October 6, 2014
Crist blasts Gov. Scott, vows to clean up river
By Kevin Lollar
After shaking hands with spectators and the media and petting a dog named Sanibel in Centennial Park on Monday afternoon, Democratic candidate for governor Charlie Crist blasted opponent Gov. Rick Scott's environmental record and vowed to clean up the Caloosahatchee River.
With a quick, "Let's do this," the former governor started the press conference on time and wrapped it up in about 15 minutes.
"It's obvious why we're here on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River," he said. "During Rick Scott's administration, the river has become polluted beyond recognition. It has to stop."
Crist was referring to large nutrient-laced freshwater releases from Lake Okeechobee down the Caloosahatchee that have caused massive algal blooms, which foul beaches, smother seagrasses and kill fish.
"I will work with the Army Corps of Engineers to stop the backpumping and the discharges and stop the pollution of our rivers and streams," Crist said. "All it takes is a governor who cares. I care."
Crist also took a stand against oil drilling in the Everglades, an idea that Scott supports.
"I can't believe it's even a topic of conversation," he said. "It's unbelievable that anybody would consider drilling in our pristine Everglades."
At one point, Charles Dauray, whom Crist appointed to the South Florida Water Management District board of governors in 2007, stepped up to the microphones.
"If we're going to save the Everglades and preserve our quality of life, it's going to be done with leadership that walks the walk not just talks the talk," he said.
Asked about criticism that he changed parties, Crist, who was a Republican when he was elected governor in 2006, said:
"I haven't changed. What changed is my former party. I am who I am, and I'm going to be that forever. The leadership of the Republican Party was hijacked by the tea party. I didn't leave the Republican Party. They left me."
Former Lee County Commissioner Ray Judah asked Crist what he thought about the threat of climate change, pointing out that Scott seems to be ignoring the topic (when asked about climate change, Scott once famously replied, "I'm not a scientist").
"He says he's not a scientist; I'm not a scientist either, but I have a brain," Crist said. "You don't need to be a scientist to know climate change is real."