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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
B: This is an interview with Dr. John DeGrove on behalf of the Samuel Proctor Oral
History Program at the University of Florida. Currently a national leader in the
Smart Growth movement, Dr. DeGrove is the father of growth management law
in Florida. He was founder and longtime director of the Florida Atlantic
University Florida International University Joint Center for Environmental and
Urban Problems, as well as a former Secretary of the Florida Department of
Community Affairs. The interviewer is Cynthia Barnett. The date is December
1, 2001. The interview is being conducted at Dr. DeGrove's home, 5315 NW
92nd Way in Gainesville. Where were you born and in what year?
D: Well, I was born in St. Augustine at Florida East Coast Hospital. You should
understand I didn't live in St. Augustine. I was the first person in my family I can
remember [that was] ever born in a hospital.
B: Where did you live?
D: Palm Valley.
B: What brought your family to Palm Valley?
D: My grandfather came to Palm Valley. Out along the St. Johns River, he had
orange groves. The family had come down in the 1870s, something like that.
They had these nice orange groves, Mandarin, I believe, was where that was.
B: What was his name?
D: William DeGrove. He was actually in the legislature from something like 1918-
1922. Anyway, they were up there and of course in the big freeze in 1905 or
1906, the famous big freeze in Florida, they got wiped out. Looked around, said
we can't stay here, no groves anymore. Somehow they were attracted over
toward Palm Valley.
B: Where exactly is Palm Valley?
D: Palm Valley is where Ponte Vedra is now.
B: That is a much different place today.
D: At that time, Ponte Vedra was Mineral City and that was because the National
Lead Company was mining trace elements out of the beach sand. By the way,
that was one of the first environmental cases ever brought. Trace elements,
ilmenite [iron titanium oxide], things like that. I might not get the names of these
things exactly right. They were taken to court, the National Lead Company was,
during the 1930s in a lawsuit probably funded by one of the WPA [Works
Progress Administration], PWA [Public Works Administration]-type programs.
They were found guilty of blocking a public highway, the beach being a public
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 2
highway. They said, well, we can mine trace elements, we can go inland where
the shoreline used to be. The old dunes left over there around Starke or
someplace like that. I forget exactly where. [They said,] what do we do with this
place? Well, the beach is nice. We'll start some sort of development here.
Mineral City ended up being Ponte Vedra, but Palm Valley now is a different
thing. Grandpa got over there and he went over to the beach, too. He saw the
beach as worthless, that is to say, you can't raise anything there. He was
focused on having a farm and agriculture and stuff like that. He didn't think he'd
get back into citrus. He'd had that. The family had had that. He settled on
Palm Valley. Palm Valley is where the intracoastal waterway goes through now.
That was just kind of a natural canal or waterway [then]. It got all dug out of
course. Grandpa, when he settled there, I forget the exact dates when they got
over there. He was quite a guy.
B: Was he a farmer?
D: Yes, essentially, farming is what we did out there.
B: What crops did he grow there?
D: Vegetable crops, mainly. I remember in the recession in the 1930s we could
take things in to Pablo Beach, Jacksonville Beach, called Pablo Beach then.
Take it into Mr. Crow and trade vegetables and things to him for groceries. It
was just kind of barter, nobody had any money. We had some wonderful times.
I remember those days. [The] fact [that] I was born in St. Augustine didn't mean
anything to me. We were just there a little while. We had a connection with the
fire department. Somehow my Daddy was able to go and work for the fire
department briefly. It was my mother who was determined that I be born in a
hospital. We just went to St. Augustine long enough to produce me. We came
right back to Palm Valley.
B: Was your dad also a farmer?
D: He was a jack-of-all-trades. My Daddy did some things that you wouldn't
believe. Do you want to know about a few of them? We came back to Palm
Valley and we lived way down the road from Mr. West [who] had a place there. I
don't think that road was paved at all. No, it wasn't paved at all. Palm Valley
didn't have any stores. We lived pretty far down the road from the rest of the
family, who lived to our west. Grandpa had, I'm remembering this now, a big
B: What was his name [your father]?
D: John. His middle name was Morton and my middle name is Melvin. A lot of
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 3
people think I'm a junior, but I'm not a junior because we have different middle
names. Melvin is the name I got because the Townsends, my grandmother was
a Townsend. I think it was a Townsend that was the fire chief in St. Augustine.
That's how I happened to be born in Florida East Coast Hospital. Daddy worked
out something where he could do a little work there.
B: He's a farmer and a firefighter.
D: Listen to some of the things that we did to make a living during the Depression.
I'll just tell you the names of them. Grandpa was in the legislature and he was
the only one to vote for the women's right to vote.
B: Oh, that's great.
D: By the time I realized that was the case, I think Grandpa [had] died. I never was
able to talk to him about how and why he happened to do that. I don't think it
was a mistake though.
B: He was a supporter of women even as you remember him?
D: Yes. He had all kinds of contradictions. Let me tell you how we made a living,
then I will come back to Grandpa, because some of that is really interesting, too.
William DeGrove, grandpa. Daddy cut buds, pole buds and ax buds. We went
to the Guana [River], which was to the east over toward the ocean. We have
bought most of that now, I had a heavy hand in acquiring it. It's along what's
now [highway] A1A, the Guana. It's a freshwater [area]. The ocean is right
over there across the dunes. We'd go to the Guana to shoot ducks and coots.
We never got into trying to harvest alligators, though people were doing that then
some of my kin people that lived over that way. At any rate, we'd take ducks
and coots and [there] wasn't any sporting foolishness about this. We got into
the Guana, crept up on them, shot them on the water, killed as many as we
possibly could with one shot and I was the bag boy. I was the bag boy for both
of these things, when we were cutting buds, following Daddy around in the
woods and when we were shooting coots and ducks. It didn't matter whether it
was a coot, which is a white-billed bird that most people don't think is too great to
eat, but if you cook a coot right, it's dark meat, it's very good. [They] have great
big gizzards too. Whatever kind of duck it was, we'd take them into what we call
the colored section in Pablo and sell them three for a quarter. Didn't matter
whether it was ducks or coots or what mix it was. They were glad to get them
and we were glad to get the quarter. That was interesting. I forget how we got
[around]. We had an old Model-T then, as I vaguely remember, is how we got
into Pablo to sell these ducks and coots.
B: How did your family afford a Model-T during the Depression?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 4
D: Well, that's a good question. My Mama was one way. My Daddy being a
jack-of-all-trades, he always found some way to make some money. During the
worst of the Depression, Mama was teaching. That's how she got to Palm
Valley. She came there to take over the one-room schoolhouse. She was it,
she was the whole thing.
B: She came there as a single woman and met your father there.
D: Yes, that's how she met my Daddy.
B: What year did she get to Palm Valley?
D: I think it was about 1920.
B: Where did she come from?
D: She came from Hawthorne.
B: Did they recruit her to teach in the one-room schoolhouse?
D: Yes, she had gotten finished with her high school over there, which wasn't an
easy thing to do. They lived way out in the boondocks, around Hawthorne.
They didn't live right in town, they lived out [toward] Rex.
B: What was her name?
D: Edythe Beasley then. She married later. So Mama came. There was a
railroad then that came from over that way. I don't know where, exactly. You
might have gotten on the train in Waldo. It came right to Jacksonville Beach,
Pablo it was. There's no train that comes there anymore, but it did then. One
thing that Grandpa did was, he picked up the mail and brought it down [to Palm
Valley]. He picked up people like Mama. It might have been Daddy that went
that day. I forget that story exactly, but maybe Daddy got her off the train and
brought her out. She lived with Mr. West, who lived catty-cornered from
Grandpa for awhile. She was just seventeen [or] eighteen years old. Some of
the kids in that school were that old. Mr. West, I remember this story, thought
that she would not last a week.
B: How long did she last?
D: She didn't have any trouble whipping those big hard-headed guys. Mama was
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 5
B: Did she literally whip them?
D: Oh yes, she believed in corporal punishment.
B: I guess she whipped you?
D: Oh, every day. Almost literally every day. For one thing, to be sure nobody
would think she was showing any favoritism, the other reason being I usually
deserved a whipping a least once a day. [She] killed a couple of peach trees out
at our house by cutting the switches off the peach trees.
B: She was the steady worker and she worked all through the Depression.
D: Yes, all through the Depression. The only time she didn't [work] this was St.
Johns County, now you know, school the only time she stopped getting any
money, they paid her in scrip for a while, [as] they called it. She was supposed
to get it redeemed. She always said that it never was redeemed and apparently
it never was redeemed. She just got cheated out of that. Anyway, she was the
teacher. That's how she met Daddy. I was born in 1924, they married a few
years before that.
B: Are you the oldest?
D: I'm the onliest. I'm the oldest, the youngest, the whole bit.
B: Go back to the buds.
D: Okay, you understand how we shot the coots and the ducks. Of course, we
[also] shot those to eat for ourselves. This wonderful story I remember when I
got old enough where I could shoot a little too, I remember one day down in the
Guana, this old water moccasin came cruising by they are very aggressive
rascals. I shot the water moccasin. Daddy was quite upset [that] I killed it. He
said, we don't have enough money to waste shells on water moccasins, we have
to use the shells to shoot the ducks and the coots and you can't do that. That
water moccasin, you keep away from him, he'll keep away from you. Of course,
they're aggressive rascals. They never did get us. At any rate, cutting buds -
cabbage palms or sable palm trees. The bud is the thing that comes up out of
the middle of a cabbage palm.
B: What we know as the heart of palm?
D: It's the upper part, it's not the stuff you eat. It's the bud that comes out. That
bud hooks into the heart of palm. If you are skilled, you can cut buds without
killing the palm tree and it grows another bud. A lot of the land out in Palm
Valley was owned by whoever, but we cut buds on that land just as though it was
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 6
ours. Nobody cared. Ax buds are buds that come from the shorter cabbage
palms that you can reach with an ax. You've got to cut it right or you will kill the
B: What do you use the buds for?
D: [I am] coming to that. The pole buds are the tall ones. You've got to have a long
pole and a chisel on the end. You've got to be really skilled, again, not to kill the
tree, just to cut the bud. It's a tight thing at that point. It hasn't opened up into
another [palm] on the palm tree. We started cutting those in the fall when it got
cool enough. We cut them and banked them up and covered them over with
straw and dirt and saved them for the bud brokers. The bud brokers were the
people that bought them up for Palm Sunday for the Catholic church. The
Micklers were settlers in Palm Valley too, along with the DeGroves. Sid Mickler,
he had a bunch of daughters, I've got a great story about that too. At any rate,
he kind of was our channel to the bud brokers.
B: Where were the bud brokers from?
D: I guess St. Augustine. I'm not sure exactly where they were from. Remember,
we had been banking these buds up all winter long with straw and dirt and they
would still be green, you see. They would come and get them just before Palm
Sunday. That would be what they would use for Palm Sunday. That was quite
a source of income for that.
B: Do you remember how much you got for each bud?
D: No, I'm sorry. Money didn't mean much to me then.
B: Your dad was keeping track of that.
D: Daddy kept track of that. I remember what we sold the ducks and the coots for.
B: I wonder if those buds went all over the east coast or how far they went.
D: I may have that somewhere in the stuff I have collected that I hope to write if I
ever get through with this damn book [when] I can write my memoirs, if you will.
The buds, that was, I thought, a wonderful story. Sid Mickler was a wonderful
guy. He had eight or nine daughters. He lived not too far through the woods
from us. Out back of our house, about a half a mile off into the woods, he had a
still. Of course, in Palm Valley, nobody thought having a still was illegal. I don't
care if there was some kind of law about it. It didn't apply to us. He was very
kind to us because he allowed us to have the [corn]mash from the still.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 7
B: What did you use that for?
D: We used it to dry out and feed it to our hogs and chickens and our guineas. It
was my job to take the mule and go back through the woods that half mile. One
of his daughters, it may have been his oldest daughter I've got all their names
somewhere would be watching for revenues in a tree so she could give a
signal. But I had a signal for her when I was coming through the woods. I've
forgotten exactly what it was but it was some sort of thing. They'd load the
mash on the mule's back for me in sacks. We'd take it back. Of course, you
had to dry it out because it would make all the hogs drunk, hogs and guineas and
things that we had. I tell the story and this is a true story. The only whipping I
ever got from my father was one and only one. My rascally cousins, that's the
way I explain it, persuaded me one day when they were at my house for some
reason. We went down through the woods and got the mash and came back.
We didn't dry it out and we fed it to them. The chickens and the hogs and the
guineas and they were all drunk and staggering around. Daddy came home.
That was the one and only whipping my daddy ever gave me.
B: How often did you have to go pick up the mash?
D: Once every week or two, fairly often. One of those cousins lives here now.
Leon DeGrove. Lee they call him. He's a little younger than me, but not much.
He was here the other day when we had our oyster roast. Sid Mickler also had
the pier out at the ocean. This Guana that I told you about was just this side of
the ocean. If you took the road from Palm Valley right on out to the ocean, at
that place, he had a fishing pier. He built that obviously with the profits from the
moonshine. We thought that was great.
B: Earlier, you said we've bought most of Guana now. When you say we, you
mean the state of Florida and you're speaking of Guana River State Park. Were
you involved in that acquisition?
B: About when was that?
D: I was working with Ney Landrum, who is a cousin of mine, who was with the
State Department of Parks, it has different names now. The Landrums are kin
to us. I think I was [in] Tallahassee at DCA [Department of Community Affairs]
when we managed to negotiate that deal. We negotiated it though a guy [who
now runs] Gate Petroleum, [Herb Peyton]. He and I became friends, somehow,
kind of a peculiar sort of thing because he was strictly a developer and [did]
things like that. We negotiated together when I was [secretary of] DCA. He
decided I was [about] the only person he deal[t] with in state government that had
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 8
any sense and who could be trusted. We worked out a price.
B: It must have always helped you to be kind of a country boy from northeast
Florida. Even though you had a Ph.D., you could deal with people on that level.
D: That's true and that's particularly true of some folks who turned out to be very
valuable and helpful when I got on into the university system much, much later
who thought I was just a carpetbagger, at first, who came down from North
Carolina or probably from some worse place than that. It was always a shock to
them to realize that I was born and raised, technically not born in Palm Valley,
but might as well have been.
B: You had probably been in Florida a lot longer than they had.
D: Yes, or certainly as long. That applied to Charlie Foreman, who was [on] the old
Board of Control, later the Board of Regents. Charlie just couldn't believe it
when he finally found out. This is after I had gone off and gotten my Ph.D. and
come back to the University of Florida. He found out I was a native cracker. Of
course, his family came down to south Florida way, way back in the very earliest
of times [early in the 1900s], the Foremans. That started a long, long-term
friendship. Going back to Palm Valley, we had those sources of income.
Mama's [was] ninety dollars a month or eighty dollars a month. It was a lot of
money in those days. I forget just what it was. When I was born, Mama had to
stop working, had to stop teaching. In fact, she stopped teaching, I think, for
three years. There just wasn't any question about it, she had to go back to
teaching. I was three years old. I started in the first grade when I was three
years old, sort of.
B: She took you with her to the one-room schoolhouse?
D: Grandpa's house was just up the lane. The church was there, the school was
across the street from the church. The cemetery is right there to this day, where
my Daddy is buried, a lot of the DeGroves are buried. At any rate, I sort of
enrolled in school. I would walk up the lane during the day to Grandpa's house
and then come back. Finally, I got out. It took me three years to get out of the
B: Did you go to kindergarten through twelfth grade there?
D: Oh, no. I'm trying to remember now, I get a little fuzzy on this sometimes. We
went back to St. Augustine for my seventh and eighth grades. That was Mama,
she thought I needed [some special medical attention]. It also had something to
do with getting my tonsils out or some darn thing and we had to go back there
anyway. Daddy was able to get a job in St. Augustine, again with Townsend,
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 9
who was the fire chief. Mama taught school right across the street from the D&B
school the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind. Right across the street was
where our house was. That's when I took up delivering papers. I used to ride
across the Bridge of Lions somehow. That was a long swing.
B: Did you deliver the St. Augustine Record?
D: Yes, it had to be the St. Augustine Record. I made pretty good money on that
and we had a garden there. We sold stuff from the garden, I did.
B: Where did you finish high school?
D: We came back to Ponte Vedra. Daddy [was then] working as kind of a
jack-of-all-trades for the Ponte Vedra company and they let us live in part of the
Ponte Vedra Club. They had sort of living quarters and we were able to live
there. We needed a place to live because we didn't have one. Daddy was
working for them doing all kinds of different things. So we stayed there, I think a
couple of years, and then we got a house in Jacksonville Beach. Then Daddy, I
think, built the house that we moved into in Neptune Beach, along the beach
there. Daddy died, I think, in 1940 [or] 1941. Grandpa DeGrove died very
close to the same time. By then, Mama was principal. First she taught at
Jacksonville Beach elementary school. She didn't go back to [the] Palm Valley
school, we didn't go back to Palm Valley. [We] moved] from where [we were]
living in the Ponte Vedra club right across from the filling station [up to]
Jacksonville Beach. [From there, we moved to] Neptune Beach, my Daddy
actually built that house. He could do that too. He could do anything. He was
something else. He always had a terrible lung disease from the time they
B: Did he die of lung disease?
D: [He had] abscessed lungs and he had to drain his lungs every day by getting on
a table and leaning over and getting himself coughing so that he could clear his
lungs out. The choice was either that weak lungs run in the DeGrove side of
the family or go for surgery. When they first put the surgery option to him (of
course I don't remember this, I wasn't involved) the chances of survival were
about ten percent. [The doctors said, if] you could drain your lungs like this every
day, you could probably last a long time.
B: That option was probably better than ten-percent odds anyway.
D: The odds were a heck of a lot better. He said, that's what I'll do. That's what
he did. He worked like a dog his whole life until he died. [When] he died [it]
wasn't any long, drawn-out sort of thing.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 10
B: You would have been eighteen or so?
D: I wasn't that old[, about fifteen as I remember].
B: You were still in high school?
D: Yes, I was still in high school.
B: Where did you actually graduate from high school?
D: Duncan U. Fletcher, or Flunkin' You Betcha High School, as we always called it.
B: Where was that?
D: That was in Jax [Jacksonville] Beach. It was the high school for that whole area.
It was up the road, it was pretty far up the road. It was almost up to Neptune
B: Did you meet Gail before you went into the Army?
D: No. I didn't meet that Yankee girl [until much later].
B: I was wondering if she was from your youth or if you met her later.
D: No, not from my youth at all. I met Gail at Rollins College after I had been in the
Army. I want to show you something. An incredible kind of a coincidence that
happened the other day. We'll get to that in a minute, but it has to do with a guy
who called me up the other day and I haven't been able to get back to him. I got
back to him and left a message. Homer Hooks is involved. I remembered him
as being [a major player] in the phosphate industry here in Florida. He and I, I
remember, had some [agreement on how phosphate mining should be
managed]. I haven't had much interaction with him lately. [I was] reading the
New Yorker the other day and it's right after I got this call from him. He sought
me through Thousand Friends of Florida. I'm still not quite clear why. I think
maybe he's a regular contributor. Listen to this article, this is just a little short
thing in the New Yorker. This is the current New Yorker. Roger Angel's article
about the New Yorker's cartoons during the Second World War and his reference
to the magazine's pony-sized overseas edition, a third smaller without
advertisements, brought back grim and good memories. The name of the article
was "Uniform Bliss," November 12 [reading from article]:
"In November 1944, my outfit, the 102nd Infantry Division, 402nd Regiment,
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 11
1st Battalion, Charlie Company, 2nd Platoon, was fighting bitterly near
Geringsweiler, Germany, just west of the Rhine. We were in two-man
foxholes outside the town and under such intense fire that our supplies
had to be brought up by Jeep as far as the driver could get, then heaved
toward us. Along with the K-rations and ammunition, we would find a few
issues of the New Yorker pony-edition, Times pony-edition, and maybe a
copy of Stars and Stripes. The cartoons by Charles Addams and Peter
Arno gave a kind of ironic balance to the horror and helped us survive it
That is my division, that's my regiment, that's my battalion, and I was in
Charlie company for awhile. Homer Hooks was one of my fellow [soldiers]. I
hate to admit this, but I had forgotten that connection, that part of our
B: You remember him with the phosphate council. I happen to have a profile of
you here that the Palm Beach Post wrote in 1998 and they quote Homer Hooks
as a worthy adversary. He's a former legislator and one-time head of the Florida
Phosphate Council. Hooks said of you, he was very effective, he caused me
considerable pain for a number of years; he was at least partially responsible for
forcing the phosphate companies to recognize their commitment to land
reclamation and protection of the environment beyond the letter of the law; he
was, in effect, the conscience of the community. I wonder why he called you.
D: I don't know. I called him back and left a message. He acknowledged the
message. I might call him back this morning again. See if we can get him. At
any rate, I remember Geringsweiler all too well. We were taking heavy
casualties. I went over [as a] private first-class.
B: You were in the infantry from 1942-1946?
D: Yes. We went over right after D-Day [June 6, 1944]. We didn't go in at D-Day.
About a month later, or six weeks later, we landed at Cherbourg, in France. We
had already swung around the D-Day guys, the survivors and captured
Cherbourg, landward. All the German guns were pointing out the other way.
We snuck up on them from the land side. When [my division] came to land by
boat, we went in. I went in at Cherbourg, [we] got on cattle cars, went across
France, and into the front lines in Holland, Germany, Belgium, right along in
there. A good time to be in the army is when you are seventeen, eighteen. I
guess I was eighteen. Didn't have any sense much. Didn't really think I was
going to get killed. I got into leading patrols out behind the enemy lines and
doing things like that. Pretty soon, our platoon I forget exactly how many
people [are] in a platoon now, about forty or fifty [was] down to a handful of
people who were still alive. That's how I became a sergeant and then finally I
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 12
got a battlefield commission.
B: You received a Silver Star [for gallantry in action] and a Purple Heart [for wounds
received in action] for your service.
D: I got a piece of shrapnel still in one of my wrists. Once in awhile when I get an
x-ray or something [I see it] I forget now, it's been so long I forget which wrist
it's in. At any rate, my service, for me was a remarkable sort of thing.
B: I want to talk about your service, so this is fine. I want you to recount your injury
and how you managed to come down with tuberculosis.
D: It was kind of an indirect sort of thing. We were up in the front lines somewhere.
It might have been right around Geringsweiler, close to where Homer is writing
about. We had some [new troops] join our company. One older guy, I
remember him very well. I was always grateful to him because he had come up
though France. He'd been there a long time before me, might have even gone
ashore at Italy or somewhere. He said to me, just always remember this: always
take prisoners when you can. Don't ever wipe out people needlessly because it
will get you. If you can take prisoners, take prisoners. Don't kill people, take
B: When he said, get you, did he mean emotionally?
D: No, I think he meant you'd end up getting killed yourself. If you don't give them
a chance to surrender, they're going to fight to the death. That might be the end
of you. That made a lot of sense to me. I never took things very personally. I
never thought of the Germans as the most evil creatures in the world. In fact, I
always dreaded getting shipped to the Pacific and I almost did, but not quite.
Just before we were going to get shipped [out] after V-E Day, we were all getting
cranked up, we were going to the Pacific. Then V-J Day came along, so [I]
didn't have to go. I stayed there, though, for quite a while after that. Anyway,
the point is, we were in a tough situation in the front lines. We'd advance 1,500
yards and get counter-attacked. Boy, that's when you take a lot of casualties.
We were doing a counter-attack, I guess and some Germans were surrendering.
Somebody in the back threw a grenade, it exploded and just knocked me out.
B: Was it someone on your side?
D: No, these guys that were supposed to be surrendering tossed a grenade up.
Big mistake on their part. Knocked me out just for an instant. I came to right
away. That was the end of their effort to surrender. That apparently did some
damage [to my lungs that showed up] later. Didn't stop me right then at all, at
the time. Later, when I got back into the hospital after the war had ended, I was
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 13
doing occupation stuff, you know. I was doing some interesting things. I got
hooked up with a [colonel] who was a regimental commander somehow after I
got my battlefield commission. [I was] a regimental entertainment officer. I was
responsible for doing things to keep everybody entertained. That's not saying it
exactly the right way. [After] that concussion [grenade], we went on and those
guys were wiped out. That didn't waive my rule, because they forfeited their
opportunity to [surrender]. I spent a lot of time behind enemy lines scouting
things out. [End of side 1, tape A] Getting back from those things was tricky,
getting back to your own front line without getting shot yourself by your own folks.
We had these signals. We tried to make sure we didn't do that. I got into
taking out patrols, that became my thing. At the end, when the war was just
about ended, we were headed for Berlin. We were up at the Elbe River, taking
patrols across. The Germans were trying to surrender to us, because the
Russians were moving in on them and they would rather have us take them. At
one point we were accepting whole platoons and regiments of Germans at a
time. We did that, you know. We were going to head right on for Berlin, [we]
thought. I took a patrol across the Elbe River. A couple of boats worth. One of
the saddest things I remember is that, somehow, coming back, we came under
fire from across the river and one of those boats got blown up and I lost some of
my guys. The saddest part was, that turned out to be for naught, because we
made this deal with the Russians that we would stop at the Elbe River and the
Russians would come into Berlin. Russians, in that sense, were our allies at
B: Tell me how you ended up coming down with tuberculosis.
D: Let me just trace that very briefly. I went back to doing my thing. After the war,
I went in to the hospital because I had a case of viral pneumonia.
B: Where were you?
D: In Germany. By that time I think we were right around where the
German-Austrian border was. Hof, Germany. Gail and I have been back over
there. We were down in Bavaria, Munich, all those places. It was somewhere
around the German-Czechoslovakian-Austrian border. I went into the hospital
with viral pneumonia. Literally that evolved into TB [tuberculosis] in the hospital.
B: Did you have to stay there?
D: Oh my God, yes. To say I thought that was a bummer would be an
understatement. It developed into tuberculosis and they always said that the
concussion grenade had weakened the structure of that lung, so that when I got
the viral pneumonia, which [I] should have been able to shake off, it evolved
literally into tuberculosis after I got in the hospital.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 14
B: You said your family had weak lungs anyway, so that might have had something
to do with it.
D: I'm quite sure that it did.
B: How long did you end up staying in the hospital there?
D: Not too long, because they shipped me [out]. We went up to the northern end of
Germany. They shipped me by boat. When I got back, I figured I was a goner.
I [was sent] out to Fitzsimmons General Hospital in [Denver,] Colorado, that was
a special place for tuberculosis types. I was there and to say the least, things
weren't going well. I decided I was going to die there. I decided, I'll be damned
if I'm going to die out here in Colorado in the impossibly-high altitudes. That
was a place where it was supposed to be good for you if you had TB. There
was a long history of that. Anyway, I managed to go ahead and exercise my
retirement [rights] and get brought back under the auspices of a veteran's
hospital to Orlando.
B: You really wanted to get back to Florida.
D: Yes, I was [determined] to die in Florida, as close to home as I could get. They
went along with all that. I went to the tuberculosis sanitarium and that was one
health care kind of thing that Florida had during those times [that was excellent].
B: That was in Orlando. What was that place like?
D: It was good. They had several of these, and they were unlike a lot of other
things in Florida. They were ahead of their time.
B: Was it mostly veterans there?
D: It was mix of folks. I don't think it was mostly veterans. I got in there. My
mama had come out to see me several times in Colorado. Of course, I was
much closer then and she could come see me. I['ll] make this as short as I can.
Figuring if I did whatever they told me to, I [might] have a shot at [living]. I think I
was flat on my back for a year-and-a-half, not able to get up at all on my own.
Then a guy named Fowler, who was a surgeon in Orlando, [entered the picture].
One beautiful thing about this tuberculosis sanatorium [was that] they would
contract with excellent surgeons to come and do things to you. I had a
two-stage thoracoplasty. The main tuberculosis was in my left lung. The right
lung had some minor [tuberculosis], but it was coming along, apparently kind of
healing itself. This one wasn't going to heal itself. A two-stage thoracoplasty
[is] where they cut out your ribs and collapse your chest wall and [thus] your lung.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 15
It allows the TB to heal. Bill Fowler [was the surgeon, who] I became friendly
with. I was in the hospital for almost four years.
B: Was it four years total, from the hospital in Germany to the hospital in Orlando?
D: From Germany, to Fitzsimmons General and back to Orlando. Altogether [it
was] about four years. [Dr. Fowler later said to me about the surgery,] it was
rough, it was crude, it saved your life; you wouldn't have made it otherwise. I
said, hey Bill, I'm with you.
B: How big was the TB hospital in Orlando?
D: It was a large hospital.
B: Do you remember about where it was?
D: I should remember exactly where it was. It was more over toward Winter Park.
I can't remember exactly where it was now. God, it was a long time ago. The
irony of all this is that I missed the marvelous streptomycin and the TB drugs, the
ones that at worst would have kept me in the hospital for a month or two, just by
a few months.
B: What impact do you think those four years had on you?
D: Well, I read everything in the world. Things I had read before. Things I had
never read before.
B: What kind of new things did you read?
D: You name it and I read it. I am trying to think of all the kinds of things I did. I
played the numbers, I played Cuba. You remember in those days, the lottery
evolved out of Havana, Cuba. They called it Cuba.
B: I know about bolita, but I don't know about Cuba.
D: I played Sixteen for two or three years. I never hit anything. I forgot why I
played Sixteen. I made a lot of interesting friends there, some of whom I kept up
with for a long time. After I had this two-stage thoracoplasty, I go to doctors now
that I maybe haven't gone to before. First they [often] have to look up what the
heck it even was. Nobody does that kind of thing anymore. They're amazed. I
got out of the hospital about 1949, I think. The reason I went back to Rollins
College [was that] I got to know some folks from Rollins who came out to
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 16
B: Were they strangers?
D: Yes, [they came] to visit.
B: Had you been going to Rollins before you went into the Army?
D: No, no. I went into the Army [shortly after] I got out of high school, Flunkin' You
Betcha. I decided I was going to have to go into the military anyway, and I'd just
go to the Citadel. My Mama thought that was kind of strange. I think she even
had a conversation with General Summerall at the Citadel. If you knew Mama,
you wouldn't be surprised. She was something else. The General assured her,
I think, that if he comes to the Citadel, they're not going to draft him or anything
like that. He said, we'll put him in [the] Enlisted Reserve Corps and he'll be fine.
I didn't know too much about that. I had just squeaked by in high school. If I
liked something, I made As, if I didn't, I made a D, maybe. I got out of high
school. I did graduate in 1942 and I went to the Citadel. I got going there. I
settled down and started working hard for the first time in my academic career.
All through high school I just piddled around and [didn't] work too hard.
B: You couldn't do that at the Citadel.
D: I didn't want it. I was through with that. I was ready to go to work and join the
Enlisted Reserve Corps. Of course, the Citadel was awful strict. I was a rat.
God knows, I learned all the military close-order drill and all that stuff. [And then,
darned] if we didn't get called to active duty. I think it was in March of 1943.
Several of my buddies we went into basic training, we said, this is like getting
out of prison. We've been freed up.
B: It was similar to Pat Conroy's [author] descriptions of the Citadel, I guess [in the
novel Lords of Discipline].
D: It was quite a place. Actually, I had some good teachers there and I did all right.
We got called to active duty [and] I went out here to Camp Blanding. Basic
training was a snap for me. I became an acting corporal right away or
something like that. I went through some sort of ASTP, Army Specialized
Training Program. It was supposed to prepare you for certain kinds of things
that were important. They sent me to Georgetown University in Washington.
My Aunt Alice was pretty upset about that. She said, the Jesuits were going to
get a-hold of me and teach me and that would be the end of it. They would
B: What church had you been raised in?
D: Oh, Baptist. I was baptized in the inland waterway and the preacher almost
dropped me. Fortunately, I could swim, so I probably wouldn't have drowned.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 17
B: Was there anything or anyone in your childhood who might have influenced you
toward your later career? Do you trace that back that far or is that something
that came later in college?
D: You mean the career of getting into the planning? No, that came later.
B: Maybe it was a love for Florida that came from your childhood that evolved into
D: Partly, although my role model when I was growing up and I became a lineman
for a survey company [was] my Uncle Russell, my Grandpa DeGrove's youngest
son, [who] was the role model for our family. He was a surveyor. He worked
for a land-surveying company [called] Angus. Uncle Russ was my role model.
When I was in the 10th grade I started working for his company. My Aunt
Bertie's husband worked also for Uncle Russell. I became a lineman, [my job
was to] hold the pole. That's the first time I ever left the state of Florida. We
went up to St. Simon's Island or some place like that to do some surveying. I
went out of Florida. I actually went to Georgia.
B: Why was he your role model?
D: He was the role model in our family. He was a success. He was a surveyor,
[he] stayed with his company.
B: Was he a role model because he had gotten out of Palm Valley?
D: Yes, and gone and done good things. Mama had kind of tutored him. The little
one-room schoolhouse there in Palm Valley, technically only went through the
eighth grade. She gave him a high school education, in effect. He got into the
University of Florida and got his degree, it must have been in engineering. He
went to graduate school. He was a success. [When] I went to the Citadel, I
enrolled in engineering-type stuff. I wasn't interested in planning, what was
that? I never even thought of it.
B: What were you thinking of pursuing when you went to Rollins?
D: I was thinking of surviving. That's one reason I went to Rollins. I still had these
restrictions. I was supposed to take a nap in the afternoon and be very careful
about doing this and doing that. There was a guy in the hospital with me who
knew a lot about Rollins. He said, this is the place you ought to go. It's a small
school and they're going to be more flexible in allowing you to take courses
where and when you need to take them. You'll be okay there. That would be
the best place for you. Somehow, I had sort of extra college help that would pay
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 18
my way, not just to a state school, but would pay the tuition for a place like
Rollins, which was considerably higher. I forget the details of that, but I had it. [It
involved the nature of my retirement from the Army with a 100% disability]. So I
went to Rollins. I lived with rich old ladies the whole time I was at Rollins. I
became a Sigma Nu [fraternity] there.
B: Was it your mother's idea to live with rich old ladies?
D: No, Mama might have had something to do with that. I don't think so, though.
The same guy who had been in the hospital with me and knew about Rollins led
me somehow [to the first one]. [The women's husbands had died, leaving them
with huge houses] and they wanted someone to live there, [but] they didn't want
someone telling them what to do. In fact, sometimes they weren't too excited
about having me there. It was their kids or [other kin] that said, you've got to
have somebody [live with you]. That was a marvelous thing for me.
B: You traded helping them out for your room and board?
D: I never paid any room. I forget how clear the board part was. I never paid
B: Did you go all through Rollins that way?
D: All through Rollins that way.
B: How did you meet Gail?
D: I was supposed to be helping [Rollins] recruit. I was her student advisor.
B: When she was still in high school?
D: No, no, when she came to Rollins. I greeted her when she was a freshman. I
became president of the student body at Rollins. I won the Algernon Sidney
Sullivan Memorial Award. I led a revolt at Rollins against the president. We
threw him out.
B: What sort of revolt?
D: Well, he was a bad guy. We went into an enrollment decline. In the process of
cutting back, he was firing the best people. It was clear to me that he was doing
that. I must have been president [of the student body then].
B: Did it have something to do with McCarthy-ism [reference to Joseph McCarthy,
U.S. Senator from Wisconsin, 1947-1957, who attempted to root out
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 19
D: Not exactly, I don't think. His concept of how to get Rollins straightened out and
going right was just wrong, I thought. I had some board of trustee members
[whom] I knew who agreed with me. This was early on. His name was
Wagner. We got him fired, we got him thrown out of there.
G: It was about 1950 because it was the year before I went to Rollins.
D: Yes it was, the year before you came.
G: There was all kinds of news coverage on it.
B: In the Orlando Sentinel?
G: It must have been the New York Times, because I was in school in New Jersey.
D: Gail actually saw it, she said.
G: I saw it there.
B: Is that how you decided to go to Rollins or had you already decided to go there?
G: No. I think once you see Rollins... beautiful.
B: Did you lead sit-ins?
D: We did every kind of thing to force this guy out. Remember, we had some
support on the board of trustees. We did force him out and brought in Hugh
McCain. Hugh and I worked together a lot. [I] ended up not as thrilled with him
in some ways. I was active with Rollins long after we left.
B: What did you get your undergraduate degree in?
D: I had a double major, in history and English, I think.
B: When and how did you become interested in urban planning?
D: That's a good question. Let me sort this out a little bit. I had a teacher there,
Frank Johnson. I think he's the one that first got me interested.
B: What subject did he teach?
D: I guess political science. I'd never taken a political science course in my life.
Frank opened my eyes to a lot of interesting stuff about public policy. How you
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 20
get government to do things in the right way. He was a very smart and good
guy. I had some other good teachers there at Rollins. The fact that some of
them were scheduled to be fired is how I got into throwing out Wagner. I began
to get interested in this sort of thing at that point, pretty heavily. By the time I
finished, graduated at Rollins...(Gail, when did I graduate?) We commit nuptials...
B: Did you get married that summer?
D: We got married...
G: In 1953.
D: We don't have time to tell you all about Gail's family.
G: No, we don't need to.
D: That was interesting stuff too. She was a New Jersey girl.
B: What did your family think about that?
D: My Mama? She [said,] you're going to marry that Yankee girl? All she'll want
to do is party. You won't ever get anywhere if you do that. A lot of people
didn't think our marriage would last, did they Gail? Well, they were wrong.
Forty-eight years, it's not quite fifty years. Frank Johnson deserves a lot of
credit for getting me involved and interested in this kind of thing. I did some sort
of research paper at Rollins that got me interested in growth and how it's better
to grow some ways than others.
B: Was that actually being talked about in Florida at that time?
D: Not much.
B: This was new cutting-edge information at that time.
D: For sure. In the 1950s, we were still deeply into our love affair with growth in
Florida. We were a pioneer state. Nobody in their right mind would voluntarily
come to a hot, humid, God-forsaken place that was Florida, where the Indians
were still liable to come out of the bushes and get you most any time.
B: Could you already see by 1952-1953 that things weren't growing right?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 21
D: I began to have a little inkling. I won't claim any great [ideas]. There were
some negative impacts. The heavy, heavy growth started shortly after World
War II was over, in the 1950s. We began to grow [because of] air conditioning,
transportation. I became interested. I decided to go to Emory University. Did I
have a contact there, Gail, or did I just decide?
G: I don't think so.
D: I got there. I was in a hurry.
B: You were older.
D: Older, you know. I had kind of gotten through the stage of thinking this TB is
going to come back on me now one of these days, I've got to be super, super
careful. I was still trying to take good care of myself, but I wanted to push things
along. I got to Emory. Gail went to work there. We lived in an 18 x 14 [foot]
room in Thompson Hall. I finished my master's in nine months at Emory.
B: You got your master's degree in 1954?
B: It seems like there was a turning point here, because you were the student body
president at Rollins and an activist, you're real interested in political science. It
looks like you're the type of person who might have gone into an elected office.
Instead you went to academe. Was there a conscious decision there? Did you
ever consider running for office, staying in Florida and being a political-type
D: I couldn't avoid considering it, because so many people tried to get me to do it.
Somehow, I never was attracted to running for political office. The politics of
things was what interested me most and still does. Somehow, I never felt I was
lined up in a good way to run for political office. I never felt that I had the right
financial situation. I ended up always exercising my influence in politics through
people who were elected. My Lord, I had all sorts of people over the years urge
me to run for political office.
B: You must have had a very deep intellectual curiosity to go on for your master's
and then your doctorate.
D: I steadily built up my interest in what we now would call smart growth or growth
management or managing growth and change.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 22
B: What was your masters in?
D: Political science.
B: How did you decide to go to Carolina?
D: That was a very close decision on my part. I had an opportunity to go to Yale
and there was a guy at Yale, Bob Dahl. He was really a bright guy. I thought
that he viewed things in a lot of ways the way I viewed things. I was very
interested in going there. I think the thing that tipped the scales for me to go to
Chapel Hill was that they weren't hesitant about accepting my German reading
exam that I had satisfied at Emory as my foreign-language requirement. I
damned sure didn't want to try to pass that again. I was surprised I passed it the
first time. Yale said, we don't usually do that, but we probably would work it out
for you, maybe. Chapel Hill said, sure, we'll do that.
B: It was serendipity.
D: Serendipity. That was a great thing for me because Chapel Hill turned out to be
a great place for me.
B: How so?
D: I got hooked up with Fred Cleaveland, who was on the faculty there. He and I
are still in touch with each other.
B: Was there such a thing as urban planning then?
B: Was there a department at Carolina?
D: Yes, but remember I didn't go in the urban planning department. I went into
political science. The political science department had this public administration,
public-policy specialization. That turned out to be just ideal for me. Fred turned
out to be a great mentor for me.
B: How did he influence your thinking?
D: He understood the importance of managing growth and change. Particularly, he
shared my interest in the politics of how you get things going in the right direction
and why it's so hard to get things going in the right direction. He had some other
characteristics that weren't as attractive, like he didn't believe in leaving any time
[to spare when traveling]. [If] we were going to catch a plane to go from one
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 23
place to another, he believed in arriving five minutes before the damn plane was
going to leave. I remember that for some reason. We worked very much
together. I [also] got into some international affairs stuff [at] Chapel Hill.
B: You mentioned that you and Cleaveland were both interested in how to get
things done. What was your philosophy for getting things done?
D: Think back on my master's thesis, now. My master's thesis looked at Florida
and what it did with the land that it got under the Swamp and Overflow Lands
Act. That master's thesis really got me into realizing how badly it's possible to
manage resources. Swamp and Overflow Lands Act of 1849, I think it was,
granted to Florida twenty million acres of land as swamp and overflow lands. It
was supposed to be the [basis] on which it was granted to Florida. Turned out
that a lot of it wasn't swamp and overflow at all.
B: Or soon it wouldn't be.
D: It hadn't been surveyed. The alligators were big and mean and the Indians were
quite unfriendly and refused to surrender. Who was going to do nice neat
surveys? There are only thirty-eight million acres of land in Florida and we got
twenty million acres under the Swamp and Overflow Lands Act. It was to be
drained and reclaimed for useful purposes. Think of that phrase, and that is, I
believe, the exact phrase of the Swamp and Overflow Lands Act. [The phrase,]
"drained and reclaimed for useful purposes," carried the connotation that as
wetlands, as swamp lands, it had no value. That was indeed the notion. It was
supposed to be used, drained and reclaimed for useful purposes. That kind of
got started with the Disston Purchase [in] 1884. That's when we'd gotten well
underway to screwing up the state. The details of that are, I'm sure, in the
Florida chapter here.
B: He's pointing to Land, Growth, and Politics by John M. DeGrove.
D: Disston bought two million acres of land. Don't hang me for this because those
details are in there, I think it was twenty-five cents an acre he paid for it.
B: This is the fellow who later commits suicide.
D: Hamilton Disston. Something bad happened. The deal was, when he bought
that land, that he would dig a canal where the Kissimmee River was and sort of
help drain the land. The Kissimmee was one of these nice ox-bow [rivers],
starting at State Road 60. The deal was he would get an extra acre for every
acre that he reclaimed. In a way, he was very lucky. As he started digging,
channeling the Kissimmee River I remember talking to Marjory Stoneman
Douglas [environmental activist, author of The Everglades-River of Grass] about
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 24
this, she and I agreed that neither one of us realized what damage channelizing
the Kissimmee River was going to do. A lot of her disciples always said she
knew from the first place that would be a bad thing. She didn't, she didn't
understand. I certainly didn't. Didn't realize how much damage channelizing
that river [would do]. Disston got quite a few extra acres, because we hit this
bad dry spell and it looked like he had drained and reclaimed a whole lot of land
that only dried up, because it was one of our classic dry spells. When the rains
came again, most of that land that he had allegedly drained and reclaimed,
re-flooded. Disston, the whole thing didn't work out for him. As you say, maybe
he did commit suicide. Something bad occurred with Disston. That got [me]
looking and understanding what we did with all that land, [understanding] the
give-away to railroad companies, to canal companies, to this, to that. A lot of it
just absolutely skullduggerously crooked. My master's thesis dug into all that,
how we had mismanaged that land and what negative impacts that
mismanagement has had.
B: You and Fred Cleaveland agreed about that.
D: Yes, we certainly did. Remember, my master's thesis was at Emory. I haven't
gotten to Fred yet. We did agree absolutely and still do.
B: What were your feelings then about what the solutions might be?
D: I felt that we ought not to do things that were just outright dishonest and wrong.
We ought to behave responsibly with this huge largesse.
B: For the record, did you ever know Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings [Florida author]?
D: I don't think so. Marjory Stoneman Douglas, you know, was just a hero of that
[era]. At Chapel Hill, I got very interested in urban development patterns. That's
when I began to see, understand, or be sensitive to the downsides of sprawl.
[End of side 2, tape A] What finally became clear to me, and this is something
that didn't just happen to me [all at once], is that assuring yourself that you have
sustainable urban communities is an absolute integrated, totally connected part
of sustainable natural communities. You can't have one without the other.
That's what my definition and concept of growth management does.
B: Were you driven more by a love of nature or a love of people?
D: I guess I'd say both, but maybe by the love of protecting natural systems first,
originally. Some of both, yes. The beauty of the whole growth management
thing is [that] it brought together the two things, natural systems and urban
systems. As we moved along, trying to evolve we hadn't even started any
effort in Florida to evolve any kind of growth management system it became
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 25
clearer and clearer, and clear all over the country, [that] the two are absolutely
B: What did you write your Ph.D. dissertation on?
D: My Ph.D. dissertation was on the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control
B: What did you find?
D: Fred Cleaveland got me into that, at least encouraged me to do that. The Flood
Control District was multi-county, but it didn't have the right boundaries exactly
then. That's changed. At least it was a regional entity. It was a way to try to
straighten out some of the things that we had messed up so badly. Back at the
turn of the century, and really a part of the Progressive movement, Napoleon
Bonaparte Broward [Florida governor, 1905-1909], Florida's governor at the turn
of the century, took a good long hard look and concluded that skullduggery had
taken place in what we did with the Swamp and Overflow Lands Act lands. The
reason he concluded that was that we had given away more land for this that and
the other purpose, many of it ill-advised or absolutely crooked, than there was in
the whole state of Florida. He concluded that a lot of that was improper and
wrong. His predecessor as governor had that same view. Broward kept him
around and they went to court. They were successful in sort of recapturing
3,000,000 acres of the original Everglades. They recaptured it to see that it was
used for the proper purpose for which we got it, [that is to] drain and reclaim for
useful purposes. They did not recapture it, nor was that the Progressive thing at
that time, to restore it.
I love to tell this story about Broward. I'll be brief but I'll tell it. When
they got control of the land, they wanted to start doing the proper thing, drain it
and reclaim it for useful purposes. They put a dredge in at the North New River
in Fort Lauderdale and put a dredge in at Lake Okeechobee and started digging
the North NewRiver canal the canal going all the way from the lake out to the
ocean, or the ocean to the lake. They were digging away, they had to dredge it
from the ocean toward the lake and from the lake toward the ocean. The
engineers came to Broward and said, Governor, there is one problem, we don't
have any accurate surveys of the Everglades. That's the way I use this
quotationn. I stole it from somebody about the snakes and the Indians and
everything. They said, we're not certain that Lake Okeechobee is above sea
level. It would be kind of a disaster if the two dredges meet and we hook things
up and we drain the ocean into the Everglades [and] into the lake instead of
draining that old good-for-nothing freshwater out of there. Napoleon Bonaparte
Broward, [who] was an interesting character in many ways, said, I understand
that, that's a real problem; how long would it take you to get these accurate
surveys that you want? They said, it is very difficult and we've explained that to
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 26
you; it would take two or three years. Broward said, I'll be out of office by then,
so we certainly can't do that; keep going and just before you [dig] the last [dirt to]
open it up, you eyeball it and you see [which way the water will flow]. I call that
Broward's cut-and-try plan. That's a true story. That's essentially what they
did. They decided that it was a pretty certain shot that the lake was above sea
level and that old worthless freshwater [was] going to drain out into the ocean.
That was the first canal. Of course, all the other canals, the Miami Canal, North
New River, the West Palm Beach Canal. All the rest of them started this
well-meaning (originally) effort to drain and reclaim for useful purposes, all this
old worthless swamp land. That was part of the Progressive movement.
Broward was part of that. As time went on and the digging went forward, we
ended up with the Central and Southern Florida Flood Control project, [and]
ended up with the increasingly obvious negative impacts of this effort, [such as]
B: They didn't see that at the time.
D: No. The governors have come along since. As time went on, it became more
and more obvious that we were really screwing things up in some bad ways.
B: Do you think it was not until Claude Kirk [Florida governor, 1967-1971] that
Florida realized how bad things are screwed up?
D: Let's see. Reubin Askew [Florida governor 1971-1979] [was] elected in 1970.
Claudius Maximus [Claude Kirk], when was he governor?
B: Before Reubin Askew.
D: Claude Kirk deserves some credit for that mainly because of Nat Reed
[Governing Board Member, South Florida Water Management District]. Nat was
a dollar-a-year man for Claude Kirk. A good environmental Republican and
Claude Kirk didn't have any values about that kind of thing, particularly.
B: They were becoming politically expedient in the 1960s.
D: That's right. So Claude Kirk listened, in effect, to Nat Reed. That led to some
good efforts getting started on trying to get this wildly inappropriate and
unfortunate system that we had put in that was wasting 2,000,000 acre-feet [of
water] a year whatever all those details are to tide, really messing up our
whole system there. We go [now] to the effort to put together a system that's
now just still getting underway more than thirty years later.
B: You get to the University of Florida in 1958.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 27
D: I got all tangled up in university politics when I got here.
B: Maybe you could discuss that briefly before we go to the Claude Kirk era. We'll
have to balance your life and the state of Florida's growth management. I would
like to get significant parts of your history into this interview also.
D: I came here to the University of Florida. I was teaching full-time at Chapel Hill
[North Carolina]. They had offered me a position on the faculty at Chapel Hill.
They did that with a select few of their Ph.D. people that they thought had some
special talents and they wanted to keep them. I didn't feel comfortable about
that. You ought not to stay where you got your Ph.D. You might want to come
back there, but you ought to go someplace else and do your thing. About that
time, some things happened here at the University of Florida and they needed
somebody in political science. Actually for public administration, which was a
part of political science. Gladys Kammerer didn't come until the fall term. We
came in January of 1958. Manning J. Dauer knew me. Somehow I had talked
to him in [the] process of doing maybe both my masters and my Ph.D. Anyway,
Manning offered me a job [as] assistant professor. I was director of the
graduate program because they [this] technical detail might not be right -
needed somebody in that area. They offered me a marvelous salary, I think it
was $5,800. We've been on every kind of calendar in our university system
[over the years]. Trimester, this that and the other. Anyway, $5,800 just
seemed like, to Gail and me, an incredible amount of money. We weren't sure
how we could manage to spend it. We figured we'd find a way. We came in
January and Gladys came shortly after. Gladys Kammerer, Charles Farris, Al
Clubock. Ruth McQuown was a graduate student, she was finishing her degree.
I became her director for [her] Ph.D., although we were all kind of tangled up
together. Gladys is the one that told me, now John, you've got to understand
this: you can either read books or you can write books, but you don't have time to
B: That was good advice.
D: It sure was, because of course you have to do a lot of reading to write, but it
doesn't leave you much time to read anything else you want to read.
B: You're so right.
D: God knows I'm suffering from that same frustration to this very day, you know.
B: What kind of politics were you involved in on campus?
D: It was not just campus, it wasn't mainly campus politics. It was Gainesville,
Alachua County politics. When I came here, the university had this rule that not
only could you not run for political office, you couldn't contribute to the candidacy
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 28
of anybody else that ran for political office. Remember, I'm a brand new
assistant professor and I [had] no particular political protection. I forget who was
governor when I first came. It might have been LeRoy Collins. I did work with
[him]. Anyway, I declared that [rule] to be unconstitutional, not only wrong, but it
couldn't possibly be [right]. It turns out it had to do with a deal to get the medical
school to come I forget the details, I can't believe I've forgotten exactly how that
played out to get what has turned into the Shands complex [put] here instead of
over in Jacksonville.
B: Somebody cut a deal that the professors wouldn't contribute to campaigns or run
D: Either run for office or contribute to the campaign of anybody else.
B: They didn't want your liberal influence in politics.
D: [They wanted to keep] liberal professors totally out of the [picture]. The guy that
made that deal, I guess, was Shands, a [senator] in the [Florida] legislature. I'm
sorry I don't have that exact detail.
B: We can fill that in, but that sounds right.
D: Yes, I think that's right. Anyway, we organized the Civic Action Association.
We had some [support] from [Sperry Rand] a big company that was here. All
that should be either here or somewhere. The thing is that we managed to
throw out the old guard and not only elect a new city council, but, in effect, a new
county commission. Of course, up until then the old guard just succeeded
themselves. They picked out who was going to be the next ones. Who was my
guy from the restaurant? Byron Wynn. He owned the restaurant, the Primrose
Inn. Gail, you were involved in this.
G: Yes, I was elected.
B: Were you on the county commission?
G: No, I was on [the Democratic County Committee.]
D: Yes, you were.
G: Ed Turlington.
D: Ed Turlington [was] on the county commission. I was pushing for city-county
consolidation, all kinds of radical stuff. I ended up on the planning board. I
guess I was chairman of the planning board. Bare ass and Butt, Arnold Butt.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 29
That's the way I remember Arnold all the time. When he was out in Howell,
Nebraska or someplace, his father was a butcher.
G: His father's name was Barass.
D: It was Bare ass and Butt. Actually, we worked together for a long time on it but
he has recently been very ill and I don't know exactly what his fate is, I don't
know what's happened to him. I need to know whether he's managed to survive
B: So how long were you in Gainesville?
D: We were here from 1958-64, six years, and boy, we took over. Well, we learned
a lot of things. We took over all right. We had gotten this stuff changed. The
way I got it changed was through Charlie Foreman [my] meeting Charlie, who
was on the [then] Board of Control. I was chairman of the state AAUP
[American Association of University Professors]. I guess that's what I was.
B: You were in the union, but your cracker, good-ole-boy side came into play with
D: When Charlie and I met, I was at a Board of Control meeting representing the
AAUP and I think Charlie might have been chairman. We got off in the corner
and started talking and he just could not believe that I was a Florida southern
cracker. He thought I was a carpetbagger. He said, John, I think you're
absolutely out of your mind. If you are dead-set on faculty people getting into
politics, I think that's the last thing you ought to want to do, [but] we'll change it.
He said, this all just came about as a deal anyway.
B: That's how you found out about that.
D: Yes. I might not be remembering the details of it exactly right, but I'm pretty
close. So he got it changed.
B: What lessons did you take away from that whole exercise?
D: It taught me something I had begun to learn earlier and I have never wavered in
my conviction. Before then, Charlie Foreman had been just a guy [who] didn't
look like [he was] interested in doing anything good [or for] what I was after.
Never burn your bridges with even somebody who seems to be your worst
enemy in terms of what you're trying to get accomplished. Never ever write
anybody off completely, because you might be able to work with them some time
in the future. As a matter of fact, I've worked with Charlie Foreman ever since
then. He's very ill these days and can't do very much. He has been a great
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 30
supporter of the Joint Center and 1,000 Friends of Florida [non-profit
organization, serves as growth management watchdog]. There are a number of
other people, when I got up to DCA, there were people who I had absolutely
nothing in common with, including the senior senator. Nancy Linnan was my
assistant secretary in DCA. We were trying to get some things done. She gave
me a lot of good advice. I knew about the cabinet system, but I didn't know
about the cabinet aides system and how powerful they were.
B: What was her name again?
D: Nancy Linnan. She's with [the Carlton -Fields law firm in Tallahassee now].
She was a jewel. Smartest thing I ever did was hire her when I went to DCA.
That's another part of the story. There was some guy that tried to get me fired
because of stirring things up here.
B: Who tried to get you fired?
D: [It was someone] who tried to get the president, who was J. Wayne Reitz
[president, University of Florida, 1955-1967], to fire me. This was somebody
over in Tallahassee.
B: Do you remember who it was?
D: I know who it was and I can't remember now. Somebody over there.
G: Only person I know who tried to get you fired was Jimmy Carter [U.S. President,
D: That was a whole other kind of thing.
B: Jimmy Carter?
D: We had our togethernesses and then we had our differences. That goes to the
Southern Growth Policy Board. That's a whole other story. It was a question of
where the headquarters of the Southern Growth Policies Board would be. Other
than that, Jimmy Carter and I agreed on a lot of things. Jimmy Carter's problem
was he knew how to get elected, but he didn't know how to be president once he
got elected. He's established himself as a person of great stature, post- his time
B: How did you come to know Jimmy Carter?
D: Through the Southern Growth Policies Board.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 31
B: What year was that?
D: God, I don't know. I forget. I'm afraid to even guess.
B: When did you have this conflict about where it should be located?
D: Again, I can't remember exactly when that was.
G: During Reubin [Askew's administration]
D: Yes, it would have been probably in the 1970s.
B: Did the Board end up in Raleigh, North Carolina? Where is it now?
D: I think it ended up in the Research Triangle area, which is where it should have
been, I thought.
B: How did you get to know Jimmy Carter in the first place?
D: I think it was when we were getting the Southern Growth Policies Board put
together, before we had this difference. There's some other way too, something
to do with...I can't remember.
B: Did you know Lyndon Johnson [U.S. President, 1963-1969]? How did you get
appointed to the President's Commission on Urban Problems, or the Douglas
Commission, in 1967?
D: I didn't know Lyndon Baines Johnson personally. The way I got appointed to
that commission was through Bob Wood. Bob Wood had been a Florida guy. I
knew him. It was Wood's connection. Wood told them that they needed a
southern [person]. He had some phrase that described me and he said that's
what you need.
B: He described your demographic group?
D: Yes, some sort of thing. They actually named me, which was marvelous. Of
course, Johnson had to name me. I did not know Johnson personally. Bob
Wood had a lot of influence. He was the Deputy Secretary of Housing and
Urban Development then. It's kind of creeping back up to me now. I had
known him a long time in a variety of ways. We had done some things together.
He knew me well. It was a great thing that he did because here was a guy from
an unknown university, FAU [Florida Atlantic University]. Bob convinced them.
He had some description of me. I've forgotten exactly how he described it that
made it appropriate for me to be on it.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 32
B: Explain how you decided to go to FAU in the first place.
D: Well, that's not easy either. Charlie Foreman had a hand in all this. The real
reason was Stan Wimberly. S. E. Wimberly, for whom the library at FAU is
named. He was the Dean of [the College of] Social Science, it would have
been. I think they called it Social Science here. He was the dean of the college
that this is kind of interesting that political science was in. He went to FAU
as dean, maybe he was the assistant [dean in Gainesville]. I'm not sure. This
was at a time when I was getting more and more interested in urban [issues].
We had cranked up that study with Charles Farris and Al Clubock [with support
from the] National Science Foundation. I was going to go to Buffalo and serve
an internship there. I had gotten really into urban [issues].
B: What kind of stuff was that? Did it involve race?
D: It did involve race to some extent, because some of the things that we looked at
was how difficult or easy or in what way black voters were able to become a part
of the [political process]. We did a study [that] included Riviera Beach and we got
supported by a national group. I forgot exactly who supported us, but it was a
distinguished supporting source. Gladys [Kammerer] was part of that, wasn't
G: Gladys and Farris and Clubock and you.
D: Four of us looked at different places about the voting behavior and who voted.
Particularly minority voting.
B: You were about to go to Buffalo.
D: We thought I was going to do some sort of an internship with the mayor.
G: You were severing your ties.
D: I felt I had to get in an urban environment because things were really happening.
B: You were getting interested in those urban issues.
D: And this was just not an urban place.
B: It was real north Florida.
D: North Florida and Georgia. Gainesville was a little different. Of course, I hadn't
been able to accomplish some of the things I wanted to accomplish in
Gainesville, like city-county consolidation and a few things like that.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 33
B: You were ready to break away from Gainesville.
D: Yes, I was. I wanted to get into a real urban setting.
B: So Wimberly is recruited to FAU?
D: Yes, he decides to go. He had deep roots in his family down there. At any
rate, FAU was going to be this unique place. Started out with graduate
programs, no undergraduate, no lower division, just upper-division and graduate.
It was going to have all kinds of good support. Stan Wimberly, they recruited
him. The president being Kenneth Rast Williams [first president of Florida
Atlantic University] what a character. He persuaded Stan to go and I'm itchy
anyway about getting out of this rural environment and getting into a real urban
setting. So he didn't have too much trouble recruiting me to go as chairman of
the political science department. Away I went. We even scoped out an
approach of teaching political science [with] just a certain limited number of
courses. You focus things closely and you don't scatter things off in dozens and
dozens of courses. You concentrated. You would have some specializations,
but a very limited number of courses.
B: And it would have an urban focus.
D: Yes, and to a considerable extent, an urban focus. I agreed to go and it
involved a substantial raise.
G: You went as a full professor.
D: That's right. I said I wouldn't go [otherwise].
G: Chairman of the department.
D: I had become an associate professor here. Manning Dauer would have been
delighted for me to stay. I almost got recruited by FSU [Florida State University]
in the meantime. There was somebody over there that I liked. I can't remember
who I might have been interested in working with. Anyway, we went. We
committed ourselves to go down there. A guy named Culpepper was with the
Board of Control [as executive director]. I don't think it had become the Board of
Regents yet. He decided that I couldn't go with tenure or get the salary that
they'd given me. I called up Charlie Foreman and said, Charlie, I ain't gonna go.
He was determined to get me down there.
B: He was your ally by this point?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 34
D: Yes, oh my Lord yes.
B: What was this huge salary that they were bickering over?
D: I think it was $14,000. That was an annual salary, I think, as chairman. God, it
seems like peanuts now, but it was a lot of money then.
B: Foreman steps in and convinces Culpepper to change his mind. How did he do
D: He just ordered Culpepper to cease-and-desist.
B: What year did you go to Boca Raton?
D: In 1964. I think we went down earlier to check out housing and stuff and then
we went a little later. I actually moved in July of 1964. Of course, that's when
FAU opened its doors.
B: You were there from the very beginning.
D: The first students that we took. It was marvelous. I give Stan Wimberly credit
for most of the talents I have as far as university administration, how to handle
yourself, what to do when you screw up.
B: What do you do when you screw up?
D: Confess and let them either fire you or forgive you. Stan gave me that advice
and it was in connection with something where I think I had screwed up. Maybe
it wasn't. I don't know. We were talking about what you do in that [situation].
FAU had some weaknesses and some strengths. Certainly its weakness was
that it was projected to have a certain enrollment and it didn't have nearly that.
The funding was kind of based on that. The funding formula anyway was
negative for us. We were supposed to have all this high-tech stuff, a learning
B: They didn't need as many professors?
D: Right, your student-faculty ratio that determined your funding could be higher.
Turns out that was a bunch of crap-a-roo. It didn't work out that way at all. We
struggled [with] that. [It was] forty percent lower, I think, until Bob Graham [U.S.
Senator, 1987-present; Florida governor, 1979-1987; Florida state senator,
1970-1978] finally got that fixed for us. I guess he was in the [state] Senate
when he fixed that.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 35
B: That was the exact philosophy behind Florida Gulf Coast University years later
and the same thing is becoming true about distance learning. I guess these
patterns are repeated.
D: Yes, we don't necessarily learn very much from these things. It isn't so much
that the concepts were bad, but the notion that you didn't need as much funding
to make them work was the weakness in the thing.
B: You still needed the brain power and the content.
D: And you needed to do some things technically even that we didn't get the money
to do. We ended up as sort of the talking face. You were supposed to tape
your lectures. We did some of that. Anyway, Stan Wimberly was the reason I
went. Stan Wimberly and Charlie Foreman, because I just wouldn't go without
tenure and without a decent salary. I was associate [professor] here, [so] they
had to promote me to full [professor]. There was some rule against that. The
Board had to waive that rule. Of course, Culpepper wasn't going to do that.
B: How long did it take you to build up this urban planning program that has now
become so popular? Was that your goal from the beginning or how did that
D: I was still evolving in my own mind. Growth management, to me, is not just
urban planning. It's also public policy, political science, and environmental
management, the natural systems. I was still exploring myself how you best
integrate these things. We didn't have a planning school at all, I don't think. I
know we didn't when we first went to FAU, but then as time evolved, we ended
up with a planning function on the Broward campus. That's when I tried to get
Jay Stein to come down, who is here now. [I tried to get him] to come down as
chairman of the planning school. By then, I don't know, I had two or three
different positions. I went as chairman of political science. Sometime after that,
when Stan Wimberly moved up as Vice-President [for] Academic Affairs, I
became dean of the College of Social Science. Then somewhere along there I
had to be Provost of the Broward Campus. That was later. That was after I got
back from Tallahassee.
G: No, because you already had your Joint Center. It was after you had your Joint
D: That's right. I was running the Joint Center. I got that established in 1972. I
do remember that.
B: I want to get back to the results of the Douglas Commission. Briefly go over
those results and what impact they had on your thinking about Florida or how you
thought about urban sprawl and growth management. Was that a big influence
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 36
D: Absolutely, at least a big influence in terms of my ability to have an influence on
the Douglas Commission. It was a great opportunity, because it was the last
thing Paul Douglas [U.S. Senator from Illinois, 1949-1967] ever did with all of his
faculties about him. He was something else. He was a character. We made
some really very strong and very [radical recommendations]. [End of side 1,
B: You were saying that they made some radical recommendations. What were
D: We recommended things about combating sprawl and urban growth patterns.
You ought to have some kind of regional or statewide framework in which local
governments would not be able [only] to do their own thing. There ought to be a
framework within which consistent policies were implemented that would contain
sprawl and protect natural systems.
B: These were things you had been thinking about before 1967, so you really had
an influence on that commission.
D: I think so. Yes, I did. I wrote some of this stuff. I'd have to go back and dig
out, but I wrote most of [one] part of the recommendations. We were very hard
on some people who refused to face up to that. That got us in trouble with
Lyndon Baines Johnson, because we were critical of some parts of his
B: The Department of Housing and Urban Development?
D: Yes. And also, two or three different pieces that we just laid out, [saying] that
they weren't functioning very well, they weren't doing things right and they ought
to do things differently. That's when Johnson [got] so disgusted with us, got so
mad with us that he refused to accept the report of the National Commission on
Urban Problems [The Douglas Commission]. We left it, something like leaving
it on the White House steps. He had to take it, he had to get it. He was mad at
us because we had said some negative things about some of his administration.
You weren't supposed to do that, not with Lyndon Baines Johnson. The
governor of New York at that time or the mayor or something, we had him testify.
In the cross-questioning, we made it clear that we felt he was right that parts of
the Johnson administration and the national government [were not] doing the
right thing to promote what we now call smart growth. [With] Johnson, you're a
traitor if you do something like that, as far as he was concerned.
B: Did this report ever get out there in the public realm?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 37
D: Yes. This is an interesting story, I want to be sure I get it straight. We got it
published because Paul Douglas still had a lot of influence with Congress and
somehow got it published. I can't remember who published it. It got published
in a very good and proper way in spite of Johnson.
B: Was it published in a newspaper?
D: No, it got formally published by the government in spite of Johnson. It got out
there. I wonder if I have that, if I could put my hands on that. I've got it of
course, but God knows what box it's in. It was a good report. It was a
wonderful experience for me. It put me on a national stage that I had never
been [on] before.
B: Do you think that gave you more cache to come back and talk to Florida
politicians about what Florida needed to do?
D: It certainly encouraged me to do that. Where was I then?
B: That was 1967, so you were at FAU. Claude Kirk was governor and that's what
I wanted to go back to next. We left Claude Kirk behind.
D: We left Claudius Maximus kind of hanging out there.
B: It sounds like he deserves credit for setting the stage for the first major effort to
D: I think that's right, because Claude didn't have any particular values, so he was
willing to listen to Nat [Reed]. He didn't care.
B: He saw that it had political value because it was the 1960s. It was coming into
the environmental movement.
D: The love affair with growth was cooling off. We saw these negative impacts of
growth. He saw that too. He was willing to support the cross-state barge canal
B: To support stopping it.
D: Yes. He did some good things. As I remember, didn't he name the first group,
through Nat, that led to our first $300,000,000 a-year fund for... not the
Conservation and Recreation Lands Fund, but the new one that has been
replaced by Forever Florida. Preservation 2000.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 38
B: I thought that came about in the Land Conservation Act in 1972.
D: No, that was earlier, and the CARL [Conservation and Recreation Lands] Fund
evolved out of that. I think Kirk named this commission that recommended the
first thing. That was Nat Reed. Nat absolutely did that.
B: How well did you know Nat Reed?
D: Well. [I] did and do [know him] very well.
B: How and when did you meet him?
D: When did I first cross paths with Nat? We started 1,000 Friends of Florida
together. That was later, much later. I knew him well. I knew him when he
was working with Claudius Maximus.
B: How well did you know Claude Kirk?
D: Not well, personally, no.
B: What do you think of him? What do you think of his legacy?
D: Any legacy that he has for positive behavior is due to the fact that he wasn't a
right-wing ideologue as a lot of Republicans have managed to be. He was a
total character. He had to have people following him around all the time to keep
him from running off with first one lady and then another, which he did
repeatedly, famously once when he went all the way to California out of a
wedding in Virginia. Never mind that. Nat was one of the ones assigned to
B: Did you and Nat ever talk about that?
D: Oh, yes.
B: Do you have any stories from him?
D: I was wrong, it wasn't Nat Reed. It was Don Reed, who was in the legislature
who was a Republican. I don't know. You don't think Nat was involved in any
of that stuff, Gail?
G: I don't know. Nat must have been. Not in keeping track of him.
D: I thought he was [involved] in keeping track of him.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 39
B: What good story do you have about that?
D: It was a wedding.
G: We shouldn't tell those stories.
B: It's history.
D: This is a wedding in Virginia. I'll remember the guy who had a major role in this
I'll remember his name in a minute. He's a big lobbyist now in Florida, still.
G: It was a lobbyist and Don Reed.
D: Anyway, Claude was at this wedding and who did he run off with, Gail?
G: The governor's bride.
D: I swear I think it was the governor's bride. Somehow he persuaded her to get
on a jet. He had this Lear jet he flew around in. I remember that very well.
There were all kinds of important things going on in Florida. It was Nat Reed, I
G: It was Don.
D: Maybe it was Don Reed. [Don] was a big Republican in the legislature. [He and]
this other person, were supposed to be watching out for [Claude]. Somehow he
slipped away from them and he got this lady to get on this jet with him and they
flew to California and they just disappeared. There were two or three things
happening in Florida. They didn't know where he was. Things that he was
supposed to handle and do. They finally ran him down and located him. I don't
remember exactly what happened about the wedding. I guess the wedding
never happened. Of course, they got him back. Claude Kirk used to call me
up. He was involved in some stuff over at Silver Springs. He was determined
that he was going to be able to do certain things.
D: [He would] call collect.
B: He was calling you collect in North Carolina?
D: He called collect.
G: You could hear him, there was no mistaking his voice.
B: What were you doing in North Carolina?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 40
D: We were up there at our place where we spent as much time as we could.
There was something that was happening. He knew it was going to get messed
up. He wasn't going to be able to do something with some land over at Silver
Springs that he wanted to do. He wanted me to fix it up so he could do what he
pleased with it. I took the call because the operator put him through even when
I said, don't put him through. Some damn thing.
G: There was one time when you weren't there. I said, you weren't there and I
would not accept the call. He went right ahead with all these messages.
D: All these things he wanted me to do.
B: That's hysterical.
D: Yes, I knew Claude in that sense. I wish I could remember the big lobbyist.
B: Wade Hopping?
D: Yes. Wade Hopping is the guy. Wade is the one that can tell these marvelous
stories about trying to keep up with Claude.
B: We need to interview Wade Hopping. That would be a very good interview.
D: You really do. He's a great one to interview anyway. Oh my God, he'd have all
the [stories]. Now, Wade and I are friendly enemies, I think you'd have to say.
B: You have been across the table from him on a lot of conservation issues.
D: Many, many times and mainly on the other side.
B: You believe in good government and he's very anti-government. He thinks
government is going to screw things up. You think government can work.
D: I think government has to work, because if you leave things just left to unfold in
their kind of natural way, you end up with a mess. Like the mixed message you
get from Jeb Bush [Florida governor, 1999-present] administration. Let's just
turn everything over to local governments. Of course, at the same time, say,
well there are certain things, state things that we can [protect from bad local
government actions]. We tried leaving everything to local governments. [It]
didn't work, that's well-established. You ought to talk to Wade Hopping.
B: That's a great idea. It sounds like you were pretty close to Nat Reed.
D: And still am.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 41
B: What drove him from the beginning to become a Republican environmentalist?
D: Nathaniel Pryor Reed is a man who is wealthy from a family who owned a lot of
land there on Jupiter Island. He's always been, since I have known him, a very
strong environmentalist. He's gradually come to accept the notion that you can't
have a sustainable environment unless you have sustainable urban systems.
You can't have sustainable natural systems unless you have sustainable urban
systems and that neither are sustainable [in Florida at this time]. That was the
conclusion of the [Lawton] Chiles [Florida governor 1991-1998 (died in office);
U.S. Senator, 1971-1989] commission. The commission that I was on, the
Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida, that was our message.
It was a correct message, it's still a correct message, and we still are not in a
position, as I conclude my Florida chapter, which I have just done, updated to
now [to bring it about]. The common thread that runs through everything is that
we never lived up to our commitment to adequately fund the implementation, call
it a smart growth system, call it a sustainable community system. Always
remember that it's natural and urban systems, integrated and working together,
that leads to a sustainable society. Without it, you don't have it, we still don't
have it. [In] this morning's Gainesville Sun, the president of the [Florida] Senate
John McKay [Florida state senator, 1990-present] repeats his commitment.
Don't miss that, [the legislature is] adopting some stuff that's awful, but he said,
we're coming back next session and we're going to fix the tax structure of
Florida. I'm committed to that. He makes it clear he's going back to the sales
tax on services.
B: Back to the [Bob] Martinez [Florida governor, 1987-1991] era.
D: The sales tax on services was the most responsible thing Florida ever did to be
able to have the reliable flow of funds over time to implement [a fair and effective
system for managing growth and change].
B: You contend that the 1970s, 1980s and the 1990s growth management efforts,
failed and you say the whole reason is lack of funding each time.
D: Yes, that was the clincher and still is the clincher. [John McKay is] the only
person [in a] real leadership position in state government now, except some
Democrats, [that] see this. By the way, Tax Watch [has] even come up with
saying the same thing, which is ironic, because they're not a wild-eyed liberal
group. That is the common thread. The Comprehensive Plan Commission
study, the Zwick committee report, laid it out. You go back and read it and it's
right where we are today. We still haven't done it and John McKay is the only
one saying, we've got to do it if we're going to be a sustainable state. He almost
puts it in those words. Here's a pretty conservative Republican who used to be
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 42
a Democrat, I guess from Bradenton. He switched over.
B: Zwick was the conservative guy, too.
D: Zwick was no wild-eyed radical and still isn't.
B: I interviewed him for this project, by the way, and we talked about you and I'll tell
you what he said, because this is something I'll ask you next time. The
comment he made about you, and I'm paraphrasing him. It was something to
the effect of, you had sent your disciples out into Florida. It was so difficult to
get anything done here by the development and banking community because
DeGrove has his disciples in every planning office in this state.
D: There's some truth to that. Not as many as I would like.
B: What would you say Nat Reed's legacy is to Florida?
D: I think it's an incredibly positive one.
B: [He was] Nixon's environmental advisor.
D: Yes, and he persuaded Nixon. He's a great persuader.
B: He persuaded him to stop the cross-Florida barge canal and many other things.
D: Yes. I think what we've done with 1,000 Friends of Florida, if two people that
are more responsible for that than anyone else, it's Nat and me. We're trying to
turn that over to a new generation, new blood. We can't keep on forever. I
think Nat's legacy is one that has been very, very critical to our moving from a
non-sustainable to a sustainable position as a state. We're not there yet, we're
not. You can go back and look at that Zwick committee report and the things
that they said were wrong and what needed to be done to fix it, those damn
things are still wrong, we haven't done the things that we need to fix it.
B: We'll stop here.
B: We're continuing our interview. This is Cynthia Barnett interviewing Dr. John
DeGrove, we're in the same place, one week later, December 8, 2001. Dr.
DeGrove is here, Gail DeGrove is here, and Suwannee DeGrove is here. We'll
start with Governor Reubin Askew, since he's the one that put you in the
positions to do some of these things.
D: We'll start a little before that maybe, but moving quickly to Askew.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 43
B: Okay, great. Why don't you start somewhere else then and then tell me how
and where you first met the future governor.
D: Reubin Askew. That's an interesting little political story. I was going to start
with some things that happened in 1969. In this Seaside Institute paper, I said
that we had to understand that Florida's effort to get any kind of growth
management system had to evolve out of a conviction that no right-minded
person would voluntarily come to a state, as I put it, where it was hot and muggy,
the Indians were hostile and swore they'd never surrender, and the alligators
were large, and the moccasins were mean. To counter these negatives, from
statehood through World War II, our leaders did just about everything they could
to promote growth in Florida. They'd try to get people to come because they
didn't think they were going to come [without a lot of incentives to do so]. Then
we began to succeed fantastically. In the mid- to late- 1960s, as I put it, our love
affair with growth began to cool. Indeed in the late 1950s and into the 1960s
B: When you say our love affair with growth began to cool, that was with some
members of the population, but certainly at that era, you still have General
Development Corporation and Gulf Atlantic Lands Company.
D: All dug in thinking that it was nonsense, you couldn't manage growth anyway,
you just let it happen anywhere, anyhow.
B: When people are realizing that our love affair with growth is cooling, how many
people are becoming aware at that time? Is this still a pretty small group?
D: I think maybe more than some people might think or realize. There were quite a
number of people who were taking that attitude, who were saying, wait a minute,
we're really messing things up here. Of course, some of those people became
ardent no-growthers. I never embraced that approach.
B: Who were some of the ardent no-growthers of that era?
D: The Sierra Club, hard-core environmental folks.
B: Environmental groups were already melding by this time, in the early 1960s.
D: I made a talk to the Buckeye Club in Boca Raton.
B: I have never heard of them.
D: I [had] never heard of [them] either. I went there. At that time, I was preaching
the gospel of [how] we had to be more careful how and where we grew. We had
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 44
to accommodate. We were going to grow, without question, but we had to grow
in the right way and not just sprawl all over hell and back and [have] any growth
anywhere, any time.
B: Was the term sprawl already in use at that time?
D: I think so, I think we were already talking about sprawling. We weren't talking
about smart growth then.
B: You were already obviously talking about the encroaching growth onto the
Everglades and the sprawling development patterns.
D: I didn't know anything about this Buckeye Club, I didn't know what it meant. It
turns out it was a bunch of folks from Ohio who had moved to Florida. This had
to be in the late 1960s, somewhere around in there. I know I was already in
Boca Raton because I left the university here in 1964 and went to FAU. I got in
there and I was explaining how we couldn't put an electric fence up at the state
line and zap people as they came across. That was not only illegal, we didn't
want to zap some of them. We wanted them to come and spend their money
and leave, hopefully. Anyway, I said, we can't stop growth, we've got to manage
it better. I could tell that wasn't ringing with this audience. There were a couple
of hundred people. It was a big bunch of people.
B: They had come here from someplace else.
D: That's the point of this little story. I began to sense that they were no-growthers.
They weren't environmentalists. They had just come and now that they were
here they were looking around. They got theirs and they didn't want anybody
else down here because it was going to mess [things] up. They could see that
things were getting messed up a little bit. So I said, how many of you have been
here for twenty years? No hands. How many of you have been here for ten?
I don't think there were any hands. How many of you have been here for five
years? Well, now there were quite a few hands. How many of you have been
here for the last two years? An amazingly large number of hands. They had
come and they wanted this to stop, all this growth. It wasn't just
environmentalists [that] was the point of this little story. I told them that they
were absolutely wrong. I said, you're wasting your time trying to stop growth. I
gave them the zapping electric fence at the state line, I gave that talk a lot of
times. You couldn't do that. You had to assume that these growth pressures
were going to continue. We'd probably get more than we think, and we did.
We [have] to manage it better.
B: You were never an advocate of no growth. You saw it as an impossibility but
also it sounds like you felt it wouldn't be moral too.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 45
D: That's right. I think the no-growth thing would have been wrong. It's
unconstitutional, it's all kinds of things. I got so out of patience with some of my
environmental friends who just couldn't see that we could possibly accommodate
the kind of growth that was projected and [felt] that we just had to adopt some
sort of no-growth or virtually no-growth thing. I remember the Sierra Club and
some people in Audubon and others that took that position.
B: How are you getting along with the developers at that time? Had you begun to
forge relationships with them?
D: No, not much of one. They had no patience with this managing growth stuff.
They weren't interested in that.
B: They didn't appreciate the fact that you were arguing with some of your
environmentalist friends. They still saw you as way over there.
D: They still saw me [as] way out, just one of these guys that's going to ruin us.
Going to keep us from doing with our property what we want to do with it.
B: Did you ever have many dealings with either Gulf American or General
B: Do you have any stories about those companies?
D: I have some stories but I couldn't put them in the right context. Over time, they
changed their ownership and everything. Jim Apthorp ended up involved. Of
course, I was working with Jim when he was in the governor's office with Askew.
I think he was Askew's chief of staff. Jim and I still work very closely together.
He's with the Collins Center now. He was with General Development or
something. He went with them for awhile. We tried to do some things to
change their perspective, the pattern, the way they did things. I don't recall the
details, [but we had] some limited success because of people like Jim.
B: When and where did you first meet Reubin Askew?
D: I'll tell you about what a tremendously sharp, political prophet I am. In 1970,
Askew was elected. In that campaign, I did not support Governor Askew in the
B: Who did you support?
D: I supported [Jack] Matthews. He was from over around Jacksonville. I thought
he had a chance to win. I remember telling Askew, you are in the legislature. I
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 46
forget if he was in the House or the Senate. A North Florida character who was
good, you know, who was trying to do some good things. You're not going to
get elected. You don't have a chance. You stay in the legislature. By the
way, that was the very year that Lawton Chiles ran for the Senate. I said the
same thing to him. I said, Lawton, you need to be in the Florida legislature,
you're not going to possibly win. Walkin' Lawton. He was just starting walking,
I guess. In the process of the campaign, the primary, Matthews didn't win and
Askew won. Of course, he won [by] taking some stands that he didn't campaign
on no new taxes. He was taking some [very] responsible [positions]. I
switched, of course.
B: During the campaign, did he begin to talk about managing growth and water?
D: Not exactly using those terms. He had some people associated with him
including Apthorp and me. I sent him twenty-five dollars, I think, for the general
election or something like that. Jay Landers was on his staff Jay and I [knew
each other] somehow, and Jim Apthorp, of course. I quickly became associated
with Askew and I always thought he was great. It was my idea to try to use this
American Assembly process because I had done it, I had been involved in that.
B: Where had you been involved in that?
D: I had been in some national American Assembly things. Then I cranked up
several of them after I went to Florida Atlantic University. I did one for the
southeast. [With] American Assembly, you get people in and you draw in a
cross-section of all the stakeholders.
B: Who developed this program?
D: Dwight David Eisenhower [U.S. President, 1953-1961] when he was at Columbia
University, president there [1948-1950], this American Assembly thing got going.
I was involved in a couple of those through friends of mine, Scotty Campbell and
others. Scotty was probably at Syracuse then. The environmental movement
nationwide in the 1960s and 1970s was coming up and reflected in Florida with
newly-strengthened environmental groups [who] were trying to guarantee an
adequate water supply for Everglades National Park. That's when we moved to
block the building of a major jetport in the Everglades.
B: How involved were you?
D: I was involved in that heavily, because of Bob Padrick, who was chair of the
Central and Southern Florida Flood Control District then, a predecessor to the
Water Management District. There was an effort to stop digging the cross-state
barge canal. There's where Nat Reed [came] into the picture with Claude Kirk.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 47
That was a little before [that] because Claude Kirk was governor [from]
B: Right, but they were both involved in halting the jetport and the cross-Florida
D: It was because of Nat Reed. Nat had been Assistant Secretary of the Interior
under Nixon. A good Republican, an environmentally-strong Republican. He
set the stage with Kirk and other actions in the 1960s I'll just throw these in
because they were specific things that happened. The Florida Air and Water
Pollution Control Act was passed. Coastal Construction Setback Line legislation
was passed, aimed at protecting vital dunes and coastal vegetation, and the
establishment of the Coastal Coordinating Council, [which was] charged with
developing a planning and management plan for Florida's 11,000 miles of
B: This all happens under Kirk?
D: Yes, in the late 1960s. Governor Kirk supported these initiatives. He really set
the stage for what [we did] in the early 1970s. He couldn't have cared less, but
he did it because he was heavily influenced by his dollar-a-year, chief
environmental advisor, Nat Reed. Nat, of course, was for all these things, and
he was convinced that protecting the environment had become good politics in
Florida. Just as simple as that. Thank goodness [Kirk] was willing to listen to
Nat. I'm not knocking him or anything. These things were stirring and people
were concerned [about managing] our growth better. Askew, I had supported,
belatedly, during his campaign. Chiles got elected to the United States Senate
and Askew got elected as governor of Florida, so my credentials as a political
prognosticator were... some people still remember that and tease me about it, as
well they should. That's what I really thought. I hated to lose them from where
they were because they were so good. At any rate, every time we've done
something in Florida to move toward what we'd now call smart growth, some kind
of comprehensive effort, or even a limited effort, to manage our growth, it's been
in the face of a real or perceived crisis. Always. That's a common thread. The
other common thread is, everything we've ever done, we've never ended up
funding it adequately to allow it to be implemented effectively. That's from day
one to today.
B: So it's safe to say it has never worked?
D: Never. Never worked the way it should have worked, because we never have
funded it adequately. That is a common thread. The failure to fund things
adequately has been addressed repeatedly. [We always say,] we're going to do it
now this time and we've never done it. Here we are in another crisis as we
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 48
speak this morning, December 8, 2001. About the only person talking about
doing what we would need to do to really revise the tax system, is John McKay.
Here's a guy that used to be a Democrat and switched over and became a
Republican, pretty conservative, but he [understands] that we have an
inadequate tax structure for the growth that we have. We still have that growth,
we're going to continue to have that growth. I don't care [what happened on]
September 11, we're going to continue to grow in Florida, in my judgment.
B: It didn't happen under Askew or Chiles, even Martinez made the effort to pass
the services tax.
D: Belatedly. He did make the effort, [but] he backed off. He messed [himself] up.
B: If those types of people couldn't do it, how can it possibly happen?
D: How are we going to do it now? Because of something I told you just a minute
ago. The crisis I think we're approaching, this piddling little $1.3 billion cut is not
going to cut it, is not going to be enough. It's bad enough. Of course, they
pissed away the surplus that they had. Bush did, in the last three years.
Maybe McKay's constitutional amendment [should be brought] before the people.
I was talking to somebody the other day he and I have followed this stuff
forever. It might have been Jim Nicholas, [who is] at the law school and [in]
planning too. We're going to be in a crisis. And by the way, crises don't have
to be real, they can be perceived.
B: In 1971, the crisis is water. What is it now?
D: The crisis will be the collapse of our general quality of life and the bad impacts of
our growth that's unmanaged. Surveys that have been recently done sponsored
by both DCA [Department of Community Affairs] and 1,000 Friends of Florida
show people, the citizens of this state, absolutely rank managing our growth
better very high. [They] even will say when asked, would you be [willing] to pay
more to cause that to come about? Some of those surveys on record in both
DCA and 1,000 Friends of Florida, [say] yes, we would. People would say yes
and then when you stick it to them, sometimes they'll change their mind. I think
the citizens of this state are going to cause it to happen out of frustration, anger.
I think just like Kirk saw good politics in some of the things he did from
1966-1970, whoever [is in office] when this happens, is going to say, wait a
minute, this is good politics and we're going to change things. We're going to do
some of the things we need to do. Governor [Askew] was elected [with strong
support from] Jay Landers. Jay was a key. I forget [when] my relationship with
Jay [started], but he knew me. I had done these American Assembly type things
[and] he knew that. [End of side 2, tape B] It brought about this first effort to
manage our growth better. It was a real severe drought in southeast Florida and
in the Tampa Bay region. It was in 1970 and 1971. That coincided, of course,
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 49
with the election of Reubin Askew as governor in the November 1970 elections.
He took the lead, working with Jay Landers [and] bringing me into it. The
drought was reaching historic proportions. Lake Okeechobee fell to a new level.
Where have you heard that before? [It] just recently fell to another new [low
B: How does it compare to this past year's drought?
D: I think the lake fell then to an all-time low and I think it might have exceeded that
a little bit this last time. Of course, it's back up to [a] virtually normal [level] now.
If we got the right kind of weather patterns, we'd have too much water again.
B: What was the fear in 1971?
D: That we were going to run out of water. Different people were worried about
running out of water for different reasons, you know. For agriculture, for all the
things that you need an adequate supply of water for. There were some people
that were worried about the Everglades then. Askew, at the urging of Jay
Landers, when I first began to get together with Reubin, convened this governor's
conference on water management in south Florida. Art Marshall and I
co-chaired it. [Art Marshall] is a famous guy in that period of time who was for
protecting the Everglades and saving things. Very well-known person,
environmental type, quite a character. He was later on the Water Management
District Governing Board with me once we set [that] up. I got them to use this
American Assembly method.
B: Does that mean you had developers and other interests on the board?
D: Absolutely. We had them all. I insisted on using the true American Assembly
approach, which demands that [all the key stakeholders be brought to the table].
We continued to use that kind of approach, bringing all the stakeholders together
right on through. I argued that we [have] to get the bad guys and the good guys
around a table together and see if we can convince each other that there are
win-win solutions to managing our growth better. We ain't going to stop
growing, folks. Once in a while that would resurface again. The Sierra Club was
famous for resurfacing that attitude. The Save Our Everglades Coalition, Mary
Barley, tends to [hold that view].
B: This group you had in 1971 sounds very similar to the Governor's Commission
on a Sustainable South Florida thirty years later, in terms of getting those people
to come to a consensus.
D: [In terms of] having to get them to come [to the table]. What brought those
people to the table was Askew making it clear that whatever this conference
recommended, he was going to push very hard to get it passed in the upcoming
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 50
1972 session of the legislature. That meant that some people who didn't want a
thing to happen came figuring that if something is going to happen, I better try to
get my voice in. That's why governors are so important everywhere and strong
leaders in the legislature are so important. It brings people to the table who
wouldn't come to the table otherwise, and once you get them to the table,
sometimes you do find common ground. You often do. I argue that has been
the case. Anyway, we violated the American Assembly [approach in one way]. It
has a very strict method of how you do things. You really ought not to have 150
people because you break down into subgroups and each of them are
representative of the whole. If you have 150, it gets to be a little unwieldy. I
forget how many sub[groups] we had. I managed it from an American Assembly
point of view.
B: There were 150 in the conference on water management in south Florida?
D: 150 stakeholders from all parts of the political and policy spectrum. I remember
it like yesterday. I don't remember everything, as you know.
B: Where were you?
D: The Doral Hotel in Miami Beach is where we did it. Askew gave his keynote
address. I can tell you a couple of funny things about the Doral Hotel. [In] his
challenge, he charged us with examining the whole issue of managing growth
and change in Florida. He made a statement that is absolutely universal in
trying to move to a smart growth situation. That is that economic and
environmental health were not in conflict, but were necessary to each other.
Like love and marriage, you couldn't have one without the other.
B: That was pretty forward thinking in 1971, people really weren't thinking that way,
as they do now.
D: Absolutely. They were thinking you can either save the environment or you can
have a good economy, [but] you can't have both. That was common across the
country, not just a notion in Florida. Askew, after saying that, basically
challenged the necessary goodness of growth. If we're just going to grow any old
way, anywhere, anytime, anyhow, it's going to undermine our quality of life. I
don't know if he used the [phrase] quality of life. He made it clear that he would
take the recommendations of the conference to the 1972 legislative session and
fight for their adoption. This is the political context that made all this stuff
B: The stakeholders knew he could do it.
D: Yes, because it looked like he had the necessary support in the Senate and the
House [to] do it. Democrats were, of course, then the majority in both places.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 51
B: Tell me one funny little story about the Doral Hotel before we go on.
D: The Doral Hotel, we were up in one of the sessions. [With an] American
Assembly you have to have a big area where you can assemble everybody and
you explain the process to them. You tell people which group they're in. They
don't choose that themselves.
B: You mix them up.
D: Yes, mandatory mixing. I remember we were looking out over the ocean.
About a half-mile offshore was something that somebody from down in Miami
said, that's the Rose Bowl. [It was] about a half-mile offshore, not way out at all.
I said, what is that? They said, that's raw sewage, it's being just piped out there.
Not into the Gulf Stream where it might have been carried away, maybe. That's
bad enough. There it is, bubbling out there. The Rose Bowl, people call it.
We hadn't even begun to treat the sewage. That made an impression on me
that I never forgot. Of course, it was illustrative of what we weren't doing.
[Askew] gave us this charge. He charged us not with dealing with water
management in south Florida [only], but with looking at the whole problem of
managing our growth better everywhere in the state. [He] made this statement
about environmental and economic health and also made it clear he was going to
fight to get whatever we recommended [adopted]. So we went through the
B: How long did it take?
D: It's a three-day deal, American Assembly. We have devised shortened versions
of the American Assembly, but a proper American Assembly will typically begin
on a Thursday and end on a Saturday or a Sunday. It varies a little bit. One
thing you try to get people to commit to is that they won't leave early, they'll stay
through the whole [process]. These individual groups, there are a bunch of
agenda questions that they have to address. Each group answers it in their own
way, then it comes to a drafting group [who prepare] a policy statement. It's
supposed to be short. These things have to get integrated. If half the people
leave or don't come to the final plenary session, it doesn't work right. You have
to really try to get commitments out of people. That works better sometimes
B: How did that group work together?
D: I was surprised that it wasn't more adversarial than it turned out to be. I think a
lot of people were in a state of shock over Askew's election, for one thing, and
the fact that he didn't pledge not to raise any taxes or anything like that. I
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 52
remember while the co-chairs were Art Marshall and me, Art Marshall didn't know
or care beans about the American Assembly process. He just wanted to save
the Everglades. That was okay, Art was a highly-respected figure, and that was
him. Anyhow, we came out with this short statement that was published in the
Flood Control District's little publication, the policy statement. It was short like it
was supposed to be and it made some very tough recommendations.
B: Do you have that?
D: Yes, but I don't know where it is, but I got it somewhere.
B: We'll fill that in. What was the upshot of it?
D: The upshot was that we came up with our short but strongly-worded set of
findings and policy recommendations that went well beyond water issues in south
Florida and it called for a comprehensive land and water use plan for the whole
state that could cope with the growth pressures that the state was experiencing.
I say then that this conference was the end of Florida's uncritical love affair with
growth. We've been trying ever since to perfect a fair and equitable system for
managing growth and change.
B: Were there any characters on that conference who just would not buy into the
D: There were some.
B: Do you remember who they were?
D: No. I did at the time. I don't remember exactly who they were. This 2,000
word policy statement gave the kind of conceptual [ideas of] what we ought to do.
B: When you said short, I didn't think it was 2,000 words.
D: How many pages is that? However many. You're not supposed to get beyond
that. The drafting team comes up with that policy statement. At the plenary
session, which I ran, you're supposed to run it in a fair and objective way.
People want to come in and modify the policy statement or amend it, and they're
allowed to try to do so.
B: So it's a popular vote, on each line?
D: Well, we try to take it in paragraphs. You use Robert's Rules of Order,
essentially. I always appointed somebody who was good at Robert's Rules of
Order to help me out in case I ruled [that] we [were] out of order. We can't bring
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 53
that up, that sort of thing. You need somebody like that because I don't consider
myself an expert. Somebody that was into this stuff. Anyway, all we had was
this policy statement. Just as Askew promised he would do, he immediately
appointed a fifteen-member task force.
B: Was that the Task Force on Land Use?
D: Land use, sometimes we called it the Task Force on Resource Management, but
usually we called it Land Use. [The task force was there] to recommend needed
legislation to implement this policy statement recommendation.
B: Was that also a diverse group, or was that a group of people who were more
D: The latter. Listen to this and let's see. I've got a little detail on that here. As I
remember, Bob Graham could not be at the Miami Beach Doral Hotel, the
conference, but he was interested and he sent some kind of statement[, as I
recall, supporting moving toward better management of our growth]. Askew
named me as chairman of this Task Force on Land Use, Resource Management.
Let's just call it Land Use.
B: The idea is to recommend legislation for managing growth and dealing with water
D: I was already saying, look...
B: They go together.
D: Water, land, the environment, the economy, affordable housing. I was
beginning to get my nose in that a proper growth management system that's
worth it's salt, worth being proud of, not only gets well-funded but it's
comprehensive. That is to say, it looks at [things] like affordable housing, it has
that component in it. It looks at jobs and the economy. It's broad-based. Bob
Graham was a member of the task force and we didn't have much time. Some
of the bad guys who didn't want anything to happen thought that would save
them. [The recommendations had] to come before the 1972 session of the
legislature. [They hoped there wouldn't be] time to get all that done.
B: Were any of the bad guys on this task force?
D: Well, I'm trying to remember. There were a couple. My problem is that I don't
remember exactly who they were. I do remember the help that we got in coming
up with some specific legislation. Who was the guy we were talking about the
other day who is such a famous lobbyist?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 54
B: Wade Hopping. Was he on the task force?
D: I don't remember if Wade was actually on [the task force]. He didn't think this
would go anywhere. Where we snuck up on the blind side of these people who
didn't want anything to happen is when we pulled in Fred Bosselman, who [was]
a co-author of the American Law Institute Model State Land Development Code,
which was then in its third draft. This sounds kind of dry and technical, but it
turned out to be critical because this was an American Law Institute, American
Bar Association thing. It had a lot of clout, status, and prestige. It wasn't a
[bunch of] wild-eyed environmental nuts coming up with something, you see.
B: Where was Fred Bosselman at that time?
D: At that time, Bosselman [was at] some Chicago law firm. He's been in different
places at different times.
B: Where did this group, this task force, meet?
D: Seems to me [we met] up there at State Road 60. There's a place that you can
meet off State Road 60. Has some kind of name and I forget what it is.
That would have had to be up above the lake, Lake Okeechobee. You
remember where State Road 60 goes across?
B: I know what you're talking about, the big natural preserve that was donated and
there's a meeting place and cottages.
D: That's right. Thank goodness I've got you in this. Anyway, I don't think we paid
[Fred] anything because here was a chance, from his perspective, to implement
some of these recommendations of the Model [State Land] Development Code,
which he was very devoted to. He was working on the third draft of it. Boy, a
chance to actually get some of this put in place.
B: In sort of a screwed-up place that really needed help.
D: Yes, [a place] that really needed help. That was very appealing to Fred. So
anyway, the task force stunned everybody, including ourselves, because I
remember we had to go to an overtime session or something up at this place that
we don't remember the name of, to try to get a consensus. It was not easy,
sweetness and light. There were people on this task force that didn't support
what we finally [came up with]. I don't remember who they were.
B: Even though you said it was more like-minded than the other task force.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 55
D: It was much more like-minded, but it was still tough. We recommended a
package of four legislative bills to the 1972 legislature. [I'll] quickly just name
them. The Environmental Land and Water Management Act, Chapter 380. The
Water Resources Act, Chapter 373. That set up the new Water Management
Districts. I am so proud of that. I really think that if you're going to look at a
short list of the major contributions that I made, it was deciding, almost belatedly,
that we should go with setting up those Water Management Districts the way we
set them up. At that time there were only two, I think. There was the Central
and Southern Florida Flood Control District and over in the Tampa area, there
was a comparable thing. They didn't go all over the state like they do now. I, at
first, couldn't quite bring myself to support drawing the Water Management
Districts along river basin boundaries.
B: Whose idea was that? Was it Fred Bosselman's idea?
D: No, it was somebody in the U.S. Geological [Survey Department and] it was a
state guy. They persuaded me, finally. It was several different people. [They
said,] you're not going to get where we need to get unless the Water
Management Districts' [boundaries are drawn among river basin lines]. That
resulted in our putting Water Management Districts [that covered the entire state,
all drawn among river basin lines].
B: Did the Water Resources Act came last in that process when you were
developing those proposed laws?
D: We evolved them all together. We saw them as linked to each other.
Environmental Land and Water Management Act, Chapter 380. The Water
Resources Act set up the districts on river basin boundaries. What a coup that
was. To this day, a critical factor in any effort to save the Everglades, to restore
the Everglades, as much of it as we can, is the fact that the Water Management
Districts are drawn along river basin boundaries because that means [you have a
framework to deal with the key issues on a regional basis]. See, the Central and
Southern Florida Flood Control District was not [like that]. It didn't go over to the
west coast as the South Florida Water Management District does at [this] time.
Now it comes down the watershed from Disney World and the upper chain of
lakes, down to the Kissimmee River and fans out to each coast and on down.
B: It means they have to be conscientious about the whole system.
D: We had a hard time right at the last. We had some participants on the task force
who either thought this wasn't the right way to go or they thought that it was a
mistake. Didn't want to do it anyway. Not the majority. Finally, after some
extended [sessions] I remember we went all night practically getting our
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 56
consensus on these four pieces of legislation they were drawn. [We worked
late] in order to get this thing to the legislature. This was late 1971.
B: How many all-night sessions did you have?
D: We had a couple trying to hammer it out. Bosselman was right there. Time was
short and there were many doubters as to whether we could come up with
anything meaningful that the legislature would pass. We did. The
Environmental Land and Water Management Act [Chapter 380], [we] called it the
Land Management Act to shorten [it] up a lot of the times. We saw that it limited
in some ways the break with the past because it was based on the assumption
that while most decisions could remain local, certain kinds of decisions had a
greater than local impact. Critical, regional or even statewide impacts needed to
be factored into local government decisions. Local governments would no
longer be totally free to act any way they wanted to.
B: Is this when the development of regional impact began?
D: Yes, DRIs [developments of regional impact] and areas of critical state concern.
Areas of critical state concern are Chapter 380-05 and developments of regional
impact are Chapter 380-06. The Water Resources Act itself was a bold and
foresighted effort. [I am] not giving myself total credit, because we reached a
consensus that was the way to go. [With] the help of these people whom I can't
place exactly, to better manage Florida's water resources [we] set up the five
districts whose boundaries were drawn along river basin lines, not county
boundaries. That has proved to be critical, right down to today, in efforts to
restore and sustain complete ecosystems, led by the Everglades.
B: Where [did] the Regional Planning Councils fit into this?
D: We'll get to that in a minute.
B: So number three is the State Comprehensive Planning Act.
D: By the way, Earl Starnes, who you've already talked to, I think, had a lot to do
with trying to implement that. I forget exactly what his title was.
B: I think he was called state planner.
D: He was the key guy because it called for developing a state plan. How radical
can you get? That [plan] would frame the decisions of the whole system. That
was the goal. As I put it, it started us on a path to get the right state plan in
place to guide the implementation of a comprehensive integrated growth
management system, a real framework, and we're still struggling with that.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 57
B: What kind of things did you perceive would go into a state plan?
D: We thought that it would come out with the kinds of land use and water resources
and economic and housing issues [we were aiming for].
B: Is it like a county zoning map on a statewide level?
D: I wouldn't say that, but it would be specific enough. Maps, by the way, were a
controversial part of the debate and discussion. It would be specific enough that
it would say certain things have to happen to be consistent with the state plan
that would impact the regional and state agencies and local governments. That
was pretty radical. Finally, the 1972 package [of bills] included the Land
B: Okay, that was the fourth.
D: Yes. Chapter 259.
B: What chapter was the State Comprehensive Planning Act?
D: Chapter 23.
B: What was the idea behind the Land Conservation Act?
D: That started it remains to this day the most broadly-based system to acquire
environmentally-sensitive natural resource lands and protect them from
development [in the nation].
B: That launched the CARL program?
D: Yes, I'm going to pick that up right here. It's evolved into this broad-based thing.
It authorized a $200,000,000 bond issue as a starter. I had a direct hand in
some of that. Somehow [we] did an attitude survey of people in the state of
Florida about whether they would support maybe it was more limited to the
south Florida area a bond issue to buy environmentally-sensitive lands.
Seventy percent of the people in this little survey it wasn't an actual vote said
yes. I confidently predicted that the same thing would happen if we went for this
$200,000,000 [bond issue]. We drafted it up and threw it in so it could be voted
on and it did pan out at just about seventy percent.
B: It was a statewide bond issue?
D: It was a statewide bond issue, a statewide vote.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 58
B: When was that vote?
D: That was part of Chapter 259 [passed by the] 1972 legislature [which] authorized
this [Environmentally Endangered Lands (EEL)] $200,000,000 bond issue,
starting a system that has evolved with the Conservation of Recreational Lands,
the CARL fund, with earmarked funding sources. Then Preservation 2000, the
ten-year, three-billion-dollar program. Then Forever Florida, the next ten-year,
B: How did Askew respond to this package that you gave him?
D: He had me up to Tallahassee, we met with the key legislators in the Senate and
the House. Was it Dick Pettigrew [Speaker, Florida House of Representatives,
1971-1972] who was Speaker of the House then? I forget who was president of
the Senate. That's written up in my Land, Growth, and Politics book. We had a
hell of a time getting some of these things through the legislature, they were not
easy, they didn't slide right through.
B: Was Askew dubious about any of this?
D: No, he was a believer. He saw, you know. It's just amazing, [he was] a north
Florida guy and that helped. He saw the need to fund things adequately too.
He was always getting me up there to make sure I explained [what we were
trying to do]. He would gather the legislators and the stakeholders, including the
ones that didn't like it.
B: Who did you have the most trouble convincing?
D: People like Wade [Hopping] representing whoever he was representing. The
realtors, a lot of the developers, a lot of the local governments were skeptical and
leery. [Their] home rule would be undermined. Maybe this was later on, but I
remember one time the Association of Counties said, you don't need to mandate
anything on us. I think this was in the mid-1980s, our second try.
B: That's a common refrain, even today.
D: You just tell us what to do and we'll do it. You don't need to mandate it. I
remember not being able to restrain myself at one committee meeting. I just
laughed. That wasn't very nice.
B: Which lawmakers did you have particular trouble with?
D: Dick Pettigrew was Speaker of the House [and he was strongly supportive]. The
Senate was a little more iffy for some reason. Somebody [who] was the
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 59
president of the Senate from down around Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach,
somewhere down there, was a little iffy. I know him and I'm sorry I can't come
up with that. Graham of course led the fight in the Senate. We would not have
gotten it through without Graham. The developer-types led by Wade and
realtors couldn't believe this stuff was about to pass. What is this? They're not
really going to do this, are they? We were sure as heck going to do it if we could
get it through. There were a couple of times this is in Land, Growth, and
Politics in detail [when] it looked like a lot of this stuff wasn't going to pass.
One condition about implementing some of the things was that this $200,000,000
bond issue would pass. That's why we cranked it up. A lot of the
developer-types said, you don't have any money to pay for anything like this.
You're just going to screw us. You're going to use these regulations to treat us
wrongly. We said, okay, we'll condition the implementation of the Area of
Critical State Concern on this bond issue passing.
B: Yet, ultimately, they were right, you didn't have the money to do it.
D: We didn't have the money to implement the planning and regulatory mandates
that we placed on these local governments. Now we didn't get to [that] yet, but
Chapter 163 passed in 1975. That was the Local Government Comprehensive
Planning Act. This Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act, Chapter
163, for its time and especially for Florida, was really a bold move. Now, it's true
that its implementation was weakened by the failure to fund it adequately. While
there certainly were weaknesses, it mandated that every city and county in the
state develop a plan. There were weaknesses in that first effort, some of which
we still have on the unfinished agenda, but all cities and counties in the state did
make plans and some took them seriously, but some didn't. The cities and
counties that did do plans [and took them seriously] were able to manage their
growth better [than] they could have done without this legislation.
B: They were able to say no, right?
D: That's right, they [did] have some legal framework to do that. But money, the
lack of it, [is] a common thread in our efforts to grow smart. Here we started
[that long history of funding failures]. We failed to give local governments the
B: What was that money needed for?
D: We promised to help pay the state share of the cost of preparing the mandated
local plans. $50,000,000.
B: They never got that money?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 60
D: Never got it, they got $750,000, I think. It didn't amount to peanuts.
B: Is there anything about that you would have done differently about those four
pieces of legislation from 1972?
D: Listen, Cynthia, we were so thrilled. Bear in mind, [while] I can't conjure up all
the details, it was a struggle to get these things. Especially to get it through the
Senate. I think Pettigrew promised he'd deliver the votes if we could get this
thing through the Senate. Of course, as I say, we were so happy and thrilled to
get what we got that I felt that we came out of this with more than I probably
thought we had a shot to do when we started.
B: The Critical Areas Program is later declared unconstitutional by the Supreme
D: Yes, that happens a little later. I never got through chastising the friend of mine
on the Supreme Court [that supported that action]. I've probably got the name in
here because I thought it was a bad decision. That's when Askew was still
governor. He served two terms. He called a special session to reinstate the
critical area [provision]. One of the [critical areas designations] had been
legislatively established in the first place. The court ruled that, [for the others], it
was an unconstitutional delegation [of legislative authority].
B: That was the Keys designation?
D: Yes, that was the Keys, Key West. Actually, we managed to re-adopt the Areas
of Critical State Concern under Graham. That was one of his first [actions as
governor]. Remember he's a leader in all this in the Senate.
B: Did that problem get solved later?
D: Yes, it did.
B: That's not something you would have done differently?
D: I would never have dreamed the court would rule something like that. I thought
they were wrong then and I still think they were wrong, but we overcame it.
B: The Local Planning Act  passes, but the state never coughs up the money?
D: [Yes], Chapter 163 the Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act. We
were mandating new things and a lot of these local governments hated it, some
liked it, but at the very least we had promised to give them this money to help
them carry out the mandate. Of course, we didn't do it. The very same thing
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 61
happened in the mid-1980s when we got the new system in place. Much more
stringent, much more demanding and [requiring] concurrency. We promised to
put up the money. We didn't repeat the mistake in the mid-1980s that we made
here. We gave local governments the money to help them do the newly
mandated plans under phase two, as I call it.
B: In the mid-1970s under the Local Government Comprehensive Planning Act...
D: We never gave them the money.
B: Okay. You mentioned that some governments did a good job at that and some
did not. What governments come to mind that did a good job under the act and
what governments come to mind that really didn't want to follow the new rules?
D: Virtually none of the northwest Florida [governments]. [End side 1, tape C]
B: None of the governments in the northwest part of the state, in the Panhandle,
wanted anything to do with the Comprehensive Planning Act?
D: No, they figured this was just the strange people down in south Florida or
wherever they were from fastening this bad stuff on them.
B: They've already done it, now it's our turn.
D: It's our turn and they're not going to let us have our economic development, our
good growth, and our jobs. There was a certain truth to that, in a sense.
Talking about disappointments, things we didn't do as well as we might have and
should have was putting in a strong economic development component and
defining growth management in the right way. Managing to grow to include
managing to grow where you need to grow and that was northwest Florida. So
they had a point in a way. I had conceived of the area of critical state concern
as a vehicle to promote growth. I tried to get Askew to do this. I wasn't
successful in bringing that about. I think the critical area [statute] read in such a
way that you could have designated a place that you wanted to promote growth
as an area of critical state concern and put in money. I never got that. It's one
of my great disappointments. I never got that going. As to places that at least
initially did some very good things: Palm Beach County. Never mind that we
later let sprawl burst out all over. Palm Beach County did a good job. You may
be a little surprised to know that Dade County came up with one of the first
urban-development boundaries. The first, I guess, in the state. Dade set about
to try to do some good things. Not so much over on the west coast.
Hillsborough, Tampa area made some moves to do some good things. [I am]
trying to think of other places that stand out. Jacksonville, I worked with them on
their city-county consolidation. In connection with that, Jacksonville did a lot of
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 62
good things. They didn't do some things they should have done and they're just
now getting around to doing some things much better in that sort of sense.
B: In terms of preserving green space?
D: [Preserving] green space, promoting in-fill and redevelopment and good
moderate density, but also buying up, protecting open space. They're doing a
lot of good things in the Jacksonville area [and] we're still trying to [do more], with
the water management district there and Jacksonville. Mayor [John] Delaney
[Jacksonville Florida mayor, 1995-present] is very supportive of this kind of thing,
came up with making sure we clean up the waters, the St. Johns River.
B: Do you know Mayor Delaney pretty well?
D: Um-hum. [Yes].
B: As a green Republican, how do you look at him? When we talked about Kirk
you described him as someone who was more of a political opportunist. How do
you see Delaney by contrast?
D: Not that way, he's a believer. He's a committed believer and we have supported
him, 1,000 Friends [of Florida] in this case, in trying to get the St. Johns River
designated as a I forget the name of this designation to help protect it and
clean it up. There was a lot of opposition to it and some of the environmental
groups had doubts about it. They didn't think Delaney was really serious.
Audubon wouldn't sign on to recommending that the river be designated a
Heritage river. We decided in 1,000 Friends to do it and we did. It was
designated even though one of the local legislators opposed it. This is some guy
in Congress. I was always very glad that we did that because it got done. I'm
very high on Delaney. I think he believes in what he is trying to do. He was at
the Askew Institute last year. We had a little disagreement there about a couple
of things, but it didn't go to the heart of what he's trying to do. We needed a
mayor like him badly. The fact that he's a Republican makes it even better.
We need Republicans that have their heads screwed on in the right direction.
B: Particularly now that the state is shifting toward more conservative voting.
D: Of course, that may all change but it may not. One of the great tragedies in my
mind this is off the point maybe of the September 11 terrorism is that it's
made it very hard to oppose both George W. Bush [U.S. President,
2001-present] as president and Jeb [Bush] even though they're still doing dumb,
counterproductive things in other areas.
B: Right. It now seems anti-patriotic to do so.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 63
D: They're waving the flag and they're against terrorism. This is a great war and
we're going to fight it. I don't even like calling it a war in any normal sense of the
word. We need to protect ourselves.
B: You certainly don't see it as analogous to the war you fought.
D: No, I certainly do not. To compare it with Pearl Harbor, it's a different kind of
thing. We're in the sixtieth anniversary of Pearl Harbor, [which was] yesterday.
B: What have both Jeb Bush in Florida and George Bush on a national level done
that you'd like to protest?
D: Undermining the growth management system. Undermining protecting the
environment. Jeb at least comes up supporting the Everglades restoration. I
think he means that, so I give him a plus for that. Otherwise, he comes up with
this stuff about just turn[ing] everything over to local governments and they'll do
things. For heaven's sake, we tried that. That was the mess we were in when
we started what we've been talking about, in the late 1960s and in 1971-1972.
On a pretty big variety of other things [he is] not supportive of a sustainable state,
in my judgment. His brother, George W., is going to lead us right back into huge
deficits, [like Ronald] Reagan [U.S. President, 1981-1989]. It just is so
discouraging. I just hope we can overcome it somehow. I think maybe we can.
B: In 1982, Governor [Bob] Graham was very frustrated by the failure of the system.
What's gone wrong already? It's only been about ten years. What was the
problem back then?
D: We've had a decade right? A decade of implementing efforts. Massive growth
pressures going now, unabated. [We had] some successes, but on balance it
didn't function to cope with the infrastructure and environmental impacts of all
this growth. Now, why didn't it? The first among the negatives, and this is a
broken record with me, [is that] failure to recognize that substantial new funding
would be required as the basis for incentives and disincentives to make the
system work. [It] couldn't be just a top-down system. You had to have things to
seduce local governments to do the right thing. That ain't too hard.
B: To help them preserve land, for example.
D: And to help them develop plans that were consistent with the regulations and that
they really enforced. To fix it up so that local governments that did that got extra
[support]. And local governments that only did the minimum, they got the
minimum. They didn't get nothing. You had to have this pot of money. As
Secretary of DCA, I felt [there] was no question about [that]. Some good things
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 64
were done, [such as] the DRI process. The patterns of development, good
design, adequate infrastructure. Much better than under non-DRI projects.
[The] Water Resources Act put Florida in the forefront, nationally. I'm so proud
of that. It turned out to be much more important and far-sighted than I thought it
was at the time. The governor was going to appoint me chairman of the Water
Management District, but I was tied up with Boca Raton on the planning board
and I was doing all kinds of stuff. I didn't have the time to be chairman, so he
made me vice-chairman. Boy, was I ever right about the time it ate up all my
time. I finally got out of the stuff I was doing with the City of Boca Raton so I
could spend more time on the Water Management District.
B: Give me some examples of what the DRI process required and what the Water
Management Districts required that made things so much better than they would
have been had we not had those.
D: The whole notion of concurrency came out of the DRI process development of
regional impact you had to account for those regional impacts. This is now
working through the regional planning councils. The regional planning councils,
some of them were stronger and better than others. They reviewed these DRI
projects. The Development of Regional Impact statute had things about housing
and affordable housing, development to protect natural areas, good urban areas.
B: Were those things [that] were actually followed, for the most part?
D: Well, they were because the Regional Planning Councils had good staff and
some intestinal fortitude, particularly the south Florida one, others too. They
could carry an appeal to the Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission. A
development that a city or a county was all hot for [which] was judged to [be] a
DRI being a project that has an impact on the citizens of more than one county
could appeal that and have it canceled. After that happened a couple of times
I can't cite the specific ones the developers said, wait a minute, it's better for
us to do it right, to agree at least as much as we have to agree to, to do it. The
DRI process, and I expand on this a lot in the Land, Growth, and Politics book,
really did a lot of good things. Of course, the Land Conservation Act, the Water
Resources Act that we've already talked about, managing water resources
through the water management districts, all [had] very positive [effects]. By the
end of the decade, it was timely to take another look at it. The legislative crisis
that you mentioned earlier took place in November 1978 when the Florida
Supreme Court declared unconstitutional Chapter 380-05, the area of critical
state concern. [They said it was an] improper delegation of legislative authority.
Outgoing governor Askew called a special session in 1978 and re-enacted the
Florida Keys and Green Swamp areas of critical state concern, pending a
permanent fix [and] left [that] to incoming governor Bob Graham. I was involved
in all that. Graham appointed a task force on resource management. I was not a
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 65
member of the task force, I was kind of Graham's advisor about that task force.
B: Is this the Land Management Study Committee?
D: No. [This is the] Task Force on Resource Management. A broad-based group,
again including home builders, developers, and environmentalists. We used our
model, chaired by a major homebuilder from Tampa, Jim Shimberg, good guy.
[We had] surprising support from homebuilders in the counties. Shimberg was a
really highly respected head of the state homebuilders, I think, at that time. Jim
really did a good job of persuading homebuilders and the counties [and] the new
version of 380-05 got through the legislature with surprising ease. After a lot of
people said, you were lucky to get that through in the first place, you'll never be
able to get it through again. [It was] blessed by the strong support of
newly-elected governor Bob Graham. The new 380-05 was interesting, it kept
the authority of the executive branch to initiate and make critical area
designations. Here's how they got around the improper delegation of legislative
authority. It gave the legislative branch authority to veto that action in the next
session, if it chose to do so. [The revised 380.05] also added resource planning
and management committees to attempt voluntary resolution of development
problems before a formal designation took place. That actually did get in there,
that has worked out in some very good ways, I think. The task force continued
its work in the 1980 legislative session [for the governor's appointment of some
Regional Planning Council members]. That's when we got approval. I didn't
get all I was going for there [in] the reorganization of all regional planning
councils. [The change] gave the governor authority to appoint one-third of the
members. I wanted the governor to appoint more than half the members. I
wanted the regional planning councils to be real regional planning councils and
not [be] dominated by local governments who were still worried to death about
their home rule [still] not understanding that they didn't have any home rule if
their neighbor could do them in. I must say that I have made some progress in
convincing some local governments that their definition as being free to do
anything they want to, anytime, anywhere, anyhow, cancels out real home rule.
The local governments that I worked with in the country that first got that
message were in Georgia, interestingly enough.
B: Which local governments?
D: The Georgia Association of Counties and the Georgia Municipal Association.
They supported a state framework for managing growth. They articulated just
what I'm saying to you about home rule, that you don't have home rule if your
neighbor can do you in, maybe not even on purpose.
B: They came to growth management so late in the game, maybe they had learned
their lesson by then.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 66
D: It was leadership, for one thing, in those two associations. It was leadership. I
continue to work with Georgia to this day. We hope we can get the governor, it
looks like we're going to get Governor Roy Barnes [Georgia governor,
1999-present] down here for the next Nelson Symposium. You need to come to
that for sure.
B: In your Ph.D. dissertation, you emphasized the need for cooperation and
collaboration between governmental agencies in the management of water
problems. You talked about the federal government also. You talked about
those problems in 1958. How much progress do you think we've made in
intergovernmental cooperation among local, state, and federal agencies?
D: The federal role has been a mixed bag over the years. Sometimes helpful and
positive and sometimes counterproductive. It's depended on what kind of
people get appointed to head the Department of Interior. I thought we were
making real progress on that until we got the Bush administration in and got Gale
Norton [Secretary of the Interior, 2001-present] [as] Director of the Department of
the Interior and others like her who don't see the federal government taking a
positive role in trying to get the federal programs supportive of smart growth, of
managing growth in a good way and managing water resources.
B: Can you see a tangible impact of national leadership in Florida decisions?
D: Absolutely. [In] every state in the Union.
B: I guess that's something you've seen a lot of in the Everglades Restoration Plan.
B: How is the Army Corps managed and what is their philosophy?
D: The Army Corps of Engineers I don't know what's going to happen to them now
has come a long way in recent years, particularly in Florida. [Many still think]
they took the lead in screwing up things [in Florida]. That's not right. I make
this very clear in some of the early work that I did on Florida and in my masters
thesis, my Ph.D. thesis. You can't blame the Army Corps for screwing up the
Everglades. We managed that almost totally on our own. The original system
of canals. I told you about Napoleon Bonaparte Broward. It was drain and
reclaim for useful purposes. We put the system in that over-drained everything
and screwed everything up. Then the Corps came along after the hurricanes of
1926 and 1928, I think it was. Drowned everybody in sight and everything, [so
the Corps built the] big dyke and do this and that, deepen the canals. The
Corps didn't think it up in the first place. A lot of people don't understand that at
all, [they blame it on] the bad old Corps of Engineers [who] did it all. We
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 67
managed to do it ourselves.
B: That's an excellent point. How would you describe them now?
D: I would say that the Corps [has improved], particularly in Florida, [under the
leadership of] Colonel [Terry] Rice, [and the executive director of the] Everglades
Restoration Task Force, Rock Salt. Very good, a first-class guy. Norton [or]
somebody at the Fed[eral] level has done some dumb things. You might have
been reading about it. They removed a person who had been critical in keeping
everybody together [Mike Davis], said we didn't need them anymore. I haven't
kept up with it enough. It's bad. I've been meaning to call Rock Salt and get
him to tell me just how bad it is. The Corps under Rock Salt, especially, was a
very positive force. After he left the Corps, he became head of the Everglades
Restoration Task Force. He is such a first-class guy. He sees what needs to
be done. He's not inhibited by a bunch of military stuff. He's one of my favorite
[people], one of the people I give the most credit for moving the whole effort to
restore and sustain the greater Everglades system along.
B: During the growth management changes through the 1970s and 1980s, how
supportive was the Army Corps through all that? Were there any turf wars over
the years between the federal government, the water management district, or the
D: In the old days, there were lots of turf wars.
B: What time period was that?
D: Before we got people like Rock Salt and even Terry Rice.
B: Was that still a contentious issue in the 1970s and 1980s?
D: The Corps was still not onboard [then], but that's changed. They were part of
the problem then, not part of the solution, no question. I've had my fights with
these colonels back and forth feuding and fussing and working with Graham to
try to get particular colonels removed.
B: Is there any one in particular you remember?
D: I don't remember the names. I really don't. You know, just particularly bad
ones. Talking to Graham, who probably was in the U.S. Senate by then. Not
terribly long ago some of this happened. That's changed, thank goodness.
The Corps has decided that it's in their best interest. Okay, so they did a lot of
things to screw up and it isn't just here in Florida. It's around the country.
They've decided maybe our mission is to correct the errors of the past.
Fortunately, there's been some leadership high-up in the Corps. Of course, that
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is not as positive with a president like Bush as it was with somebody like [Bill]
Clinton [U.S. President, 1993-2001] and some others.
B: In 1982 the Environmental Land Management Study Committee II, or ELMS II
was formed. You were a member of that committee and were appointed by Bob
D: Graham in 1982 is still frustrated.
B: What was the committee concerned with?
D: Here was the goal. ELMS II [was] constituted in much the same way as ELMS I,
a broad cross-section of folks concerned with growth, including all of the principal
adversaries now. We had them all there, my God, at each other's throats, with
the hope that there could be agreement on problems, agreement on solutions,
and a series of clear and strong recommendations could be taken to the
legislature beginning in 1984 to revamp Florida's growth management system.
You have to say we did that. I wasn't on ELMS I, I was heading up something
else that Askew asked me to do. I forget the name of what I did. I agreed that
it was very important. We had good guys working with ELMS I. Actually, the
group that I was working with worked closely with ELMS I. I was on ELMS II. I
was appointed originally by the governor to ELMS II, then when I became
Secretary of DCA, I was a member of ELMS II via being Secretary of DCA. He
finally talked me into going to Tallahassee, that is, Graham. To completely
revamp Florida's growth management system was the goal. The final report of
ELMS II went to the governor and the legislature in 1984. ELMS II started in
1982. [We] put into the package in clear and strong language a recommendation
for an integrated policy framework to shape the future of Florida into the
twenty-first century. Maybe more than anything else, the report put strong and
extended emphasis on the need to fund the system. Whatever new systems
and programs [were] called for in the recommendations stated that if the state
could not or would not fund the proposed system adequately, it ought not to
adopt it at all. I cheerfully voted for that part of it. Also, we made a statement -
ELMS II laid it out, bringing a little realism for the first time that growth didn't
pay for itself automatically and new funding would have to be provided if Florida
was going to grow responsibly. New funding, that means a new tax system.
You look what happened over the 1984-1986 period that put it into law. ELMS II
was a knock-down drag-out fight.
B: Why was it so contentious?
D: Because a lot of people wanted to get rid of the DRI process completely. I didn't
want to do that.
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B: By this time you are Secretary of the State Department of Community Affairs.
How did [the governor] convince you to do that?
D: Partly because I couldn't keep my big mouth shut. I was so frustrated.
B: He said, you're so great, you do it.
D: That's right. I was so frustrated with the way we were implementing or not
implementing [policies and with] the way DCA was doing things.
B: What did you think they should be doing?
D: I felt they should be enforcing some of the things that they were charged to do,
like the DRI process, the critical area process and local plans. Oversight [in]
challenging the failure of local governments to do what they were supposed to
do. I felt they had the authority to do that [and] they weren't doing [it]. I don't
know, a whole long list of things, I'm bitching and moaning to Graham about it.
He said you never have been willing to come to Tallahassee to accept an
appointment. Same thing with Askew. He wanted me to be his chief of staff.
He wanted me to do a number of things. I didn't want to do that.
B: Why didn't you want to do it?
D: By then I had my Joint Center for Environmental and Urban Problems set up and
I [felt I] was doing a lot of good stuff. I felt I could be more of a force to bring
smart growth to Florida, not only in South Florida but in the state, by working with
elected types. I never had any great desire to be governor or that kind of [thing],
or university president, or anything else. I had made myself a good
arrangement with the joint center. I worked hard, but I did what I wanted to do.
Set my own agenda, so I didn't want to do that. We agreed I would come for
two years and we did it on an intergovernmental transfer thing. I never left my
position at FAU. It's a law Graham and I had helped get through, never
dreaming I'd take advantage of it myself. I had a big fight with the comptroller's
office about it. They didn't pay me anything for near the first year not that
long, I guess. Anyway, I got it all straightened out.
B: Why didn't they pay you?
D: They claimed that somehow it didn't apply to somebody like me. We got that
B: So you got paid eventually. What were your duties as DCA Secretary?
D: Among other things, DCA is the state land planning agency. It was the agency
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most responsible for implementing a growth management system for the state of
Florida, which is why I was so frustrated. They weren't doing the things they
should have been doing.
B: What impact do you think you had?
D: I'll tell you this story about Harry Johnston [Florida state senator, 1974-1986,
president of Florida Senate, 1984-1986; U.S. Representative, 1989-1997].
When Graham talked me into doing this, Harry Johnston heard that I was going
to be Secretary of DCA, so he called me up and said, John, why would you want
to become captain of the Titanic just before it sinks? I knew what he meant.
B: There was a legislative fight brewing for the 1984 session.
D: To dismantle DCA.
B: This was right before that in 1983.
D: Yes, in 1983. I said, I'll tell you one reason I agreed to do it. I said, it's because
you're there and I expect you to see that nothing like that happens and that's not
all, Harry. I want to see that we get some adequate funding in DCA so we can
start doing our job. He said, we'll have a shot at it. We did exactly that. I had
his strong support. I was lucky enough to get Nancy Lennan as my assistant
secretary. She was ready to leave I think it was Jim Smith she was working
for at the time. She understood things about the cabinet system. I thought I
understood everything about the cabinet system. I didn't understand about the
cabinet aide system and how important they were and how much power they
had. That was a great thing to have her. [Beginning with] the 1984 legislature,
with the strong support of Graham and key legislative leaders, we adopted a
series of laws over the 1984-1986 period. The first were adopted in 1984.
B: Including the funding?
D: No, not yet. [With] the 1984 legislature, some of the funding came along. I got a
lot of new money for DCA in 1984. It was a lot of new positions, money to
seduce and persuade local governments to behave themselves. The 1984
legislature had a lot of debate about all the proposed components of the new
system. We didn't take final action on most of them. It did take the crucial
action to get the thing underway. That was the State and Regional Planning Act
of 1984, that's Chapter 186.
B: Who were you adversaries in the 1984 legislature?
D: Insofar as they were Republicans, they were certainly not in support of it. But
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 71
plenty of Democrats weren't in support, either. Of course, I had Harry
[Johnston] as the [president of the Senate]. Who was [Speaker of the House]?
I can't remember. I might have it here in a minute. He turned out to be a
pleasant surprise, really, [James Harold Thompson]. Wade [Hopping] didn't
want any of this stuff, most of the developers and realtors didn't want to play a
game that was really going to have teeth. A growth management act with teeth.
Not exactly a top-down only, still where you couldn't do anything you wanted to,
anytime, anywhere if you were a developer or if you were local government or
whatever you were. Chapter 186 required that the Office of the Governor, that's
Graham of course, prepare a state plan and present it to the 1985 legislative
session. It reasserted the mandate for regional planning councils to prepare
comprehensive regional policy plans. For the first time, [it] provided funds, a
half-million dollars, appropriated by the legislature to support the preparation of
the plans. During the interim between 1984-1985 the Governor's Office of
Planning and Budgeting drafted the proposed comprehensive state plan.
B: Were you working on that?
D: Yes, I was involved in it, trying to keep it as short as possible. I kept saying
you've got to keep it focused and short. We drafted it and I was pretty pleased
with it. We held hearings across the state to get support for it. We got things
started in 1984 by drafting the proposed state comprehensive plan. At the
beginning of the 1985 session, we were ready to put the rest of the system in
place, we hoped, that required a comprehensive system to manage growth,
protect the quality of life, into the twenty-first century. During the  session,
two key pieces of legislation were passed. First, surprising everybody by the
speed of its action, the legislature held extensive hearings on the proposed state
comprehensive plan and adopted the plan into law fairly early in the session.
The goals and policies were reasonably concise and specific that was [my key
aim in] trying to keep them that way and were a meaningful framework within
which the rest of the system, we felt, could function. This was Chapter 187.
That was followed by the passage of the Omnibus Growth Management Act.
The guy who was the [Speaker of the House] was from north Florida. He said
that if we would get the comprehensive plan to him, he'd deliver it on a platter,
he'd pass it. He would support it.
B: Was he from the Panhandle?
D: Yes, he might have been from over around Quincy somewhere, pretty close to
Tallahassee [James Harold Thompson].
B: What are a few of the important components of the state comprehensive plan
that did pass?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 72
D: The goals and policies were pretty concise. It was set up to frame the rest of the
system. That is, the things that state agencies did, regional agencies did, and
local governments did was supposed to be consistent with these things. This law,
Chapter 187, was followed by the passage of the Omnibus Growth Management
Act which included far reaching changes to Chapter 163. Remember, it was
renamed the Local Government Comprehensive Planning and Land
Development Regulations Act. Chapter 163, Part II. Then there was the
Coastal Setback Line, Chapter 161 legislation.
B: What's important about the coastal setback line?
D: Well, it was much stronger in trying to keep things from being built in
inappropriate places along the coast. It got weakened a little bit later, [but had it
been] implemented properly, it would have prevented a lot of bad things
happening that have in fact [happened].
B: It was not implemented?
D: It was not. None of this was implemented as [it] should have been. It was
money. The heart of the Omnibus [Growth] Management Act was a provision
that all local governments prepare new comprehensive plans that would be
consistent with the goals and policies of the state plan, as well as with the goals
and policies of the comprehensive regional policy plans that were mandated.
This provision provided the critical link between state, regional, and local levels,
bringing Florida into a position, at least potentially, of managing its growth
comprehensively at all levels.
B: What was the impact of that requirement?
D: We had high hopes that it was going to have great impact. This was our
integrated policy framework, as we called it. A vertical integration of goals,
policies, and implementation strategies and a strong provision for horizontal
compatibility within state, regional, and local levels. The way it was going to
work is that the state agencies' functional plans had to be prepared by July 1,
1986. Two fast-track plans, the State Land Development Plan [and the] State
Water Use Plan had to be ready January 1, 1986. They were going to serve as
the framework for all other state agency functional plans. [End of side 2, tape C]
These strategic documents, these state agencies' functional plans would
determine the source of state agency budget submissions so that at long last, in
theory at least, a policy framework would drive the budget process instead of
vice-versa. I was very passionate about that. I still am and it still isn't
happening very well.
B: Why didn't it work?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 73
D: It didn't work because we never implemented this whole system in an effective
fashion. You remember [what the state] had done back when we promised local
governments $50,000,000? This time we promised local governments
multi-billions of dollars to [help] pay for the cost of the concurrency requirement
which was to make consistency something that they could be seduced and
persuaded into. The comprehensive regional policy plans were required to be
consistent with the goals and policies of the state plan, as determined by the
Governor's Office of Planning and Budgeting. They had to be prepared by July
1, 1987. That goal was met. Local plans were to be prepared and submitted to
the state land planning agency the Department of Community Affairs -
according to a schedule which brought coastal counties and cities into the
process first and then picked up the remaining counties and cities and all of that
made sense. All of that was good and then we got the glitch bill. The 1986
Senate Bill 978. It completed this whole process and substantive framework for
the system after some rear-guard action by bad guys.
B: Which bad guys?
D: Wade and a lot of developers, a lot of realtors. Some local governments still
don't want to play the game. They tried to substantially weaken the system.
They hoped to anyway, in the glitch bill, but it passed as a fine-tuning effort to
clarify responsibilities for setting concurrency levels of service, made some
changes in wind-load requirements for the coastal zone. I thought [it] weakened
it a little bit. [It] included a clarification of the consistency requirement for local
plans. The bill required plans to be consistent with the relevant provisions of
Chapter 163, Part II, Local Government Comprehensive Planning and Land
Development Regulation Act, the state comprehensive plan, regional plans, and
other statutes and rules. Local plans have to be consistent with all that.
Perhaps above all, local plans had to meet the minimum criteria Rule 9J5 [of the]
Florida Administrative Code, mandated by the 1985 legislation, prepared by DCA
with substantial input from local government planners and submitted to and
approved essentially as drafted by the 1986 legislative session. People had
tried to use the glitch bill to undermine things. [That] didn't work. The 1986
legislation completed the framework. How did it work out? After that you have
to make your way to the third phase and now maybe the fourth phase.
B: This past time when Bush had his growth management commission and they
tried to do their thing, there were complaints about concurrency. How, for
example, it actually made urban sprawl worse because it urged development far
from the urban core and that downtown development was made prohibitively
expensive because of the obligation to relieve traffic congestion. Did you see
that as a mistake? Did you buy those arguments?
D: No. I bought them to some extent because we didn't implement some of the
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other things that would have caused that not to happen. We didn't manage to
set up meaningful urban-growth boundaries or urban limit-lines. It was a
mistake to set the same levels of service for transportation on the whole 11,000
miles of the state road system. That was a mistake. We recognized that right
away [when] the first comprehensive plan that was approved, I think, and found
consistent, was Broward County. It absolutely put the levels of service on all
their roads including the ones that ran right through the downtown of Fort
Lauderdale and every place else. Already, [they were] exceeding the statewide
levels of service. We recognized that as a mistake early on and set about
correcting it. We did correct it through a series of actions early on. There was
so much stuff vested. The people that didn't really like the system seized on this
as an illustration of how dumb it was.
B: It's true that sprawl became worse and downtown became worse.
D: Not long, no. Sprawl did get worse. Sometimes downtown did not get the
revitalization and development. It was because we didn't enforce the overall
[plan] and didn't fund it adequately that that happened. You can't blame that on
the concurrency requirement because the concurrency requirement is one piece
of the system. We changed all that. We changed it so that in downtown the
level of service could be bad, if you will. At the same time we tried to attach
mandates to that so that you would put in some good public transportation. It
left you free to develop and infill and do good things downtown even though the
level of service [was bad]. I've been known to say, the worse the level of
service, the better, because if it gets bad enough, it lets us do things downtown.
If it gets bad enough, we're going to get a really good public transportation
system in place, and that's what we need anyway. Let it get congested. I
wasn't alone in pointing that out. Dade County did some very good things [with
public transportation] and in setting the levels of service, relaxing them where
they wanted their growth and development to take place and having them stricter
and stricter as you moved out. If you got beyond their urban-development
boundary, they were really tough. Which is conceptually the right approach to
B: That was what you were trying to encourage from the statewide level. How did
your experience as Secretary of DCA shape your later career? Did that change
your opinions, actually having to be in the state government for the first time and
kind of be on the firing line?
D: It was a good thing to happen to me. It was a tremendously demanding job. I
came home one night about 9:00 for God knows how many nights in a row. Gail
met me at the door and said, this is a really shitty job you've got. [Laughter].
B: Gail, you've been quoted on tape.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 75
G: I don't remember saying that.
D: Actually Gail, we were agreeing [on] the demands [of the job].
G: I just know he got home late every night.
B: That probably made you very sensitive to the plight of people in those positions.
D: I wasn't there very long, at DCA, before I realized that we had some very, very
good people there that just hadn't had any support in doing what we needed to
do. We got a bunch of extra money in 1984, thanks to Harry Johnston.
B: The bottom line the reason the 1985 plan doesn't work all goes back to funding.
D: It goes back to funding, not because we didn't provide the promised funding to
redo the plans. We did that. It was funding for concurrency [that we didn't do].
The multimillion dollar issues, we did. It took just about as much funding as we
had promised in the 1975 local government comprehensive planning act.
Actually a little more than that. It was well over $50,000,000 as I recall, that we
passed to them. We not only passed money to make the plans, but to do the
land development regulation and to support that, which we should have done.
But that left funding concurrency, the big multibillion dollar issue. We got that
right when we set up the Comprehensive Plan Committee, the so-called Zwick
B: Were you on that committee?
D: No, but I was working [in support of it]. Let's see, that was in 1986, wasn't it?
D: I had just gone back. I stayed two-and-a-half years instead of two years.
B: Gail says, two years, four months, and eight days.
D: I was too old and ugly to get a new wife. I had been there long enough, I had
agreed with that. It was time to go back. The joint center had been without me
long enough. I didn't want to have it get off track. So I went back but I
continued [to be] heavily involved in things that happened.
B: Were you an advisor to the Zwick committee?
D: In effect, and to Graham, especially.
B: This is another very diverse group of stakeholders and they ultimately find that
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the true costs are some fifty-three billion dollars.
D: [And was for] only a ten-year period of implementing the state plan. That Zwick
committee report is totally relevant today. It's one of the finest and toughest and
smartest outlining of what we have done right and wrong and it explains
completely why we haven't been able to effectively implement our growth
management system. They set it up so we could have. When I went over to a
1,000 Friends of Florida [meeting] I guess that happened since we met before
the meeting over in Tallahassee we were talking about again the tragedy of the
failure to keep the sales tax on services in place. We would have passed
[billions] through to local governments by now. My friend, who is a good
Republican, is from the Tampa-St. Pete area. He's with a law firm over there
now. He was in the legislature. He was a good Republican, I thought. He and
I agreed that if we had kept the sales tax on services in place in the infrastructure
trust fund where it was earmarked to go to local governments to help them meet
the concurrency requirements, it would have produced somewhere between
twenty-two and twenty-five billion dollars. It ain't that hard to get local
governments to play the game. With that kind of money, you could have done
more than the minimum. You could have given extra money for local
governments that did the maximum.
B: As incentives to cooperate.
D: Right. Give everybody the minimum. Curt Kaiser. Thank goodness it came to
me. He's a board member of 1,000 Friends of Florida.
B: How involved were you in the effort to see the tax on services succeed?
D: That was around 1986. I'd just gone back to the Joint Center, FAU.
B: The tax on services seemed to have a great deal of broad-based support and
D: It did. Because you know that committee was broad-based. It's [called a]
committee. Broad-based and Zwick himself was not a wild-eyed radical. They
were pretty much unanimous in supporting that. It's really a sad and sorry story
of Bob Martinez getting tangled up in political crossfires of one kind or another.
He supported the sales tax on services strongly. I was talking to somebody at
the 1,000 Friends [of Florida] meeting and it might have been Curt who said we
didn't really implement the thing as smart as we could [have]. It came so late -
the final agreement on the recommendations and everything. They had to start
collections right away. A lot of people weren't sure how they'd get hit. It wasn't
very smooth in that sense. He said, it's true if we had just stuck to our guns, we
would have [succeeded]. I think this was Curt and I talking about this.
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B: Who or what do you blame for the failure?
D: Bob Martinez, George [Herbert Walker] Bush, not the present president, the
previous president. It was a sad thing for Martinez. I'm almost certain he would
have been re-elected governor [if he had kept his support for the sales tax on
services]. I don't think Chiles would have even thought of running against him if
he had stuck to his guns.
B: It would have given him a real legacy.
D: The most strident opponents had pretty much caved in and said, okay, alright,
the thing is in place. We collected for six months, collected half-a-billion dollars,
put it in the infrastructure trust fund. All that was earmarked for the right thing to
cause this system to work right. I've talked to Charlie Zwick and others, and you
can't prove this Martinez has never been willing to say this to me directly. He
was the national finance chairman of the Bush campaign for president. Those
people told him that they had done a survey in Florida. I can't prove this, you
understand. Some of this is fact. They apparently did a survey and it showed a
lot of opposition, by the very people that Bush was counting on to carry Florida
for him, to the sales tax on services. Never mind that a majority of the people
probably supported it. This will be the critical minority, the critical number that
will cause me to lose Florida and cause me to lose the presidency.
B: How do you know that information? Did someone tell you?
D: Yes, I've heard that from two or three different sources.
B: Republican sources?
D: Yes, but I can't prove that.
B: But you believe it?
D: Yes, I absolutely do believe it's so. I'm not saying it to be critical, necessarily. I
think Bob Martinez was sincere in his support for it. Then, we couldn't get him to
support real fiscal home rule or a bunch of other things. When he did [force the
repeal], it was [after] five or six special sessions of the legislature. Chiles was
persuaded by Buddy MacKay [Florida Lieutenant Governor 1991-1998; acting
Florida governor 12/98-1/99; U.S. Representative, 1983-1989] to come out of the
woodwork. He had already left the Senate. He had resigned from the Senate.
He was at the Collins Center or something like that.
B: How well did you know Chiles at that time?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 78
D: Pretty well. I was never as close to Lawton as I was to Askew or Bob Graham.
He was hard to get close to, I thought. He wasn't a cold person or anything. I
admired him and I think he respected me. We always agreed on just about
B: Where do you put him on the environmental legacy spectrum, in comparison to
Chiles and Askew and Graham?
D: I'd have to put him up there pretty close because he did some good things before
while he was in the U.S. Senate, tried to do some good things. What he did as
governor was fight off efforts to dismantle the whole system and he made
another try at extending the sales tax on services. That Budget Reform
Commission. I forget its precise name.
B: He tried to implement ELMS III.
D: ELMS III was a defensive action on his part. [Later there would be] Republicans,
I think, controlling both houses or at least one house of the legislature. We were
having a recession right then. [It was an] increasingly hostile environment for
growth management. [There was] strong support in either the Senate or the
House to just repeal substantial parts of it. Not all of it. His counter to that was
to set up ELMS III. I have a piece in here on the Zwick commission, "Keys to
Florida's Future: Winning in a Competitive World." You know about that and the
53.9 billion and all that good stuff. The house speaker who supported the 1985
additions to the growth management system was James Harold Thompson.
We're talking about ELMS III here. Lawton wins in 1990, [during] a severe
depression in Florida [and with a] hostile environment in the legislature. Chiles's
strategy for warding off [a] dismantling [of] the growth management system was
to set up ELMS III, and say any assaults, I'll veto. I'll fight anything until ELMS
III comes in with this report.
B: Were you on that group?
D: Yes, I was on ELMS III too. Talk about a hostile bunch when we first convened.
B: He also put all the stakeholders together.
D: We did it right. I was involved heavily in setting it up. Some people would say,
you're not trying to get him to come, or her, [they'll never support anything good].
B: Who were your adversaries then?
D: Same old, same old. That was [Chiles'] strategy, [to say] I'm not going to
support any changes in the system until ELMS III reports. He set it up by
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executive order. It was supposed to report in December of 1992. The
executive order was set up a year earlier than that, in November 1991.
Executive order 91-291. The chair being James Harold Thompson, [and] Linda
Shelly, who was a former general counsel for DCA when I was there, [was vice
chair]. She'd held key positions in the governor's office under Graham and
Chiles. The group met first on December 19, 1991, friend and foe alike doubting
that it could reach a consensus on anything. Fourteen meetings later,
December 15, 1992, we had come up with a consensus that strongly supported
retaining and improving the integrated comprehensive growth management
system. When we started, I wouldn't have bet two cents for that.
B: What was different about what you were recommending than from what was
currently in place?
D: Not a whole lot. We recommended some things to make it easier to develop in
downtown, to relax the transportation concurrency mandates in the proper
places. Recommendation two [was to] adequately finance our planning and
growth management programs.
B: Does this pass the legislature in 1993?
D: 1993. The good news [was] that almost all of the ELMS III recommendations
were approved by the 1993 legislature, adopted as committee substitute House
Bill 2315. The bad news is that most of the key recommendations have never
D: A variety of reasons. The environment became increasingly hostile. The
legislature was taken over completely by Republicans and not many "good"
Republicans either. [They were] pretty strongly anti-growth management. [ELMS
III recommendations were] going to do this list of good things. The final report
had 174 recommendations and 130 were approved. Here's the guts of it.
Drafting a growth management portion of the state comprehensive plan I
contend that was mandated in the first place, we just never did it. This growth
management portion would give real focus to the state plan. It would be that
growth management stuff that the local governments and the state agencies and
everybody had to be consistent with. [It would be an] ICE-with-teeth tradeoff.
Phasing out a large part of the DRI process only if you adopted ICE-with-teeth,
an [inter-]governmental coordination element with teeth. I loved it. A new state
planning mandate to carry out the biennial review of the state plan by the
governor and [a] concurrency recommendation that sustained the concept but
added flexibility especially in the transportation area. That [last one is] about all
that ever got implemented of these four things that I just said. Chiles [makes] a
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 80
major effort [and] I really admire him for this to at last find adequate funding for
implementing the system. [It] involved the Taxation and Budget Reform
Commission, [a[ group mandated by a citizen initiative. That group was put in
by a vote of the people of the state, was put in place. And it issued two reports,
in effect re-extend the sales tax to services. We'll reduce things over here it
won't necessarily be a tax increase, it will be a different way. That meant that
with the sales tax on services, the [funding] growth potential would be adequate
to support the state in its growth. The December 1991 commission report was
titled Florida's Fiscal Future. This is the Taxation, Budget, and Reform
B: Balancing needs and taxes.
D: The legislature showed no support for that or a similar effort proposed by Chiles
in 1992, his Fair Share proposal, [which was to] reduce the sales tax to five cents
and extend it to everyone. Even if it's revenue-neutral in the first instance you
see, it's revenue-positive over time. I can't believe we haven't had sense
enough as a state to do that.
B: What has happened leading up to the present, including what happened last year
D: [There was a] struggle for a third or sustainability phase of the Florida growth
management system. I talk here about the Corps of Engineers restudy. The
major new initiatives to restore and sustain the greater Everglades ecosystem. I
was heavily involved in setting up the Governor's Commission for a Sustainable
B: Were you on that commission?
D: Yes, I chaired one of the key committees on it.
B: Was the commission chaired by Dick Pettigrew?
D: Yes, and of course Dick and I have been working together since forever.
B: Can you talk a little bit about that experience? That was a diverse group of
people who you have to get thinking together.
D: When we first convened, maybe even more than any other time in the past, I
didn't think we would manage to reach a consensus and agree on much of
anything at all.
B: That took years, right?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 81
D: The person who deserves the most credit for that is Dick Pettigrew. He hung in
there, he never would give up and confess that we just couldn't agree on
anything. He just deserves a huge amount of credit for that.
B: What were some of the things he did to make people come to a consensus?
D: We [used] Bob Jones and the Conflict Resolution Consortium to some extent, I
think. I think we surprised ourselves, even this disparate group, by finding some
consensus on what we needed to do. You couldn't find anybody that opposed
restoring and sustaining the Everglades ecosystem. Everybody needs the water
and the Corps of Engineers are the good guys now. Of course, out of this came
the 7.8 billion dollar effort to restore the [greater] Everglades [ecosystem]. The
Governor's Commission for a Sustainable South Florida was set up to [play] a
key advisory role in evolving this restoration of the Everglades. Graham
suggested to Chiles that he talk to me about how to set up this group so that we
got all the right people.
B: You got people who wouldn't later oppose the federal bill.
D: Yes. Chiles did it by executive order. Jim Murley had become Secretary of DCA
in 1995 [in office until 1999] and Linda Shelley, former DCA Secretary, by then
[she was] Governor Chiles's chief of staff. We got the sustainable communities
legislation in, that was another thing. The Governor's Commission on a
Sustainable South Florida, I really liked it and I felt we were able to give input
where it was needed and be the strong voice to restore and sustain as much of
the Everglades as we possibly could. The original natural Everglades was four
million acres and two million was the maximum that you could hope to restore
because the rest of it had already been built on. We weren't going to tear down
thousands of houses or anything like that. I really took a lot of satisfaction from
B: Did this group end up writing the restoration legislation?
D: No, we just had major input into it. We did come up with the Eastward-Ho!
B: How do you think Eastward Ho! is working?
D: Given the hostile environment, it's worked quite well. You can point to a lot of
positive stuff that's happened now. It doesn't have the strong support of the
B: Has it lost its funding in the past couple of years?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 82
D: I'm sure it has. I'm not sure I'm totally up on that, myself. I would be shocked
and surprised if it hadn't.
B: What did you think of the final Everglades restoration bill? Did it do what this
group thought it should do?
D: Absolutely. I was pleased with it. Rock Salt I give him a lot credit for that and
the Ecosystem Restoration Task Force, the [committee] that he headed. I'm not
sure whether this last little hullabaloo that's happened very recently has messed
B: Do you worry about it as an urban water supply project? It will supply so much
water to south Florida.
D: [Not exactly]. That's not my approach. If we can stop wasting two million
acre-feet of water to tide, we will have enough water and earmark it first for
environmental needs, [such as] getting the water moving down [through the
system] in a more natural way. It's going to provide enough water a great
disappointment to some of my no-growth friends for south Florida to grow.
What that means is you've got to grow smart. It's true that [even] if you have
plenty of water and you grow dumb [there will be problems]. Of course, [people
are] going to come anyway. We'll do reverse osmosis or desalination. They're
coming anyway. I don't worry about that. I like it. I just am concerned about
whether the money is going to be there [to implement the recommendations].
B: The same problem that you've seen over the past three decades.
D: And particularly right now. In the short term, we need to be buying some land to
get the thing off the ground. There have been some stories in the paper about
that in the last week or two or three. So far, the funds have not been messed
up. To bring the picture up-to-date very quickly, the Republicans took full control
of the governor's office and the legislature in November 1998 when John Ellis
Bush, better know as Jeb, was elected governor. Some of his appointments
were better than we had feared. Toni Jennings is president of the [Florida]
Senate bless her heart, along with some good Senate committee chairs, [and
those] moderate Republicans defeated most of the bills that would have
dismantled the growth management system. This was in 2000. This whole
long string of bills were defeated that would have dismantled the system.
B: Instead Jeb Bush creates his own growth management commission headed by
Mel Martinez [Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, 2001-present;
member, Governor's Growth Management Study Commission].
D: Who is not really such a bad guy, [he is] a pretty good guy. Executive Order
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 83
2000196 established [the] Growth Management Study Commission.
B: What do you think of that effort?
D: The Growth Management Study Commission started out with some high hopes
from my point of view. It just didn't end up producing what I had hoped that it
would have. We were going to have input you know from all different people like
1,000 Friends of Florida and Audubon, who were going to be part of these
subgroups. Well, they ended up not doing that and these five subgroups -
[they] did not have any [environmentalists]. The Commission itself was pretty
heavily loaded with either unknowns or known opponents of any kind of growth
management, smart growth system. I guess it's good that not much happened.
B: They didn't dismantle what good programs are in place. They did the
agricultural conservation program.
D: Yes. There's some potential good to that, I agree. The good news was that it
didn't dismantle the whole system. The good news was that not much
happened, given the [political] environment. Bush kind of comes up looking like
he's for several things. Something about school concurrency and they claimed
he was for that and a couple of other things.
B: What do you think is the answer on the schools issue? It's a terrible problem
and the school boards don't plan with county governments.
D: We've passed several laws over the years in an attempt to push schools and
counties and cities, where relevant, to work together, but none of them ever had
that final mandate that if you don't do it, we're going to do it for you. It wasn't
"toothy" [enough], it needed a little top-down-edness there. You can't do
everything top-down, we know that. That's one reason why money is so
important, but you've got to have a framework. This is why when Bush [and] our
DCA Secretary [Steve] Seibert [1999-present] [say of] those state issues, of
course we'll have the DCA and the state take a real role here and local
governments will have to behave and do things right. Well, I want to know what
state issues [they mean] and that hasn't been defined, so I'm nervous about that.
I'm pessimistic about straightening this out and getting going in the short run. I
am optimistic about straightening things out and getting things going right in the
B: Why would you be optimistic when you have seen it fail for thirty years?
D: I figure we aren't total absolute and indefinite non-learners. The other reason is
I am an incorrigible, incurable optimist. A lot of people say, oh, DeGrove why
don't you give up on it? It's too late to do anything to help south Florida. I say,
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 84
wait a minute, it's not too late to do a lot of good things for south Florida. We
can undo a lot of the bad things. Eastward Ho! proposes to do that and has had
some significant successes in doing that. However gloomy I admit things look,
especially with September 11 and all that, I don't believe it [is beyond hope]. I
think that there's going to be this real heavy-duty sense of crisis and I think the
people of this state will support things that we now can hardly imagine that would
result in implementing a meaningful smart growth strategy for the state.
B: Schools and transportation are huge problems that are getting to a crisis mode.
What kind of solution would people want in those two areas?
D: I think, absolutely, that if we play [it] right, the people of this state will support
shifting heavy transportation funding to public transportation so that more than
half the total road transportation dollars spent are for public transportation not for
roads. Now that's happening in some places [around the nation]. I think people
will buy the notion that we've got to have some options to this single occupancy
vehicle, SOV. Real, attractive options. Maryland [has done] things that are
really remarkable. They are not rocket science. They don't have a big
top-down system at all. They've got a governor that's determined. Of course,
he's a strong governor institutionally.
B: Is that Parris N. Glendening [Maryland governor, 1995-present]?
D: Oh yes. But he's going to be succeeded in my update of Maryland I'm
predicting boldly that the Kennedy, her last name is Townsend, but she's a
Kennedy [Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Maryland Lt. governor, 1995-present] is
going to be the next governor and she's on board [and for] all of this stuff. They
are just doing such great stuff without a big top-down growth management
system. It's got some teeth that the governor can put in it and is putting in it.
[End of side 1, tape D]
B: How is Maryland solving some of its transportation problems?
D: The last figures put out on the allocation of funds by the governor and supported
by the legislature, spends more than half of the total transportation funds for
public transportation of one kind or another.
B: What's the ratio in Florida?
D: Much less than that. We're doing a little better, but we still have many of the
characteristics of a road department, I hate to say.
B: Do you think voters knew what they were doing when they voted for the
high-speed rail constitutional amendment?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 85
D: I think it was an expression of frustration [by] people. In that sense they knew
what they were doing. I don't know whether that's the exact solution, but I do
know we need to sharply shift [our allocation of transportation dollars]. Are we
going to take everybody out of the single occupancy vehicle? No, we don't have
to do that, but we have to change. We have to offer really attractive choices.
Tri-rail can be finished the double tracking and make that thing run every
fifteen minutes so you don't care if you miss a train or not and make the
connections east-west. You're in that particular corridor now. Do the same
thing all across the state. There are blueprints being laid out now that will cause
that to happen. There are people that see the need for this. Even once in
awhile you think that Jeb Bush supports it.
B: Is there any blueprint out there for the school overcrowding crisis?
D: The only solution to the sad and sorry and tragic state that our schools are in -
and it's going to get worse, enrollment is growing again, they've miscalculated
the current data what the school enrollment is going to be across the state. The
only solution to that is a large infusion of smart money. I do say smart money,
you could have a whole lot of money and fritter it away in some way. Everyone
having anything to do with education anywhere agrees that classroom size is a
critical matter and the smaller the better. Indeed, the smaller the school the
better. These huge schools do not work well. How the hell can we do things
like that when we're billions of dollars short of having enough money. It gets
back to a tax and revenue system that's totally inadequate to support growth and
we're growing and the schools are growing. This is about the third time I can
remember since I've been [involved in] this that we've managed to miscalculate
the school enrollment for the next period of time. This is recent stuff I just read
in the paper. Here I'm saying, well, we've done it again. I have a lot of ideas
about what needs to be done in the schools. We need a mandated interaction
between schools and counties and then we need a lot of money. We need both
of those now. We need school concurrency of the right kind and [at] the right
place. That's going to take a little teeth and needs desperately to be done.
B: We've spent our time discussing your public roles but you may have had a much
greater impact in the classroom. When I conducted a similar interview with
Charlie Zwick, he said something like, John DeGrove has his minions stationed
throughout our local and state governments, indoctrinated with his beliefs making
life difficult for developers and the like. What's your response to that?
D: My response to that is, I agree that a lot of my students end up sharing my view
about how we ought to grow smart instead of dumb. I also am a great advocate
of having my students go into the private sector as well as the public sector. I
think it's smart for the private sector to do things right and to grow smart instead
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 86
of dumb. I consider that a compliment. I just wish there were more. I've got
them scattered all over the country in one place or another.
B: What were the top things you tried to plant in the minds of your students?
D: That there are public goals and objectives for us to have a sustainable state for
any place to have a sustainable system that have to be pursued. You've got
to have a system to manage growth and change that has some teeth, that is well
funded, but that is favorable to all the key stakeholders. I am absolutely
convinced that a smart growth system, properly funded and properly
implemented, is a great thing for developers [and] for corporations. It's a
B: It's good for the economy.
D: Yes, it is absolutely good for the economy. As you know, I believe we're going
to pull out of it. We're on a path of just going worse and worse, as far as having
a sustainable economy goes. We've got some programs that are still in place
and are funded in such a way that they're not going to collapse, like Forever
Florida and Preservation 2000. Other than that, it's a gloomy short-term future
for us. I refuse to be gloomy about it because I think we are going to pull out of
B: What do you think the state would look like if we hadn't passed any growth
management laws in the 1970s, 1980s or again in the 1990s?
D: I think clearly it would be worse.
B: So these weren't a total failure?
D: Absolutely not. Clearly would have been worse. We've had some of
urban-growth boundaries, urban limit lines, [and one] formal urban development
boundary only Dade County has [that]. While they haven't been perfect,
they've done some good things. We've sprawled an awful lot, but not as much
as we would have sprawled. We have managed to protect the edges of the
Everglades down there by trying to acquire land east of the dike so that we won't
be hopscotching right on out further into the Everglades. I need to remind
myself of that, sometimes. We're substantially better off for having done what
we've done than having done nothing. Absolutely. That's one reason I think
that the basic framework of a viable system is still in place. It hasn't been
B: You said, yet.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 87
D: I don't think it will be. I don't believe it. I don't think that will happen.
B: Do you think the state should or could have proceeded with some sort of
D: No, I don't think we could have done that. Zoning is just a tool. It's got to be
within the framework of a growth management, a comprehensive planning
system. I don't think statewide zoning is the answer. I think good zoning is a
key component to smart growth. I never thought that would be a good idea.
B: What do you think of the new urbanist communities like Celebration and
D: Both of those are a little bit exotic, but the fundamental concepts of new
urbanism, I think are right. They are smart growth. They involve protecting
natural systems, at their best. They involve affordable housing. Celebration
was supposed to have a lot more affordable housing when it was conceived than
it ended up with, as I remember. I think the new urbanism concepts are on
target, [when] properly implemented. There's some around the country. I think
there are going to be more and more.
B: It's interesting to compare Celebration and a place like Weston. Weston did so
many things wrong in terms of where it is and how far out it is and yet it has a
terrific sense of community, when you look at the way people interact and the
D: That's partly because of Roy Rodgers. He had a big impact on Weston once he
came there, in trying to instill a sense of community and that sort of thing.
B: You look at Celebration and it seems a little surreal, or like you said, exotic, even
though it followed all those good tenets of new urbanism.
D: Yes, that's true. It didn't turn out to be the way some the people who designed it
in the first place, worked with it in the first place, hoped it would be. Like
Andreas [Duany] and some others. Of course, Andreas could be so obnoxious,
but he's a good guy. Elizabeth Plater-Zyberk is a good lady. I've worked with
them a lot, one place or another, one time or another.
B: Do you believe in their ideas?
D: Yes. The trouble with Andreas is he can alienate a saint, the way he comes at
things, so arrogant sometimes.
B: Maybe it's the Yale background.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 88
D: She is not that way, nearly as much.
B: She's very down to earth.
D: Yes, she is and I like her a lot.
B: Have you been following St. Joe's plans to develop one million acres in the
Panhandle? Is that something that worries you?
D: I followed it with great disappointment and frustration.
B: How so? They're claiming that they're going to do all these things that you've
been talking about.
D: Sure, they certainly are. On the ground it isn't happening that way. I can tell
you that because 1,000 Friends of Florida is involved pretty deeply in this. I had
high hopes that they really were going to carry through. They're doing some
bad stuff right up there close to Seaside. They're doing some things that aren't
B: How are they allowed to do it when we have this growth management system in
D: You already know the answer to that. We aren't implementing it effectively.
The local governments up there, a lot of them, still feel that they've not been
allowed to have their just desserts and [are] growing however they can get
growth. I've been very disappointed in that. I had some spirited discussions
with my friend Bob Rhodes about it.
B: You and Bob Rhodes have been close, right?
D: Yes, for a long time. He claims they're still arguing and are going to do some
good things. They certainly are doing some things that aren't very good too.
B: What are just a couple of examples?
D: There's some development outside of Tallahassee that we tracked Southwood,
[it] probably is on the affordable housing issue. Could not get them to play a
reasonable game and do the things that we felt were mandated that they needed
to do. I think it was a DRI. I don't think they ever did do the things that we felt
they should have done in Southwood. We've had several others similar. One
just outside of Seaside. I forget the name of it.
B: Was that one called Watercolor?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 89
D: I think it is Watercolor, yes.
B: Was that also an affordable housing issue?
D: I forget. I shouldn't say. It probably was that and maybe [it] just lines the ocean
with high rises, probably knocked down all the sand dunes to put it up.
B: You've mentioned a couple of times over the course of our interview a big book
that you're working on. Is that the state-by-state look at land planning?
D: Yes, everything that any state has tried to do since I started looking at this stuff.
B: Which states are you going to say do the best job?
D: In spite of recent efforts to undermine the system, Oregon, I'd say would be one
of them. Maryland would be more recent and thus in some ways more
interesting, near the top. I think this Maryland thing can have a chance to play
out extraordinarily well, assuming that the lieutenant governor is elected governor
and the politics of Maryland point very strongly in that direction. Another reason
I'm optimistic about Maryland is [that Governor] Glendening, with some good
advice [which] must be from a lot of the folks around him, has large money
reserves that they put in place partly anticipating they didn't anticipate
September 11 some possible downturn [in the economy]. Even with the
economy weakening, they're still implementing this stuff. I think it will be slowed
somewhat. Washington state is doing some very good things that it often
doesn't get full credit for. That's coming along quite well. Florida is a question
B: What states do the worst? Are there any states now that don't have any growth
management in place?
D: Yes, plenty of them. Texas doesn't have any, the third-largest state in the
Union. We're going to be the third soon, by 2020. It used to be 2010, [it's]
going to take a little longer, I guess. Texas is [doing very little, with only some
good efforts in the Austin area]. Arizona and Utah are moving along and
threatening to do some good things. California doesn't have a comprehensive
system yet. [They are] doing a lot of interesting things in particular places. [They
have] a lot of support for a comprehensive system there, but still can't be given
credit [for having a full system in place]. Mississippi, Alabama [do] not [have]
B: What will your book be called?
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 90
D: [The working title is The Shift to Smart Growth Strategies: State and Regional
Approaches to Managing Growth and Change.]
B: When will it be out?
D: I'm hoping it will be out [early in 2003]. I hope I'll be finished totally well before
that. We've got a lot of the new smart growth efforts that are going on in places
like Utah. I've got that in there. Some of the New England states like Maine,
Vermont, and Rhode Island, all doing some interesting stuff.
B: Who is publishing your book?
D: Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. Yes, they're doing it, bless their hearts.
They're hanging in there with me and I'm hanging in there with them. Maryland
is waiting for me back there now [in my workroom].
B: What other professional and/or environmental activities do you have planned for
D: If I can think beyond the book and I do want to do that, I hope just to remain
involved in efforts to further smart growth approaches both in this country and
outside the country.
B: It sounds like you plan to be professionally active.
D: Absolutely. I'm going to cut back on the number of organizations that I try to
give time to. The National Academy of Public Administration, I want to stay
active in. It's a by-invitation thing. When you're retired, in some of these they
don't charge as much, thank goodness. APA, I'll still be doing. Of course,
1,000 Friends and 1,000 Friends-type groups around the country.
B: Are other states looking at that model?
D: Yes. In Hawaii they call it Hawaii's 1,000 Friends. If you try to look at it on the
website and you try to look up 1,000 Friends of Hawaii, you won't find it. I just
sent them a little contribution.
B: Why did you and Gail choose Gainesville as your retirement spot?
D: Gail, why did we choose Gainesville?
G: Jim's here.
D: Our youngest son is here.
FGM 5 DeGrove Page 91
B: He's in Alachua right?
G: And we like Gainesville.
D: We were here before and we liked it. It's kind of...
G: Five hours closer to North Carolina.
D: Yes, so we can get to our place in North Carolina where we'll be spending almost
half the year. Then our daughter lives halfway up the line in Atlanta. It made a
lot of sense. Jim, he's a contractor.
B: Is it also a reflection of the quality of life in south Florida?
D: To some extent, although I'm not as down on south Florida as some people are.
I'm willing to admit that it was probably time for us to make a move, you know. I
still have high hopes for south Florida and this whole effort to restore and sustain
the greater Everglades ecosystem, having a positive effect on [their] urban
[systems]. You can't separate them. If you don't have... [if] we don't do better
on sustainable urban systems in southeast Florida, we won't have sustainable
natural systems and we won't have either one. That's true for the rest of the
B: Last question, is there anything we haven't talked about that you think might be
of interest to future scholars studying growth management, urban planning,
environmental history or related topics that you want to get on the tape?
D: Gosh, I'm sure that after I think about this, there might be some things.
B: Like I said, you have the chance to edit it too.
D: I don't think so. I am absolutely certain that people in this country do not wish to
see their quality of life further eroded by foolish policies for not managing growth
well. That tide is going to turn. I think that students who are in school now,
[and] planners and other people who have gotten discouraged [and] say, well I'm
going to get out of this and go do something else [are making a mistake]. I think
the public sector and the planning departments and regional agencies and water
management districts and things like that are important places to be. I would
encourage students who are coming along to think about careers [in the public
sector]. Also think about careers in the private sector, but bringing the right
vision and viewpoints into the private sector.
B: Well, thank you so much for all these hours. I really appreciate it.