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Super moment in campaigning: talking trash

It was a classic campaign moment _ Superboy meets Supergov. They stood shoulder to shoulder on the back lot at Universal Studios in Orlando _ both lean, black-haired and blue-eyed _ to talk about the virtues of recycling.

Actor Gerard Christopher, who plays Superboy on the syndicated television show based on the Superman comics, was decked out in blue tights with red cape and boots. Bob Martinez, whose role is governor of Florida, remained in his dark suit but was given a lapel pin with the familiar red S.

Martinez signed a proclamation naming Superboy the "official Florida spokeshero for recycling" and urged the crowd to recycle waste and refrain from littering.

"The only reason we have a lot of garbage to pick up is because we put it there," the governor said.

Superboy said he's proud to be a garbage fighter and hopes to set an example through his television show.

"Children especially can sometimes push their parents ahead and make them do things," he said.

And his strong belief in environmental protection, the 31-year-old actor said later, has nothing to do with the fact that he's a Republican who may some day enter politics.

Ex-educator's apple-polishing

fails to work with teachers

TALLAHASSEE _ In one of his campaign advertisements, Martinez tosses an apple in the air and talks about all he has done for education during his term in office. But a coalition of education groups said Thursday that Martinez's record on education is so poor he should be tossing a lemon instead.

To make their point, representatives of the state's two teachers unions and the Florida Association of School Administrators distributed lemons to reporters at a news conference in Tallahassee. The group will be running newspaper ads around the state giving Martinez failing grades on a "report card."

"It is imperative that Gov. Martinez's misrepresentations be refuted," said Jeff Wright, president of the 55,000-member FTP-NEA. "He is no friend to public schools." Wright said a tax increase is needed to improve education, a move Martinez opposes.

Melinda Pillar, lobbyist for the 45,000-member FEA-United, said that although Martinez correctly states in his ad that education spending has gone up 56 percent since 1986, prison spending has increased 107 percent.

Anyway, she said, much of the increase in education spending is due to the lottery and local property taxes, which she said have jumped from $1.6-billion to $2.5-billion since 1986.

Later, Martinez shrugged off the criticism.

"I'm not at all surprised that the unions would want to do that," he said. "The unions know that Lawton Chiles will raise taxes; the unions know that he'll bring back the services tax; the unions even want a personal income tax. And they will stand a lot better chance of all that with Lawton Chiles than they will with me."

Taking bumps along the trail

can be a laugh or a nightmare

BONIFAY _ Chiles bumped his head Thursday as he made a campaign swing through the Panhandle.

"Where am I?" Chiles joked as he sat down beside U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga.

"You are in the U.S. Senate and you are responsible for getting the budget under control," joked Nunn, who had taken a half-day off to campaign with his old friend and former Senate colleague.

"Now that's a nightmare," joked Chiles, who left the Senate two years ago disgusted with his inability to resolve the nation's budget deficit.

Legionnaires' newspaper sees

a lot of empty campaigning

The Florida Legionnaire, a newspaper distributed to American Legion members throughout the state, was published this week with a lot of white space.

An open letter from Chiles dominated half of the newspaper's front page. The other half was blank except for an explanation from American Legion Cmdr. Ray Daniels.

Daniels said Chiles and Martinez were asked to submit letters for the publication, but only Chiles responded.

_ Compiled from reports by Times staff writers Ellen Debenport, Charlotte Sutton and Lucy Morgan.

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