Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Crist dodges questions while on tour

Gov. Charlie Crist, top left, is offered a pork rind during a visit at a restaurant in Miami on Thursday.

Associated Press

Gov. Charlie Crist, top left, is offered a pork rind during a visit at a restaurant in Miami on Thursday.

First Gov. Charlie Crist paid a visit to a soul food restaurant in Orlando. Thursday it was a Colombian eatery in Miami.

He's back from Europe and back in campaign mode, visiting mom-and-pop businesses and showing compassion.

"It's important that I continue to get out," Crist said, "to make sure that we're in touch with what's happening with people and what their concerns are, and how we in state government at least might be able to help them out."

Charlie's charm offensive isn't working as planned. The Florida media increasingly ignore vapid photo ops and fire questions.

Lately when Crist goes on MSNBC or Fox, he's treated like royalty, with softball questions about the VP short list. Surrounded by the state press, he's asked for specifics to help people who are hurting.

Even the straight-down-the-middle Associated Press called Crist's Florida stops "heavy on image-boosting and light on listening."

The most revealing stop on the listening tour was at a barber shop in Tallahassee, where Crist paid $11 for a trim Monday.

Trapped in a barber's chair for 15 minutes and surrounded by reporters, Crist got question after question. (His typical exchanges with capital reporters last three to five minutes).

Snip, snip.

Offshore oil drilling. High cost of insurance. Record job losses. Prodded by Marc Caputo of the Miami Herald to cite a new plan or initiative, Crist used a cliche, "rolling thunder," to describe his idea of "continuing to be doing things."

So Crist favors a "tweaking" of current programs? Caputo asked.

"I would dare say, though, that if this Amendment 5 were to pass in November, which I hope it does, people will look at that as a lot more than a tweak. A 25 percent reduction in property taxes … that's more than a tweak," he said.

Dropping his previous reservations, Crist had fully embraced Amendment 5. The tax swap would be a huge cut in property taxes (25 to 30 percent) but also force the Legislature to replace the $10-billion in lost revenue for schools by raising the sales tax or eliminating tax exemptions.

A 1-cent sales tax hike would raise only $4-billion.

"Are you going to campaign for that?" Crist was asked. "I don't know," he said.

Troy Kinsey of Bay News 9 asked Crist how he would plug the "hole" of lost property tax money.

"I don't look at it as a hole," Crist said, not addressing the replacement money question.

Asked about a possible services tax — a tax on haircuts — he said: "I don't think that's necessarily the case."

The barber's portable radio was tuned to an oldies station playing, of all songs, Bob Dylan's Like a Rolling Stone ("How does it feel to be on your own? With no direction home?").

So far, the pro-Amendment 5 effort is pretty much limited to Crist and the Realtors association. A poll shows just 40 percent of voter approve the measure, which needs 60 percent to pass.

Next week, more than two dozen groups — representing business, education, health care and retirees — will ask a judge to knock 5 off the ballot, calling its language "grossly misleading" to voters.

Crist says the measure, which takes effect in 2011, "could be a significant stimulant to Florida's economy," but many Republican legislators and lobbyists don't agree with him and will fight him every step of the way.

The fact that Amendment 5 is on the ballot is good, because it forces a debate over how to pay for this state's future. That's an issue many legislators would rather avoid, and Crist shouldn't let them get off so easy.

He can show strong leadership by making the case for Amendment 5 over the next three months by expending political capital educating people on the many faults in the state's tax structure.

Somehow you wonder, looking back, if Crist wished he had skipped the haircut.

Crist dodges questions while on tour 08/08/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 12, 2008 2:45pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Trump fallout: Bucs' DeSean Jackson to make 'statement' Sunday

    Bucs

    Bucs receiver DeSean Jackson said Saturday that he will make a "statement" before today's game against the Vikings in response to President Donald Trump's comment that owners should "fire" players who kneel in protest during the national anthem.

    Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver DeSean Jackson (11) makes a catch during the first half of an NFL game between the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla., on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017.
  2. Kriseman invites Steph Curry to St. Pete on Twitter

    Blogs

    Mayor Rick Kriseman is no stranger to tweaking President Donald Trump on social media.

    Mayor Rick Kriseman took to Twitter Saturday evening to wade into President Donald Trump's latest social media scuffle
  3. Death toll, humanitarian crisis grow in Puerto Rico

    World

    SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A humanitarian crisis grew Saturday in Puerto Rico as towns were left without fresh water, fuel, power or phone service following Hurricane Maria's devastating passage across the island.

    Crew members assess electrical lines in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria on Friday in Puerto Rico. Mobile communications systems are being flown in but “it’s going to take a while.”
  4. N. Korea says strike against U.S. mainland is 'inevitable'

    World

    North Korea's foreign minister warned Saturday that a strike against the U.S. mainland is "inevitable" because President Donald Trump mocked leader Kim Jong Un with the belittling nickname "little rocketman."

  5. All-eyes photo gallery: Florida State Seminoles loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack

    News

    View a gallery of images from the Florida State Seminoles 27-21 loss to the N.C. State Wolfpack Saturday in Tallahassee. The Seminoles will face Wake Forest on Saturday, Sept. 30 in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

    Florida State Seminoles fans sing the fight song during the Florida State Seminoles game against the North Carolina State Wolfpack on September 23, 2017, at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.  At the half, North Carolina State Wolfpack 17, Florida State Seminoles 10.