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Special report: Interweave

Charlie Crist on diversity

Crist points to his civil rights record and pledges to remain vigilant on diversity.

By JONI JAMES
Published March 18, 2007


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photo
[AP photo]
Gov. Charlie Crist


You are in the process of hiring people to run the state of Florida. How has diversity played a role in that process?

It's a big role. Just look at the Cabinet (my agency secretaries). It's very important to me that members of this administration reflect and represent the diversity that is Florida.

And I'm very proud of the fact that it does. And I think its important to continue to strive for that. It's a conscious factor in every one of those decisions I should make.

What should voters know about your record when you were attorney general?

Hopefully they would think it was good. But I think the one that would exemplify it the most is what we tried to do in the area of civil rights.

You know, getting landmark legislation passed; making sure no one can be discriminated against regardless of the color of their skin or where they came from or what they believe. I'm very proud of that fact, that we were able to get it passed. I think that, coupled with being willing to look at old cases that hadn't been investigated or reinvestigated in years, like the (Harry T. and Harriette) Moore case. I think those are important to do because justice is not something that just because it was a long time ago doesn't deserve another visit, especially when it's such an injustice of two people being blown up on Christmas.

Your predecessor, Gov. Jeb Bush, ended affirmative action in college admissions and some state contracting through an executive order known as One Florida. What impact do you think that policy has had on diversity?

If you can believe the numbers I read in your paper, I believe it's doing well, both in terms of the admissions to our universities as well as in the form of contracts continuing to be let to minorities. I will say this about contracts. I'm concerned about making sure that when we go forward and some of these large contracts are let that I want to encourage greater competition in the whole privatization area.

Do you support One Florida? Do you anticipate changing it in any way?

From what I've seen of it thus far, I think it's been productive. If the results start to change or if the representation is not satisfactory in terms of its diversity, I'm always willing (to look at it).

What role should government play when it comes to private business hiring decisions and the role of diversity? One Florida was criticized because it did away with affirmative action, which had been the standard for so long. Are we past needing affirmative action?

I think we always need affirmative access. And that's the thing I'm trying to practice. Government can lead by example. I think it's the best way we can do that. Not only by having good laws on the books to fight discrimination but also striving to lead by example in terms of leading by example in our administration, the diversity that is present there, and continuing to try to (use the) bully pulpit thing.

 

[Last modified March 14, 2007, 16:07:32]


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