Got heart?

February 17, 2004

Colleen Castille is a good listener, an ability that served her well in Tallahassee where lobbyists and special interests have the run of the place. There, she rose gracefully and swiftly from Cabinet aide to Gov. Jeb Bush’s nominee for chief of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

As she considers how to help Floridians, Castille would do well to know some people who tried to make government work, but didn’t have the access, power or money—people like Wanda and Eric Teat.

All the Teats wanted was to raise their family in the tranquillity of Huckleberry Creek, a pristine waterway meandering toward Apalachicola Bay.

Nearly 20 years ago, Apalachicola built a sewage plant four miles from the Teat homestead. Wanda Teat, a schoolteacher, met with city officials to express her concern. Read the rest of this entry »


In the cool Bush world, turmoil beneath the surface

February 5, 2004

The resignation of Florida’s top environmental officer, David Struhs—who left to take a big corporate job with International Paper—provoked commentary across the state in various tones and decibels.

Struhs, a loyalist if there ever were one, departed on a wave of Jeb Bush’s good will. Unlike his brother’s former Treasury secretary, Paul O’Neill, whose frank testimony peeled the facade from the George W. Bush White House, Struhs maintained a poker face to the very end.

His letter to Florida Department of Environmental Protection staff, announcing his resignation, reads like a hymn—touting great accomplishments on the way to a better environmental future for Florida—but resonates more as a sermon than a truthful dialogue.

Struhs, like his boss the governor, never tolerated two-way conversations very well. Nor did criticism, however well-founded, ever deter a decision-making process that bears the unmistakable imprint of pre-determined outcomes. Read the rest of this entry »