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NAACP leaders, Bush keep talks open

They discuss various issues, but not the One Florida plan.

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© St. Petersburg Times, published March 9, 2000

TALLAHASSEE -- The state NAACP president had a "comfortable" and "relaxed" meeting with Gov. Jeb Bush Wednesday morning, a day after she helped lead more than 10,000 people in a march to protest the governor's One Florida plan to overhaul affirmative action.

Neither One Florida nor affirmative action was part of the agenda during the meeting, which lasted less than an hour and included several state NAACP leaders and Bush's top minority business adviser.

"We are not addressing that at this time," Florida NAACP president Adora Obi Nweze said of the One Florida plan.

She said that the NAACP is "one of many groups" that marched against One Florida and that she could not speak to the governor on behalf of all of those groups.

Instead, Nweze said she and other NAACP leaders used the long-planned meeting to discuss a "broad agenda" of issues, including racial profiling, legislative redistricting, substandard housing, education funding, environmental discrimination and restoration of civil rights lost because of felony convictions.

"I think that we had a very open dialogue," Nweze said afterward. "I think it was comfortable." She said Bush and the NAACP had some "mutual concerns," and "There were some points that we agreed we were going to discuss at a later date."

Bush communications director Justin Sayfie said, "It was a good meeting in the sense that they and the governor had an open dialogue."

Sayfie noted that Bush supported a study by the Florida Highway Patrol of whether racial profiling -- making traffic stops based primarily on the driver's race -- occurred among state troopers. Sen. Kendrick Meek, a Democrat from Miami, has proposed a bill to make other law enforcement agencies document their stops. Sayfie said the governor did not yet have a position on the bill.

Sayfie said Bush also supported a policy that eases restoration of civil rights, including voting privileges, for some convicted criminals who have served their sentences.

Before the meeting, the new director of the state minority business office, Windell Paige, said One Florida has improved "truth in measurement" of how much the state spends contracting with minorities. Asked how much spending had previously gone undocumented, Paige would not be specific: "Let's just say millions."

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