Interviewer is Cynthia Barnett
Interviewee is Earl M. Starnes
B: This is an interview with Earl Maxwell Starnes, professor emeritus at the
Department of Urban and Regional Planning at the University of Florida on behalf
of the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida. The
interviewer is Cynthia Barnett. The date is June 17, 2000. This interview is being
conducted at 16450 S. W. Shellcrest Avenue, Cedar Key, Florida. I would like to
start with where you were born and in what year?
S: I was born in Winter Haven, Florida, on Dundee Road, about a mile from
downtown, on September 14, 1926.
B: What brought your family to Winter Haven?
S: My father came to Winter Haven with his uncle. His purpose in being in Winter
Haven, right around the turn of the century was to plant 100 acres of orange
trees and grapefruit trees for his uncle, who was a retired physician from Atlanta.
My mother came to Winter Haven, I guess about 1898, with her family from Ohio.
She was a little tiny girl at the time. They came to Winter Haven in order to
perpetuate my maternal grandmothers life. The doctor in Ohio told her that she
would be dead in six months if she did not move to Florida, so they moved the
family to Florida. My mother and father met after World War I and were married
in Winter Haven.
B: What was it like growing up in Winter Haven in the 1930s and 1940s?
S: It was a small town. There was a high school, and there was a, what we then
called, grammar school. Of course, we all went to the grammar school. It was
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right in downtown Winter Haven. We either rode the bus or rode our bicycles to
get to school, and I even often walked. It was about a mile, but that was not
much of a walk for us in those days.
B: Was your dad still in citrus farming when you were growing up?
S: Yes, we lived on the groves that he had planted.
B: Did you work in the groves?
S: All the boys worked in the grove, although it is interesting, I was the youngest
boy and more closely associated in years with my sister. We sort of ended up in
the house as house helpers, and my older brothers worked in the grove.
B: How many older brothers did you have?
S: I had two older brothers [and] one sister.
B: And you went to Winter Haven High School.
B: Graduated in the class of 1944.
B: Do you still have any friends today who you knew at Winter Haven High School
or from your childhood?
S: There are a few people I know around, not that many, however. I have a former
brother-in-law I knew in high school. There are still a number of those people
living in Winter Haven, and we go to Winter Haven once in awhile.
B: Do you still have lots of relatives there?
S: Not that many, not anymore. Not immediate family, no.
B: Who was particularly influential for you from this time period, either from your
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family or from school?
S: I suppose my mother and my father and my music teacher, probably among
those three. More influence than others, except for peers and school buddies
and so on.
B: Right. How were those three influential, do you think?
S: My mother really had a fundamental kind of philosophy of life that I thought was
good, more or less based on Christian principles but not so much on organized
religion, which she did abide by, but I do not think she really felt that strongly
about organized religion, although we were a very active Presbyterian family. My
father taught me how to use my hands and build things and how important that
was. He built the house that we lived in.
B: Could you describe that house?
S: It was a typical old Florida house. It had a porch all the way around three sides
and had a breezeway separating the kitchen from what became the future
bathroom. On the first floor, there was a room to the left and a room to the right
of the stairs. You went up the stairs, and there were two rooms upstairs.
B: Did you share a room with your brothers?
S: Oh yes. Well, as a matter of fact, finally, it was too hot to sleep upstairs in the
summer, so my father rigged up the porch. He put canvas curtains on the porch
so when it would rain at night, we could lower the canvas curtains. So, the whole
family slept on the porch.
B: What sort of roof did it have, do you remember?
S: It had a metal roof, very much like the one we have here.
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B: So you could hear the raindrops at night.
B: How about your music teacher? A man or a woman?
S: She was a woman, Mrs. Dentene. I studied music up until I was about fifteen.
B: What instrument did you play?
S: Piano, and I also sang in the church boys= choir. My sister stayed with music
and is now a director and so on in New York, a successful musician. She has a
doctorate in music, so she has done quite well with it. I left it and sort of
wandered off into building and making things.
B: Maybe we could talk about when and where you got interested in architecture.
S: I am sure I got interested in architecture because of my inclination to want to
build things. When I was a kid, I was building all kinds of things.
B: What kinds of things did you build when you were a kid?
S: I built a boat when I was thirteen.
B: What sort of a boat? A wooden boat?
S: It was a little seven-foot pram. I built it of plywood. The plywood cost $25, and I
was able to convince my dad I could build a boat if he would buy the plywood. He
bought the plywood, and I built a boat.
B: Where did you take the boat out?
S: I guess our first inaugural cruise was on Lake Howard in Winter Haven, which
was the lake fairly close by where we lived. By then, we had moved from the
grove into town.
B: What else did you build that stands out in your memory?
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S: A chickenhouse, because I got into the chicken-raising business in high school to
make a little money.
B: To sell the eggs?
B: Sold the chickens?
S: I would buy 100 chicks, and I would raise them up to broiler size, which,
incidentally, was about a pound and a quarter instead of these four-pound
broilers that you see today. They are very small.
B: You did not have any growth hormones.
S: No. I would usually sell those to Publix and other stores at the time. Stores, in
those days, bought chickens live.
B: Did you know George Jenkins?
S: Yes, my father and George Jenkins were pretty good friends.
B: Really? What kind of a guy was he?
S: My recollection is he was a very handsome fellow and a very outgoing kind of
guy, a very civic-conscious person. Our first experience with him [was when] he
was a manager of Piggly Wiggly in Winter Haven, which was the store on Park in
downtown Winter Haven.
B: And you were how old when he was manager of Piggly Wiggly?
S: Gosh, about ten, I guess.
B: So, this was before he founded Publix?
S: He changed the name of Piggly Wiggly to Publix because Piggly Wiggly left the
town. He changed the name, and that began the first Publix store.
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B: And you sold your chickens to him?
S: I sold chickens to him and to a couple of other stores in town.
B: What was it like doing business with him?
S: Easy. I cannot remember how much we got for my chickens. It was not very
much, but it was worth the time. I tried to do the accounting to see if all the feed
and so on paid off, but it was a fun project. I did that for a couple of years.
B: Somewhere along the way you also got interested in planning and preservation.
How early can you trace that interest?
S: That interest really came through architecture, primarily through architecture.
B: You earned your bachelor=s [degree in] architecture from UF [University of
Florida] in 1951 and then your masters [degree] in urban and regional planning
at FSU [Florida State University]twenty years later in 1973. Your Ph. D. in 1977.
What did you do during those twenty years, and what inspired you to go back to
college for graduate work?
S: During those twenty years? Well, I guess my first goal after graduation was to
achieve registration to practice architecture, which I managed to do in, let=s see,
it must have been about 1954, somewhere along in there.
B: What did that entail?
S: Taking examinations in Jacksonville. All the aspiring architects had to go to
Jacksonville for a week-long examination. It took me, I think, three times, which
was fairly the average. There were some interesting ways they weeded out the
inexperienced kids, so to speak.
B: What were some of the ways they did that?
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S: Well, they had oral tests, and the board would sit and you would be interviewed
by the board. If they did not really feel you were quite mature enough or had not
had enough experience yet, then they would wave you on to the next class.
B: And is that how you got weeded out the first two times?
S: The first time, my recollection is I erred on the design project. The second time, I
erred on some facet. I cannot remember now exactly what it was. Structures and
that sort of stuff was always pretty easy for me, but I think it was, again, a design
problem. Design is so subjective, so the board reviewing can say, oh, we do not
like that. But I finally passed the thing without any problem.
B: Then, what was your first official architecture job?
S: My first job as an architect was as a draftsman, working with Courtney Stuart in
Fort Lauderdale. I went to work right out of school, moved to Fort Lauderdale.
B: How long did you stay with Courtney Stuart?
S: I think I stayed with Courtney, probably two years, and I learned a lot from
Courtney. I learned about how to put together a set of working documents, a set
of contract documents. I learned a lot about the nitty-gritty of making house plans
and making building plans and how to locate water closets in the right area and
that sort of thing, how the plumbing all comes together. You get quite a bit of that
in school, but you do not really get the practice of making things work. That, I
learned from Courtney. Courtney was not an outstanding designer by any stretch
of the imagination, but he was a good solid professional. It was a small firm. I
have always worked with small firms. I guess the largest firm I worked with was
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B: Were you married to Dorothy by this time?
S: Oh yes, Dorothy Jean and I married in 1949.
B: Where did you meet her?
S: Winter Haven.
B: Did you guys grow up together?
S: No. She is younger than me. I may have known her. I knew the family.
B: What was her maiden name?
S: Her maiden name was Praser, but the family were Van Skibers, and they were
also very active in the Presbyterian Church. So, I knew the family, her mother
and her aunt and her grandfather. Her grandfather was quite a fixture around
B: So, when you married her, you had not started UF yet?
B: You were still at Florida Southern?
S: Still at Florida Southern, right.
B: Then, you married Dorothy, and then you two moved to Gainesville together.
S: Well, not really. I was in Gainesville one year before we married. Then, we
moved to Gainesville.
B: Back with Courtney: did you have any specific projects that you designed on your
own in those two years, or were you helping with others?
S: Essentially, Courtney=s practice was housing. In those days, large houses were
2,000 square feet.
FGM 1 page 9
B: Were the houses all in Fort Lauderdale, or were they all over?
S: His practice was all in Fort Lauderdale.
B: What were some of the neighborhoods you were working on at this time?
S: His office was located south of New River in a very old boom-time subdivision.
The office was a converted garage in the back. Then, he moved up to Carl
Ridge. We built an office specifically up there for himself, and we worked in that
office for a long time.
B: Where did you go when you left Courtney Stuart?
S: I went to work for Bill Bigany. Bill was a Harvard graduate and a fellow who had
a pretty good design reputation. By then, I wanted to work with firms who really
were interested in design as a major motivation for practice.
B: Was he in Miami?
S: No, Bill was in Fort Lauderdale. I worked for Bill until I was registered.
B: What years did you work for Bill?
S: Probably 1953 to 1954, 1955, somewhere along in there.
B: What did you learn from Bill?
S: Actually, we learned a lot about design. That was my purpose in going there, to
learn more about design. We had some competitions in the office for design. A
client would come in, and the three of us would compete as to whose design the
client would adopt.
B: Who was the third person?
S: A fellow by the name of Frank Miro. Then, later on, an old friend of mine (who
FGM 1 page 10
just recently passed away) was an architecture faculty member. His name is a
blank right now. He came onto the staff, so actually there were three of us
working for Bill.
B: So, you would try to out-compete each other for the design the client ended up
S: Yes, it was kind of fun. It was interesting that the principal architect would let us
do that. Some of the work had to be at night. We had to come in and do our work
at night on those competitive things.
B: Then, where did you go when you left Bill=s office?
S: I worked for a few weeks for another architect in Fort Lauderdale. By now, I was
registered. I did one set of working drawings for an apartment building, but that
was sort of an interim thing. While I was there, his name was Bill Vaughn, I
think. While I was there, my future partner, Joe Rentscher, called me one night
and said, Al Parker is looking for a draftsman. Well, I knew Al Parker=s work. By
the way, Al is still on faculty at UF. He must be in his eighties by now. So, I drove
down to Miami one night. It was a very wet, rainy night, and I remember, will
never forget, that trip driving down 27th Avenue, which used to be U.S. 27, and
27th Avenue had dips in it as you drive south along it. Each one of those dips
was full of water. So, I am fording my way down to Coconut Grove...
B: Do you remember what kind of car you were driving?
S: I think I had an old Plymouth at the time. Al had remodeled a service station, and
he was in that old service station. In fact, he and his family lived there for a long
FGM 1 page 11
time. They had moved when we went down for this interview. Al asked me one
question. He said, have you ever built anything? I said, yes, Al, I have built lots of
furniture and stuff like that. He said, good, and he hired me. I enjoyed those
years with Al. I really think Al probably had a lot to do with my architectural life
from then on.
B: What are some of the things you learned from Al Parker?
S: Well, Al had a good library. Al liked the Eastern philosophies, and there were a
number of those books around. I started reading those. Al also, although he had
never worked with Frank Lloyd Wright, he was a real devotee of Frank Lloyd
Wright=s work. I became much happier with my design situation there with Al. Al
was a good guy. He has always been a good man. There were two draftsmen,
George Gunn and I, and Al would come in. On Monday morning, you might
come in and find a little sketch about this size [about three inches by three
inches], what one would call a thumbnail sketch, with a note across the bottom:
Earl, work this up. That is how we did things. After we worked with Al for awhile,
we knew how he handled details, and we could really emulate his work and learn
how to do it from Al. Al was a good teacher.
B: What sorts of things were you designing?
S: Mostly houses. Al Parker, most of his work was houses.
B: Okay, and did he have a particular style, would you say?
S: I would say if there is such a thing as a prairie style, that was probably his style.
B: What is prairie?
FGM 1 page 12
S: [In the manner of] Frank Lloyd Wright, long low sweeping roof lines and very
strong roof lines. Low scale, keeping buildings close to the ground. Of course, we
lived in a tropical area, and we adapted as much as we could to the tropics. Air
conditioning was non-existent at that time. In fact, we worked in his draft room,
which was not air conditioned. It was a fascinating place to work, especially in
B: How did you keep the place cool?
S: We had fans. We just had fans, and we would sweat. It would get on the
drawings, and you would have to wipe it off.
B: You and Dorothy, I assume, had moved to Miami at this time?
S: By then, our first son, Tom, was born in Fort Lauderdale, and we lived in a little
one-room apartment on 15th Street, which may or may not even be there
anymore. Then, when we moved to Miami, we had our second son, Will, and
then the kids came on, the other two, after that.
B: Where did you live in Miami?
S: We rented an apartment in what was then called a 701 project, or 207 project. It
was FHA [Federal Housing Administration] housing. A lot had been built after
World War II, garden apartment style. Strips of buildings, usually had a
quadrangle, with a court in the middle and the apartments stationed around it, all
two stories. We lived in one of those.
B: What was the first house you bought?
S: We built our first house.
B: Where was that?
FGM 1 page 13
S: That was out further southwest on, I guess it was, 79th Court in Miami. We built
that house, it must have been, about 1960.
B: Were you still working for Al Parker?
S: I was still working for Al Parker when I built that house.
B: When you built your first house, how did you build it? What was your dream
house at that time?
S: It was a wooden house. Somewhere around here, we have pictures of it. It was a
wood-frame building using heavy timber framing. It had porches on both sides,
essentially, and had what we called wood jalousie doors, so you could open up
the house entirely. Again, it was not air conditioned, but it was a very cool house,
a very comfortable house. Plus, it had cross-ventilation on every room. Every
room opened onto porches. The porches really served as the hallways.
B: Do you know if it is still there?
S: No, the house is gone. As a matter of fact, we built that house for $12,000. It had
about 1,800, 1,900 square feet in it, including porches. We paid $2,500 for the
acre we built it on. Later on, we sold it for $60,000 something. No, I guess we
sold that one for about $35,000 or $40,000 or somewhere in that vicinity. Then,
we built another house.
B: In Miami also?
B: Where was that one?
S: We built it back a little closer into town just south of Miller Road and just west of
the South Miami Elementary School. That was a rock house. We built that house
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using concrete blocks, a different style altogether. Again, every room opened and
looked out on a lake. We built it on the south shore of a lake. It almost kind of
hung over the lake, actually.
B: Were you still working for Al at this time?
S: No. By then, Joe Rentscher and I had started our practice. We started our
practice in about 1958.
B: Where did you go when you left Al Parker?
S: I worked for Rufus Nims for several years.
B: That is another small firm?
S: Yes. Well, that is the largest firm [I worked for]. Rufus was doing Howard
Johnsons Motel and Restaurant work and had designed the replica for the
Howard Johnsons Restaurants. The orange roof was something Howard
Johnson wanted, and Rufus had designed the restaurant. Then, of course, as
that chain grew, that became a set of stock plans and went all over the country.
B: So, you also worked on the Howard Johnsons.
S: I worked on Howard Johnsons Restaurants. When we were with Rufus, we
developed the pattern for the Howard Johnsons Motel.
B: You did? What do you think today when you drive around and look at all the
S: It is interesting. The motel room we developed when I worked for Rufus became
a pattern for the industry, and it still is the same pattern. It is just a very efficient,
and everybody adopted it because it works.
B: What was distinctive about it?
FGM 1 page 15
S: It had a large glass window opening onto a terrace. As you walk into the room on
the left- or right-hand side, depending on which way it is flipped, was a closet and
then a counter. The counter eventually had the TV setting at the end of it. On the
right was a lavatory and another small closet. You walk through, and there is the
door and your shower and the water closet there and the other lavatory. So,
there are two lavatories. That model stayed so long with the industry.
B: What did you learn from Rufus? What did you take away from him?
S: Rufus was an interesting character.
B: How so?
S: Well, Rufus loved to party, and we would start partying about lunchtime.
B: What was your version of partying?
S: Having beer and pizza. Rufus was always sort of the philosopher-king with this
bunch of young architects who hung around him. We talked architecture, we
talked about city planning, we talked about all kinds of things. It was a group of
young guys, and we thought nothing of working eighty and ninety hours a week,
which we did with some frequency. So, it was kind of an interesting time with
B: Did he have a particular philosophy?
S: Rufus graduated from NC [North Carolina] State. He was a modernist, and his
work was very straightforward and simple. The motels were simple. I remember a
comment that Howard Johnson made the first time he saw one of them. In North
Carolina, I was on the job there with him and Rufus. He looked at it and said, it
looks like a chicken coop. We had to do some slight modifications to take away
FGM 1 page 16
the chicken coop look.
B: Do you have any other memories of Howard Johnson? He is an interesting
person to have met.
S: He was a Horatio Alger-type fellow. He was really a big executive. I mean, he
was tough. He was unbending in many ways.
B: Really, on the job?
S: But he was absolutely convinced that the American public would buy
predictability. His ice cream was always the same, his hamburgers were always
the same, the clams were always the same, and the motel rooms were all
identical. Every motel room had the same furnishings in it. I mean, we bought all
the bedspreads, and all the beds and all the furniture was identical. As a matter
of fact, those two chairs right over there were chairs I designed for Howard
B: We are looking at two kind of short beige chairs.
S: Almost Danish modern chairs.
B: Yes. Is there anything Howard Johnson wanted that you were opposed to that
you had to do anyway because he was so unbending?
S: Not really. Somehow, our influence on his executive staff, or his design people,
was sufficient to overcome his. They were being quite successful, and he knew
that. He knew how successful he was being. I know the day he went public, he
became a $36,000,000 millionaire. In one day, their stock just zoomed away. Up
to that time, it was solely on company, but he was being quite successful. When
Joe Rentscher and I started our practice, Roofus had decided to let Howard
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Johnson go, and we inherited it. So, Joe and I ended up doing a lot of the
restaurant work and the Howard Johnsons work. We did not steal it. Roofus did
not want it anymore.
B: What years did you work for Roofus?
S: Up to about 1958, from probably 1955 to 1958, three years.
B: So, 1958 is when you and Joe Rentscher opened your own firm together. What
was the name of that firm?
S: Starnes & Rentscher. I had known Joe. We were in school together at UF. In
fact, we still keep in close contact with Joe.
B: Where does he live now?
S: He lives in New Port Richie. The firm we started is still going on. It has changed
B: What is it called now?
S: I have forgotten the name of the firm.
B: The firm is in Miami?
B: Is it in the Grove?
S: You know, I am not sure where they are located now. I have the address
B: Where did you guys open it up?
S: We opened the firm on Southwest 1st Street, at 12th Avenue, in the 1150 building.
It was a two-story building that had been built by an accounting firm.
B: What made you want to go into business with Joe Rentscher?
FGM 1 page 18
S: We had worked together some. We had developed some prototype FHA houses
together, which never were used. But, we had worked together, and I knew Joe
from school. We had a lot of admiration for each other, I guess. When we
decided to go into practice, we put in $500 apiece, and we spent almost all that
money on furniture. We built all our own furniture for the office, drafting tables
B: Did you have the Howard Johnsons account right when you are starting out?
S: No, we did not. That was probably a year later.
B: What was it like starting out?
S: Oh, it was great. Our first project, I think, was a swimming pool somebody
wanted to add, so we did the layout for the swimming pool. A great project. I think
we got a $200 fee or something for it.
B: How quickly did your business grow? How was it in those days?
S: It was very slow. It was a pretty tough time for us, financially. Of course, it is not
easy to build a practice.
B: How long did the hard times last?
S: Oh, a couple of years. When we finally got the Howard Johnson, that was a real
potboiler. I mean, that really kept us going. That also kept me traveling all over
the country because I was sort of the outside guy, so to speak.
B: You would go to the construction sites?
S: Yes, we would supervise construction, and each job would be six or seven visits.
It did not matter where it was, St. Louis, or we had several projects in North
Carolina and Georgia. We even did a project in Wisconsin and southern Illinois.
FGM 1 page 19
We had quite extensive work with motels and restaurants. Then, we did some
B: Which other hotels?
S: We did a hotel over in Sanibel. That one is gone. The property became so
valuable they tore the hotel down.
B: Was it difficult for you to hear that?
S: No, no, it is part of the practice. It is rare to even find a building that is forty, fifty
years old anymore.
B: What was the name of that hotel, do you remember?
S: Yes, it was called The Reef, and the client was Finley Maston, a prominent
family in Miami. We did some other work for Finley. We did some work over in
Key Biscayne. He had a group of little cottages that he rented out for tourists.
They were little, kind of, Florida houses, Florida cottages with porches.
B: What was he like to work with?
S: Finley was a good fellow to work with. I always enjoyed working with Finley. He is
a very thoughtful entrepreneur.
B: Do you mean responsible?
S: Yes, and he liked to do Florida-style things. He grew up in Miami. It was an old
family in Miami. He had a lot of respect for the climate, for architectural waves in
B: Is there a Florida style of architecture?
S: I am not certain there is anymore. I guess if there was, it was probably the early
houses that were built, like where my father built that house. It was essentially
FGM 1 page 20
wooden housing, cracker-style. Now, how enduring that is, I do not know,
because it is all wooden building. The only other more permanent styles that
have emerged over time are the rock houses in and around Miami and Coconut
B: Like the concrete block houses?
S: First of all, they use the native limestone. You see some of those over in Coral
Gables and Coconut Grove. There are very few left.
B: How about the art deco style?
S: The art deco style, of course, is late 1920s, and I do not think it was unique to
Florida. It really started in New York, and it was just adapted. Art deco became a
national kind of style.
B: Now, you say Matheson was wanting to build Florida style stuff. What kinds of
features did those places have?
S: Porches, lots of open space, lots of open houses. I guess porches have always
been very important to Florida houses, real Florida houses.
B: What would you consider an unreal Florida house?
S: These little concrete boxes that people live in and, now, the ones that have such
strange decoration on the fronts, on the facades, that are absolutely
meaningless. They are still concrete block houses.
B: What decorations are you talking about?
S: The archways that one finds around the doorways, the entrances. The
architraves and so on are kind of phony.
B: What else are you and Joe Rentscher designing at this time and working on? I
FGM 1 page 21
assume you worked with him up until 1971, when you go back to school.
S: I sold my interest in the practice in 1971.
B: What else are you guys doing?
S: We did the First Unitarian Church in Miami.
B: Is that church still around?
S: Yes. We did a little office building, and we ended up in it. It is still there in Coral
Gables. We did a little art gallery in Coral Gables.
B: How about the Belle Harbor Yacht Club?
S: I worked on that when I was with Al Parker. That was an interesting building. It
was up on stilts. It was essentially one long concrete slab with jalousie doors,
which Roofus and Al and Joe and I did. We used a lot of those wood jalousie
doors. The advantage of the wood jalousie door was you could close it, and it
was a storm shutter. You could open it, and lots of filtered light came in, or you
could open it up entirely onto the porch. You had to have a porch. So, you had a
door that served several functions. We used a lot of those. In fact, a company in
Coral Gables built them almost exclusively for Parker and Starnes & Rentscher
and everybody else who was doing that kind of work. I cannot remember the
name of the lumber company, but they were a Coral Gables company.
B: You also built senior citizen centers during this time with Rentscher. What was
that experience like?
S: We did a nonprofit project in Sarasota for Jefferson Center, as it was called. It
was sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association. My recollection is it had
200 units in it. It is a big building, and it is still there. It is quite an imposing
FGM 1 page 22
building in Sarasota. That project, we joined with the Pencoast, Ferindino, &
Grafton firm because, frankly, Joe and I did not have enough capital to produce
the working drawings. So, we paired up with the larger firm, and that is how that
building got designed and built.
B: What is unique about designing for senior citizens?
S: That was a HUD [Housing and Urban Development, federal agency] project, and,
even then, HUD had a lot of standards. You had to be concerned about door
locks, and you had to be concerned about handles [being] easy to open. Keep
cabinets low. You have to be careful about changes in elevation. The floor should
be as level as possible, and avoid thresholds and things like that where people
B: When you say that building is imposing, do you not like it? Do you think it is out-
of-scale with the community?
S: I think in a way it is out-of-scale with the community because it is in an area
where it would be rare to find more than a two-story building, so it really is
imposing in that sense, but it was the project site we ended up with. It was one of
those interesting projects, the nonprofit. That project was built entirely from the
grant from HUD. There was not a nickel of any other money. It is fascinating.
Those were wonderful projects because a nonprofit group could build one of
those anywhere. We also did some public housing for seniors. They were never
more than two stories. We did one in Hialeah. Well, I guess we did a multi-story
one over in Miami Beach. That is about the time I left the firm, when that project
FGM 1 page 23
was just unfolding and developing.
B: Are you happy with the work you did at that time? Are there things you might
drive around and look at and say, I should have done that differently.
S: No, I think we had a good practice. Always look forward to the next building; that
is something I learned from Al Parker. Somebody would say, what is your best
building, Al? He would say, well, it is my next one.
B: What do you think your best building is?
S: I think the Unitarian Church is by far the best building we designed.
B: How did you get that contract?
S: I was very active in the Unitarian Association.
B: You and your whole family?
S: Whole family. Essentially, that is how I asked for it. We were interviewed for it,
and we got the project.
B: What do you like about that project?
S: I think it does a lot of things. It was a very experimental structure. It is thin-shell
concrete and...[End of Side 1, Tape A.]
S: I guess it was an anniversary, a fifty-year anniversary or something, and I went
back for that. I have forgotten what the instance was, but I was the Sunday
speaker, so to speak.
B: And they are doing an oral history project for the Unitarian Church?
S: They are doing an oral history project of that church.
FGM 1 page 24
B: And have you been interviewed for that, too?
B: And it was filmed.
S: They are doing film.
B: Why did you decide in 1970 to sell your interest to your partner and go back to
S: Actually, we need to go back and talk about the political years because they
started in 1964.
B: Yes, let us go there.
S: Yes, because it started to separate the two.
B: So do you want to start with the Dade County Commission?
S: Yes, and how we happened to get involved in that sort of stuff.
B: What made you decide to run for office?
S: There had been a charter amendment. First of all, Dade County adopted its own
little charter in 1957, I guess it was. By 1964, the Miami-Dade Chamber of
Commerce and the architects AIA chapter, of which I was president at the time,
got involved in changing the kind of county commission and changing the
number and how they were to be elected.
B: How did you get involved in that? Why did you get involved in it?
S: The AIA, the American Institute of Architects, the chapter there had always been
an active chapter in terms of planning and pushing for countywide planning and
really trying to push the envelope of how Dade County was developing because
we, as a lot of people, knew it was just being inundated by people. When we all
FGM 1 page 25
became active in Dade County, it was not so bad. There were not that many
people. There were only 600,000 or 700,000, but by the time 1964 came around,
there were over 1,000,000. So, what we did, the charter amendment was
adopted. It set up a county commission with eight commissioners, each from one
of eight districts and elected countywide and a county mayor who would be
elected countywide. The mayor=s responsibility was essentially to chair the
county commission. I was then president of the AIA chapter.
B: Was this the Dade County chapter?
S: Yes. Well, the South Florida chapter. It now includes Puerto Rico and a couple of
other places. What got us involved in it was, first of all, we had been very active
in attempting to help the county do planning. There was a charter provision for
countywide planning, but it was a system that had not yet been sold countywide,
so the chapter did a lot of work in that area.
B: So they basically were not using it?
S: No, it was being used, but it was not yet to the strength that it certainly is today.
The chapter had also been involved in urban development projects. I know that
several of us worked on a downtown revitalization project. The AIA chapter got
very much involved in providing free service.
B: Was the downtown revitalization for downtown Miami?
S: Downtown Miami. It was a Flagler Street study of what we should do with Flagler
Street. So, I got involved through that medium of working with larger-scale
projects in downtown Miami through the AIA. By then, I had been appointed by
the City of Miami to their Minimum Housing Enforcement Board.
FGM 1 page 26
B: What year was that?
S: That was probably 1962, and that was an interesting tour of duty.
B: How so?
S: The idea is already to condemn buildings.
B: And was there a lot of condemning to do?
S: What we learned is some judges on some pretty bad buildings.
B: What did you do about that?
S: We condemned them.
B: And what happened to you?
B: Was that ever publicized?
S: Yes, it was publicized in the local papers at the time. Anyhow, [there was] all of
this activity and being concerned about the public=s business. There was to be
an election in November of 1963, and that election was to sweep away the old
county commission entirely and replace it with the new board of eight members
and a mayor. I asked Joe about it. I said, Joe, we need to get somebody to run
for the county commission who is an architect and who wants to do something
about some of this stuff. So it turned out that they wanted me to do it. I got
permission from Joe and from Dorothy Jean.
B: What were your feelings about it?
S: They were mixed because I knew nothing about politics. I did not like public
speaking, and I did not like to do a lot of things like that. I just did not like to be
FGM 1 page 27
out, to be exposed, so to speak. So, we put together a group of architects who
raised enough money to pay for the filing fee, and we started raising some
money. Another friend of mine, whom I had known through the Unitarian Church,
worked for the Miami-Dade Chamber of Commerce. The Miami-Dade Chamber
of Commerce had an outfit they called the Government Research Council, and
she was executive director of that council.
B: What was her name?
S: Eileen Lots. Eileen was very much involved in understanding the local
government, so I sat down with her and we had a long chat about this business
of running for the county commission. She helped with an approach. In fact, it
was interesting. She said, why do we not use your campaign logo, we will call
you the architect for Dade=s future. I said, that sounds good. It caught on, and
every time I would be on television or something, I always had a [design] triangle
in my hand, some clue of the trade [meaning, architectural tools that visually
reinforced the slogan]. It did work. We beat a very strong incumbent, Hughland
Long. I will tell you a little story about Hughland that is kind of funny. I portrayed
him as a very bad fellow, but he really was not a very bad fellow.
B: You did?
S: Not really. I just pointed to some of his decisions that I thought were improper
from a zoning standpoint, a planning standpoint.
B: What sort of decisions were these?
S: There were some decisions on Red Road in south Dade that I thought were
FGM 1 page 28
inconsistent even then, [which] I thought were pretty bad planning decisions, but
we will talk about that a little more. So, Eileen introduced me to Winston Wynn.
Winston Wynn was very active in this Government Research Council. Winston
was a general insurance agent for Connecticut General. If anybody was my
mentor in politics, he turned out to be my mentor. Winston was then a candidate
for mayor, and the other candidate in the race was Chuck Hall.
B: Had he [Wynn?] served an elected office before?
S: He had served on the county commission, and he had also served as a city
commissioner in Coral Gables. So, he had some elected experience. There were
several of us who were on the reform ticket, so to speak, a fellow from Hialeah,
Whitworth, and a fellow from north Dade, Harold Green, and Arthur Patton,
who was an incumbent commissioner on the county commission from the Miami
area. I was running for what was District 7, which was southwest Dade, not far
south but southwest Dade, including Coral Gables. There was a city
commissioner from Coral Gables, in fact, the mayor from Coral Gables was
running at the time, Hughland Long was the incumbent county commissioner,
and there were a couple other folks in that race. I think there were altogether six
B: What are you learning from Wynn at this time?
S: First of all, he led we reformers to believe there was a pot of money that was
available from the Chamber of Commerce to help us finance our races. The pot
of money turned out to be about $200.
FGM 1 page 29
B: How much did you raise?
S: I think I raised all of $12,000 for the whole race. Of course, we have that who-
gave-who-got law, so all that had to be reported, of course. It ended up a two-
person race after the primary, and it was Hughland (the incumbent) and I in the
race, and I did win it. So, we started our business as the county commissioner
February 11 . That was a really interesting experience, as a architect who
had never had any political experience.
B: What was it like?
S: I guess some of the first things I really learned were the rules, the rules we
played by, and those rules happened to be the legislative rules, not the
conventional ones, Robert=s Rules of Order [protocol for conducting legislative
sessions], but Mason=s legislative rules. I quickly learned that if I did not
understand those rules, it was going to be very difficult to do anything in the
county commission. The county attorney was Dary Davis at the time, who, by
the way, is probably one of the great public lawyers who has ever been around.
He was succeeded by Tom Britain, who was also a very wonderful public
lawyer. Public lawyers are very important people. I learned that also, and if they
do not have integrity, then the whole operation of that government falls.
B: So this fellow had integrity.
S: Oh yes. Anyway, I learned that he had the only copy of Mason=s legislative rules
and I said, Dary, I need to borrow those because I need to learn everything in
there, which I did.
FGM 1 page 30
B: You did, and you studied them.
S: I sure did.
B: How did that help you as commissioner?
S: It helped me as a commissioner because then I could move forward with a
program. I would do my homework with other commissioners to be sure we were
going to get these things done. We did a lot of things. We reorganized all of
these disparate agencies into one, what we called, Little HUD, Little Housing and
Urban Development Department.
B: Who among the other reform candidates also won?
S: All of them. All of us won. It really was a sweep, and it was the first time a group
of young professionals had really taken over the county government.
B: Who was the mayor at this time?
S: Chuck Hall was the mayor. Chuck was a wonderful guy to have out front because
he could say and do anything for anybody, and we knew he did not believe it.
Chuck was an interesting character.
B: What types of programs are you trying to pass at this time?
S: One of the things I wanted to do was take a long look at the building codes,
which we did, and to press the county so that they would adopt their general land
use master plan.
B: What was wrong with the building codes before that time?
S: There were some problems in the building codes, particularly with regard to the
electrical building code. The county, because of unions, had consistently required
thin-wall conduit in residential buildingss. The national code did not require it,
FGM 1 page 31
but it was primarily because of the local unions. We were able to finally change
that. Other than that, there was not what I considered a real good review process
to review orders from the building department, and we strengthened that, the
citizen review process. We worked on this Little HUD thing where we combined
the City of Miami Housing Authority and urban-renewal programs. Gosh, there
were a whole bunch of housing programs that were under disparate agencies
because when the federal government set up agencies, the county would
replicate with one. Pretty soon, we had several of these agencies, and we balled
them all together in, really, one urban redevelopment agency. That went along
pretty well. Unfortunately, the fellow we wanted to head it up ended up with a
brain tumor and died, a guy with a national reputation. He was the Miami housing
director, a wonderful...
B: What was his name?
S: Haley Softgee. Anyhow, we were able to get another fellow in there who was
competent, so that went along quite well. Another goal we had was to try to
consolidate water and sewer. In 1964, there were, I think, something like 400,000
septic tanks in Dade County. We knew that was not good. The City of Miami had
the only water and sewer system that even looked like a countywide system, so
we were able to merge that with the county and eventually get established on
some grant tracks.
B: Did you actually help people convert some of the septic tanks over?
S: No, that came years and years later. We had no infrastructure even to handle it
at that time. The first thing we had to do was get an organization capable of
FGM 1 page 32
doing it, which was the Miami Water and Sewage System.
B: So, that was the idea of merging the two.
S: That was done by sitting down with [Robert King] High, who was then mayor of
Miami. Bob and I would meet, gosh, once a month for lots of months. With his
city manager and our county manager, a fellow by the name of Porter Homer,
we would sit and talk about what we ought to do to try to effect consolidating
some of these services countywide. That worked. Unfortunately, Bob died, but a
lot of the things we started then did materialize. Another thing we worked on, I
was not really the champion at the time of it, but we got a transit study. We
authorized the first transit text study during those years.
B: What did you find in the transit study?
S: We authorized a text study. Colberdale and Culpits, I think, was the firm. The
purpose of the text study was that Dade County had a countywide bus system
which had been a private bus system, and the county had taken over the bus
system with much wrangling and lot of almost bloody things happening because
of the unions and the transport workers. That settled down by the time I got on
board, fortunately. The county had an MTA, Mass Transit Authority, and,
essentially, they ran the bus system. They were appointed by the county
commission. This text study was to look at high-speed rail transit. That was
authorized in about 1966, and it eventually materialized in what is now the
Metrorail. Those are the kinds of things we did. We did a lot of work on parks.
We worked on Cape Florida.
FGM 1 page 33
B: What was that project?
S: Cape Florida was owned by the Garcia family, folks from Cuba who had come
after the revolution. It is alleged they brought a lot of money with them, from
where, we do not know, but that is not our business. The Garcia family wanted to
sell the 400 acres in south Key Biscayne, and the county commission felt
strongly that it should be a state park. We did not have the resources. We had
the big county park out there already, the Key Biscayne Crandon Park. Our idea
was that we should get the state to buy thisBthe 400 acres of upland, I think, 600
acres of sovereign landsBso we went to Tallahassee, Hardee Maston and I,
particularly. We were sort of office mates. This is a brother to the Finley, another
good guy, a good person. Anyway, Hardee and I went to Tallahassee to try to
convince then Governor [Claude] Kirk that the state should buy the 400 acres
from the Garcia family.
B: And was he open-minded when you approached him?
S: Very much so. In fact, I will never forget the meeting. We sat in his office, and I
did not know Governor Kirk very well at all. Of course, he was our first
Republican governor for awhile, for years and years. We talked about it, and we
apparently convinced him. He looked at Nathaniel Reed [Kirk aide and pro-
environmentalist], who will come up later, and, gosh, I think Nate Landerim was
there, who was then director of the state parks system, parks and recreation. He
looked at Nathaniel and says, why don=t we do this? I go, boy, this is the way the
state does business.
FGM 1 page 34
B: What did Reed say?
S: Well, well do it.
B: Did you know Reed before this?
S: No, this was the first time I met Nathaniel. I had known Nate Landerim because
we had done some architectural work for that department, that division. Over the
years, we did some little park buildings for them in the Keys and a couple other
B: So how quickly did Kirk make this happen?
S: It happened within months.
B: Really? The legislature did not pass a bill?
S: No, they did not have to appropriate. They used what was then the old outdoor
recreation funds, which, by the way, have been refunded by Congress recently.
They were not funded for a long time.
B: So they used some federal dollars.
S: They used federal dollars and some state dollars but not much.
B: And that was called Cape Florida.
S: Now it is called Bill Baggs. Bill Baggs was then editor of the Miami News. Bill was
very committed to the project, so the state named it for him after his death. He
died of the flu, which was another unfortunate death.
B: While you are on the Dade County Commission, could you talk a little bit about
just dealing with politics. I am sure you were covered by reporters, you had to
deal with lobbyists. What were some of those experiences like?
S: The lobbyists, there were people who hung around the courthouse, but we got to
FGM 1 page 35
know them pretty well. They were, I guess, pretty typical of big-city courthouses.
They are sort of hangers-on. They always hung around the meetings, and they
would hang around the corridors and talk about this and talk about that, but I did
not pay that much attention to any of them, really, unless I had a lot of respect for
B: Were these paid lobbyists?
S: I never could figure out how some of them made their living.
B: How about business interests?
S: Business interests were usually represented by lawyers, even in those days.
B: And what businesses stand out in your mind today as those that were very
interested in what you guys were doing?
S: The Chamber of Commerce is usually represented, usually by one of their
officers. I guess we had more. The most active lobbying group would be the
airline people because the commission ran the airport. They were very active,
and the airline unions and the mechanics= union and the stewardess=. The
airport was in those days, and probably still is, a very powerful center of political
support. I mean, 30,000, 40,000 people work there, so it was a very important
place. PanAmerican was very much involved in those days. Of course, Miami
was their center of operation.
B: When you were dealing with retooling the master plan, were there a lot of real
estate developers and other interests who got involved in that?
S: No. The county charter had a county planning board, the planning advisory
board, and the planning advisory board had been appointed by the previous
FGM 1 page 36
county commission. I think we had added a couple of members when the new
commission came in and probably changed its constitution a little bit. But they
were a good foil, and they did a yeomen=s job of having public meetings. So, by
the time the general land use master plan came to the county commission, most
of the heat was out of the process, which was good. We did a couple things,
particularly Hardee Maston. When we adopted the comprehensive planBthis was
the comprehensive land use master planBthere was then shown a mid-bay
causeway, which had been a project poking around for years. Particularly, the
Miami Herald had been pushing for it. It was a causeway right off the middle of
Biscayne Bay, starting down around MacArthur Causeway, or Rickenbacker, as it
were. [The plan] also showed a causeway from the old Homestead area across
to Elliott Key, across South Bay. It also showed Elliott Key developed, with all
kinds of development potential for coastal communities and so on. [There were] a
couple of things we decided on, particularly Hardee and I, and we checked to be
sure we had the votes. One was to remove the mid-bay causeway. That was a
bad idea. We did not like that idea at all. I mean, it would just destroy what was
left of the bay, so we erased that at the final hearing.
B: Did that take a fight?
S: No, it was efficient: get rid of it. Some of the commissioners, anything the Miami
Herald wanted, they did not want anyway. So we got rid of that. We also got rid
of the causeway in South Bay, and we painted all of Elliott Key green. We just
changed the colors. Of course, the planning department went back to their
drawing boards and changed it all.
FGM 1 page 37
B: Who owned Elliott Key? How were you able to do that?
S: Oh, a collection of owners. They were very powerful owners, and they reacted
strongly. By then, we had to run again. About that time, we were getting close to
re-election. They were heavy in funding opposition, particularly against me and
Hardee. They did not want either one of us back on there because we had
destroyed their big plans. We had wiped it out. Anyway, after that, Hardee and I
decided we better go see the congressman because this was a major project. I
mean, this was going to take a big federal initiative to buy south Biscayne Bay is
essentially what was in our minds.
B: So who did you go see?
S: We went to see Dante Fasell, who was then the congressman. Dante
traditionally was home on weekends, so we called up and went over Saturday
morning and met at his law office. He was still practicing law then, which he later
on quit doing because of conflicts. We sat down with Dante, and we told him
what we had done, and these were his constituents. He said, well, I think it is
good idea. So he goes back and files a bill to establish it as a federal monument.
Then what happened was President [Lyndon B.] Johnson declared it a national
B: Is that where Key Biscayne National Park is today?
S: No, it is Biscayne Bay National Park.
B: So, did the Elliott Key property owners later...
S: They were all compensated handsomely because the Corps of Engineers did all
the conservation work.
FGM 1 page 38
B: Okay, so they did not bend together to boot you out.
S: Oh yes, they did. Both Hardee and I were...
B: Even after they were compensated for their land.
S: Well, they were not compensated by then because it took years for the whole
thing to unfold. One of the interesting things about that, Herbert Hoover, Jr., who
was the Hoover vacuum cleaner guy, had given the Department of the Interior
$200,000 to do the feasibility study of establishing the monument.
B: Did you ever come across him?
S: Yes, we met him. An interesting fellow. He went around the country in a mobile
home. He would not fly.
B: How did he become interested in Key Biscayne?
S: He had a record of being interested in environmental issues. I am not quite
certain how he got interested in the Biscayne National Monument, which is now
the Biscayne National Park. That would be an interesting story all by itself,
because I do not know quite how he got involved in it, but I know he was in Dade
County and he had given them money, and we met him and had lunch with him.
B: What was he like?
S: A nice fellow. By the way, Hoovers are much more popular in Europe than they
are in this country.
B: So, you are still on the commission getting near the end of your term.
S: First term.
B: Your first term, and you decide to run for re-election.
FGM 1 page 39
B: So, what happens?
S: I got re-elected.
B: Despite the Elliott Key property owners.
S: Oh yes. There were six candidates in that race. By then, it had become
somewhat known that I was probably an agnostic, so the religious right was out
trying to get me. They were going around town telling people I was an atheist.
B: How did you handle that?
S: The only time it ever came up was on a radio show one time.
B: And what did you do?
S: I just told them that, yes, I believed in God but that I had my own interpretation of
those things. That was the end of it.
B: What was it like being covered by the media?
S: Sometimes, it was pretty bad, although I got to know the courthouse reporters
really well. They knew that I was going to be pretty straight with them. Once in
awhile, you have to not say things. By then, we had brought in Porter Homer as
county manager. One of the first things this new reform commission did was fire
the last manager, Ed Crane, which is not an easy task because I had gotten to
know him personally, but we fired him. In fact, I seconded the motion, which was
not easy. There had been a big tax brouhaha, and he was the center of that
focus. It was just best to let him move on, which he did.
B: What was the tax brouhaha?
S: It was about reassessment. The charter abolished all of the constitutional offices
but sheriff and clerk, so the tax collector and the property appraiser worked for
FGM 1 page 40
the county manager. There would have been a lot of trouble in that transition.
Poor old Ed was taking the heat for it, and the board decided that it was probably
better if we moved him out and found somebody else, which we did. That is when
I met Porter Homer. Somehow, I ended up chair of the committee to find the new
manager. I do not know how that happened. We focused on several people.
Hardee and I went up to North Carolina to visit some folks who were candidates.
We wandered here and there looking around the countryside before candidates.
This was before the Sunshine Law, so we were able to do things differently, and
quietly sometimes. We got in touch with this fellow, Porter Homer, who was then
manager of Rochester, New York. We did not know much about him, but he had
come recommended. Again, the Chamber of Commerce was helping us, and
Eileen Lots was working hard on this project to get us a good manager. We
focused on Porter, and we then knew a guy who eventually came to own USA
TODAY [national newspaper], Al Neuharth. Al Neuharth had been a reporter for
the Miami Herald.
B: Did he cover you?
S: No. We knew Al knew Miami pretty well because he had gone to Rochester to
work. So, I called him. I did not know him. I just called him and I said, what do
you think of this guy Homer? We are thinking very seriously about bringing him
down to Miami. Al seemed to think he would fit pretty well. So, we invited Porter
to come down, I picked him up at the airport, and we cruised around town with
him. We had interviewed a whole bunch of people, all quietly in hotel rooms and
all kinds of places. I made the recommendation to the other commissioners
FGM 1 page 41
quietly, and we hired him. Bang, just like that, and he came aboard.
B: What year was this?
S: This was probably around 1966.
B: So, you are still in your first term, at the end of your first term.
B: And how did he do?
S: Porter did a good job.
B: Did he stick around a long time?
S: Yes, Porter was there until, I guess, 1968, which is a pretty good tenure for a
manager, and then Ray Gould came in when I left the commission. When I
resigned to go to Tallahassee and sold my architectural practice, Ray Gould was
B: Earlier, you called Wynn a role model in politics.
B: What sorts of things are you learning from him along this time?
S: Winston first told me a couple things. First, a question he asked me. We met for
ice cream at the Howard Johnsons in Coral Gables. He said, I want to meet you.
I said, where do you want to meet? He said, well, Howard Johnsons for coffee.
So, we go to Howard Johnsons, and we sat there for three hours, drinking coffee
and eating ice cream. I will never forget, the first thing Winston asked me, he
said, how much money did you make last year? And I told him we were around
$12,000, which was fine. That was okay with me. He wanted to be sure I had
made a living.
FGM 1 page 42
B: That you were not corruptible.
S: Right. Then, he said, this is some advice. He said, first of all, do not ever tell
anybody what you are going to do until you know you can do it because you get
committed to things that, as you learn more about it, you may not want to be
committed to. And, he said, the second thing is, you better keep a sense of
humor; otherwise, this job will drive you crazy.
B: So, you took him to heart.
S: Oh yes, I did. The commission got to the point where we would laugh at
ourselves. What are we doing? And those kinds of things. So, it was a good
working group, that group. The second go-around, the commission changed a
little bit and, I think, we kind of lost our collegiality. A couple of members
B: What sorts of things did you disagree over?
S: Oh, I suppose the broader picture which the reform commission, so to speak,
was really good about, dealing with large issues and big comprehensive issues.
The new commission was more focused on little things. The commission did
finally approve funding for a downtown government study. Both the City of Miami
and Dade County needed space downtown, and we employed an architect and
planner from Boston, who came down and did a good job. Much of that plan was
finally implemented, interestingly enough, and all that linked into the transit
system, that finally you see this big transit station downtown. That was part of
B: Were you involved in creating the transit station downtown?
FGM 1 page 43
S: That came much later. That was after I had gone to Tallahassee, when that
system was finally under construction.
B: Were you an advocate for that early on?
S: Very much so. Yes, what we wanted to do [was] avoid the tradition of
governmental offices moving out to suburbs, which was happening.
B: That was already starting to happen?
S: Yes, it was, and we were very much interested in keeping the city government
and the county government and the federal government all right in downtown
because we knew that we had to keep these workers, so to speak, in order to
keep Burdines a viable business and the other businesses in downtown viable.
So, it worked, and I think it still works. Miami still has a pretty viable downtown.
B: Had you seen this happening in other communities?
B: And that is what spurred you to really fight to keep those things downtown.
S: And the commission, [on] issues like that, they would always look to me. Why, I
am not sure. They wanted me to take the heat.
B: And you did.
S: Yes, I did.
B: You mentioned Wynn wanting to make sure you were not corruptible. That is
something you hear about when you think about Miami-Dade politics today, but
during that era, did you see anything...?
S: There was a little bit of it but not much. It was very minor.
B: Nothing like recent years.
FGM 1 page 44
S: No. Most of it was probably associated with the airport, even in those days. Even
then, it was almost insignificant.
B: Were you still on the commission when you became mass transit division
S: No. I resigned the commission.
B: Why did you resign? How did that come about?
S: Because Porter Homer suggested to me, you need to get into administrative
government. He said, you do not need to be in elective office anymore. I had
been very active in Lawton Chiles= campaign, a group of us had. Lawton was not
known at all in South Florida, and a group of us were very dedicated to be certain
that we did not elect another Republican senator. So, I had known Lawton
through his brother-in-law, another architect and a good friend of mine.
B: Who was that?
S: Ed Grafton.
B: What did you like about Lawton Chiles?
S: Well, he grew up in Polk County, and I figured that was good because I had
grown up in Polk County. I had known Lawton through both of his tours, in the
Florida Senate and the House, and he had always been a good strong
progressive legislator. There were no party differences in those days, particularly,
but you looked for mossbacks and progressives. He was a progressive, and he
came from an area of the state that was growing. I liked Lawton. I liked his
integrity. I always had liked his approach to politics. Anyway, in the primary, he
defeated some pretty heavy guys.
FGM 1 page 45
B: Who did he defeat in the primary? I do not remember.
S: One from Jacksonville, [Frederick H. Schultz]. He was a state senator, who was
a good guy, as a matter of fact. It would not have been bad if he had been
B: You are working for Chiles while you are still serving on the Dade County
Commission, and Porter Homer says you would be better at administrative
S: As that election wound down and Lawton won [in 1970], Porter suggested that to
me. I said, gosh, maybe I better let somebody in Tallahassee know I am
interested in moving. So, I told Lawton. Lawton had been elected [U.S. senator],
and Reubin Askew had been elected governor]. I told Lawton, I do not know
Reubin but, of course, we did everything we could because we had sort of
piggybacked campaigns. They were not really linked together because you do
not try to do that in political campaigns. It is really dangerous because one guy
does not like the other guy and that sort of thing. Anyway, Lawton did call
Reubin, and within days, I got a call from Jim Apthorp. Jim said, I understand
you want to come to Tallahassee. I had known Jim. He was executive director of
the Trustees of the Internal Improvement Commission, which is a governed
cabinet. They own all the state land. Jim had gone over as Reubin=s chief of
staff. So, he called me and I said, yes, I am particularly interested in the DCA, or
Department of Community Affairs, and whatever else might be useful, where I
could be of service. So he said, well, I think we are obligated to Ashley Ranes,
FGM 1 page 46
who was then a city commissioner in Miami, for that DCA job. How about the
Division...[complete thought]. [End of Side 2, Tape A.]
B: Before you leave Miami to go to Tallahassee, I want to talk a little about planning
in Miami-Dade and your influence on planning. One thing that the commission
did during your tenure was to require that planners made recommendations on
projects. Before that, they had nothing to do with it, or how did it work before?
S: They made no recommendations at all.
B: Who was making them?
S: The recommendation was made by the zoning/building department director, with
virtually no input, at least of record, from the planner. There was no record that
the planners may support or oppose or modify a project. We changed the
ordinance to mandate that there be both a zoning recommendation from the
zoning directors office and a recommendation from the director of planning
office. The planning office in Dade County is a charter agency. One of the
strokes of genius in that charter is that they established a charter agency as a
B: Why was that a stroke of genius?
S: It is one of the things that the architects fought hard for in the charter, even all the
way back in 1957 when the charter was adopted, that there be an established
agency for planning. That is really one of my first involvements in this sort of
thing. When I got on the commission, I realized, my goodness, these guys are
not even making recommendations. Here we have a land use master plan, and
they are the guys who should be making recommendations regarding the
FGM 1 page 47
consistency of that plan with the particular decision. We did change that, and
after that, everybody got two reports. They got a report from the zoning director
and a report from the planing director, and, by and large, they were always
consistent. I think they resolved their conflicts before they got to the board level.
We also abolished the zoning appeals board. The zoning appeals board had
been pretty loose with issuing variances, even to the point of issuing use
variances. Use variances are unlawful in Florida, but the zoning appeals board
did not seem to think [so]. It did not bother them, particularly.
B: How were they getting away with that?
S: There was no direct appeal to the county commission, so those variances were
being granted by the zoning appeals board. We took that authority away from
them. They made recommendations on everything, but they had no authority to
make any approvals of any variances or special exceptions. That had to come to
B: So, they had to come straight to the commission after that.
S: It was really kind of interesting, because all the years I sat on the commission, I
do not think we approved three variances, in all those years.
B: When you look at Miami today, do you think these things have had a lasting
impact, or did many of them get changed later?
S: I am certain that a lot of that was changed later. I just do not know. I know the
establishment of the arterial expressway plan certainly had a major impact on the
structure of Dade County.
B: Can you discuss that plan?
FGM 1 page 48
S: It was a plan that had been in the works along with the general land use master
plan by the planning department and the then State Department of
Transportation, or I guess it was then still a state road board. That plan was
finally adopted by the county commission. We first adopted the general land use
master plan and then the arterial street plan which established the expressway
system. 1-95 was already under construction.
B: But this established other major highways?
S: It established Palmetto as a major limited access highway. Palmetto then was a
four-lane highway, but it had unlimited access, so it meant limiting access to the
Palmetto Expressway. It added the South Dade Expressway, the Dadeland
Expressway, it anticipated the extension of the Turnpike into the Turnpike
extension which comes all the way down into Homestead. All those are pretty
well The corridors were all established at that particular time.
B: How well do you think that transportation grid has worked, now that it exists?
S: It works as well as can be expected, based on the population. The problem is
there are no alternative ways, really, except for the Metrorail and the bus system.
Metrorail, even now, I do not know what the ridership is but it is probably
increasing each day. But even though the ridership has not come to the
anticipated projected design, the fact that it is there is very, very important, and
the fact that it is being subsidized is very important. The bus system is
subsidized. Public transit must be subsidized. It cannot work otherwise. That has
been established as a trans-ethos, and that is a very important thing for a
community to do. Since then, the community has built those little people-movers
FGM 1 page 49
in downtown, and they are going to tie in the airport to the transit system. All of
that essentially started back in the 1960s, and it has come to fruition,
B: Could you talk about north Kendall? It looks like the Dade County Commission,
during your tenure, insisted that north Kendall remain residential, specifically to
curb what we now call urban sprawl. Obviously, that changed after you were
gone. Can you talk about why you chose to do that at the time and the forces that
created north Kendall?
S: The county commission did not build north Kendall. I presume that sometime
before I got elected, the commission probably approved it, but it was a state
project, a state project that had come directly from the governors office.
B: A state DOT project?
S: Well, then, a state road board.
B: So they basically built a highway out to north Kendall?
S: They built north Kendall, from U.S. 1 all the way out to Crome Avenue, as a four-
B: What governor authorized that?
S: I think that was during Farris Bryant=s tenure [1961-1965] of governorship. What
we tried to do was to let Dadeland be a major center. We knew that had to be a
major south Dade center serving Miami and the southern part of Coral Gables
and pretty much all the southwest area that had developed at that time and was
anticipated to develop. It was our vision that north Kendall would serve as a
major arterial feeding into Dadeland, which it does, but the stripping of north
FGM 1 page 50
Kendall has happened in recent years. It is certainly stripped now.
B: Who owned north Kendall at that time?
S: Arvida [subdivision developers] owned most of the land out there at that time.
B: Have you read about or heard about Elizabeth Plater Zieberg and Andre
Stuwanee, who are trying to turn north Kendall into a new urbanist experiment.
Have you read anything about that?
S: No, I have not.
B: Before we leave Dade County, I wanted to ask you about the impact you believe
you had on the county commission. What things are you most proud of from your
time as an elected official?
S: I guess the establishment of Biscayne National Park and the work there,
although none of this was done singly. The commission did these things, and I
played a role in it, in the establishment of Cape Florida Park. Probably the
adoption of the general land use master plan and eliminating the mid-bay
causeway and the causeway across South Bay. And, I guess, helping to
reorganize county government and merging as many city and county functions as
we were able to do over the years, even establishing the organizations that
ultimately did that, a countywide library system, for instance, which merged the
city and county library system. I guess what I was trying to do as a commissioner
was to really bring to fruition the things that the Dade County Charter envisioned
when it was adopted, which was essentially consolidating those services which
were really community wide or countywide and making that a much more efficient
FGM 1 page 51
and effective systems. The county ended up pretty much in control of all arterial
streets and expressways, water and sewer, major criminal investigation. I do not
think, even today, any of the cities do major criminal investigation. That is all
done at the county level. Of course, the county hospital system is still intact. I
guess I was particularly pleased with the work we did in bringing the University of
Miami Medical School and the Jackson Memorial Hospital together in a more
B: What was it like before?
S: It was the academics versus the practicing medicine. Arthur Patton worked a lot
on that with me and others, and what we did ultimately was to recommend a
University of Miami-Dade County Trust. That trusteeship was set up about the
time I left the county commission, and it put the university and the county under a
management system that established a group of trustees. A much better way to
operate a county system. Out of that, the county still has its people still serving.
The indigent population is still served, and the county, of course, funds the trust
for that. So that was a good move. I guess one of the worst things that we talked
about doing was building a jetport in the Everglades.
B: You actually talked about that?
S: Oh yes, it was unanimous. We were all for it. The problem was very simple. The
best evidence we had at the time was that it was going to be satisfactory, all the
way from the federal level, state, everybody had approved it.
B: Why the need for a jetport, first of all?
S: The need for the jetport, it was anticipated thenBin fact, the best intelligence we
FGM 1 page 52
could have from the industry saidBthere would continue to be jets with about 125
to 130 seats, which simply meant that we were going to have to increase the
number of gates at Miami International and thus the number of flights, and it was
incapable of handling any more flights. We were almost at the limit then. What
we did not anticipate were wide-bodied jets. They were not on the agenda in
those days, so we were simply preparing for the future which never did come
because technology changed it.
B: So did you actually pass a resolution on the jetport?
S: Oh yes. In fact, the county bought the land, every decision was unanimous. The
ultimate reason it was stopped was because Claude Kirk, the governor [1967-
1971], stopped it. Then, we established a working group between the county, the
state, and the federal DOT, or the FAA [Federal Aviation Administration], and we
were involved in that working group. That was an interesting group, by the way.
And the Department of the Interior. Our purpose was to look at the existence. We
had already built the runway, all with the FAA money, with federal money. Our
purpose was to say, can we make this thing work as an enclave, a still enclave,
so to speak, in the Everglades? Is that possible? We brought in Morris [AMo@]
Udall=s brother, a congressman who had been Department of the Interior
secretary under Johnson. I cannot remember his name now. He was doing
consulting, and we employed him to help us think through this idea of having an
enclave in a sensitive environmental area that would work.
B: Who were the opponents to the project at that point?
FGM 1 page 53
S: A fellow named Joe Browder was the key opponent, and Joe and I had lots and
lots of meetings to talk this thing through. We literally did not know what we were
doing. We know that now. We did not know it then, and I will tell you another
experience with that where we did not know things. Anyway, it worked out that
finally there was an agreed-upon study to look at alternative sites including that
site, and that was all funded by the federal government. Even after I got into
Tallahassee, the final element of that study was finished. Ultimately, site 13, I
think, was the Andytown site, and that had been approved, pretty much, by all
the authorities that had to approve it. What we tried to do in Tallahassee was to
try to link Miami, Broward, and Palm Beach Airports by high-speed rail and avoid
the construction of a new airport. In other words, you could fly into Palm Beach,
take a fast train, and you could be in Miami. To some extent, that can work
today, but our idea then was just not building another airport in South Florida. By
then, the federal government was finished with building airports anyway. It has
not built an airport since.
B: So what happened to the idea of building the high-speed rail link to the airports?
S: There is now the tri-county rail system down there, the Tri-Rail, that is supposed
to ultimately serve the three airports. I think there are plans in the works that will
do that. It will also tie into the Dade metro transit system. I think that is emerging
now. Of course, the population in those counties has grown tremendously, even
since 1970 when we went to Tallahassee.
B: Could we talk more about the jetport? How were the opponents able to convince
Kirk to stop it?
FGM 1 page 54
S: Nathaniel Reed probably had a lot to do with that. There was a fellow named
Craig Head, who was an environmentalist and well-respected, and he was
pointing to some of the problems that might emerge. I think the county
commission finally realized that it was probably doing wrong. What we ultimately
had to do was change airport directors because he was very hard-nosed about
building the airport.
B: He really wanted the jetport.
S: Yes, he really did.
B: And who was that at the time?
S: Alan Stewart, and we put him on a retirement plan. He had served the county a
B: And who did you hire?
S: We hired Dick Judy, who, by the way, is building a house here in Cedar Key.
Dick was airport director on up through about six or eight years ago, when he
B: When was it that you saw that the jetport was a bad idea?
S: I guess listening to the environmental community, who really were not that active
in those days.
B: Was this the first issue you really heard from the environmental community?
S: Yes, essentially, it was. We rarely heard from them any other time.
B: So, you had not heard much from Nathaniel Reed on some of these other issues
FGM 1 page 55
S: Nathaniel was not terribly well-known. Joe Browder and other folks locally were. I
think Joe was a reporter at the time, working for the Miami News. There were
others but fairly quiet. It was not a very large community. It was a very small
community in terms of environmentalists. Audubon was active but not terribly
B: So, you think it was Nathaniel Reed who convinced both....?
S: That, I do not know.
B: Certainly, the commission was convinced by the environmental community. It
was a pretty open-minded commission.
S: Yes, and the president then was Nixon, and through his Secretary of the Interior,
[Wally] Henkell [from Alaska], and the Secretary of Transportation, who was then
[John] Volpe, of Massachusetts, they all decided it was a bad idea. I mean,
everybody came to the same conclusion finally, and it was a fortunate thing that
happened. Anyway, back to another environmental issue, and the fact that often
public agencies did not have that much information: the county commission used
to establish bulkhead lines. The bulkhead lines traditionally were established
seaward of the mangroves. Then, the mangroves were bulldozed, and you go out
here and build a channel along the bulkhead, and you pump that back over to
make land. We had a very long stretch of bulkheads established in south Dade.
When it came before the commission, the public works old-time engineers all
recommended the same procedures as always. I guess Hardee and I raised
some questions. I had read or heard something about mangroves being
FGM 1 page 56
important, and we wondered about it. We asked the county manager to find
somebody who might be an expert on the issue. Ken Woodman showed up at
our next meeting, and he was working as a biologist for the research agency in
St. Petersburg for sport fisheries. The Fish and Wildlife Service runs it, or did at
the time. Ken came down to the meeting at the commission and says, well, we
are not sure the value of mangroves; we think they are very valuable in terms of
the nurseries; I guess my advice would be to leave them alone until we know
more about it. So, what we did was establish the bulkhead line landward of the
mangroves, the first time that had ever happened, and that was the expert
testimony we had: we think they are valuable.
B: What was the impact of making that change, do you think?
S: I do not really think it had that much of an impact. A lot of that development did
occur down there, ultimately. In fact, that is where [Hurricane] Andrew did all the
damage in south Dade. Bulkheads were established, but they were landward of
B: It sounds like this is at the time where environmental awareness is coming about.
S: That is correct.
B: It sounds like you had not thought much about environmental issues before the
B: And we are seeing the environmental activist community form at this time.
S: Yes, it was quite sparse. The Florida legislature had not yet even looked at this
FGM 1 page 57
bulkhead law. The dredge-and-fill was still going on all over the state.
B: Right, and yet Kirk was a fairly environmentally-aware governor.
S: He was because of Nathaniel Reed. I do not think Claude Kirk cared that much.
B: Okay, and then Nixon.
S: Nixon was being affected. Well, Nathaniel went on to Washington. Nixon stopped
the Florida Barge Canal. That was when the movement really began to have an
impact on statewide and national issues, but not until then.
B: Is that when you think your environmental awareness started to kick in?
S: I do not think there is any question about it, other than the fact that I had been
one of these architects who refused to clear sites. We would leave all the trees
possibleBwe knew they were valuable for microclimates around buildingsBbut
that was about the extent of it.
B: What impact did your service as an elected official have on you later over the
course of your career? What did you carry with you from your days as an elected
S: I guess the cognizance that local governments have a lot of unexercised
authority and that local governments can do many things that can protect its
future in terms of the citizens. It can do a lot of things to advance the welfare of
its citizens, but so often it is not exercised. Short of infringing upon property
rights, the rules of the game are pretty free, pretty open, but it just takes people
who are willing to do it and say, we are going to go ahead and do that. In later
years, I remembered something then, Moon Landrieu. Moon Landrieu was
mayor of New Orleans and he said, one of the great advantages of being mayor
FGM 1 page 58
is that I can ride around the city and I can look at a place that I think should be a
park or a pocket park, and I can make that happen. That is the kind of power that
local governments have.
B: If you had that optimism about the good that local government can do, why did
you leave office to become an administrator?
S: I did not want to run for any more campaigns. Election campaigns are very
taxing, particularly in a big community. They are mostly taxing, and they just
literally take you away from life during the campaign. You just travel day and
night, and I just did not want to do that anymore.
B: So, you thought you did your time.
S: Yes. In fact, several of the commissioners did do things like that.
B: At the end of the year in 1970, you move your family from Miami to Tallahassee.
S: Yes. We did something in 1970 that was interesting. I had proposed to the county
commission that we send our planning people and our zoning directors and so on
to Europe. Urban America was sponsoring New Town Tours in northern Europe,
and an architect friend of mine, Jim Dean, had suggested, said, somebody in the
county ought to really go and see what is happening in northern Europe in the
New Town movement. So I suggested it to the county commission, and over lots
of objections, I finally got the commission to approve the budget for shipping
whoever wanted to go, or we had a list of people. The management would make
recommendations. Well, I was the commissioner, and, of course, I intended to
go. That trip was very valuable. We went to France. We looked at Parle Due,
FGM 1 page 59
which is a new town south of Paris.
B: What was the New Town movement all about?
S: The New Town movement was a post-World War II movement in Europe to
disperse the mega-players that were growing so rapidly. The Greater London
Council had decided that it did not want to be more than three and a half (or
whatever) million, and the same thing happened in France and Germany and
Scandinavia. They just decided that the cities had become large enough, so in
order to deal with that, we had to have some town planning concept that would
take people away from those cities but build communities, not suburbs. That
movement was in full-bloom in 1970. We went to France, we went to L_ ,
which was a commercial new town west of Paris, along the Seine. A very intense
development, huge buildings and lots of huge apartments, almost a Corbusier
[architect]-type development. Then south was the less intense Paree Duex,
which was really Paris II. We visited those places, and then we went to
Scandinavia. We went to Finland and to Sweden. In Finland, we went to a new
town that was developed under a national charter for a physician who had an
idea that they could build a new town. They had the same concept. You go out
on a radial transportation route somewhere and you locate an appropriate site,
and you build a new town, which is a compact new town for employment, for
commerce, for housing and everything. This was one that was recognized
worldwide in all the planning literature and architectural literatures. An absolutely
FGM 1 page 60
B: What was the name of the town?
S: I will think of it in a minute. Anyway, we went there and spent the day there,
and that was really exquisite. I still have slides of all these places.
B: How many of you were there on the trip?
S: About twenty-five or thirty of us, as I recall, from kind of all over the country. From
the Dade County group, there were six or seven, the planning director, the
zoning director, and two or three other people, one of the union leaders,
=s union leader, and the labor union leader was with us.
B: How long did the trip last?
S: Eighteen days. It was a long trip. I mean, it was a tiring trip. My partner went with
me, Joe Rentscher.
B: What concepts did you take away with you?
S: This business of building new towns could be dense and yet could be very
pleasant and wonderful places to live, particularly the one near Helsinki. Then,
we went to Sweden, or I guess we went to Sweden first, and we visited three or
four new towns outside Stockholm. They were fairly concentrated commercial
centers. The commercial centers tended to straddle the transportation routes, rail
and highway and bus. The commercial center was built, in essence, right above
these things. So, you could work in Stockholm and train back home at night, or
you could work in the new town. All of these concepts developed in England in
the teens, actually, about World War I time, the Garden City movement by a
fellow by the name of Ebenezer Howard. Howard had this vision of building
FGM 1 page 61
garden cities. At that time, the cities of the world were pretty dirty, ugly places
because of industry. There were factories all mixed in with housing, and they
were really pretty nasty places to live, and the infrastructure was not adequate.
Ebenezer Howard said, well, we can go out and build these garden cities, and he
did. He formed national corporations, and they went out with funding from the
government and built them. Anyway, so we visited a couple of those in London
later on. In Stockholm, we visited two, I think, and then we went on to Helsinki,
and then we went to Russia, from Helsinki. It was interesting. The people we
would come to know in Helsinki said, well, we will never see you again; you will
go to Russia, and they will not let you back.
B: Were you worried about it?
S: No, I was not worried about it at all. I mean, we had our passports, we had our
Russian visas, and everything was cool.
B: How was Russia?
S: Russia was very grey. We went to Moscow. Some of the group went up to
Leningrad, which, of course, later becomes St. Petersburg again. That is
supposed to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world, but all of us did not
go up there. Just a couple of the people did. We had pretty much free run in
Moscow, but it is a very tight feeling. We interviewed a planner and a group of
architects, and it was interesting. We met at the architect planners convention
center, where they have a club. The club had sparse furniture, a couple of folding
chairs, and nothing on the walls. It was a club in name only. There was nothing
FGM 1 page 62
B: What did the architects tell you about their world?
S: Well, we talked about it, and then I asked the planner, how many people are
working in the Moscow city planning office now? Oh, none. I said, that is
interesting, why? He said, well, we have made the plan. Then, I realized, this is
Russia, these guys have five-year plans, and then he took us to the model room
where the city plan was. It was a big model, and he said, that is what we are
building, and he said, the planners are out doing that now. We went out to some
of the projects, and, by golly, they were replicating the model to the nth degree. It
was incredible. It was just so astounding to see that. Then, from Russia, we
came back to England and spent quite a bit of time in and about London, and
then came home. I learned a lot on that trip. I do not know whether you got one
of the things I wrote about new towns of possibility in South Florida. That was
sort of a summary of that trip.
B: What are some of the elements of new towns?
S: The new town movement has several aspects. There are new towns in town, and
there are independent new towns. Miami Lakes would be an example of a new
town in town. Some of the more recent developments in Florida are essentially
new towns in town; some of the large-scale developments that are right in the
suburbs, where you have concentrated commercial quarters and administrative
quarters. About the same time, the federal government had decided to go into
the new town business, which was its second try at it. The first try was in about
1920, when the federal government decided to build new towns to take care of
the returning veterans in World War I. One of those new towns happens to be
FGM 1 page 63
Greenbelt, Maryland, where the university is located. It has since become
merged into the whole urban complex there. Part of that came from Radburn,
New Jersey, which was very heavily influenced by Ebenezer Howard. A planner
architect named Clarence Stein designed Radburn, New Jersey, and a lot of
concepts came from that project that sort of permeated FHA planning over lots of
years. A good old colleague of mine, Carl Feiss, was involved in that project. But
the federal government has never been very good at this sort of thing, and the
Greenbelt cities just did not fly. They built a couple of them, one in Ohio and one
in Maryland and one in Wisconsin, but they never were terribly successful.
B: Why do you think the federal government is not good at it?
S: I think it is too bureaucratic. I do not think they know what they are doing, mainly.
They are just too top-heavy, too fast. The same thing happened to HUD when
they went into the new communities. The New Communities Act of the mid-
1960s, following urban renewal, did not work either. The motivation was to deal
with integration and segregation, and it just did not work at all. There were some
more or less successful projects. There was one north of Houston that was in
part a HUD-financed project, and it was quite successful, but most of them were
not really. It took so much private money and so much capital-staying power to
make those things work. Florida developers finally learned that. GDC went broke
because they did not understand the 50- and 100-year commitments that they
had to make in terms of capital. Now, Palm Coast did, and Palm Coast has been
FGM 1 page 64
B: Because they stayed with it.
S: They had ITT capital behind them. I mean, from a standpoint of detailed
planning, I do not think Palm Coast is all that successful, but it has been a
successful community. Now, a majority of the people in Flagler County live in it.
Anyway, my last few days on the commission was a boondoggle to Europe.
B: How do you think those new towns within towns, like Miami Lakes, are working
S: Those are working fine. My old firm, as a matter of fact, did the planning for the
downtown commercial center. While I was still the firm, we were doing quite a bit
of work for Miami Lakes. I had gotten to know the Graham family pretty well. We
were doing a fairly substantial amount of work for them.
B: Were you working for Bob Graham [Florida governor, 1979-1987] directly?
S: No, because Bob=s life has always been politics. His half-brother Bill recognized
that early on, and he said, okay, we will keep you around the shop here but do
not mess with the project.
B: So you were working with Bill, how was he to work with?
S: Wonderful. Bill Graham is a fine person, and so is Bob. I have huge respect for
B: So you are forty-four years old and you are moving to Tallahassee to take a job
as director of DOT=s division of mass transit operations.
B: What were your duties? What were you supposed to do?
S: I did not have the foggiest notion when I went there. I was interviewed by the
FGM 1 page 65
secretary, who was Ed Mueller. Ed is a professional engineer, has a Ph.D. in
transportation planning, probably, in my judgement, one of the best secretaries
that department has had in many, many years. The problem with Ed was he was
B: Too competent? Why do you think he was the best secretary?
S: Because he knew exactly what he was doing and he knew what the state needed
to do. He supported transit, he supported water transportation, and he was a
great supporter of ours in trying to get the public transit program going. What had
happened the previous year, the legislature had appropriated $5,000,000 to the
division of mass transit operations. We had two bureaus: we had a bureau for
aviation, and we had a bureau for surface transit. The bureau for aviation[=s]
primary responsibility was licensing airports. During the reorganization of late
1969, the licensing of airports had been transferred from the Department of
Commerce to the Department of Transportation, so that became a state
responsibility to a degree, statewide aviation and safety and dealing also with
interstate routes, trying to encourage airlines to serve Florida cities. We dealt
with some safety issues among the universities who were then using their own
old airplanes to haul teams around. I guess it was in the latter part of 1970, one
crashed and killed a whole ball club. We brought all the coaches from all the
schools together. It was not a Florida school. We brought all these coaches
together. It was really kind of funny. Well, I guess it was the athletic
administrators from all the universities statewide, brought them into Tallahassee
and started talking about it. First of all, we found out what they were doing and
FGM 1 page 66
how they were meeting FAA standards and safety regulations. Then, I got around
to the coach of FAMU [Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University], [Eddie
Robinson,] one of the great men in this state, and he said, director, we do not
have a problem because we cannot use airplanes, we only use busses. I said,
okay, Coach, I guess we do not have to worry about FAMU anymore.
B: What did you find out?
S: They were conscious of the problem, but I think we probably heightened their
interest and concern for it. I think most of them after that began to use
commercial aviation instead of their own airplanes. The University of Florida had
that old Blue Goose they used. I have taken a couple flights in that thing.
B: Is it rickety?
S: Well, it is an old DC-3. It was probably fifty years old when I was in it.
B: So, you get there and you have no idea what you are supposed to be doing?
S: That was the aviation side. As far as the aviation program is concerned, what we
could do, we had the statutory authority to mix and match federal funds and state
funds, and any airport improvement that met FAA standards for improvement, we
could match at that time, all the FAA programs were about 70 percent federal, 30
percent local, so our formula was, we would put in 15 percent state money and
fifteen percent local, or from the local sponsor, and the balance would be federal,
for airport runway improvements. In the surface transit program, we used a
similar formula match. The urban mass transit administration at that time used
the same formula, 70 federal and 30 percent local. At that time, most of the bus
FGM 1 page 67
systems in Florida, the local transit systems, were privately owned. Dade County
was a rare one. There was a small system in Coral Gables, which we always
called the maid service, because it brought maids from Coconut Grove into Coral
Gables to the houses.
B: What were the problems with having the busses run by private...?
S: They were all going broke, and they were rapidly failing. So we developed a
methodology for converting them to public. We could buy the bus systems--we
did not have enough money, but we would use this 70-15-15 formula. Then, we
would go to a city or county, and with a lot of, as President Johnson said,
jawboning, convince them that it was a public responsibility not to lose their
transit system, that they needed a public transit system.
B: Was that a difficult job of convincing?
S: Very difficult. Sometimes it was very difficult.
B: What were peoples= attitudes about it?
S: They did not want to get into the business because they knew it was a loser, but
it was our commitment to, look, you have no alternative; if your busses do not run
in this town, there are going to be a lot of people disenfranchised, who are not
going to be able to get to work, and who do not even own automobiles; you are
talking about seniors, you are talking about disadvantaged people, you are
talking about young people, schoolkids, because some of the private systems
were hauling kids to school. Anyway, we were able to convince them, and within
that first year, we converted every private system in this state to publicly-owned
FGM 1 page 68
B: How many were there?
S: There was Gainesville. Alachua County took over that system. Sarasota, Tampa,
Palm Beach, Lauderdale, Pinellas County, Orlando, Daytona Beach,
Jacksonville, Tallahassee, Pensacola. All those systems. These were old
residual systems that were still working from World War II. Even up to World War
II, a lot of the cities in Florida had streetcars, Tampa and Jacksonville and Miami.
B: How did the transition to public systems work?
S: It was somewhat difficult because there was a problem. There was a Title XIII in
the Urban Mass Transportation Act, which required that any conversion from
private to public had to protect any existing contracts with labor. That was a
mandatory provision. That did not bother most of the places, but in Tampa, it was
a real sticky point. We had long discussions with lawyers involved and everybody
involved. Finally, we were able to convince the city council that they had to do it
anyway. Their concern was that they would bring an organized labor group under
as city employees, which would give the union a foothold in the public employee
B: So what happened?
S: They honored the contracts, and they bought the system. The other--we had a
real problem in Orlando. Interestingly enough, the mayor did not want the
B: Who was the mayor?
S: I cannot remember his name, but he was very adamant. He said, we do not
want that system. So, we talked to Orange County, Osceola County, and
FGM 1 page 69
Seminole County Commissions and convinced them that they should organize a
transit authority. In the process, we got their transit authority organized, and they
bought the system. A similar thing happened in Jacksonville. Jacksonville had
their transportation authority, but it was all highways, no transit, and we were
able to ultimately convince them to take on the bus system, too, which is still
operating today. That was an interesting experience. My goal was, by the end of
the year, to spend $5,000,000, and we did it.
B: What do you think about public transit today?
S: I think it works fairly well, but we just do not have the commitment to it that we
B: The commitment from government.
S: No. Only the older cities in this country have effective transit systems. The
Sunbelt cities do not, none of them.
B: It takes the public=s desire to use public transit, right?
S: Oh yes, it takes desire and it takes the notion that this is the only viable
alternative to sticking three hours or whatever in your automobile every day.
Eventually, that will happen. I envision that the cost of gasoline and the cost of
parking will eventually do that.
B: You think it will happen even in Florida?
S: Yes, I do. If we ever face the facts of the real cost of parking, that is going to
have a big impact upon it. In my judgement, it is ludicrous that public employees
have free parking. I think that is absolutely ridiculous. What that does is it just
perpetuates the use of the automobile. Now, the great thing that is going on in
FGM 1 page 70
Gainesville, which I think foretells the future, is free transit.
B: But people have to pay for their own parking.
S: For employees, and make them pay for their parking. On the university campus, I
can now go to Oaks Mall, and I ride to town free. I have a Gator One pass, as I
guess you do. I get on the bus and go to town. If I go to campus and park,
although my decal is free because of Emeritus status...
B: But most employees have to pay for their=s.
S: Yes, but I cannot even find a place to park, so it is to my advantage to park at
Oaks Mall and come back to Oaks Mall and get in the car and go away.
B: But do you think many other people doing the same thing you are doing?
S: No, not enough, although that bus coming into the campus in the morning is full.
By the time it gets to campus, it is full.
B: But you think that will eventually happen in other communities. It just needs to hit
a point where it gets bad enough.
S: Yes. I think what we are doing is educating a bunch of college kids about transit,
and I think that is great. We have consistently educated our progeny to use
automobiles, and now we are turning that around a little bit, I hope.
B: What are you proudest of, in terms of your accomplishments as the mass transit
S: Getting all those systems in public ownership. I guess that is it. Governor
[Reubin] Askew supported that. Clearly, I had his support going in because he
had somehow sensed that problem. He is a very interesting fellow. He
understood more about urban Florida than most people ever did, and he was not
FGM 1 page 71
an urban person.
B: You had been a person who worked for yourself, and now you are working for
government. What was that transition like?
S: There did not seem to be much problem, emotionally or otherwise.
B: You did not have to deal with politics or frustrating bureaucracy?
S: The most frustrating things about bureaucracies are the personnel managers and
the budget managers. They can be a pain in the neck. I found that most other
agencies in Tallahassee were cooperative. They worked together pretty well.
There were some ossified agencies, the Department of Agriculture and probably
Education, pretty ossified and still are.
B: But it sounds like you had a very supportive boss.
S: The governors office was 100 percent behind us, and so was the secretary.
Now, the secretary did not know me at all. I think we had met once, when the
county commission told him that the tolls in Dade County would never exceed
$0.10 and we told the secretary, you go back to Tallahassee and figure out how
you are going to build these toll roads for $0.10.
B: Did he do it?
B: And he hired you anyway.
S: Yes. Ed Mueller was a good man.
B: When did you decide to apply to FSU for the masters program?
S: I had known the chairman, Ed McClure, for years. I had met Ed at [University of]
Florida in the 1950s. Ed was one of the few architectural graduates who went on
FGM 1 page 72
at that time to get a planning degree. He went on to Harvard, and he finally got
his Ph.D. from Harvard. No, he went to Virginia Tech, got his planning degree,
and then he went to Harvard. Ed was chair of the FSU program, which was only
about four or five years old then. We met and talked about it. Then, a fellow
named Norman Ashford, who was a transportation engineer with a Ph.D. in
transportation from Georgia Tech, offered a survey course in transportation
planning. I figured, well, since I am doing it, I better go out there. It was a
nighttime course, and it was primarily for us in the department who did not have a
lot of exposure to the history of transportation planning. This was all [in] 1971. I
went there, and I had no intention of entering the degree program then because I
did not think I had time. I finished that course, and then they offered another
course in the spring at night, and I took that course. I have forgotten what it was
now. By now, I am getting eager. I said, this is kind of fun. So, I continued doing
that. I took two courses in planning law from Ed McClure, and they were late
afternoon courses. FSU kind of does its professional programs to serve the folks
in state agencies, which I think is kind of nice. It is a very real advantage. UF
does not need to do that because there are not that many people around. It is
just a daytime school, where FSU tends, at least in their professional programs,
to be an evening school. Then, Ed McClure talked to me and said, go ahead and
apply. So, I applied, and then they accepted my application. I had to take the
GRE after all those years of being out of school. That was a pain in the neck, but
I passed. I got what I needed, 1150 or something.
B: What was the pain, the math or the verbal?
1 page 73
Everything. I had no exposure to new math. Verbal was not that much of a
problem. I had to do some review, but I took it and made an appropriate score.
Yes, I had taken courses in the evening for about two or three semesters or
something. One of them called me one day and said, you need to take the GRE,
we cannot let you continue. Oh my gosh! So, I just continued with that until I got
the masters degree.
B: You did it part-time until you got your masters.
B: At the time, you were still the director?
S: Well, by the time I got the degree, I was state planning director.
B: So how long did you serve with the DOT, 1971 until...?
S: About two years. I think I left over there July 1, 1972.
B: How did it come to pass that you were appointed statewide planning director?
Were you the first planning director?
S: Well, I had been involved. A friend of mine told me that the governors office was
putting together a group to look at statewide planning and statewide
environmental issues and how we needed to deal with that. I said, can you tell
the governors office that I would love to serve on that? (I did not do it directly.)
Well, I did, and the secretary of transportation released time so that I could do it.
B: Who was this influential friend you had?
S: I cannot remember his name now. He was a good fellow. He was tied in pretty
tight. He had been in Tom Adams= office, and what happened when Askew
FGM 1 page 74
became governor, Tom Adams= young scouts all moved with him into the
governors office for Askew. They were a good bunch of guys and gals. It was
impressive, that group. Tom Adams had put them together as secretary of state.
B: Was this the task force on growth management?
S: The task force, right.
B: Was this the same board of twelve people who came up with the original for
S: That was the same board.
B: Okay, so you get on that board in 1971, 1972.
S: Yes, I was appointed by the governor.
B: Then how did you become to be appointed the first statewide planning director?
S: Jay Landers. The law had passed. We all monitored to get the law through as
we could. Some worked much harder than I did. Now, of course, I had my own
budget to worry about, transit stuff.
B: Let us go back to the law then, since that came first. Could you describe the work
of that twelve-person committee, and could you talk about the four bills you came
up with and how that came about?
S: Yes, we started meeting, actually, in November of 1971. We were given an
agenda by the governor, and the agenda was an agenda that had been
somewhat formulated by an American Assembly group meeting in Palm Beach.
John I think, chaired that American Assembly. Out of that assembly
came the recommendation that the state look at its overall water management
FGM 1 page 75
problem and look at its statewide planning problems and issues. Our charge was
to, okay, we are going to look at this stuff now, and the governor is looking for a
recommendation for the 1972 session.
B: Did we have any type of statewide planning before this?
B: Every municipality was doing its own thing, if anything.
S: Yes. We had permissive legislation for local governments to engage in
comprehensive planning. There were a couple of special acts around that had
created area-wide planning groups. Palm Beach County was an area-wide
planning special act.
B: Did we have regional planning councils yet?
S: No. Duval County was an area-wide which also included Clay and St. Johns and
Nassau Counties, and it may have included Baker. I am not sure about that.
Anyway, it was in name only. They really worked in Jacksonville. They looked at
Jacksonville, and that is all they cared about. They really did not do anything
outside those areas. There was a regional planning council created by a special
act in East Central Florida: Volusia County, Orange County, Seminole County,
B: What sort of a job were these local planning councils doing?
S: Representation, elected officials. The commission would say, you go do this, and
that is how they got their governing boards. They really had virtually no authority
but very general planning authority. There was another one, which, as a matter of
fact, I started in South Florida as a result of this jetport issue. It was Palm Beach,
FGM 1 page 76
Broward, Dade, Collier, and Monroe.
B: What was the name of that group?
S: South Florida Everglades Planning Council. We organized that one through intra-
local agreements. I spent a lot of time working on that, and I became its first
B: What impact did it have on South Florida?
S: None, at that time. In fact, by the time I left the commission and the chairmanship
down there, it had really just hardly gotten organized. We brought in an executive
director, who was an unfortunate fellow and we should have never brought him in
B: Who was that?
S: I cannot remember his name.
B: What did he do wrong?
S: He did not do anything right. I mean, he just did not know what he was doing.
B: So did that group fall apart later?
B: It stayed viable.
S: That group became the South Florida Regional Planning Council. It had
representation from the several county commissions. I think there were two from
each board, and we met with regularity. We always met at Miami International
Airport. That reminds me of something. When I got on the commission, I never
could figure it out. The Dade County Port Authority had been created by a special
act, many years ago. Its purpose was to run the seaport and the airport. Well, the
FGM 1 page 77
seaport essentially was run by the City of Miami, but then it was transferred to
the county, so the County Port Authority never did run the seaport. They had a
department within the metro
B: They were the Port Authority, and they did not run the seaport?
S: No, they just ran the airport. It was always handled as if it was a separate group
entirely from county government. The executive director and his attorney and his
staff would come, and we would have a countywide meeting for the county=s
business, and then the Port Authority would come. The manager would get up
and walk out, and the executive director would sit down, Alan Stewart. Some of
us on the commission felt that was pretty silly. I asked the county attorney about
it and he said, when your charter was adopted, it literally abolished that special
act, but they have never changed the pattern of behavior. He said, the Port
Authority no longer exists.
B: They were just there doing it anyway.
S: Just continued to do it. Interestingly enough, about a year after I left, the county
merged the staff. Dick Judy ended up director of the division of airports. That was
something that a lot of us had tried to do, but the commissioners who had had
experience over the years did not like that idea. There were parking privileges at
the airport they did not want to give up, and there was stuff like that.
B: You mentioned earlier that the only bit of corruption you saw in Dade County had
to do with the airport.
S: It was really the airport, yes.
B: Were they issues like that?
FGM 1 page 78
S: Yes, things of that nature.
B: Public officials= free parking and...
S: Every now and then, we would get free flights and stuff like that, which would not
be acceptable today. I agree with that. I do not think it should be acceptable.
B: That reminds me, about the Sunshine Law. When you were an elected official,
you operated without it, and I assume that later you saw the need for it. I wonder
if you see both sides of that issue or what you think of it.
S: Oh, I absolutely support it. One thing that I did do, I asked the county attorney to
write. I always forgot every time I asked him to do something, and every time the
commissioner asked the county attorney to do something, he did it, and he did a
bang-up job. That is how the accommodations ordinance got on the commission
B: Right, Miami passed a public accommodations ordinance long before the ADA
[Americans with Disabilities Act].
S: Johnson had been dickering around with the public accommodations law
nationwide, but the Congress had not acted upon it. The state had no such thing.
We did. Another thing we did, too, is we enacted the first landscape ordinance
when I was on the commission, the first one nationally.
B: What did the first landscape ordinance say?
S: It required tree plantings and grass plantings, all on commercial stuff. It did not
require any landscaping on residential developments--we excluded that--but all
commercial and institutional developments.
B: Did it include a tree protection ordinance?
FGM 1 page 79
S: Parking lots had to have 10 percent devoted to trees.
B: What year was that?
S: Probably 1966 or 1967. I have a little plaque back there the Garden Club gave
me for that. Rita thought that was great.
B: So we are back to this twelve-person board...
S: Yes, and our charge was a broad charge: what do we need to do about state-
level planning, what do we need to do about water management? All of this was
instigated because of a very long effective drought in South Florida, and a lot of
people were grousing about [having] no water. The Tampa Bay Regional
Planning Council existed then--it was a two-county situation--and there was one
in West Florida, Escarosa.
B: Was it Hillsborough and Pinellas?
S: Pinellas only, and there was Escarosa, which was Escambia and Santa Rosa
County, in the far west. Those were existing area-wide planning agencies. Water
management districts, we had the Central and Southern Flood Control District
and the Swift Mud, which was the Tampa Bay regions. I have forgotten how
many counties were involved in that. Then there was a little one in Sarasota and
Manatee called Manasota Water Management District. It was just a two-county
thing and virtually had never even been organized.
B: How effective were these districts that were operating at that time?
S: Central and Southern was plumbing. I mean, they built all the systems in South
Florida. They were very effective. Yes, they built that system with the Corps of
FGM 1 page 80
Engineers and the Taxing Authority. So, they were quite effective, but it was all
engineering, all flood control, and land reclamation. We understood that. We also
knew that Dean [Frank] Maloney, at the University of Florida, had drafted a
model state water management law. He was dean of the law school. I do not
think that I ever read a copy of that at the time, but I knew about it and we
learned more about it. That law developed the idea of the five districts and so on.
B: So that turned out to be one of your four recommendations, and it laid out the five
S: Right. Then, the other thing we learned was the American Law Institute, which is
the research arm in the American Bar Association--ALIABA, I think it is called or
something--they had been working on a revision to state-enabling zoning and
planning laws, and they had been working on that since early in the 1960s, I
guess, late in the 1960s, sometime. Anyhow, we learned about that through a
faculty member at FSU law school, Gill Finnel. Gill Finnel suggested that we
take a look at this stuff, so we got the material from the American Law Institute in
Philadelphia. Then, we invited Fred Bossomer down to meet with us. We talked
through that, and, ultimately, our recommendation was that we adopt the
American Law Institute=s model state land planning law and the model state
B: What were the tenets of that model state planning law?
S: The ALl state planning law essentially had two significant provisions. One
provision was to establish a method of reviewing developments of more than
FGM 1 page 81
local impact, or developments of regional impact [DRIs]. The second provision
was to have the state authorized to designate areas of critical state concern for
any number of reasons, environmental and so on, and that was done. That was
recommended. Embodied in there was the idea of a state land plan. Bob
Graham, who was then a [state] senator, and some of us talked a lot about
regional planning and how to organize that. That was not a part of these laws.
We figured that would come later. We talked a lot. We even talked about having
B: Having the regional planning council elected?
S: And making them regional governments. [Laughs.] The others in the group
thought that was a little radical.
B: How intensive was this effort?
S: We met often. I guess our final meeting was, we all flew down in state planes to
Rear Ranch Acres, down on the Kissimmee River. We stayed there about a
week, intense work. We played touch football every afternoon, about to kill each
B: Were any of the meetings open to the public?
B: I assume there were a lot of opponents out there circling around you, people who
are very worried...
S: They did not know what we were doing.
B: So you are off meeting in secret for a week at a time.
S: Nobody knew what we were doing, actually. I think we would meet in the
FGM 1 page 82
governors office, in the governors conference room in Tallahassee.
B: So the development community did not realize?
S: No, they did not know what was going on.
B: I did not realize that.
S: They may have, but it was sure...
B: Do you think Askew planned it just that way?
S: I do not know that we consciously did. I guess we did it unconsciously. We
thought that our business was really to make recommendations at a professional
level as clear and clean as we could and let the legislature haggle it out because
it is their business to haggle it out. So, the recommendations came out of that
meeting in Rear Ranch Acres.
B: Could you describe the four bills?
S: There was a Land/Water Management Act, which included the areas of critical
state concern and DRIs. There was a Land Conservation Act, which was an idea
that came out of Real Ranch Acres. I do not remember who it was, but we began
to discuss the idea of, look, we are going to create some problems for people
and we are going to infringe on property rights, if not, in fact, in terms of legal
impingement, from the standpoint of reasonableness in government. We said, we
are going to need some money to buy lands. So, that was the Land Conservation
B: Did that become the CARL Program?
S: Eventually, yes. That act provided for $200,000,000 in bonds to be issued after a
FGM 1 page 83
B: What was the third bill?
S: The third bill was the Water Management Act of 1972, and that created the five
districts, reorganized the districts, reorganized the governing board. It essentially
set down the pattern for what you see today on the ground. The fourth one was
the State Planning Law, which created my job. The State Planning Law actually
transferred some things that had been in Community Affairs. There was a never-
used agency in Community Affairs called the Interdepartmental Advisory
Committee. No secretary had ever implemented it. They had never called the
agencies together. The State Planning Law required that. What it required was
that each agency of state government appoint an agency planning officer. In the
act, the governor was named the chief state planning officer, and that is the way
the act is today.
B: Did this come under DCA, then?
S: No. A host of us wanted it in the governors office. In fact, the majority of the
advisory group wanted this function in the governors office. Governor Askew
said no, it is not going to be in my office, so it did not go there. It ended up in the
Department of Administration. He said, we will put it over there with Ken Ireland,
where we have our budget, and that is what happened.
B: So you guys create these four recommendations, the governor takes them to the
legislature, and the legislature passes the whole package in 1972.
S: The whole package, with one reservation: that agriculture was excluded from the
definition of development. There is a very long complicated development
FGM 1 page 84
definition in the statute, Chapter 380, and it specifically says what development
means in Florida under Florida law. It included agriculture, [but] in order to get
the act out of the Senate, it was necessary to exclude agriculture and Senator
Williams did that. I guess Jim was in chair of the agricultural committee, and he
did that. Otherwise, it would have never come out of the Senate. That was the
only real compromise in the whole thing, that I am aware of.
B: Did you follow very closely the fight to get these bills passed?
B: You were not really involved with that.
S: I was monitoring them, of course, and watching, but I was still involved in running
my agency, or trying to.
B: You were in DOT and you are in graduate school, too, so you were pretty busy.
S: Yes, we were too busy.
B: What impact did it have to exclude Agriculture from that provision you have?
S: I do not think it has ever had any impact.
B: You do not think it really mattered.
S: Agriculture was excluded from the water management in terms of regulations,
too, but it has never had any impact on the implementation of the Water
Management Act, I do not think.
B: How did it come to be that you were appointed the first statewide planner under
these new laws?
S: Jay Landers was assigned the task of finding somebody. I do not know how the
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conversation came up, but we were talking about it. No, the Dade County
planning director, Reggie Walters, called me one dayBI was still at
TransportationBand asked me if I thought that would be a good job. I said, I do
not know, Reggie, because I really do not know how it is going to turn out. I
mean, it is a brand-new act, the state is adventuring on a new thing, and I just do
not know. I do not know how powerful or how strong the commitment is from the
governor at this point. He got the act passed. And I really do not know how the
legislature is going to respond because we just have no experience with it.
Anyway, I told him it was worth a gamble. Whether Reg ever applied or not, I do
not know, but a couple of days after that, I was chatting with Jay Landers, who
was then the governors chief counsel for environmental. Ken Woodburn was
the chief environmentalist in his office. And he said, would you like to be state
B: You were shocked?
S: Yes, I was. I said, well, I do not know, Jay, I got a job here. He said, well, will you
do it? I said, yes. He said, okay, that takes care of that, and [he] hung up. We
had planned a vacation because [my son] Tom had been in school at Montana
State, and we had planned to take the kids, all by air, to Bozeman, and pick up
Tom and rent a car and go through all the Western parks and stuff. The kids had
never done that, and I had not done it either. Neither had Dorothy Jean. So, that
was our vacation. I told Jay, I am taking off in June, and we will probably be gone
for ten or twelve days.
FGM 1 page 86
B: This was 1972, right?
S: Yes, and I was using my leave time. I came back, and I had a new job.
B: Was it your responsibility to try and implement all of these new laws?
S: Just the State Planning and the Water Management Laws. The Water
Management Law was assigned, administratively, to DNR, Department of Natural
B: How did you go about implementing those laws?
S: It was something that I learned somewhere along the line. I first re-read the laws
very carefully. Then, I sat down with the secretary, Ken Ireland, and I told him
how I thought the agency should be formed. We sat down with the personnel
director and the budget director, of course all in the same department which was
a real advantage, and we worked out the structure of the organization. There had
been a Bureau of State Planning, and there was a Bureau of State Budgeting,
and there was a Division of State Planning and Budgeting.
B: A Division of State Budgeting in addition to...?
S: No, there was a Division of State Planning and Budgeting. This act separated
Planning and made it a discrete division. So there was a crew there already.
They were really programmers, not in the computer sense, but in a sense of
governmental programs. There was a budget guy for Transportation, and there
was a budget guy in Planning for programming. Essentially, what those men and
women had been doing through the years was developing state programs, not a
state plan but the state programs, and working with the budget folks to figure out
how to implement those programs. So, we had a cadre of characters there, about
FGM 1 page 87
ten or twelve, I guess. Some of them had some environmental work, some of
them had transportation, some of them had this experience and that experience,
and they were all young people, except for their head, who was an old friend of
mine, Homer Still. I really think Homer wanted to be the state planning director,
but Homer is one of these guys who is just a wonderful person and we have
never had any competition at all because I was not competing for it and I did not
know he was.
B: What was his position?
S: He was bureau chief of this planning group.
B: What was his position under you?
S: I made him assistant director immediately.
B: How did you go about implementing the DRI, and how did the real estate and
development community respond to that?
S: Pretty well. What we did was we read the act, and we knew we had to come up
with standards and guidelines. The Land and Water Management Act also
created the ELMS Committee, the Environmental Land Management Study
Committee. We knew that we had to use them as a statewide sounding board for
our standards and guidelines, so we created a bureau in the division, and we
called it the Bureau of Land Planning. I appointed as the head of that a fellow by
the name of John John turned out to be a bad choice.
S: Well, John was a geographer, and he was very interested in the kind of broad,
FGM 1 page 88
floaty sort of things and never really got around to doing what I wanted done. We
were under a gun. We had to finish this stuff in about ninety days and go to
ELMS Committee with these standards and guidelines because we knew we had
to go to the legislature the next year for their approval.
B: They had to implement it, still?
S: Yes. This was on for awhile, and I finally demoted John and put another fellow,
Easton Tin, in charge of that work. We had two, actually, fresh graduates from
FSU, a Cuban boy from Miami and Linda Frasier, who was a woman who had
an English degree from the University of Florida and a planning degree from
FSU. Leo Flores, the Cuban, had an architectural degree from UF and a
planning degree from FSU. I put those two young guys to work on that thing, and,
by golly, they really worked. They worked day and night and day and night. As
we sorted through, we knew that we did not want hundreds of DRIs. We knew we
had to classify, and we knew that the developments had to meet the standards in
the statute. By then, we had all virtually memorized the statute so that we knew
exactly what we had to do. We got hung up on the business of regional, and
finally I sent for Bosaman, and Fred came down, and we were all sitting around
in the conference room over in the then-Johns building and I looked at Fred
and said, Fred were stumped. We got to come out of here in the next few days
with this list. And we spent a couple days with Fred. He cut his fee measurably,
which I was always pleased about because I didn't have a lot of money. [End of
Side 2, Tape B.] ...a land use law firm, whose senior partner was well-known in
FGM 1 page 89
land use law, Richard Babcock.
B: So, while you are forming these plans, you are not getting pressure from
developers or other interested parties yet?
S: Yes, we did. As a matter of fact, we knew power plants were going to be one
problem, and we knew that oil storage facilities would be a problem. We did not
think shopping centers would be a problem, and there was no group except the
Urban Land Institute which was particularly interested in those kinds of
developments. We knew we had to develop housing standards and standards for
arenas and stadia and that sort of thing. So, we went to the Urban Land Institute.
The Urban Land Institute had over the years done enough research so that they
were able to classify shopping centers. They classified shopping centers by
neighborhood centers, community centers, and regional centers. That gave us a
clue, so we will use their definition of regional centers. So, we satisfied that one.
Housing was much more difficult. I guess we just used a lot of intuitive judgment
on housing. We figured that, well, if you have a 3,000 home development in
Dade County, it probably does not impact Broward County if it is dead center of
Dade County. I mean, 3,000 was common in those days. Part of the definition
was, if they impact upon the people of more than one county, then that was one
of the criteria. So we developed a sliding scale on housing developments. I do
not remember all of the scale now, but we reasoned that, let us say, a fifty-unit
development in Levy County probably would probably be a regional impact if it
were close enough to another county. So, we made sort of a sliding scale for
housing developing units. We handled apartment and condominium projects
FGM 1 page 90
pretty much the same way.
B: Were people trying to influence your plan during this time?
S: No, not really.
B: So, you were pretty much able to do this. Again, you were going to let the
legislature worry about any of the specifics.
S: Well, we knew we had to go the ELMS Committee anyway, so we looked at
power plants and we got into the complicated business of peaking units. I had
never really learned much about peaking units until I found out that Florida Power
and Florida Power and Light and all of them had what they called peaking units.
They were probably ten- or twenty-megawatt units that were parked in
neighborhoods. When the load got so great, those peaking units went on
automatically to help with the load. We did not know, what are we going to do
with these peaking units? Finally, with the Public Service Commission and with
the power companies, we established some standards for location of power
plants, as to whether their development was a regional impact. We did the same
thing with transmission lines, because in our view, transmission lines were as
devastating as most anything. We did something similar with pipelines. We
looked at tank farms. We established some threshold gallonage for tank farms. It
was interesting, we got in a big debate about what is a barrel. We learned there
are about sixteen definitions of barrels. We finally came down to, I guess it was,
a fifty-five gallon barrel was the standard that most fuel companies use. We got
into all this kind of stuff, and it was really...
B: Really detailed stuff.
FGM 1 page 91
S: Yes, very much so.
B: But you had to. You had to get all of this down on paper.
S: Yes. Office parks, we determined a number of square feet for an office park. I
think it was 150,000 or 200,000 square feet. Stadia, we looked at stadiums. As a
matter of fact, what used to be Joe Robbie Stadium was a DRI. It was the first
and only that I know of. The others were rebuilt on old sites. I think they tore
them down and put up new ones. We had a little static from the University of
Florida and couple of [other] universities. They did not want us to meddle with
their stadium down there. Some of the other developments were marinas. We
established a 100-slip marina as the threshold. Anything lower than that would
not be a DRI, unless it was presumed to be. As a matter of fact, everything is
presumed to be a DRI.
B: Unless it is exempted?
S: Well, then you have to establish standards, but, technically, under the law, the
court can determine that any kind of development is a DRI if it meets the three
criteria, which are magnitude, location, and
B: Now, at the same time you are working on these standards, are you also dealing
with the new Area of Critical Concern Law? That was under you, too, right?
S: Yes. We had another bureau working on that, and we were looking at candidate
sites. All during this time period, too, we were organizing regional planning
B: Was that under the state land plan aspect of growth management?
S: No. The reason we had to have regional planning councils was the statute
FGM 1 page 92
required that there be some agency appointed or designated by the governor as
the regional review agency. We knew we did not have those guys statewide, so
we had to make some decisions about [who] we were going to recommend to the
governor that he appoint to do the regional reviews. We thought about the water
management districts. Well, they were just beginning to organize, and by 1973,
they would not be organized. It took that whole first year to establish the
boundaries for the districts.
B: And that was going on in another office, like you were doing with these issues.
S: That was going on over in DNR. They were basing those decisions on
hydrographic data that was more or less statewide then.
B: How did you come up with the regional planning council areas?
S: We looked at a couple of things. First of all, we knew the governor could appoint
anybody he wanted. He could appoint the Department of Pollution Control that
was then DPC. We knew that would create a lot of antipathy among the local
governments. I mean, they would really be upset about that. So, we thought
about it, and we finally decided, look, we are just going to have to develop wall-
to-wall regional planning councils. We had two methods of doing that. There was
a general statute which permitted counties to do it on a cooperative basis. Also,
in Part 1 of Chapter 163, there is a capacity there that governments can use
interlocal agreements to do anything that they can do legally. They cannot agree
to do things they cannot do legally. Then, we also had a third bureau, and that
was the Bureau of Governmental Review. That bureau was responsible for the
federal requirement that any federal assistance to any state or private agency or
FGM 1 page 93
local government had to go through what was then called an A-95 review by the
state of Florida. In that bureau of intergovernmental coordination, that was their
essential responsibility. That was also a planning function. That had been
performed by the Division of Budget Planning until this particular time. Anyhow, I
assigned those guys the responsibility because they were supposed to be the
local government people. We had Don Spicer, who had been former mayor of
St. Petersburg. Don came in to head up that bureau for me. I told Don, your job is
to organize planning councils wall-to-wall in the state in the next six months. He
did it. What we did was use interlocal agreements. A couple of them were formed
under general law, but most of them were interlocal agreements.
B: How did local governments respond to that effort?
S: When we threatened to use a state agency for a review, they responded.
B: So, you basically said, do it this way or the state will do it for you.
S: We are going to do it this way, guys, or the state is going to have to do it. We do
not want the state to do it, and I know you do not. That made them more
cooperative. By July of 1973, we had them all organized. They had their own
boards, [and] they had their directors. We had found some funding for them in
another one of my bureaus, which was the Bureau of Law Enforcement
Administration (LEA). At that point in time, Florida was getting about $22,000,000
a year. I administered that program, and there had to be a regional plan for the
LEA program for the Fed to approve it. There really never had been much of a
regional plan, but we told the regional guys, in order to give them a little bit of
FGM 1 page 94
money, we would give each of them $50,000. They would have to appoint
somebody as the regional law enforcement administration planner. We had a
huge staff in Tallahassee, twenty-five people or something in that staff. It was
larger than the rest of the whole division put together, [with] lots of money, and it
developed these huge, complicated, awful bureaucratic plans. Working with the
Fed on that project, oh, those guys were terrible.
B: What ever happened to them?
S: They went away with the Nixon years.
B: Anyway, that gave you money to spend.
S: Gave us some money and a rationale for using the money. We also were able to
get a little bit of money out of the governors cabinet because they always have
a rainy-day fund. We convinced the secretary and the governor that we had to
get these agencies organized. There was also a commitment on the part of all
the members who would pay a $0.25 a person fee or something. They agreed to
that. So, they had a little money to get started, and we sweetened the pot to the
extent that we could.
B: How was the makeup of the councils put together?
S: They were originally elected officials appointed by the separate boards. We
required all the counties to participate and have representation. Some of the
cities wanted to participate, and they did. That is the way it was kind of put
together. We drew the boundaries. We had some boundary disputes in South
Florida. Sarasota did not want to be part of Tampa Bay.
B: How did that one get resolved?
FGM 1 page 95
S: We let them out. We had a public hearing on it, and I took testimony. I guess,
technically, that is what I did. There was no testimony that Sarasota County
should stay with Tampa Bay Regional. I mean, I did not have anything on the
record that said they should stay, so we let them go to the one that includes
Sarasota, Charlotte, Lee, and so on.
B: Southwest Florida?
S: Southwest Florida, yes.
B: You have all these things going on at the same time. You are doing the regional
planning councils, you are doing the DRI rules, and you are doing areas of critical
B: What is happening with that last part, areas of critical concern?
S: We had maybe two or three planners working on that after we got the regional
planning councils organized. Now, that act, Section 5 of Chapter 380, was not
authorized until the referendum on the $200,000,000. That was in November of
1972. If that had not passed, we would not have been able to implement the
critical area program.
B: So, the public really wanted this.
S: The public bought the bonds. They did not know the connection to it. I do not
think they knew the connection.
B: What did the public think they were voting on? Bonds for land preservation?
S: Bonds for land, and that passed.
B: And it was really tied up in these other things, too.
FGM 1 page 96
S: Yes. Up to that time, we did not spend a lot of energy on that section. After that,
we appointed a group of planners to work on it, and we began to identify large
areas that were multi-county, by and large, and were being threatened
environmentally for one reason or another.
B: Was this Florida=s first major land preservation program?
B: And this is how you identified Big Cypress, Green Swamp...?
S: Yes, we identified Green Swamp, Big Cypress and the Florida Keys, and we
looked at Apalachicola Basin, we looked at the Suwannee River Basin. We
looked a number of sites. We looked at the whole Charlotte Harbor situation,
particularly the northern part of Charlotte Harbor.
B: How did you decide on the three areas?
S: We gathered data. We would get development information: how fast was
development occurring; what were the key environmental issues; what were the
key environmental indicators; were there any serious problems that we thought
the state should take an interest in; and so on.
B: Did you have to bring those recommendations back to the legislature, too?
S: No, they went to the governors cabinet. We did not go to the governors
cabinet until we had satisfied our data requirements and satisfied that there was
at least enough local support to make the thing a critical area. We also looked
very carefully at what kind of planning was going on. Was there any real effort on
the part of local governments to do anything about the Green Swamp? Polk and
Lake Counties did not give a damn about the Green Swamp. In fact, they were
FGM 1 page 97
happy that it was being subdivided by people and signs were going up all over
B: They wanted that new development.
S: Well, Disney World was cranking up over there, and they wanted everything to
sweep across. That was a good one for us.
B: When you identified Green Swamp, was there a lot of opposition in Polk County,
S: Oh yes, Polk County was very much opposed to it.
B: What did you have to deal with from those opponents?
S: We had to deal with the state representatives. One of my old buddies, Fred
Jones from Auburndale, was very upset about it. He thought we were a bunch of
communists. Sometimes, I thought we were, too.
B: What sorts of things did they do to try to stop it?
S: Everything they could. It turned out that the governor and cabinet were
committed. We knew that we had the votes on the cabinet for any of these
because the governor was so powerful. Reubin Askew was very powerful. He
controlled what he wanted to do, and it got done. That was a good situation to
work in, particularly because we could have messed this program up so badly
without gubernatorial support. It was absolutely essential.
B: How did he stand up to people like Fred Jones?
S: Fred, that is what we are going to do. It was simple.
B: How about Big Cypress? Did you meet much opposition there?
S: Opposition in Big Cypress essentially came from the people who lived in and
FGM 1 page 98
around Immokalee, and I have always been suspect to that. I think the Colliers
got those folks, because the people who testified were not landholders. They
were farmers and little farmers and people who worked on farms, people you
could tell were not the elite of that community. They were being pressed by
somebody. I think it was Collier, and I think it was what was left of Gulf American.
They were probably pressing hard. We did have the support of one Collier
County commissioner, a woman who later on moved to Gainesville.
B: Who was she?
S: I cannot remember her name now. Reubin Askew appointed her to the board.
Somebody died, and Reubin appointed her. She was an environmentalist.
B: When these people were coming forth to testify, what sort of things were they
saying? What sort of reasons did they have?
S: It was big government grabbing land. It was a land grab. Essentially, that was
repeated over and over and over. When we held the hearingsBwe had three
hearings on that oneBthe way I organized it [is] we would get an opponent and a
proponent. Well, of course, we ran out of proponents well before we ran out of
opponents, but that is the way it went. We organized the one in Naples where the
governor and cabinet came down. They held their cabinet meeting, and they...
B: They did, and they okayed it?
S: Yes. I think the only one who voted against it was the commissioner of
B: Doyle Conner?
S: Doyle voted against it, but I expected that. We knew. We had gone to Doyle and
FGM 1 page 99
we had talked to Doyle, and we knew where he stood on it. There was no
question in our mind about that. He was quiet. He did not say anything. He just
voted against it. Doyle was always very clear about where his commitments
B: What about the Keys designation? That one ended up going to the Florida
Supreme Court, right?
S: That went to the state Supreme Court.
B: What were the beginnings like on that one?
S: Very hot. We sent two planners to formulate the plan and the concept. At one
time, I had not heard from them in about a week and a half, and I went to, I guess
it was, Bob Rhodes and said, Bob, did we ever hear from those planners or
have they been drowned? He said, no, I heard the other day; they are doing
okay; they are doing their work.
B: Now, what was Bob Rhodes doing at that time?
S: Bob, at that point, was chief of the Bureau of Land Planning.
B: Okay, and then he later went to Disney.
B: And, now, he is with St. Joe Corp.
B: So, here are the planners down in the Keys, trying to put that plan together. What
were those hearings like?
S: In the Keys, they were pretty rough. We had three. We had Upper Keys, Lower
Keys, and one in Marathon. The one in Marathon was the third and final one
FGM 1 page 100
when the governor and cabinet came down, and they made the decision.
B: What were the opponents saying at those meetings?
S: Very similar things. Big government, we do not need it. We know what we are
doing. You want to stop growth in the Keys, you know, anti-commerce and so on
and so forth.
B: Did the opponents outweigh the proponents again?
S: Oh yes, measurably. It was a bit of a rancorous kind of a hearing, but Reubin
Askew, the same thing in Naples, just told the audience, you guys are all going to
behave or you will be dismissed. He talked to them like it was this big class. He
was wonderful. Anyway, we did get through those hearings. I finally got John
DeGrove involved in that one. It was tough getting John involved in those real
controversial ones. He did not get too excited about becoming involved in them
at that point. I finally called John and said, John, we have to get the governor off
dead center on this because this is a pretty vital one. How about you giving him a
call? We have done everything we can, and I talked to Hap Thorpe, and I talked
to everybody over there, but we just cannot get Reubin to make a decision on
this one. He finally did, and Reubin made a decision.
B: Was DeGrove already at FAU [Florida Atlantic University] at this time?
S: Yes, he had been there for some years.
B: Now, the opponents in the Keys ended up suing the state.
S: Yes, they brought a suit, and it was the Cross Keys Case. The Supreme Court
held that the designation of critical areas was an unlawful delegation of legislative