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Bush meets with critics from sit-in

Sen. Kendrick Meek and Rep. Tony Hill join three women's rights activists to talk about the One Florida plan.

By WILLIAM YARDLEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 14, 2000


TALLAHASSEE -- Gov. Jeb Bush met Monday with the two black lawmakers most actively opposing his plan to overhaul affirmative action, and once again he refused to back away from his plan.

In an impromptu 20-minute meeting, Bush met with Sen. Kendrick Meek of Miami and Rep. Tony Hill of Jacksonville, as well as three women's rights activists who came to tell the governor that women are the group most affected by his One Florida plan.

The group had no appointment, but Meek and Hill warned the governor's staff Friday that they would show up.

In addition to Meek and Hill, Bush met with Faye Davis, a firefighter from Miami-Dade County; Barbara DeVane, a representative from the National Organization for Women; and Karen Woodall, a lobbyist for the National Association of Social Workers.

Bush boasted of the number of women he has hired and said he wanted the number to to increase -- but without strict policies for considering race and gender.

Later in the day, Bush and the chairman of the legislative black caucus, Miami Sen. Daryl Jones, traded letters over a proposed meeting between Bush and the 20-member caucus.

Jones said the caucus would not meet with Bush unless he had an "open mind." He criticized what he said was the governor's refusal to bend on certain issues.

Bush wrote back, questioning the intention of Jones' letter: "Rather than focus on those intentions, however, I am committed to keeping faith with the citizens we were all elected to serve."

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