follow instructions.
Pe: Well, but it was confusion too because of the way the ballot was done. Some people who
finally got it right still had problems figuring it out, [but] they ultimately got there. But
then other people who are not as sophisticated did not get it, and we are not supposed to
have a system that excludes unsophisticated folks.
P: There has to be some balance with a clear ballot, but the voter also has to pay attention.
Pe: There is no doubt about that. Voter education is something that I am sure the parties will
try to stress. I understand they are putting up new information at the polls and so forth,
which is good.
P: Every election supervisor across the state is doing something. For example, one of the
things they now do in Monroe County is that when you sign-in to register, you have to do
the bubble, so that it shows the voter what you do when you vote. You know, give them
an example. They have visuals now. I think they are trying to improve the circumstances.
P: Let us go on to the Commission for a Sustainable South Florida. Governor Lawton Chiles
set up this commission. How and why did he choose you to head this commission?
Pe: First, Reubin would not take it. [Laughter.] He was offered it first and said he was too far
removed geographically and just had too many things on his plate to undertake it. I was
in a situation where I was practicing in the general area of environmental law. I had a
background, going all the way back to my Speakership, of major environmental reform,
even though I was representing polluters in my private practice. So, I had a pretty good
perspective from all sides about it, and I was not associated or identified as an
environmentalist. I was not associated with environmental organizations, so I was
perceived as neutral or somebody who could be objective as chair.
P: Why did you agree to do it?
Pe: First, I have been very concerned about the Everglades and protecting the whole system.
It was the honor of the thing, I guess. That is what people always say. You know the joke
about the guy who comes back after he had been away for many years and he looked up
his buddy, but before he got to him, it turned out he was the mayor of the little town.
Everybody he talked to, trying to find out where he was, just cursed this mayor, just said
awful things about him. He was just a horrible guy. He found him, finally, at his office,
buried in work on a Saturday afternoon, and he said, my goodness, you are working on
the weekend and all this; why do you do this? And he says, I guess it is just the honor of
the thing. Despite his low esteem in the community, he thought it was the honor. No, I
enjoy this kind of public-policy question. All my life I have. Trying to save the world one
client at a time is very difficult. You can have much broader impact if you can impact
through laws or major projects like this.
P: But you knew it was going to be long and difficult and contentious.
Pe: I knew it was going to be contentious. I underestimated how long it was going to be. I
never dreamed it would be five years coming, but that is what it really took.
P: Who chose the members of the Commission, and what was the basis for choosing the
Pe: The governor and the lieutenant governor, and I think Linda Shelley, [who] was then the
Department of Community Affairs head, was involved in the selection process. I was
consulted, and [I] added people who had not been previously identified as people they
wanted to serve. I think the governor wanted Nelson Fairbanks, who is chief executive
officer of U. S. Sugar, because they were old buddies. A number of people, the ones I
advanced, were Charlie Zwick and Bernie Yokel [board member, National Audubon
Society; past president, Florida Audubon Society] who are two old friends of mine whom
I have high regard for, and Maggie Hurchalla [former Martin County Commissioner],
who is Janet Reno's [sister]. I strongly pushed those names, but what they were seeking
were stakeholder representatives whom they believed would be willing to work in a
collegial context to try to get to some kind of appropriate decision. Initially, the governor
only wanted to have one representative of Indian tribes, and that was the Seminoles
because they are not as contentious as the Miccosukee, but later at my urging he added
P: Was this Dexter Lehtinen [General Counsel for the Miccosukee; U.S. Attorney, Dade
County, 1988-1992; Florida state senator, 1987-1988; Florida state representative, 1981-
Pe: Initially, it was Angel Cortinez, who was a partner in the law firm that Dexter heads.
Their firm represents the Miccosukee. Then later, Angel returned to the U. S. Attorney's
Office, from which he and Dexter had come. The question was who was going to be the
representative, and I urged that Dexter be put on because I wanted to try and see if there
was some way to co-opt the guy and get him to participate in a collegial effort. That
worked very well, except for one major example, which turned out to be the Eight-and-a-
Half-Square-Mile Area. It is an area west of the north-south levee and canal that
separates the park and the Everglades from the area that has been drained to the east for
development. The Eight-and-a-Half-Square-Mile Area is in the critical path for getting
water right into the east Everglades section, and so Dexter was very concerned that the
Eight-and-a-Half-Square-Mile Area was going to become a long-term legal battle and
slow-up the solution of the problem that was impacting Water Conservation Area 3A,
which is under Miccosukee lease and is greatly damaged by holding water at too great a
depth. When there is a lot of water, there is no way to get it down through the park
effectively, and so they tend to drown the tree-islands and damage the wildlife in the area
very badly, [as] during Tropical Storm Gordon and other major rain events.
As we try to re-plumb the whole system, that was their major thrust and concern,
to relieve the pressure on Water Conservation Area 3A, which is the largest component
of the state-owned lands in the system. So, I put him in charge with Noel Hendrix, who
was a south Dade farming representative of the Commission, to come up with an
approach to deal with the Eight-and-a-Half-Square-Mile Area to get it resolved. Dexter's
approach was let us just do the simple thing that the Corps of Engineers had originally
proposed, which was to move the dike and the protection westward to the edge of the
park boundary and to give all these people who had been out there many [of whom
were] illegally building structures on property, [which] is not entitled to flood protection
to just give them all flood protection. He wanted something simple that would get it
done, even though it sacrificed a couple thousand pristine acres of Everglades and was a
bonanza to a lot of people who had moved there without the expectation of flood
protection. I got them to head a committee, and they came back to the Commission and
they said, a decision is what has to be made, a decision that can stand up, [because]
everybody is punting and not making a decision. The South Florida Water
Management District really has to make a choice and make a decision about what to do
with the Eight-and-a-Half-Square-Mile Area and not delay it any longer. So, we said by
the end of that year, December 31, a decision had to be made.
P: By the South Florida Water Management District, not the Commission.
Pe: By the District, right. The District had to make a decision. Previously, there had been a
committee established by the governor to look at the Eight-and-a-Half-Square-Mile Area
to try to make a recommendation. They had said [to] kind-of split the Eight-and-a-Half-
Square-Mile Area in half to take the western half and essentially integrate it back into
the Everglades and buy out the people who were in those areas and give flood protection
to the people on the other half. That was where the Commission was. We did not want to
override what that group had come up with initially, although there was strong support
for a total buy-out of the Eight-and-a-Half-Square-Mile Area. If we had taken a vote, I
believe a majority of the Commission would have been there. Dexter's position was not
viewed as viable or likely ever to be adopted by anybody. Nonetheless, he was pushing it
very hard. So, to his shock and amazement, after the Commission had adopted the report
that he and his committee, including his consultant Terry Rice, who is a former District
engineer, had developed, we came down on it, said to the District, you have got to make a
decision or else we are going to recommend going with this unpalatable alternative. To
the shock and amazement of Dexter, they did some further work on options, and they
voted to buy out the whole thing. Dexter departed from his commitment, that he would
go along, he just wanted a decision made, and all of a sudden he is an opponent, and the
Miccosukees are an opponent, and they are supporting litigation to undo the Water
Management District decision. Then we have a change of administration, hostility in the
domain, and all of that, and we wound up with a new board dominated by new appointees
from the new administration.
P: This is Jeb Bush.
Pe: Yes, then having to deal with this issue. Dexter was successful in his litigation [to undo]
the decision to buy out on technical procedural grounds had nothing to do with the
merits. They could either go back and decide to buy it all out or they could decide any
alternative they selected. They reviewed another run at options that were developed and
came down on something close to what Chiles' group had originally proposed, and that
was protecting, this time, a little more than half of the [Eight-and-a-Half-Square-Mile]
Area, or at least not forcing people to move. If they wanted to live in areas that were
going to be a little wet at times, they could stay there, and then only a few homes would
have to be bought out. About a third would have to be condemned. That is still being
fought, although I think it will hold. That decision, I think, will hold. That was the only
example of a stakeholder taking a position within the Commission where a consensus
was developed and then repudiating it later. That is the only time in five years of work in
developing hundreds of recommendations, all of which were unanimously approved by
the Commission, that we had a defection.
P: While we are on Dexter Lehtinen, was it not his lawsuit that led to Chiles setting up the
Pe: Yes. The passage of the Everglades Forever Act was the result of the governor saying we
are not going to litigate this any longer; the state is going to cooperate. He gave his sword
to the district court, and that was a very dramatic and important decision on his part.
Then they passed the Everglades Forever Act [which] addressed the stormwater treatment
area issue. It did not address many other issues, but a key aspect was dealt with in that
legislature, namely the creation of stormwater treatment areas within the EAA, the
Everglades Agricultural Area, and the establishment, at some point, of the standards for
water quality that had to be met by the STAs [stormwater treatment areas] before they
could discharge into the Everglades system. What was missing from that in the EAA
itself, was storage capacity so that when you had huge excess rainfall, you could hold the
water before they went into the STAs, and you would not be forced to bypass those STAs
if you had too much water. Secondly, the storage capacity was needed to divert water
from Lake Okeechobee when it was under too much stress. So, the Comprehensive
Everglades Restoration Plan and Program that has now been adopted includes this major
storage component within the EAA, along with many other major projects.
P: So, that decision by Chiles was really a key turning point in the whole process.
Pe: Absolutely. Then the Commission was created because here you had all the stakeholders
the environmental groups, the towns around the lake, the sugar industry all fighting in
court and in administrative proceedings with their scientists from the Park and from the
agencies, fighting each other, coming to different conclusions about what the facts are
and emotionally involved and angry with one another. It was in that context that first you
had the Everglades Forever Act and then the need for a commission to get on with the
whole project and try to bring people together. So, our objective was to be able to bring
people back to some collegial approach to decision-making that involved all the
stakeholders and a consensus process. That was the hope. I had no idea when I took it on,
how bitter people were on the various sides and how difficult it was going to be. So, for
the first several meetings, we had a whole bunch of presentations. We had a group of
people who were rational, positive people with strongly-held views but willing to talk to
one another, at least to some degree.
What we did initially was to have a series of presentations about the whole South
Florida area, what the issues were and so on, and the history of the Everglades to-date.
We went through in-depth presentations of all of that, so we brought up the knowledge of
the commissioners to a common level, and we discussed the concept of sustainability and
felt that was a good rallying point, [since] sustainability [dealt] not only with the natural
system but also with the economy of the region and the quality of life for the region. We
thought sustainability was the way that we could analyze and approach this project, and
to develop an overall approach to sustainability in the entire region. We were not
narrowly looking at the issue of Everglades restoration; we were looking at all of the
implications for water resources and for development in the region, as well, and the
impacts on the economy of the region. We had a high quality group of people that was
the key. We had the conflict resolution consortium that is headquartered at FSU that had
been working in land-use issues. It was created because of the land-use issues in the state
and growth-management regulations as a way to bring stakeholders to the table, so it had
some valuable experience. Bob Jones and Mark Buckbinder initially worked with us
from day one on developing the consensus approach, and their techniques were very
important in enabling us to narrow down our differences. As we narrowed down those
differences, people got a sense of what was doable and what was not. Then, we worked
on those issues that were the core differences.
We just kept plodding through them, and I just insisted that we keep working at it
until we could find a way. Everyone in the Commission was for [successful] Everglades
restoration, but nobody knew what that meant and what difficult choices were implied by
restoring a system this large. So, there were great fears and anxieties. The water utilities
in the urban areas were very concerned that we were going to divert water from urban
water supply. The Ag[riculture] interests were worried that we were going to condemn a
lot of agricultural land and take it out of production and that we were going to deprive
them of water, which was essential to agriculture, in order to restore the Everglades. We
had to find and develop a strategy that did not do that and that gave reasonable assurance
that at least they would be held harmless at current levels of allocation of water while we
moved a large new allocation to the Everglades, which had been deprived of its historic
freshwater. The trick was to find that water. We inaugurated two-day meetings, and we
stressed that [on] the night of the first meeting, some kind of social activity [should be
held] where people could get together and get to know one another on a social level and
get to recognize that they are all human beings with some common interests and so on.
That was a very important part, as well, in gaining some trust with one another. We
started out with great suspicion among various groups, of other groups, particular the
sugar industry and the environmental groups, but others as well. We had to really
[unclear], after wrestling with the common knowledge of what the problems were
and the scope of the problems of the region, of continuing encroachment of
development into the Everglades and sprawl and the growth management issues
that were adversely impacting [the Everglades], as well as the degradation of the
Everglades itself because it had been deprived of water and the historic water flows
that had moved down from Lake Okeechobee all the way to Florida Bay. A very
slow movement of water in a very shallow so-called River of Grass, interspersed
with tree-islands but a huge area of marshland, that had been ditched and diked
and cut, and the water had been diverted through canals through the east coast of
the region into the ocean.
Excess rainfall occurs about five months of the year during the summer,
beginning in June, usually and going to mid October or so 75 percent of our rainfall
occurs at that time, on average. Well, we are inundated with water in a flat area with no
storage capacity other than Lake Okeechobee, so that water has to go somewhere. In the
drain system, if we do not get rid of it quickly, it floods this low area that has been
developed east of the coastal ridge. There is a coastal ridge going down the east coast
where Flagler put his original railroad, and that is why he put it where he did, because
that was the highest ground. It had the effect, this coastal ridge that runs north-south
along the coastal area, of keeping the water in the Everglades system and moving
southward. There are only a few penetrations the Miami River, the New River, and a
few other places where there were natural connections to the sea. Most of the water was
pushed because of the slow elevation changes. The minor elevation changes all went
south, basically. What we concluded was [that] the problem was storage. We have to find
a way to store this water that we are now wasting to tide. The second major problem in
addition to lack of storage in the system and the damage to Lake Okeechobee when you
use it as a reservoir rather than as a lake [is that] you change its characteristics
dramatically. You drown the littoral zone within the lake, and that is going to destroy the
fish that are dependent on that littoral zone for breeding. Secondly, the inputs of
phosphorus and the shallowness of that lake and the turbidity that is stirred up by the
winds create serious problems of survival of that lake. The lake is so stressed that it has
algae blooms and threatens to die like Lake Apopka. We are trying to avoid that,
obviously. That would be a catastrophe for the region, as well. So, we [have] to restore
the health of the lake and the use of that [lake] in a more rational way to protect and be
the backup water supply for the region, but at the same time maintain its lake
characteristics and improve those characteristics by reducing the phosphorus that is
polluting the lake.
P: Let me interrupt you a second because this is interesting. Will that underwater aquifer
system work because it has never really been tried before and this is on a very large basis.
What is your understanding of how that will....?
Pe: Yes. Let me just finish. The major problem here, in addition to storage, is that the north-
south levee that goes 100 miles from Lake Okeechobee all the way down the eastern edge
of the water conservation areas and the [Everglades] Park all the way south to Florida
Bay essentially, has areas from the middle of Broward County southward that are highly
porous. The dike is effective in preventing surface water from moving, in a hurricane
event or major wind event pushing water eastward, as had previously happened, to drown
western Dade and the whole Kissimmee Valley and so forth in the late 1940s. [That was]
the reason the system was set up that way. It does a good job on that. What it does not do
is stop the loss of water out of the Everglades from seepage, because we drained the
system to the east of the levee, down below the elevation of the Everglades themselves
with our canals and drainage system. The water, because of the porous lime rock, is
pressed hydraulically right under the levees and into the drainage system. We lose
1,000,000 acre feet, approximately, every year, of water that seeps out of the Everglades
[and] is drained off during the wet season to tide. That, compounded with all of the water
falling east of the levee in the first place, all of that water is being pushed out. We found
that at least 2,000,000 acre feet of excess water that is not needed to recharge the aquifer
to protect wetlands, protect the Everglades, is being lost to tide during the rainy season. It
is to recapture much of that water that the whole effort is based on, the whole project is
based on to stop the seepage, or the excess seepage loss out of the Everglades and to
reconnect the water flow all the way to Florida Bay through the system and have enough
water to do that at the right times and volumes and distribution, which has been modeled
based on history.
There is a modeling of how the releases should occur to maintain a
healthy system, and we are going to have to artificially manage water so that we can meet
the natural-system model that has been established and put the water from the STAs,
from storage facilities in the EAA and from Lake Okeechobee into the system at the right
time and [with the right] distribution. That is another reason you need storage, because
you may have excess water not yet appropriate to be released into the system. Aquifer
storage and retrieval is one of the key components of this. There is surface storage, and
we are adding, in addition to STAs, large surface storage areas. The problem with them
in South Florida, in a semitropical climate is that you have as much as 90 percent of the
water you put in those things, evaporate, so they are very inefficient, as is Lake
Okeechobee in that sense you use huge amounts of water out of there. Now, in the
summer, there is a recycling effect. In the winter, however, the winds just blow it right
out to sea when it evaporates. It is not recycled. We do not have the daily storms that
come from the overheating on land-surface and the wind coming in, and the rain and
humidity coming in from the ocean, going up in the middle of the peninsula in rain
storms, and then they drop water back into the system, including that which is
evaporating out of the system below. There is no recycling effect during the winter, so we
have to get through the dry season where only 25 percent of our rain falls, in order to not
have water restrictions in the urban area. That used to not be a problem because there was
so much water, but, now, [it is a problem] with the growth and the new people and the
increased agriculture in the region.
When the citrus industry moved south from Central Florida, when it was
all frozen down in that area, we [now] have a lot more water demands for citrus. We have
the EAA with 700,000 acres of sugar farming and some vegetable farming and sod
farming. We have huge increases in populations on [the] east and west coasts in the
region that were not anticipated in the original design of the Central and South Florida
Project. [We have] a lot more demand than was anticipated. So, now, we are getting to a
point where we are under stress [when we have] normal rainfall. During drought seasons,
[which] we are currently experiencing, we are significantly stressed. So, aquifer storage
and recovery was the second component in addition to surface storage in the plan. What
that involves is taking fresh water that has fallen or water already in the aquifer that is the
surficial aquifer, the Biscayne aquifer, which is our freshwater aquifer. It is a so-called
open aquifer because when you dig down a canal, you are digging into the top of that
aquifer, so it is a very sensitive aquifer, in the sense that it can be contaminated easily by
human activities, human releases of pesticides, chemicals, petroleum waste and the like.
We have to do a lot to protect the freshwater aquifer, and it is our water supply. We do
not have surface water supplies in Dade and Broward counties. We depend solely on the
aquifer and our well system from the aquifer. That aquifer is a shallow aquifer in the
Everglades, and it goes like a wedge out to the ocean, and it only gets down to 200-250
feet at places before it hits the coast. We have to protect it from saltwater intrusion, and
our canal systems and so forth have plugs that regulate how much saltwater can move up
the streams and canals. We have to maintain the levels in that aquifer at the right level, or
that intrusion occurs. That is one issue that always has to be accommodated, and it is one
where you cannot over-pump the aquifer because if you do you will destroy all the well
fields that are close to the coast. So, that is another component of this storage problem
and management of excess water. What we do below the Biscayne aquifer is an
aquiclude of several hundred feet of impenetrable material. Then below that is another
There are two major components of it. There is the upper Floridian aquifer and
the lower Floridian aquifer. The upper is kind-of separated from the lower, and it is in
that aquifer, which is brackish in nature not fresh water that we would put wells.
Those wells would go down to the top of the aquifer. In the top of the upper aquifer, we
would create what is variously called a bubble. I like to think of it as a lake of freshwater
because freshwater floats on brackish water or on saltwater. It does not intermix very
much. It mainly holds together and stays together. Our experience in Florida, where ASR
(aquifer storage and retrieval) is used, shows that in smaller applications you can get
about 70 percent of the water back that you put down, compared to 90 percent loss in
surface. That is a great deal. So, the plan encompasses a heavy reliance in various parts
of the system, particularly around Lake Okeechobee, of ASR wells that will take fresh
water out of the lake, put it down in storage to relieve the elevation problem [when] the
water [is] up too high in the lake, [and] pump it up during drought periods like we are
having now. If we had that storage there, we could pump it up and restore this
dangerously low level that we are now experiencing in the lake that also threatens its
existence. The question is can you have that many holes and lakes in there? Can you
manage it? Well, we say, you have to have an aquifer management program that looks at
the entire aquifer, its use and the effects of all of this. First, you should start with pilot
programs, and then when you prove that it is safe and effective, then you go forward with
this program. That is the recommendation of the Commission. At this last legislative
session, the utility interest and others got together and said, let us alleviate all the
regulatory problems here by having a statute that authorizes the use of ASR and the
waiver of certain limitations that now have been established about underground injection
control. Underground injection control regulations say, if you are going to put anything
down in a well, if you are going to discharge anything into a well, and the context is
sewage disposal after some level of treatment, sewage disposal cannot be put in an
aquifer unless it meets strict regulations of underground injection control.
P: It has to be cleaned
Pe: Well, it has to be put deep enough in the lower Floridian aquifer that it does not pose a
danger to the upper aquifer, which might be available, after treatment [and] removal of
the salt, as a water supply. What has happened is that we have a series of underground
injection wells in Palm Beach and Dade and Broward counties that are near the coast,
near the ocean, that go down to the lower Floridian aquifer, which is like 2,000 to 2,500
feet deep. They put sewage, after some treatment, down at that level because the testing
of those wells has shown it does not affect the upper aquifer or the Biscayne aquifer. You
have to meet all kinds of requirements to be sure you do not have leakage [and that] you
do not create a conduit between one layer of aquifer and another through the aquiclude -
the aquiclude being the barrier between them. LEAF [Legal Environmental Assistance
Foundation] and some other environmental organizations have been concerned about
injection control regulations whether they are strict enough, whether we should have
this system of disposal at all so they have been fighting that. So, ASR comes along.
ASR has nothing to do with sewage disposal. ASR has to do with freshwater, rain water,
falling. But any surface water body, because you have wildlife and other contributors,
you will get a little bit of coliform bacteria [E. coli], and there are regulations in the UIC
[Underground Injection Control] reg[ulation]s that prohibit coliform bacteria going
down. You have to treat it first and kill those bacteria. If we are to use pretreatment in
connection with freshwater, taking [water] out of Lake Okeechobee and putting it down
to bring it back up, we do not want to pre-treat [or] chlorinate water and put it back in a
lake. That makes no sense and is dangerous because chlorination has byproducts that are
cancer producing, chloramines and all these things that result from chlorination. We had,
as a Commission, recommended to [the] EPA [Environmental Protection Agency] that it
waive water that is high quality except [for having] minor amounts of coliform bacteria,
solely for that element, coliform bacteria. Because of wildlife defecation and so forth,
you get minor amounts in freshwater, in surface [water]. Ducks and everything else
contribute something. Well, there has been a scare campaign developed by LEAF, which
is associating sewage disposal and the viruses and all of these things that might result
from that, with ASR storage of freshwater, never intended to have any of these bad
elements, except for minor amounts of coliform bacteria. We think that it is totally
justified because, one, when you put coliform bacteria in minor amounts, down under
pressure, and these are artesian pressures below, they die. So, why treat them and bring
back up the chlorinated water? That is the issue about the legislative objection to ASR.
Secondly, we had not done the pilot testing that we had recommended in the
Commission, so it was premature to try to go to a bill at this point. So, the utility guys
and some of the agriculture] guys got ahead of the game in trying to advance a bill that
just said, we are going to authorize it whether or not the pilot testing demonstrates that
there is no danger to it.
P: What was Governor Jeb Bush talking about? Was he talking about ASR?
Pe: He was talking about ASR.
P: So, you have no problem with that proposal?
Pe: No. The ASR proposal was premature as a statute because we have not done the pilot
testing demonstrating its safety, which we had recommended. [The] Audubon [Society]'s
position is [that] we ought to pilot test and demonstrate that we are not endangering the
aquifer, the upper Floridian aquifer, before we put it in large scale use. That makes all the
sense in the world, but these guys went ahead and said we are just going to authorize it.
Certain people had experience in other areas with ASR and they see no problem in doing
this, and so they think it ought to just be authorized without having to go through a lot of
expensive monitoring work on a pilot program first. They were pushing this bill, and then
LEAF started raising questions that we are going to put viruses and bacteria [in the water,
which] will destroy the aquifer, and we will not be able to use it in the future, and this is
contamination that cannot be permitted, and so on. Unfortunately, both sides got way-off
in a fight that never should have occurred, and it is damaging because we already have
authorization to go forward with these pilot programs, the legislation was unneeded, and
we need the test data to clear the air.
P: One of the things this demonstrates is that the environmental groups are often split on
many of these issues.
Pe: On many of the issues. Throughout our deliberations over five years, we had
environmental groups always available to testify at every meeting. Every meeting was
open to the public. We had public comment. We invited other environmental groups that
were not directly represented on the Commission to come and participate, and they did.
At times, they did not agree with us. But the ASR recommendations that are contained in
the Commission report and are included in the CERP [Comprehensive Everglades
Restoration Plan] are going to go forward. The programs will be pilot tested before we go
to a large scale use of ASR. There are other issues about ASR that have been raised by
some people. The people who are experts in the technology do not think it is a problem,
but other people say, well, if you put too much freshwater down, don't you increase the
pressures and aren't you going to crack things and aren't you going to blow out the
aquiclude, and raise the parade-of-the-horribles that you can always raise about anything
that is somewhat unknown. We have very great confidence that to some degree it will be
a part of the solution. How far we can go with it is going to be subject to the pilot testing
and the further analysis of the aquifer that will be involved.
P: Let me get back to the initial Commission. As I understand it, there were forty-two
members; thirty-seven voted, and five did not.
Pe: Right. Five federal representatives were non-voting.
P: Who were they?
Pe: This is the District engineer from the Corps of Engineers, and that district in Jacksonville
was the one charged by Congress with developing the restudy of the system, developing
P: Was this Terry Rice?
Pe: Initially, Terry Rice, and then later Colonel Miller when Terry left. The Commission
ended when Miller was still there. The past director of the Corps, who had been named
the executive director of the Everglades Restoration Task Force, [Terrence] Rock Salt,
was on it. Billy Causey [Superintendent of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary],
representing NOAA in the Department of Commerce, who was then the sanctuary
manager for a small sanctuary in the Keys. Later, based on our support and a major
policy direction, the whole [area of the] Florida Keys was declared a park, the offshore
areas were designated as a part of the marine sanctuary. So, Causey was on, representing
P: For the record, what is NOAA?
Pe: The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the U. S. Department of
Commerce. It has all kinds of scientists dealing with the marine environment, and it has
responsibility for submerged lands out to 200 miles [into the ocean], as well as the
coastal boundary of the United States.
P: Then the EPA.
Pe: The EPA was represented by John Hankinson, who is the southeast district director of
EPA, very close to Carol Browner [head of the EPA under President Bill Clinton], who is
very supportive of our efforts, as well. Then Dick Ring, the superintendent of Everglades
P: How much input did the federal representatives have in your deliberations?
Pe: They were fully participating. The so-called non-voting members fully participated and
voted on all straw ballots, on all preliminary voting. It was only on final passage of
resolutions or reports that they could not vote. That is the way we handled that non-
voting status. While they were somewhat irked by that, in fact they fully participated and
fully commented throughout, and their agency people participated in a technical advisory
group that I established on water issues. We had hydrologists from all the agencies on a
water-technical-advisory group that developed a water budget for the region, explaining
all of this seepage-loss problem, how much is lost to tide and all of that. That is all
documented. We got all the scientists involved in this water budget issue together, and
they came out with a unanimous recommendation to us, and we approved it unanimously.
P: When you say unanimous, you are talking about these individuals as well.
Pe: Well, the technical advisory committee separately developed this water budget and
approved it unanimously as a technical advisory committee to the Commission, and then
the Commission took up their report and approved it unanimously.
P: But the federal representatives were on board with the final recommendation.
Pe: Yes, absolutely.
P: There was no opposition?
Pe: Not at all. They all agreed. Federal, state, and private hydro-geologists representing
sugar, environmental groups we had them all on there. Our theory was [to] force them
to do a consensus-developing process. They have been fighting each other for so long. It
took a while for their personality differences and everything to be overcome, but they
ultimately came together.
P: What kind of voting standards did you have to adopt a resolution?
Pe: To adopt required a two-thirds vote, to take any final action by the Commission. Our
objective, though, was not to have a third of the Commission off the reservation. It was to
keep everybody on the reservation, and that is what we pressed for in our initial report
[dated] October 1, 1995. We had been in existence from April of 1994 to the end of
September, 1995, before we could get to our initial report, and that initial report
identified storage and seepage as the critical issues and restoring the timing [of] delivery
of water to the system and reconnecting the system getting under the roads and closing
down some of the canals and so forth so we could re-establish sheet-flow to the south.
P: I have that report. I want to ask you some specific questions.
P: Let me go back and talk a little bit more about this Commission. When you looked at it
and you dealt with it, did you feel like it was properly balanced in terms of private, local,
all the various environmental groups, all the agencies?
Pe: It was very well balanced. You could criticize [the Commission by saying] that Roy
Rogers, representing development interests, was both an environmentalist and a
developer. Charlie Zwick, though, was a banker very familiar with developer interests.
We had an investment banker initially, as well. We had engineers. Louis Eishimil. We
had Republicans and Democrats. We had a good mixture from a standpoint of parties. We
kept this thing strictly nonpartisan throughout. There was never any partisan implication
to what we were doing, as far as we were concerned. We worked closely with Senator
[Connie] Mack [U.S. Senator, 1989-2001; U.S. Representative, 1983-1989] and
Congressman [Eugene Clay] Shaw [U.S. Representative, 1981-present; Mayor of Ft.
Lauderdale, 1975-1980], as well as Senator [Bob] Graham and the rest of the delegation.
The delegation was able to come together. Particularly when we could demonstrate that
we were all together, then there was no reason for the congressman not to be supportive.
If we had been all divided, then that would have been reflected in congressional
P: In that context, when you started all this, did you have any direct instructions from
Governor Chiles or the Senate or the delegation? Did they tell you what they wanted you
to do, or were you allowed to pursue...?
Pe: Except for the terms of the executive order creating us and the directions contained in
there, [which] were very broad, we were given free reign. And we took free reign. We
took the issue wherever it led us.
P: You obviously had some extraordinarily skilled technical people. Did you yourself have
a staff that helped you with the bureaucratic decisions?
Pe: I had a support staff. Dr. Bonnie Cransor was the staff director, and I had a variety of
people who were assigned to the Commission as staff. Some of them had some technical
background, others did not, but they were all very competent, supportive folks. They
dealt with the agency representatives and technical people, as well as others. As we
developed the agenda for each meeting, we would have reports directly by the Corps of
Engineers concerning where they were in their studies [and] what problems they were
wrestling with. The Water Management District would give reports, and we would get
comments on technical issues by the environmental scientists, the sugar industry
scientists, and economists as well.
P: What influence did Estus Whitfield have in the process?
Pe: Estus was the direct liaison with the governor's office when Linda Shelley, who had been
on the Commission and was a very strong supporter of the Commission, moved over to
become chief of staff and Jim Murly replaced her and became her successor on the
Commission. Linda and Estus worked closely with us to ensure that we could get the
money that we had to have, although we did a lot of our own initiatives, and we got
support from some of the federal agencies as well. But the Water Management District
and DEP [Department of Environmental Protection] [what about them?]. Virginia
Weatherall was the vice-chair, initially, of the Commission, the secretary of DEP. Molly
Palmer, of her staff worked closely with us on all of the funding issues, finding the funds
that we needed or the resources in-kind.
P: What about Stu Applebaum?
Pe: Stu was a key person because he was in charge of developing the plan from the Corps
multi-agency team that was being established to develop the plan.
P: Was this the conceptual plan, or the specific plan?
Pe: Well, it included the conceptual plan that we gave as input to the Corps. We did the
initial report. The initial report said, there needs to be a specific plan developed that
addresses all of these issues, and we are willing to work with the Corps. Then Terry Rice
said, let us work on a conceptual plan for Everglades restoration, and [asked], are you
willing to do that as a Commission? And we said yes, we will do it. We then created a
support-group led by Dan Carey out of the South Florida Water Management District,
[for] which the federal and the state people working on Everglades restoration were there
as our support. They helped us develop the conceptual plan for Everglades restoration.
P: Now, is this part of the Restoration Task Force?
Pe: No. This was simply a support-group. We had a relationship with the Task Force. The
Task Force, as you know, was made of high-level people from Washington on the
agencies basically, and then there were added state representatives as well. But they were
all public officials at a high level. Then there was a working group under them of federal
and state agency people who worked as their technical advisory group. They would work
through issues separately and then present them to the Task Force. Our reports would be
presented directly to the Federal Restoration Task Force. They effectively had the
strategy of not being able to deal with all of these intricate issues. They wanted to follow
our lead and support what we were doing, and that effectively became the approach.
They were not bound by what we did, but they generally just adopted whatever we had
presented to them as a conceptual plan. They recommended that conceptual plan, and
then Congress recognized that plan, and then the Water Resources Act of 1996 directed
that the Corps use that plan in developing the final comprehensive plan.
P: One of the things you did very early was to set up, as you have already alluded to, these
technical committees. One was the Hydrologist and Engineers Committee, which you
mentioned, but also you set up a Science and Resource Committee. Why did you choose
these two committees, and then how did you determine who would serve on these
Pe: The hydrologists and engineers were working on the water budget and how we find this
water that we need, to enlarge the pie. The science advisory group was looking at
ecosystem-management issues, the technical issues of what it takes to get a restored
Everglades done. There are things like exotics, like malaluca, that had massively invaded
portions of the system. Many other exotics as well, including fish. The idea was for them
to look at what should be the boundaries of a system to be protected as an integrated
Everglades? What were the boundary issues from a science standpoint? Now, that group
struggled with these boundary issues and never came to really definitive conclusions.
They were helpful in elucidating certain issues for us, but they lacked the resources and
the time because they were all on loan, effectively, and the leadership there was just too
tied up with other things to ever get us a final report.
P: But they helped point out the crucial issues.
Pe: They helped us and interacted with us on technical issues. Representatives of both of
those groups then were part of Dan Carey's support group as we developed the
P: Now, one of your techniques, which everyone we have talked to has praised, was
something, again, you mentioned earlier. When you had two individuals or groups that
had problems, you would put them aside and say, you guys get together and solve this
and come back [with an agreement]. When we were talking, for example, with Bubba
Wade, he said that you forced sugar and the environmentalists to get together.
P: Why do you think that proved to be such a successful concept?
Pe: First, we had responsible representatives of both sides. You know, there are certain
people who can talk rationally about things and others who are just so rigid they cannot
communicate and cannot search for a solution. They just want to reject your position. We
did not have those kinds, basically, on the Commission. We had people who you could
work with. At times, things did not work too well because as we were trying to develop
the conceptual plan, here comes the penny-a-pound fight. We said, we are not getting, as
a Commission, into that. That is something the parties have elected to go out and fight,
out among themselves. We stayed out of that, but it delayed our deliberations. It made it
more difficult for environmentalists and sugar interests to sit together and develop a
conceptual plan while they were spending $25,000,000 or $30,000,000 apiece fighting
each other on television and excoriating each other. But by saying, that is not in our
place, we are not dealing with those issues, do not bring them in here, we took no
position on it and we kept working on our conceptual plan. We kept meeting, and Bubba
and Phil Parsons and other representatives of the industry kept coming, and the
environmentalists on the Commission kept coming and some other environmentalists,
and we kept working. The key part was to have the right people negotiating. My task was
to identify people who could negotiate effectively. In one of the key last battles, the
representative of World Wildlife Fund from the Keys played a very important role.
P: Are you talking about Mary Barley?
Pe: No. Mary Barley was one of those people who was not working with us directly. She was
out fighting on the penny-a-pound issue. She could not have worked in the context that
we were working in.
P: A little too emotional.
Pe: Yes. On most of the tough issues that involved sugar and its positions, and sometimes
water utilities, I would use Maggie Hurchalla as a negotiator because she was so
knowledgeable from her years as a county commissioner and establishing the strongest
land-use comprehensive plan in the state, in the Stuart [and] Martin County area. She was
very knowledgeable, but she and Bubba could talk and negotiate. They were very candid
with one another, and they did not BS one another. They understood the implications
fully, they could not be fooled, and over time, Maggie gained the trust of the
environmental representatives from the organizations. She had originally been appointed
as a representative of the regional planning councils on the Commission, which were also
appointed to represent that function, the planning function. Then she got defeated as a
county commissioner, so she could no longer be a representative of the regional planning
councils. So, I got her back on the Commission as an environmental representative. Well,
the organizations all had their candidates that they wanted, and she was not affiliated
with any of them, but I said, she is a wonderful environmentalist, and we need her. I kept
her on the Commission, and she was a key player in negotiating with sugar.
P: There was one sort-of rumored circumstance where, in one of the heated discussions,
Nelson Fairbanks was called a felon and that once that happened you came to a
consensus saying, we are not going to be pejorative, we are not going to call people
names. You got away from that kind of thing.
Pe: We had established rules at the beginning of the Commission, and that was very
important, as well. [We had rules governing] not only our voting procedures and the two-
thirds vote required to take action, but rules of civility. Those were important. But Angel
Cortinez came on later. He had been involved in some of the litigation, and he was a
firebrand. He, at one point, was exercised, and [this was] after several months of the
social relationships that had developed and so forth, [and] he was relatively new. He was
not used to what we were trying to do and the tone that we were trying to get people to
abide by. U. S. Sugar had had a RCWA??[__ Clean Water Act?] violation at
one of its plants that is, a violation of the discharge of hazardous waste in ways that
were improper and had been criminally prosecuted by Dexter [Lehtinen] and had pled
guilty before a federal district judge, [by] bringing all of the main managers of the plant,
forty, fifty people, to the judge saying, we as a corporation are pleading guilty and we are
going to be sure nothing like this ever happens again, and so forth. They addressed it in a
remarkable manner. I mean, you have never seen anything like that before, where all the
people managing a plant come in and are part of the plea that the corporation makes of
guilty. Anyway, they pled [guilty] to a felony, and were fined. Well, this is what Angel
was saying: how can you trust these people; they are corporate felons. It had nothing to
do with what we were doing at all. It was irrelevant. I jumped on Cortinez very hard, and
it was the first time the Commission had ever seen me get angry and really excoriate
somebody. But, they were all offended by the remarks, and that helped consolidate a
feeling that we were a group working together. It was a catharsis; a defining moment is
what Roy Rogers always called certain key times in a commission's life, that it gels and
comes together on things. That became a defining moment for us. We really kind of
congealed for the first time, I think.
P: Throughout the process, you kept saying we just have to work through things. In specific
terms, what exactly did that mean? Did that mean more attention to detail? Patience?
What does that entail?
Pe: It was sometimes backing off and not resolving something and sending a committee off
together to wrestle with it. They all had to meet in public, so we would have telephone
conferences open to the public. We would publish them and so forth. We facially
complied with the Sunshine Law, in the main. When you got forty-two people, [and] it
became forty-seven people, it is impossible [that] they never discuss anything that is
going to occur, at breakfast, at lunch together and so on. For the Sunshine Law to apply
to a commission like ours is a pretty unrealistic expectation, but we complied facially on
all of our meetings and subcommittee meetings and all of that sort of thing, and nobody
ever raised that issue as something [that we] violated. We were always mindful that that
could be a part of a lawsuit. When we started out, everybody wanted to participate in
every activity of the Commission. One of the startling things that happened to me is that
after we had done a lot of work together, hearing the facts, working through the major
problems in economic development, or the economy of the region, the key aspects of it,
the key quality-of-life issues in South Florida, growth management the
deterioration of schools, transportation overload and the sprawl and the encroachment
into the Everglades system, [which was] consuming more and more of it. We had gone
through all of these analyses.
We had participation with one another, everybody going up and writing down or
checking off their key issues among all the issues that we would list that were addressed
by speakers and so on. We would narrow things down, and we would get to some
consensus here are the problems we have got to work with, here are some things that
we can think about. Then I said, now it is time to get the committees; we have got to
develop a committee structure. Well, there was strong opposition to it, initially, and I had
to back off for one meeting because people said, [they] want to be everywhere. Jack
Moler from the Wildlife Federation represented the buggies and recreational vehicles in
the water conservation areas, [he was] a good environmentalist. He did not want people
making decisions that might affect his organization unless he was present, and he spoke
for several people who thought it was wrong for the Commission not to just meet
collectively. I said, you know, we have got to get it into a committee structure; there is no
way we can deal with all the issues that we have identified here without segregating out; I
will put you on whatever committees you are interested in, your primary interests. We
put off for a whole session getting to committees, and then gradually people came around
to the idea that we had to do that. But that shows you how much suspicion there was
several months into our proceedings.
P: I am glad you mentioned that because every single person that we have talked to gives
you extraordinary credit for your leadership and organizing [of] all these disparate
groups. Let me just read you a couple of comments. John Ogden was asked why it
succeeded: "One, it had a spectacular leader, Dick Pettigrew, who was just awesome as a
person, who could stand up in front of a room with forty or fifty or sixty people
representing forty or fifty or sixty major different interests and get them to work together
the way he did. I thought he was awesome. Everyone was in awe of Pettigrew. Several
times, people asked Dick what his secret of success was, and he used this phrase, 'You
just have to work through things.' He had the patience and the maturity to work through
all the difficult issues." Bob Graham says that. Nathaniel Reed says that. Everybody.
Quite clearly, your leadership in this process was the difference. All of these people are
intelligent and capable, and they all say the same thing. So, it is obvious, and that is a
great tribute to you. I was wondering, in looking back at it, are you satisfied with both of
your reports? Would you have liked to accomplish different things, or do you think you
did what you could do?
Pe: I felt very good about where we got, both in the conceptual plan and then in working with
the Corps and the multi-agency team in developing the final plan, and the cooperation we
got from Stu Applebaum and his entire team in taking whatever we recommended and
putting it in. Stu has repeated to me over and over that a consensus process needs to be
continued because as we go through all of these projects, we desperately need that kind
of thing to continue. So, after the false start of the Everglades Commission, that was the
initial effort as a successor that just did not have the right mix and balance and the right
people and the right approach it disavowed consensus from the beginning. The Water
Management District has now established a Water Resources Advisory Commission that
is modeled after the Commission, and it has got a good composition. I am hopeful that
Mike Collins, who sometimes is impatient but very knowledgeable, can give it the
leadership it requires.
P: Let me ask a few questions about the initial report. Obviously, it was extraordinarily
broad-based. One of the areas you talk about to a very large degree is growth
management. How important were people like John DeGrove and others in advising you
about these issues?
Pe: We had the best gurus in the area, between John DeGrove and Jim Murley and, initially,
Linda Shelley, that we could have had. Ben Sterat from DCA [Department of
Community Affairs], their strategic planning director. So, we had both staff for that
committee that was established to deal with growth management and the leadership of
that committee. The sustainable communities legislation that was generated, that people
outside like Tom Pelham, who had been in the previous administration in DCA, worked
with as a pilot program got the language so that he was well-satisfied with it I think
was a wonderful outcome of that initial report, in addition to the Eastward Ho Initiative.
Both of those came about as a result of
P: Explain in detail what Eastward Ho is.
Pe: Eastward Ho is the notion that we have another million people to accommodate in
southeast Florida and a lot more in southwest Florida. But in southeast Florida, we have
been sprawling westward into the Everglades to consume more land to have single-
family homes, which is the ideal, of course, in this country, what people want, in the
main. The notion was that we must reverse that trend, stop going westward, and go back
to the coastal ridge, which is the high ground on which Flagler originally brought his
railroad tracks, and later the seaboard [railroad] came down the other side of that ridge,
and that is the safest area if global warming raises the seas. Miami Beach is going to be
in trouble, but the coastal ridge will still be there and [will] easily accommodate people.
It also is an area that has most of the core cities and the greatest degradation around those
P: Degradation in what sense?
Pe: Urban blight.
P: Pollution, as well.
Pe: Minority communities and the main areas of old industrial activity that left a substantial
amount of pollution, [contain land] parcels that have some contamination. The Eastward
Ho idea was to come back to the coastal ridge and to develop it in careful consultation
with the communities involved, to, some people say, gentrify, as a pejorative term.
People worry about gentrification, but what you are really doing is gentrifying an area
with the consent and assistance of the people in the neighborhood who have a positive
stake in the process in improving their communities.
P: Some people call that infill and redevelopment.
Pe: It is infill and redevelopment. This is what it involves. It is to try to redesign these areas
from a planning standpoint and then to get developers with incentives to come in and to
build medium-density developments, high rises, whatever is compatible and acceptable in
that community. Increased densities with high quality design can overcome the problems
of density, as we have demonstrated in Europe and in many places in the United States. If
you design it well, then a lot more people can live on a vertical basis, with proper green-
space and open space and transportation or access to jobs without using mass transit.
That all becomes much more economically feasible if you have concentrations of people.
One of our problems is that we built our Metrorail before we had the concentrations of
population to support it. Now, we need to develop around the Metrorail system and get
the population brought to it, in addition to expanding its reach.
P: Has much been done based on these recommendations?
Pe: Yes. It continues to resonate all up and down the coast. Developers are involved. The
South Florida Regional Planning Council is leading the effort and has people specially
designed to work with it. Dade County's Planning Department and other planning
departments in the counties are working with them and with developers. A lot of
initiatives have been spawned. Individual areas have been looking at ways that they can
invite developers in and improve the area. There is a lot of resistance, as well. It takes a
lot of time to educate people about alternatives that they can have in their community that
would be far better than what they have got, and that process is ongoing. It has not had
the big push that the Chiles administration and the MacKay administration had given it
from Tallahassee, but it has kind of taken on a life of its own locally because people
realize it is right. It is inevitable that we are going to have more people, and we have got
to locate them in ways that make sense.
P: Also, part of your recommendations dealt with one thing you just mentioned, more mass
transit, less automobile traffic, and more pollution protection.
Pe: Yes, pollution protection.
P: What was your reaction to the amendment [to] establish high-speed rail service in the
state of Florida?
Pe: I was concerned about that because I thought it was going to consume resources needed
for local mass transit, to connect Dade, Broward and Palm Beach together, for instance,
[or] to connect Pinellas and Hillsborough together. If you instead concentrate all your
money on inter-urban communications, there is just not going to be money left for mass
transit within major metropolises that have developed in this state.
P: Another element here, you talk about something that has become sort-of popular, is these
urban development boundaries.
P: Do you think that has any possibility of being enacted?
Pe: We had that in the sustainable communities legislation, so we had the pilot program with
five cities who were doing something that is either an urban development boundary or
equivalent to it. You can call it all kinds of different things, but, effectively, you just do
not extend water or sewer transportation, and other infrastructure outside of that
boundary. There were twenty-eight cities that wanted to join in that program of
sustainable communities. The idea was that we were going to give some financial
incentives in addition to recognition as sustainable communities. The sustainable
communities bill was not re-enacted. It expired this year in the legislature. There was an
attempt to extend it, for those who had already signed up for it to continue it. There was
other growth management legislation that really took a lot of those concepts and added
full-cost accounting and some other recommendations that the governor's Growth
Management Commission had made, had kind of melded them together to some degree. I
think in some form, at least there will be advocates. Senator [Lee] Constantine [Florida
state senator 2001-present; Florida state representative, 1993-2001], and some others are
very supportive of this, with some changes that they are interested in. How much general
support there is, I do not know. We have not been able to get the Florida homebuilders
aboard, and that is tragic. One hopeful sign is that I just made a presentation recently to
the Greater Miami Realtors Association in Dade County. They have been asked to put
together a national growth management strategy. They do not call it sustainable
development; they call it smart growth. I do not care what you call it, it is the same thing.
The Realtors seem to be coming around on this. They recognize that their future is tied to
better growth management, and the quality of communities is tied to it, and so their sales
are effected by degradation and blight and everything else. Their livelihoods are affected
adversely, and so there is a broad interest in looking at smart growth can it work?
P: But you have to get the builders and developers on board, do you not?
Pe: Well, a lot of developers are supportive, the big developers. A lot of them are supportive.
Unfortunately, some organizations are run by the lowest-common-denominator within
their organizations and try to satisfy everybody, and to do that, you have to satisfy the
people least supportive of things. Sometimes, those lobbyists do not represent all of the
people that they purport to represent. It may be that in certain regions of the state we can
get good growth management, and actually [achieve that] through local government,
whereas in other areas the resistance will be too great.
P: You also talk in your report about quality-of-life, and in that context, you talk about
better schools, an end to overcrowding, more affordable housing, a better health delivery,
all that. Where does the money and the support come from for those kinds of proposals?
Pe: We did not deal with funding. We dealt a little bit with funding at the tail-end of our
report. You asked what I would like to have done that we did not do, and that would [be]
to develop a comprehensive funding strategy, not only for Everglades restoration but for
a sustainable South Florida. That certainly involves tax reform in this state. But it is
difficult to get a group that has been focused on region, and on specific issues in a region,
to focus all of a sudden on a whole tax reform subject, which is a very broad and
statewide problem. It is probably more appropriate that a tax reform commission of some
sort be established in this state that tries to educate people about the problems of our tax
P: Now, your second report was the summer of 1996. What was the difference between your
second report and the initial report?
Pe: The initial report made recommendations comprehensively about sustainability. The
economic activities of the region [were addressed, along with] how they needed to be
strengthened and protected, including international trade, which is a key component here
in southeast Florida, and our ports and airports and so forth. Recommendations about
protecting agriculture and enhancing the use of agriculture to keep land and open space
and areas where groundwater can be recharged appropriately that is not available in
cities where you have all the pavement, [which] means water has to be rapidly moved off
it so you do not get the recharge to the aquifer that agriculture] provides in addition to
certain land management that needs to go forward. We looked at all of those issues and
made extensive recommendations, many of which were administratively implemented by
various departments of the Chiles administration. Then, what we had agreed to do was to
work on a conceptual plan for Everglades restoration within the broader context of the
growth management issues, quality-of-life issues [in an] economic context, that we had
established in our initial report. The problem that the Corps faced, and anybody faces,
when they think about something as mind-boggling as Everglades restoration with all the
projects that are involved, is which projects [to implement], what is acceptable? How can
you narrow down the multitude of options you have? The function of the conceptual plan
was to do that. It was to give the Corps and the Water Management District, which were
the lead agencies in developing the comprehensive plan, a road map that narrowed
options down, that excluded their having to consider a multitude of other things. We
recommended storage capacity in the EAA, not flow-ways through the EAA, as the initial
reconnaissance report had suggested. That gave them the option, then, of not having
umpteen-dozen options of what to do with the EAA. It eliminated their having to try to
fight through that and then propose that [plan] somehow to the public and get input. We
gave them the input in advance in a conceptual plan. We took and looked at the best ideas
that people had, and we were able to narrow that down into a plan that was
comprehensive, cohesive, consistent, and which eliminated a lot of wheel-spinning that
otherwise the team would have had to try to work through.
P: When Governor Jeb Bush took office, you wrote him a letter, which I have a copy of, and
you more or less brought him up-to-date on what had been done before.
P: And then you resigned from your position. Why did you do that?
Pe: I felt that the best way that Governor Bush could have approached the issue of the
Commission, and the need for an ongoing commission, was for me to resign [and] for
him to put in a new leader and then gradually replace people [that] he wanted to replace
on the existing commission and continue it. I was trying to say, we have done our thing;
you are a new administration, and here is a commission that is very knowledgeable,
bipartisan, and you ought to continue it, and I do not want to be standing in the way; I
want you to have your own person in charge whom you trust and who is supportive of
your agenda. Unless you have the imprimatur of the governor on the commission to
work, and they know that the governor is telling all the stakeholders, you work it out in
that commission, do not come to me and bypass it you have to have that commitment to
the commission for it to work. If every interest group who is represented can just go do
its own thing at the governor's office, then you have got no chance.
P: How has he done with that responsibility?
Pe: Well, first, he let the Commission expire. He did not ask for it to do anything further. He
would not replace me. He did not accept my resignation until July, after I had resigned in
March, I think it was. We had completed our input to the Corps study-team, and they
were in the final development of their plan. So, we had finished our input to the Corps
and the multi-agency team, and we felt it was time to close-up-shop and wait for the new
governor to make his decisions about how he is going to deal with these issues in the
future. Unfortunately, they went through a bloodbath at the Water Management District,
changing the executive director and all of that, and they had a lot of false starts and they
got some bad publicity. Then, the governor decided to create an Everglades Commission
that was not a sustainable commission looking at all the issues that we had been
addressing but narrowly focused on implementing Everglades restoration. Then, it was
not balanced, and there was no commitment to a consensus. The environmentalists were
under-represented. It was stacked with agriculture] and Water District representation.
So, it never got off the ground. I went to address it and tried to urge them to do the
orderly process of developing a consensus. They would not adopt rules, so nobody knew
what the voting rules were. They had no civility recommendations. Dexter [Lehtinen],
who was a member of it, was saying, we do not want consensus, consensus is bad, I am
off the consensus wagon. It just floundered.
P: What was the specific name of that?
Pe: The Governor's Commission for the Everglades.
P: Okay. He has recently appointed a growth management study commission, and I guess
that is a separate one.
Pe: That was separate.
P: I was intrigued to note when I look at the membership, as far as I can tell, Charles Lee is
the only environmentalist on that.
P: And there are a lot of developers, like Barry Rutenberg.
P: Does this indicate that he is less sensitive, less understanding, of the environmental
Pe: The Everglades Commission that he established was established so late in the game that
the governor and his office had to develop a game-plan for funding Everglades
restoration, so he did it within his own office. He did not ask them to do anything as a
commission but to [just] bless what he had done, and of course they were going to bless
what he did he had just appointed them. So, they missed any participation in the
funding recommendations that were critical to Everglades restoration. The governor took
that initiative. He committed the state to come up, from general appropriations, every
year with $100,000,000 for matching purposes and directed that the Water Management
District come up with a like amount from its funds. The problem is that to a certain extent
that is a shell-game. There is no money readily available from the existing budget with
the Water Management District. They squeezed out some money the last time around.
This time, it is just not there. They have got to raise the millage rate, they have got to
unshackle the Water Management District's capacity to raise funds, which it is
constitutionally authorized to do but which is limited by legislation. They are so afraid,
that because they are for tax reduction, that they cannot increase any funding anywhere,
or increase any taxation anywhere, so they are caught in their own ideology of being for
Everglades restoration, being for funding and just saying we have got to do it out of
existing funds, which means that if you are going to raise $100,000,000 out of the Water
Management District, you are going to seriously undermine other major requirements
that it is trying to fulfill.
P: It is still important to note that the commitment of Governor Bush and the state to the
Everglades restoration was critical to the passage of the legislation.
Pe: Absolutely. I mean, I was very relieved to know that he would take the initiative and get
the money from the state level, at $100,000,000 and more. Unfortunately, the legislature,
whenever they are fighting and looking at general revenue and the general revenue pot of
uncommitted funds, they are going to divert them, as they did at this session. They
funded the Everglades, but they diverted P[reservation] 2000 funds from other projects to
do $75,000,000 of it.
P: Where do you see Jeb Bush in all of this? Do you see him as a reluctant environmentalist,
or do you think he is committed if he is opposed, for example, to offshore oil drilling?
Pe: As I think I mentioned before, I think he has learned his lesson from his first campaign
when he alienated the environmental community and lost the election as a result. This
time, he is bound not to make that mistake. Everglades restoration is very popular,
particularly in southeast Florida, and I think that militates his support for it. A little
tougher decision that he made, and for which I commend him strongly, is the Oklawaha
restoration plan and the Rodman Dam. He has not been able to prevail on that.
P: That was a bit of a gutsy decision, was it not?
Pe: It was, and I think the environmental community is giving him high marks for that. I do
not think elsewhere he has done much in the area. He has been concerned about the
manatee, but that is one of those symbolic things, rather than something fundamental.
P: While we are on that subject, how significant are these lobbyists in Tallahassee? I note
that the sugar industry has all sorts of lobbyists, spends huge amounts of money, and the
environmentalists tell me that they can never match the amount of money. Is that a major
factor in these growth management decisions? Do you think the current legislature is
strongly influenced by a lobbyist's position?
Pe: Sugar has a big PR problem. They are up for renewal in Congress for the Sugar Act, so
they have been trying to improve their image and standing. They were very supportive of
the Everglades restoration plan that was ultimately presented to Congress. They all hired
a Washington lobbyist who went with the Audubon lobbyist, Tom Adams, and they
worked the congressional staffs, on both the House and Senate, together. So, I think they
have been generally constructive in this area. I think part of it is that this is a good deal
for the industry in that it assures them they are not going to be deprived of the water that
they historically have been using, and that is critical to their survival. Secondly, they are
mindful that there are a lot of people in the Republican party who want to eliminate the
sugar program because they are supposedly supportive of the free-market ideas, and this
[program that exists in the sugar industry] is just the opposite of the free-market system.
P: Corporate welfare.
P: What about somebody like Wade Hopping? He seems to have quite a bit of influence in
Pe: He does. He represents, through his firm and various attorneys, much of the corporate
power structure in this state. Very powerful.
P: How much influence would he have over somebody like Jeb Bush?
Pe: I really do not know what their relation is. I am not close enough to that scene to really
evaluate that. I am sure he is influential, but I do not know in what specific ways.
P: Discuss your assessment of the Everglades restoration at this point. How long will it take
before progress will be made, and what are some of the major obstacles to ultimate
Pe: I think a lot is going on and going forward, and I think a good team has been established
to implement Everglades restoration. There are some, for instance the people in charge of
the ASR program, [who] are resistant to doing the proper monitoring and all of that
which would assure everyone that this is a safe technology to be relying on. He [Jeb
Bush] is already convinced that it is safe, and so he does not want to do the things
necessary to prove it, or at least he has been reluctant to. I think he has been advised by
so many people now that maybe he is changing a little bit in that. But the ASR part is
very critical. The drought here has raised a lot of issues. I think it has demonstrated the
necessity for storage that people have not been, until this drought, fully cognizant of. I
think this has increased the knowledge of the public, that we really do have to have
Everglades restoration because it fixes water supply problems for the urban areas, as
well. The funding for what is going on right now seems to be basically there, except
certain land acquisition monies do not seem to be available to the District. It needs to be
working faster in planned acquisition, in my view, because, otherwise, the cost of these
lands are going to continue to skyrocket. The only component that I have great
reservations about is one that we, as a commission, said should only be a last resort, but it
is almost $1,000,000,000, for water reuse, taking sewage treatment effluent and
converting it virtually to drinking water before it is discharged to the south Biscayne Bay.
There are two facilities that are proposed in the plan if they cannot find the water
elsewhere. But they went forward for some reason, in this bill, with a pilot program on
reuse that I think, if it involves either of the two facilities in south Dade, is not
appropriate. I think instead they have decided to do a reuse project elsewhere, and if that
is the case I am not fully up-to-date on that that will be okay.
P: So, in short term, you think it is progressing pretty well. Can they keep a consensus over
a period of time?
Pe: Well, that is the function of this new Water Resources Advisory Commission that has just
been established by the District. [The] Water Resources Advisory Commission, modeled
after the Commission, is our best hope of sustaining a consensus, together with the
activities of Audubon and other environmental organizations and the Chambers of
Commerce and others that are also supportive and understand the need to continue to
P: Do you feel good about the leadership of the Corps of Engineers? Some people have
argued that they were part of the original problem, and now they are going to be part of
solving it. Do you feel like they are on board?
Pe: Yes, very much so, and I think we have had several leaders of the District, the Florida
district engineer leaders have been outstanding, and people like Stu Applebaum and
others, who are involved for the Corps in providing ongoing leadership with this, [who]
are top notch and fully committed to it working.
P: The same thing for the Department of Interior at this point?
Pe: I do not know what is going to happen there with the new leadership nationally. I have no
idea who is going to be in charge of this program. Rock Salt is a wonderful guy and is
providing great advice to the leadership of the Task Force, and a new director of
Everglades restoration has been established within Interior to get all of its components to
work together, and he is very knowledgeable coming out of the Corps as a senior
executive service-person. But [as for] the top leadership of the Task Force and all its
component agencies, [the] EPA and other representatives, we do not know yet. I am sure
that President Bush will want this to work and [want for the effort] to continue to be
something that is not a problem in any way for him politically, so I have faith that he will
do the right thing in this area and put the right people in it, and they will all recognize the
importance of it to the president.
P: The environmentalists have a lot of concerns about the new Secretary of the Interior,
Pe: Yes, we do, and so far, I have not seen any initiatives by her department that I am very
P: Let me give you a couple of overview questions, unless there is something else that we
have not covered, either in your political career or about the Sustainable South Florida
Commission. Are there other issues or things that we have not covered that you would
like to talk about?
Pe: I think I ought to acknowledge the critical role that Charlie Zwick played. He was chair,
initially, of the water committee, along with Secretary [Virginia] Weatherall being his
vice-chair, and then Jim Webb, who is now deceased, was in charge of our ecosystem
restoration committee. They finally decided that they really needed to merge, and then
they broke out in subcommittees of the overall committee that Charlie Zwick continued
to head. He was a wonderful neutral who kept the parties going, and he had a good
assessment of what was going on for me. He was a valuable colleague in providing
leadership on the Commission. Roy Rogers headed one of the committees, and John
DeGrove another, and then Jim Murley [headed another], and they were all wonderful
leaders in and of themselves. We had strong people on this Commission. They were very
cooperative with me and were essential. Stuart Strahl was very effective on the
Commission, representing Audubon. The World Wildlife representative from the Keys
was very helpful. At one critical point, she was key to getting Bubba Wade and Phil
Parsons and Charles Lee in agreement on a knotty problem in the conceptual plan that
was our final hurdle I am blanking out on her name and then Maggie Hurchalla, I
have mentioned was a key negotiator and player. There were others I guess I need not go
into at this point, but who were very helpful.
P: When you look back at your career, what would you consider to be your greatest
contribution to your community and your state?
Pe: I think the basic changes in Florida law that were made during my Speakership were the
most important, and I certainly think this service has been the second-most important
contribution I have made. I was very fortunate to be serving in the legislature with an
incredibly talented group of people, and when I became Speaker, I was able to put
extremely talented people in charge of major committees that produced tremendously
important legislation that has shaped both growth management issues and environmental
protection in this state, in addition to a host of other things the tax structure, the
corporate income tax we had a major battle getting that the three-fifths vote required
in the legislature and the House. After that, we initially could not get the three-fourths
vote to put it on an emergency vote, and we finally worked [it] through. I worked with
Don Reed, and we finally got that through. Just getting a three-fourths vote on something
as controversial as a corporate income tax, despite the fact that Governor Askew had run
on that issue, was a great achievement. But, in addition, we had so many other initiatives,
some of which I have mentioned. I think I was extremely fortunate to be able to use
Sandy D'Alemberte to chair the judiciary committee and develop a judicial article and
then all the implementation of it; Ralph Turlington to chair the finance committee and to
develop the corporate income tax and implement the statutes; to have Paul Danahee in
charge of the state planning legislation and community development stuff; Maxine
Baker, who gave us the Baker Act; Buddy MacKay worked with Bill Gillespie on the
insurance committee and gave the no-fault insurance bill and the no-fault divorce that
came out of [the] judiciary [committee]. We just had a field day. All of a sudden, the
urban changes that apportionment had brought and the maturity of the people coming
from the urban areas [were evident?]. I had Marshall Harris as chairman of
appropriations, who did a very good job of funding. We just had a period of time in
which there was more talent than ever before in the legislature, more horsepower and
more dedication, and the lobbyists were at their lowest point in control. Now, gradually,
that has changed, and now legislators are heavily dependent on lobbyists [for] funding,
campaigning, contributions and the like, and things have changed dramatically.
P: One thing seems very clear: you have a great talent for consensus building. It seems from
what you said, your experience as Speaker and in the Carter White House really helped
you when you came to chair the Sustainable South Florida Commission.
Pe: Not only that but my years at Morgan, Lewis & Baccheus as an environmental attorney
working with all the issues, [and] my history of working with growth management and
local government. We did another bill that was very important during my Speakership, a
revenue-sharing bill with state and local government, patterned after the national
revenue-sharing bill with the states. I had been involved in encouraging that through
some national legislative organizations I was associated with. That was with several of
the national legislative leaders' organizations during my career as a legislator. I helped
influence the Nixon administration in doing a general revenue-sharing with the states
because the federal government, through the federal income tax that was an era when
they had bracket creep. It was a huge source of revenue, and the sharing of it with the
states and local governments was a major thing that was initiated by Nixon. When I was
Speaker, because we had improved the tax base at the state level so greatly, we shared it
through a general revenue-sharing bill, which still continues. It was an exciting time to be
Speaker of the House because I had all this power to bring in highly qualified staff, and I
had great committee leadership. Quillian Yancy was [on the] criminal justice committee.
The result was that we were able, over two years, to [accomplish] remarkable legislative
output. I do not think the state has ever seen anything like it before or since.
P: People argue you finally brought Florida into the twentieth century.
Pe: Well, that was a golden era, a golden age, but it was not so much me, as the opportunity I
had to use the talent, and I tried to do that in this Commission; I tried to use the top talent
I had, and the experience. All my background in environmental law helped, as well.
While I was a consensus-builder, I also asked very sharp and tough questions many times
of speakers. I was not hesitant to involve myself in solving some of these problems and
promoting ideas. Maggie Hurchalla jumped on me once because she thought I was
intruding too much into her negotiations. But beyond that, I got away with it, basically
intruding at times, trying to be helpful in bringing my own legal background into it.
P: Clearly, you were a good listener but also a facilitator, as that position would require.
Pe: And, you know, in the legislature, I was worried about getting 50+1 percent votes, and
here, I was trying to get 100 percent votes. So, this was a greater challenge in that regard,
of working more patiently. In the legislature, you are so tightly confined in a time-frame.
Thank God for majority votes, rather than three-fifths votes and three-fourths votes that
you are required for constitutional amendments.
P: Anything else you would like to comment on or conclude with?
Pe: Obtaining the first unanimous vote from this Commission was a great thrill. Obtaining a
unanimous vote on the conceptual plan was a great thrill. The subsequent votes [kept] up
[the] unanimous vote tradition, except we had one negative vote on approving an energy
advisory committee report. We had unanimous votes on all of our formal actions and on
our major reports. The stress of those last three reports we made and trying to keep the
consensus going at [a] 100 percent level became very stressful. I was one worn-out guy at
the end of it, and I felt that I had really done my thing and it was time for new people to
come in and take over for the future. That is why I declined to get involved in the new
water resources committee and so forth. Because of my chairmanship of the merged
Audubon organizations (the Florida Audubon Society merged with the National), I am
chairing the state office board, and that keeps me involved at about the right level. I had
gained quite a bit of weight, and I was under a lot of stress in that final year-and-a-half or
so of this Commission, trying to bring it home. I think we brought it home, and I did my
thing. So, I will stay involved but do not want to be involved to the extent that I was
P: On that note, I want to thank you very much for your time.