Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Panhandle residents share oil spill frustration in Rubio's virtual town halls

DESTIN — Bad weather grounded Marco Rubio's campaign plane Thursday, but it didn't stop the Republican U.S. Senate candidate from hearing bad economic news from Panhandle residents frustrated about the gulf oil spill.

Outraged residents said oil never should have reached the Emerald Coast, a region renown for its snow-white beaches, now befouled by tar balls from the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

"This is criminal behavior but we can't touch them because they're the government," said Betsy Robins of Navarre, who owns homes on Pensacola Beach.

Hoteliers told Rubio via the Internet that they're laying off workers due to lost customers. County commissioners said the spill will cause property values to plummet. A sheriff said BP's cleanup efforts have been erratic and ineffective. Business owners pelted a lawyer with questions about how to submit claims, and almost everyone complained of too few skimmers and a weak federal response.

"How does BP have a business license in this country?" asked Jeff Raines, a small business owner in Fort Walton Beach.

In an atmosphere of mounting anxiety and cynicism, some residents said they have heard rumors of massive evacuations from Corpus Christi, Texas, to Tampa. Others nodded in agreement when a man said that a Democratic White House was deliberately punishing the conservative, Republican-voting Panhandle.

Using Skype video-conferencing technology, Rubio decried the "gross incompetence" in Washington and fielded questions from residents and local leaders in Destin and Navarre while sitting in his Miami campaign headquarters. He missed a third event in Miramar Beach as rain pounded the Panhandle.

"I believe in limited government, but the limited government we have has to function effectively," Rubio said. "Our government is broken."

Rubio remains a supporter of offshore drilling, but that did not come up in either town hall meeting. Neither did his independent Senate rival, Gov. Charlie Crist, though Rubio complimented the more aggressive state response by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.

Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, outlined proposals for tax relief and lifting regulatory barriers. He said the catastrophe has made a special legislative session more urgent, and he predicted calamity for local governments. Action is needed now, he said, because property taxes are due in November.

Panhandle residents share oil spill frustration in Rubio's virtual town halls 07/01/10 [Last modified: Thursday, July 1, 2010 10:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Why the Lightning would consider trading Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — This summer, the Lightning could trade one of its most dynamic young players ever.

    Tampa Bay Lightning left wing Jonathan Drouin (27) celebrates with his team on the bench after beating Chicago Blackhawks goalie Scott Darling (33) to score his second goal of the period and to tie the score at 4 to 4 during second period action at the Amalie Arena in Tampa Monday evening (03/27/17).
  2. Why the Lightning should keep Jonathan Drouin

    Lightning Strikes

    Keep him.

    Jonathan Drouin is live bait. The Lightning is ready to run the hook through him and cast him out there again. Drouin has enough talent for the Lightning to meet some defensive needs in a deal.

    Keep him.

    Lightning wing Jonathan Drouin celebrates after beating Los Angeles Kings goalie Peter Budaj during the first period of Tuesday's win in Tampa. [DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD   |   Times]
  3. Romano: When a life is more valuable than an arrest

    Public Safety

    Before examining the details, let's propose a question:

    This is a handout request to accompany school portraits of Joey Boylan, who died of a drug overdose and who is being written about in John Romano's column for Sunday. We'd like to run a mug of Joey with the column. Any of the first three attached pictures would be fine to use. We don't need them all. Just pick your favorite portrait and put that in the system. Thanks.
  4. Bono visits with former President George W. Bush

    Blogs

    A surprising photo showed up Friday on former President George W. Bush's Instagram feed. Apparently Bono made a visit to the ranch.

    Former President George W. Bush and Bono.
  5. After trip's final day, Trump to return to tumult at home

    National

    TAORMINA, Italy — Down to the final day of his lengthy first international trip, President Donald Trump will lift off for Washington having rattled some allies and reassured others, returning to a White House that sits under a cloud of scandal.

    G7 leaders sign the G7 Taormina Statement on the Fight Against Terrorism and Violent Extremism at the G7 Summit in Taormina, Italy on Friday.  (Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press via AP)