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Interview with Allen Morris, May 16, 1974

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Title:
Interview with Allen Morris, May 16, 1974
Creator:
Morris, Allen ( Interviewee )
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Language:
English

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Subjects / Keywords:
Florida and Politics Oral History Collection ( local )

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Funding:
This text has been transcribed from an audio or video oral history. Digitization was funded by a gift from Caleb J. and Michele B. Grimes.

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Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, Department of History, University of Florida
Holding Location:
This interview is part of the 'Florida Politics' collection of interviews held by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program of the Department of History at the University of Florida
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Made available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 4.0 International license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/.
Resource Identifier:
FP 044 ( SPOHP IDENTIFIER )

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FP44sum

Allen Morris

This is an interview with Allen Morris, clerk of the Florida House of Representatives. The
interview was conducted in Tallahassee, Florida, on May 16, 1974, by Jack Bass and
Walter De Vries. The interview is from the Southern Oral History Program, which is part
of the Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina Library, Chapel Hill.

pp. 1-2: Morris discusses the significant development and growth of the Republican Party in
Florida, especially strong Republican organizations on the county level. He cites Governor
Claude Kirk giving the party its patronage and public notice, despite Kirk being a "maverick
Republican." Regarding additional facets to the party's growth, Morris calls attention to the
growth in population and the role of television.

pp. 2-4: Morris describes the basic changes in the legislature in the last twenty-five years, the
most notable of which include re-drawing the district lines in 1967, that is, reapportionment.
Reapportionment meant the Republicans were now more numerically significant in the
legislature. Because they were not from the old school of politicking, incoming legislators made
many reforms, including the instigation of standing committees.

pp. 4-7: Morris talks about replacing the speaker and president of the Florida Senate with every
new legislative session and the ways in which attaining those two positions have evolved since
the 1930s. He believes that reforms in the legislature, such as reapportionment, better staffing,
and salaries, have produced a better governing body. One of the more important reforms, he
cites, is that major legislation is now the product of committees that have enabled quicker
passage of proposed legislation.

pp. 7-8: Morris covers his career in serving as clerk for the Florida Legislature since 1966, and
prior to that serving as a newsman reporting on the sessions for The Miami Herald. He also
states that the House of Representatives in the late 1940s asked him to write its rules of
procedure. He says how he watched the Florida press corps grow over the years to the point
where it is now second only to California.

pp. 8-10: The conversation turns to the history of the press with many newspapers wanting a
competitive edge, which, Morris says, has been good for the public interest. He describes
newspapers wanting to reach out to fresh boundaries where new potential subscribers are coming
into the state. Also, Morris feels that the more newspaper reporters in Tallahassee, the more
aware legislators feel they are being scrutinized. Morris discusses the role of the Sunshine Law
and its effect in putting an end to executive sessions in the Senate.

pp. 10-11: Morris talks about Governor Reubin Askew's early political career in the Florida
House and Senate and how Askew made an indelible impression on Morris. He cites one
example of Askew returning a book to Morris saying that it wasn't right to accept gifts.










pp. 11-12: The interview turns to Morris's well-known book, The Florida Handbook, first
published in 1946 and updated and re-issued every two years. He talks about its wide
distribution throughout Florida and how it is used as a textbook at various educational levels.
He also discusses how the book came into being.

pp. 12-14: When asked about his assessment of governors since he started covering Tallahassee,
Morris says that each governor faced different problems and therefore it is difficult to evaluate
each one, but he gives examples of several governors--from Fuller Warren to Reubin Askew--and
the unique issues they confronted.

pp. 14-17: Morris talks about the shift in power of the cabinet, legislature and governor in the
last decade. He also compares how the Pork Chop Gang operated in previous decades to the way
the Senate currently runs--individual patronage versus suburban collectivity. He also describes
the evolving power of county commissions.

pp. 17-19: Morris discusses the unusual cabinet system in Florida, that is, independently elected
officers, and how it developed since the mid-1800s. He also details the current slate of cabinet
commissioners, several of whom are under investigation. Regarding a change in Florida politics,
Morris cites the current state of upheaval in politics in the country, that is, Watergate. But
Morris feels that the legislature is responsive to the needs of Floridians.

pp. 19-20: The interviewers ask Morris whether he considers Florida a southern state to which
he responds no because more than half of today's residents have come from other parts of the
country and that influx will increase due to more retirees moving here. The conversation turns
toward a hypothetical run-off between Reubin Askew and George Wallace in a presidential
primary.

pp. 21-23: Morris compares the responsiveness of the legislators to their constituency in the
1940s to the 1970s--the base has changed from individuals to the suburbs--and also how the
legislature is now responsive to the press. Another reason Morris cites for Florida's tremendous
rate of growth is war. After the end of each war, since the Civil War, soldiers based in Florida
returned to Florida's warm climate. Morris's father was lured to Florida by a land development
in Coral Gables in 1922. He and his family decided to stay.






FROM THE -V00 7 '--- -
SOUTHERN HISTORICAL COLLECTION, THE LIBRARY OF
THE UNiiV'iSITY OF NORTH CAROLINA AT CHAPEL HILL



This is an interview with Allen Morris, clerk of the Florida

house of representatives. The interview was conducted in Tallahassee,

Florida on May 16, 1974 by Jack Bass and Walter De Vries. It was

transcribed by Joe Jaros.



Jack Bass: Now, what really has changed since you were interviewed

for V.O. Key's book?

Allen Morris: Well, of course, the significant development has been

the growth of the Republican party as a state party. As you know,

Republican presidential candidates had carried Florida prior to that time,

but I think that there are very strong Republican organizations in many

countiessand there are numerous state, county unit officials who are

Republican. While the Democratic party has tried to draw itself together,

with the revamping of the state executive committee, the state committee

having considerable money to spend, it never really acheived the unity of

the Republicans. Why that is, I don't know. Democrats just seem to fall

apart at times. And I guess that that happens to the Republicans too in

the Gurney framework situation that most people believe, that most observers

believe was engineered by our governor Kirk. He was sort of a maverick

Republican. He had been a Democrat, was a turncoat. But having a governor

gave the Republican party the patronage that was quite helpful during his

four years. It was unfortunate for the party in some ways that he wound up

at odds with many of his own people. That was their big opportunity. He

sort of blew it. He got the vice-presidential bug at first. The party






page 2



people saw a lot of their money being spent on furthering his personal

political hopes.

W.D.V.: Has that been the major change in the last twenty-five years,

the growth of the Republican party?

Morris: Yes, I would think so.

W.D.V.: What were some of the other things that you told Herb that

you said you felt a little bip silly about now?

Morris: Well, one of the things that distressed me later, was that I

had conducted a poll on an airplane of maybe ten members of the state senate,

asking them who they would like to have on their side if they were candidates

for governor. And we certainly turned out with some strange people, gamblers

and maybe it was true at that time. I don't think that they were

kidding me under the circumstances. I guess that it indicates that Florida

has really changed in some ways, that they were in for the name's sake of

five or six people and they thought that with that five or six they could

mount a statewide campaign. Well, no one could do that anymore. Florida

in those days had perhaps two million people. Today, we are thirty-seven

plus. Television has come into it. Then, a few newspapers. Campaigning

has taken on additional facets and sides.

W.D.V.: What have been the basic changes in the legislature in the

last twenty-five years?

Morris: In 1967, a three judge federal court in Miami finally took

into its hands the drawing up of the district lines. And it took the

control from the rural areas and transferred it to the suburbs. And it

meant that the Republican party became a significant force in the

legislature. A force that had to be reckoned with in both houses. While






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview -0,5 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 3



Governor Kirk was governor, there were enough of them in the legislature

to sustains his vetoes. It also brought into the legislature many people

who had had no prior political background. It just changed the atmosphere.

I suspect that quite number of the people who came to the legislature that

year were simply people who allowed their name to be used perhaps, without

ever any thought of winning. And on the other side, the Democratic side,

so many candidates qualified that others saw that this was a good chance for

anybody to win and people did. In Dade County, the legislative candidates

amounted to something like 200 and no voter could intelligently plow his

way through the banks of names on the voting machines. So, it made a great

deal of change. And the class of '67, which is just fading now, presented

the opportunity for numerous reforms to be achieved in the legislature,

because we had so many people who didn't know that this was the "way that

it has always been done." And out of that came so many changes that Florida's

legislature was ranked at the top in a number of categories by the citizen's

Committee of State Legislatures. So, that was good. We have a year 'round

legislature now. They don't meet year round, but the committees are

standing committees for two years. They are appointed when the presiding

officers take office in November, The previously presiding officers that

had been installed in April and had appointed their committees then and

the committees went out of existence at the end of that session. We have

a sixtsteantly consecutive day session which amounts to forty-four

working days. Forty-four days isn't awful much of an opportunity for

creativity. The legislature could barely keep up with stamping yes or no

or maybe on bills which other people drafted and brought into the committees.

Well, now, each committee not only does business for two years, each






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 6-55 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 4



committee has been adequately staffed. The members for the first time have

personal staffs in their districts. They have a district allowance and all in

all, they are equipped to do the sort of job that I think the people demand

of them or at least want of them.

J.B.: How much staff do they have in the district?

Morris: The senators have an administrative aide and a secretary.

The house members have one or the other, either an aide or a secretary.

J.B.: And what sort of salary is provided by that staff?

Morris: I can look it up, but I can't tell you off the top of my

head.

J.B.: That's all right.

W.D.V.: And what is the district allowance?

Morris: The district allowance presently is vouchered expenses up

to the $300 a month.

J.B.: And that covers such expenses as what?

Morris: Rent, telephone, office supplies.

J.B.: Would it include travel?

Morris: Travel within the district is an expense, yes.

W.D.V.: When did the tradition start that you replace the speaker and

the president of the senate every new legislature? And why did it start?

Morris: So far as I know, it started at the beginning. If you

look back over the lists of speakers and presidents, you will not find but

two or three where they repeated. Why it was, I don't know. I assume that

it was felt that it was an honor to be handed around the legislature. It

may not have been as significant asforce and so therefore, it didn't really

matter, that everybody wanted the opportunity to be speaker. But the







From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview d'S in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 5



custom was pretty firmly rooted beginning in the 1930's, the late 1930's,

when the campaigns for president and for speaker were run far in advance

(interruption on tape) .. so that they were campaigning four years

in advance. Well, obviously the man in office didn't have a change to

be re-elected. He was, to a certain degree, a lame duck at the time that

he took over. But they finally had an upheaval about that last year and

beginning after the next change of speaker, the system will be different.

They will not be campaigning in advance, hopefully. And there will be

a year's experience before the members are called upon to vote in a secret

ballot for a nominee. That's on the Democratic side only. The majority

side. And you know, there are pros and cons to it.

J.B.: So, how will it work then?

Morris: At that time, in the second January of the two year term,

those members who wish to offer themselves for speaker will make this

known to the clerk. The clerk then will then, after a cut-off date,

will certify that these are the candidates and there will be a secret

ballot to select one.

J.B.: And how is it donw now?

Morris: It is done now on a pledge basis. That when some person

gets a majority of the people with whom he is then serving, but not the

people he would be the speaker of, they will call a caucus and confirm

the results.

J.B.: But the change will still continue to have one'year's house,

one year's session elect the speaker for the following term.

Morris: Yes, that's desirable.

J.B.: But that's not a legal thing, though. One house cannot bind







From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4- 5 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 6



another house. Why is it desirable?

Morris: Well, it's obviously desirable because there needs to be a

period of transition between the old speaker, whose job will be finished.

You see, Mr. Sessums's job will be finished on May 31 of this year, for all

practical purposes. There will be a hiatus until Tucker takes over on

November 19. During that period, the incoming speaker, the speaker

designate, has an opportunity to learn something of the ropes of being

speaker. It's more important now than it once was, because the house is

a big business. They have hundreds of employees.

J.B.: Has the governor traditionally taken a hands-off position

on the election of the speaker?

Morris: He has nothing to do with it. So far as I know, he has

never had anything to do with it.

J.B.: Have any of them ever attempted to influence the selection?

W.D.V.: Have there been very many fights like the one that is now

coming up between Tucker and Harris? Have you had that kind of contest

before?

Morris: Yeah, sure.

W.D.V.: Often?

Morris: No, ndteoften. We had it four years ago. As you well know,

this sort of fights results from the emergence of the Republican party as

a major force. This is a coalition situation. Prior to that, the Democratic

party was the solitary party in the field, perhaps two or three or four

Republicans, I don't know. Well, the outcome of the Democratic caucus, that

concluded it, it was final. But the new element here is whether it might

be possible to join dissident Democrats with the Republicans, as has happened






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page 7



in other states. No one knows what might come about here.

W.D.V.: Havaeall these reforms in the legislature, the reapportionment,

the better staffing, the salaries and so on, produced a better legislative

product?

Morris: Well, I should hope so. And I would base that on the fact

that the major legislation is the work product of committees now. An

administrative code, or revision of the criminal code is something that

would take two or three or four years, more time than any individual member

could give to it, that's the sort of things that are coming through.

J.B.: Does each committee have a full-time staff?

Morris: Yes.

J.B.: How large?

Morris: Well, it depends on the committee. Appropriations has a

staff director and perhaps six or seven or eight budget analysfstplus the

staff of four secretaries.

W.D.V.: Can we get a legislative directory that would have this sort

of information in it? Do you have such a directory?

Morris: We don't have it broken down. What we can give you would

be a clerk's manual which would show only the names of the committees and

the staff directors, the committee secretaries, but not how many are below

them.

W.D.V.: Is it your impression. that Florida has one of the biggest

legislative staffs in the country? Or at least in the South?

Morris: Yes, I would think so. I would think certainly in the

South.

W.D.V.: You've been clerk for how long?







From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview ,55 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 8



Morris: Since 1966.

J.B.: And then before that, you were in effect covering the legislature

as a newsman, am I correct?

Morris: Uh-huh. I was sort of on both sides of the fence. Ithad

developed an interest in the house of representatives almost as soon as I

came here in '41 as the political editor of the Miami Herald, and I stayed

here after the '43 session, and as early as '47, the house asked me to

write its rules of procedure and I did that. And they were adopted in

'49. So, even while I was a newsman, I was also interested in the procedural

side of the legislature.

J.B.: When you came in '41, how large was the capitol press corps?

Morris: Well, I was the first year around person in the capitol

itself. The Associated Press had one or two men here, down the street.

So far as I know, I was the first to be lodged there in the capitol

itself.

J.B.: We've been impressed with both the size of the capitol press

corps in Tallahassee and also its' aggressiveness.

Morris: I understand that our press corps is second only to that

of California in size.

J.B.: To what do you attribute to, what to us at least, is

attri uted the generally high quality insofar as aggressiveness in

journalistic standards?

Morris: Well, I think there are several reasons. First, Florida

is perhaps different from many states in that there is no dominant

newspaper. There are large newspapers in Jacksonville, Orlando, St.

Petersburg and Miami and some pretty good moderate sized newspapers

elsewhere. That has set up a competitive situation here in the capitol,

which has worked out, I think, very well for the public interest. I


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 'S in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 9




think that may be the answer.

J.B.: There's a seeming willingness on the part publishers to invest

more in capitol coverage than in most states.

Morris; Again, it's that competitive urge, I believe. I think there's

another element there. Florida is still a frontier state, a state of

ferment, a state of great growth, which offers the publishers a reason to

push out constantly into new areas where people are coming in. In many

states, it has become static and the circulation boundaries are fixed.

There is not as much reason for the promotional efforts of good staffing

at the capitol and elsewhere. When I came here, when I went back home from

the '43 session and told Lee Hills of the Miami Herald that I thought the

time had come for the Herald to open up a Tallahassee bureau, he said, "No,

we are looking to the Latin Americans first." And they had several Latin

American editions distributed by air. But I came back and signed up a number

of papers. And pretty soon, there were a number of papers in. The Herald

came in, the Tribune came in and I think that one stimulates another. It's

a pretty healthy situation.

W.D.V.: Why was that competition good for the public interest?

Morris: It seems to me that whenever you have reporters that are

competitively rooting around in the government, it's bound to be in the public

interest. It makes for a better government if bureaucrats know that somebody

is looking over their shoulders and telling the public what's going on.

W.D.V.: Was the capitol press corps largely responsible for the passage

of the Sunshine Law?

Morris: I don't know whether it was largely responsible. I presume

that it could be said so, although the idea did not originate in the press.

It originated with a state senator from Gainesville who is now a judge. But



From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview -SS5 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 10



once he started pushing it and pushing it aggressively, he got a lot of

help from them.

J.B.: What's his name?

Morris: Emory Cross. Ray Cross.

J.B.: Was the sit-in movement over in the senate, that dramatic sit-in

movement by several reporters, was thatta key factor in mobilizing support

for that bill, was it a turning point?

Morris: No, the Sunshine Law had already been enacted. What the sit-in

did was to put an end to executive sessions in the senate.

J.B.: The Sunshine Law allowed such, is that correct?

Morris: Yes, and the constitution still does. It just happened to

coincide with reapportionment, which changed the complexion of the senate

by causing what had been the minority to subsequently become the majority.

They had a president of the senate, it turned up from a president of the

senate, who had always been very press conscious and who had been more or less

a darling of the press. And he suddenly was confronted with this and so he

just decreed that there would be no more executive sessions and no on since

then has attempted to have an executive session. But the provision for it is

still in the constitution. There was a feeling among the press that executive

sessions were being used for consideration of matters other than gubernatorial

appointments and suspensions. That's what they were shooting to.

J.B.: When Governor Askew was in the legislature, particularly in the

early days, when he was in the house and later in the senate, and you were,

at least at the beginning part of that, were observing as a newsman, am I

correct?

Morris: Uh-huh.






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page 11



J.B.: Did he stand out at that time, in any way?

Morris: Yes. He stood out in a number of ways. Not the least of which

was his stand on apportionment. His predecessorsin the senate had been one

of the troops in the Pork Chop Gang and while Representative Askew defeated

him, it was still felt that the Panhandle of Florida was Pork Chop territory.

So, I felt that he had taken his political future in his hands by some of the

things that he did and said so in some columns that I wrote about him. I

think that I first started paying attention to him when I learned that he,

as a freshman member of the house, had returned a copy of a book of mine

which had been sent to all members of the legislature by one of the interests.

And he is the only person, so far as I know, who ever has returned one. He

just didn't think that it -was the right thing to do to accept gifts. I think

that in subsequent years he realized that this really wasn't an effort to buy,

it was anbeffort to better inform him and other members of the legislature.

He got my eye when he did that. I presume that you know that I published

a guide to the state government, it started in 1946 and is published every

other year.

J.B.: I did not realize that it was published every other year.

W.D.V.: Is that the Florida Handbook?

Morris: Uh-huh. Since it is the only book in the field, it enjoys

usage as a textbook in colleges and universities and some high schools, but

only because it is the only thing that is available.

W.D.V.: How do we get one? How do we buy one?

Morris: Well, I hate to tell you, or I guess that I should be happy

to tell you, that it is sold out of this edition and there will be a new one

next April. It comes out coincidently with the first regular session of the

new legislature. This is what it looks like.




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W.D.V.: I've seen it.

Morris: It's a repository of odd facts about the state, odds and

ends, the "firsts", all that kind of stuff that needs to be tucked away,

so that we don't have to burden our files. It's an outgrowth of a column

that I wrote when I fist came to Tallahassee. A column called, "About

Flotida" which appeared three times a week in some fifteen or sixteen

newspapers. And it asked and answered three questions about the state.

So, fairly soon, I accumulated such a pile of material, I also discovered

that there were an awful lot of people in Florida that wanted to know about

their state. Florida still has more than 50% of its people who were from

other states and so, they had no way of learning about the state and many

people had a genuine interest in it. So, it seemed to me that this would

be a good way to get a secondary benefit out of this material and that in

turn led to the establishment of the state photographic archives, because

I wanted to illustrate the books and found that there was no place in the

state that had a central photographic collection. So, the state's collection

is out at the Stroesser (?) Library at FSU now. So, one thing just leads

to another.

W.D.V.: How would you assess the various governors that you saw during

that period from '48 on?

Morris: Well, one of the problems of making an assessment of governors

or legislators or anything else in Florida is that the state has grown so

fast that they are not faced with equal problems. I felt that Governor

Warren's administration was one in which more things happened for the betterment

of the state than any other. Many of the things that were started then were









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page 13



brought to fruition in succeeding administrations. I'm sure that Governor

Holland was a great governor, but he was governor during World War II when it

was a holding operation, there wasn't anything that state government could have

done. It couldn't even build roads. Governor Collins achieved, I suspect, the

first national attention by a Florida governor since of the

three friends filibuster days, the Cuban war days. But his administration in

Florida was hamstrung by the events of integration and of reapportionment.

He was the first governor to be elected to a successive term because he had

been elected to the first complete term of the governor that died, so he had

six years. Those six years were given over to intangibles, to high principles,

I have a vast amount of respect for governor Collins. But it's just unfortunate

that he was fighting these moral issues and that he contributed a good deal

toward bring Florida successfully through that period of transition on

segregation and integration. They were stands that were certainly very

unpopular, even in his own community and which, of course, had much to do

with his defeat when he ran for the United States Senate. Governor Kirk

received a great deal of national attention, too, but of a different kind.

W.D.V.: How about Askew?

Morris: Well, we are living in that part of history now. There's

every reason to believe that he will be re-elected and if he is, he will

be the first governor to be elected to two successive four year terms since

the constitution was amended to make that possible. He has had an administration

which has been almost well, his office has been unblemished and he has

quickly gotten rid of those minor appointees who were involved in questionable

activities. He's extremely sensitive to moral questions. He hasn't changed

since he came here as a representative.






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J.B.: Is he different from other politicians in that respect, in

florida? Does he stand out as really being different?

Morris: Yes, I would think so. I don't want to faultlRoy Collins,

but I think that Governor Askew is even more of a Presbyterian in thinking

than Governor Collins. And he's received some national attention. Florida

is a large enough state to command some attention from national parties.

It's not beyond the realm of possibility that he might be considered for

national office before he goes out. The peculiar structure of Flotida's

state government means that a very important part of the governor's tradition

is furnishing moral leadership.asAs we waw during Governor Kirk's administration,

this state government can go on without the governor and even though there

was a general reorganization in 1968, the members of the cabinet have a voice

that equals that of the governor on boards that run the departments of the

state, that run many of the departments of the state. So, it isn't as though

you were in these states where the governor appoints the members of the

cabinet.

W.D.V.: Has some of the power of the cabinet shifted or moved to the

legislature or to the governor in the last ten years?

Morris: Both ways.

W.D.V.: Is that going to continue?

Morris: It well could in view of the upheaval in the cabinet these

days. The legislature has, since '67, has considered itself as a coequal

branch of the government for the first time. By reason of recent year round

committees, staffing, the transfer of the auditor-general to the legislature

branch from the executive. Up until then, the executive audited itself.

Shifting it to the legislature has made considerable difference.

W.D.V.: So, you think that will continue?

Morris: I believe that the largest state department, the department of


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 45' in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 15



health and rehabilitative services, HRS, is responsible solely to the

governor. And that includes, health, welfare, prisons, hospitals, it's

a big operation. It's a cradle to the grave deal.

J.B.: Could you give us a comparison and contrast to the way the

legislature and particularly the senate, operated in the days of the Pork

Chop Gang and the way it works now? The way it works in terms of

responsiveness to public issues and concerns, as well as just modes of

operation.

Morris: The rural domination of the senate in terms of the so-called

Pork Chop days, I think was an expression by the senators of a concern about

their constituents as individuals, whether Jim Jones was going to get this

job as a game warden or as a guard at Rayburn or as an attendant in a mental

hospital. The sauburan legislature tends to think of people collectively

across the board. Their honest concern about finding patronage jobs, I

think, makes a big difference.

J.B.: So, they were more issue oriented, is that the basic difference?

(end of side 1)



J.B.: county government and local government as a result of

reapportionment of the legislature?

Morris: The legislature has tried to give both cities and counties

and the numerous special tax districts, well, the legislature has tried to

give the city-county governments more home rue power. Counties can by

ordinance do now what could only be done by anspecial ahit &f'the legislature

previously.

J.B.: What would be some examples of this?

Morris: Well, if the specific county wished to provide garbage service




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page 16



collection, it would have had to come to the legislature to get that authority.

Now, they can do it by an ordinance. They had no ordinance making authority

prior to a few years ago.

J.B.: Does each county have its own county government, in the form

of what? A county council type?

Morris: It has a commission.

J.B.: Is that uniform statewide?

Morris: It is except in the charter counties? And those are the

metropolitan areas, Dade-Miami, Jacksonville-Duvall. I believe that

Sarasota and Volusia counties have variations. All the rest are uniform

at the moment.

J.B.: How many members on each commission?

Morris: Five.

J.B.: And are they usually elected by districts or county-wide?

Morris: they must live in the district but are elected county-wide.

J.E.:J.Bi;. tDid they exist before the changes in rreapporitonment, or they

just had very little power?

Morris: That's true. And the legislature has had considerable

difficulty and has not been too successful in persuading these counties and

cities to take on the powers that they have available to them. They would

prefer to spread the heat by being able that the legislature has required

them to do this and that. So, it is still an evolving still an evolving

situation.

J.B.: Is there much in the way of state revenue sharing with the

counties and mtnasi*pitE municipalities?

Morris: Yes, a great deal of it. A great deal, the state has taken






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page 17



over the cost of local government, the schools .

J.B.: But there is no statewide property tax, am I correct in that?

Morris: No, that was abandoned to the local areas in '39 or '41.

W.D.V.: Do you know how long Florida has had this cabinet system?

Is it a long standing institution or did it just evolve that way? But it

is unique in the country.

Mirris: The beginning of the cabinet system was, I suspect, around

almost from the start. By the Civil War, it seems probably that the

comptroller, treasurer, secretary of state, attorney general in some

periods during Reconstruction, the governor could appoint the members of

the cabinet. But beginning with 1885, the cabinet was fully and independently

elected and has been ever since. Each of the cabinet officers has his own

constituency, his own political base. That's one of the reasons why there's

not the cohesiveness that you might find elsewhere. The commissioner of

agriculture, agriculture is his balliwick. The insurance commissioner, the

attorney general, control banks, mortgages, money lending institutions

across the board.

W.D.V.: But their power comes from their being able to act collectively

as boards. That's unique, isn't it?

Morris: Yes. I understand that it is. They tell me that it is not

like anything else in the country.

W.D.V.: That is changing, though?

Morris: It is changing somewhat. There's no great change that has

yet appeared. Much will depend upon events that are marching on and we

don't know where they will end up.

J.B.: How many Republicans in the legislature thisyear, do you know







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page 18



offhand?

Morris: There are f6rty-four in the house, I think that's ithe way

it works out, forty-three Republicans and seventy-seven Democrats.

J.B.: How about in the senate? Do you offhand know?

Morris: Twenty-five Democrats and fourteen Republicans.

J.B.: So, really, the Republicans haven't shown any great gains in

the past four years or sbh;have they?

Morris: No, they have held their own. The Republicans had- a complete

slate for cabinet officers in the last general election and they will

probably field one this time. Politics being the turmoil that it is in

Florida today, they well could establish a beachead by getting one member

in the cabinet. As you know, the commissioner of education was recently

indicted, resigned, because otherwise he could have been impeached. The

comptroller is being investigated by the federal grand jury in Tampa. The

insurance commissioner is being investigated by the county grand jury here

and no one knows where it will all end. It is just bound to have an effect

on all matters political.

W.D.V.: Have there beenamany attempts at impeachment other than Tom Adams?

Morris: That was the first of the officers of the executive department.

All the others that reached impeachment stage were all judges, but there weren't

many of those.

W.D.V.: But Adams was the first one? In the executive branch? And

that failed?

Morris: Articles of impeachment were brought in by the individual

member against a governor, but that's as far as it went. Articles were

presented or about to be presented against the treasurer around the turn of






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview -o5 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 19



the century. He resigned, but Adams was the first impeachment articles that

were finally and actually brought to the floor of the house. It makes for

an interesting situation now that he is running against the governor.

J.B.: Florida certainly has had a political year this year.

Do you feel that there is going to be any change or substantial upheaval

in politics this year in the state?

Morris: I would not be surprised. It appears that there is a chance

for upheaval everywhere in the country this year. Which way it will go,

no one knows. One of the interesting phenomena to me that makes up politics,

is that people ardlquite critical of the legislature collectively, but seem

to me, in most cases, to be quite happy with their own representative or

senator. So you may hear a great deal of talk about change that might not

be reflected as a result of the elections.

J.B.: Do you consider the Florida legislature currently, and by currently,

I mean the last two years, four years, the modern Florida legislature is

truly responsive to the people of this state?

Morris: Yes, I would think so.

J.B.: The question that we keep asking people, and you are probably the

person of all people that we need to ask the question, and that is, "Do you

consider Florida a southern state?"

Morris: No, I would not thinksso. As we remarked earlier, more than

half of the people in Florida today were born elsewhere. And I suspect that

a great many of that 50 something percent came here in the prime of their

lives, not as children. And they came here from Ohio and Pennsylvania, New

York. They have the southerness of this state. There has been

tremendous in-migration from Georgia and Alabama. But I think that by far, a







From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview o5'5 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 20



greater number of people have come in from the North. And that percentage is

going up all the time, because of retirement plans and the thought that your

dollar will stretch further in a warm climate.

J.B.: To what do you attribute the percentage of the vote that George

Wallace received here in 1972 in the presidential primary? How much of that

was racial appeal and how much something else.

Morris: Well, I have no way of looking into the minds of people, but

I suspect that it was the same sort of protest vote that was cast in

Michigan, Wisconsin.

J.B.: In your opinion, if you had a presidential primary here and

people considered it really decisive in determining who might get the

nomination of the Democratic party, how in your own mind, just from the

feel of the state and from the feel of the people, do you think it would

come out inaa head to head race between Governor Askew and Governor Wallace?

Morris: Well, I think it would be difficult, but Askew, I think, would

take it, just because it's local pride. I think that people,in a national

contest, would want their own state's governor to appear well. But against

anybody else, there is very little doubt in my mind that Wallace would

carry Florida again. The situation hasn't changed in that he's a protest

candidate. There is much to protest in today's life.

J.B.: Going back to that little poll you took of the ten senators,

who would be the ten people you think would come up today if you took the

same poll?

Morris: I couldn't answer that off the-cuff. They wouldn't be those

ten, I can tell you. Television has made such a difference in political

campaigns. You asked whether the state legislature of today was responsive to






From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview -55 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 21



the people. I think that the legislature of the 1940's was responsible

to the constituency that those members represented. It is just a different

base now. When a senator represented a county with 2500 people and was

elected by maybe 400 of those people, he tended to be extremely conservative

and took care of getting jobs for a few. He couldn't see paying school teachers

a great deal because the local teacher was the wife of a mailman or the

butcher, so their combined salaries, of which he would be aware, would be

quite large. And he knew that she wasn't going to move away because of the

salary. She was caught up in it. So, they represented their constituency

as they saw it and the constituency was happy with it. They didn't care

what the metropolitan newspapers said about them. The Tribune maybe had

possibly a circulation of five in that senator's district. They probably

didn't sell a single copy in the county of the president of the senate.

The only way that he ever knew what the paper said about him was that

somebody would send him a clipping. By shifting the base to the suburbs,

they are responsive to the people, and responsive to the press and by the

press, I mean the media generally, because most of the t.v. stations in

Florida use editorials.

J.B.: You've made the point that most of the senators in those days

were responsive to their constituency, but how about those senators that

came from a large county or a metropolitan area?

Morris: Well, they were hamstrung, you see. There were not enough of

them. You see, Dade was represented. It was a million people, and it was

represented by one senator. Jefferson County next door was 2700 people and

it was represented by one senator. Dade's senator was lucky just to hold on.

He did not have any significant influence in the state. He was always being







From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 655S in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 22



pushed to the corner by his own papers, by their insistence on fair reapportion-

ment. They had a very awkward, difficult time. But much good came out of

these old legislators. You see, the only real point of difference how

the name actually evolved, of Pork Chop Gang, was over apportionment. The

MFPEE or the Minimum Foundation Plan for Equality Education developed in

Florida during the Pork Chop days. The University system developed, a chain

of various hospitals developed It wasn't all that bad. But Florida had

to do a lot of catching up fast from when the population jumped. From

before World War I, it was probably a million, or a million and a half.

So, that there was an enormous influx of people after World War II. It has

been one of the peculiarites of growth in Florida that it has followed each

war, beginning with the Civil War. There was a great growth after the

Spanish American War and after World War I. The biggest group came after

World War II and probably as a result of more retirees. There were certainly

tens of thousands of young men, and some young women, exposed to Florida's

climate at the training camps that were all over the state. Many of those

came back here, people who were soldiers, sailors, that were based here from

other states and liked Florida's warmth.

J.B.: Are you a native of Florida?

Morris: No, I'm from Chicago.

J.B.: You came here when?

Morris: '22.

J.B.: How did you happen to come here?

Morris: My father was responding to the appeal of an exhibit by a

real estate development called Coral Gables, which has developed into a

rather large city. But they sort of spread the pleasantries of life down

here fishing, which he liked. So, he went down to Miami.

J.B.: Is there anyone or any institute at Florida State, or at any


From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview 4'95 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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page 23



of the other state universities that does in effect a post-election analysis

each year?

Morris: Yes, at Florida State University there is one its name

changes from time to time, but the man to call is Dr. Elston Brodie and

it's (tape turned off)

J.B.: Just on the surface, do you perceive any great changes in

people from an occupational standpoint now from before reapportionment?

Are there more lawyers or less, I presume that it might be true of farmers.

Morris: Yes, we have done some studying of that and they types have

changed. I think that the number of lawyers is about the same, but the

changes reflect the changes in the state. We have commercial airlines

pilots, entpmologists, a couple of undertakers .



(end of interview)
































From the Southern Oral History Program, #4007, Interview '-55 in the Southern Historical Collection,
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