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GOP legislators giving Crenshaw full support

State Sen. Ander Crenshaw may be facing a tough challenge for winning the GOP's nomination to run for governor, as Jeb Bush and Jim Smith are strong candidates. But the Republican legislators who represent Citrus and Hernando counties are giving him their full support.

State Sen. Ginny Brown-Waite, Rep. Jeff Stabins and Rep. Paul Hawkes all are endorsing Crenshaw for governor.

Each cited their opportunity to work with and get to know Crenshaw during their time in the Legislature as the primary reason for supporting him.

Speaking of support ...

...or lack of it.

Hawkes won't be giving any of his to ex-Judge Gary Graham, who is seeking the Republican nomination to run against Democratic U.S. Rep. Karen Thurman.

Hawkes, who lives in Crystal River and whose district includes all of Citrus County, the northwest corner of Hernando County, and a chunk of Marion County, says that although he hasn't been terribly impressed with Thurman's performance in Washington, D.C., he just can't bring himself to support fellow Republican Graham.

Hawkes says he won't go out of his way to work against Graham, but he just can't bring himself to work for him, either.

"I just don't think Gary Graham should be a U.S. congressman," Hawkes said.

"I never thought I'd vote for a Democratic congressman. But then again, I never thought Gary Graham would run for Congress."

Graham probably won't be exactly heartbroken about Hawkes' rebuff of his candidacy. Hawkes, after all, is a lawyer, and Graham has a long-running battle with almost every lawyer in Citrus County (even though he is one, too), claiming they conspired to force his removal from the county bench.

At any rate, the only recent news about Graham that is less surprising than Hawkes' rejection of his candidacy, is the U.S. Supreme Court's decision last week not to hear Graham's appeal of his ouster by the state Judicial Qualifications Commission.

Council goes overboard

Finally, we have this sweet treat just sliced from the bureaucratic cake in Tallahassee.

Sens. Karen Johnson and Charles Williams are sponsors of a bill that would establish a Boating Advisory Council under the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The "public information bill," as Johnson terms it, would require the formation of a 15-member board to advise the DEP on boating-related issues, including fishing, canoeing and water skiing.

If the DEP wanted to create, change or abolish a rule that affected boaters in any way, department officials would have to take the issue before the advisory board, which would make a recommendation after a series of public hearings. Then the DEP, if it disagreed with the advisory panel's recommendation, would have to write a report to justify its position.

Of course, all this would take a lot of time, which means that by the time the bureaucrats are done shuffling their papers, the boating issue in question might be moot.

Environmentalists fear that the advisory council will be influenced largely by private business interests, specifically boat manufacturers and marina owners. That could mean diminished interest in protecting certain fish and water dwellers, including the endangered West Indian manatee.

Government is always better off when it listens to what the public has to say. But I'm not so sure that can't be accomplished without creating another layer of bureaucracy.

Why not just require the DEP to hold the public hearings and allow the public to say its piece then? What is said at those hearings can become as much a part of the official record as the proposed advisory council's reports and recommendations.

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