On the evening of September 16, 2017, I, as a member of the New Tampa’s Democratic Club, attended the Hillsborough County Democratic Party’s annual Kennedy-King fundraising dinner, which is a major local event. It was extremely well-attended where the atmospheric ambiance was one of enthusiasm and determination with the mission of pushing forward and supporting qualified democratic candidates at all levels of elected offices.
The dinner’s speaker was Gwen Graham who is a contender to become the next democratic Governor of Florida. She is a former congresswoman and the daughter of the former well-respected democratic US Senator and Governor of Florida, Bob Graham.
She only served a single term in Congress because after her initial election, her district became overwhelmingly Republican when it was completely redrawn by Florida Supreme Court order. Mrs. Graham, a mother of three grown children has been a longtime labor lawyer for the Leon County School District in Tallahassee, Florida
While attending the dinner, I was thrilled to listen to Gwen Graham take on the subject of “climate change” in a state where the current republican republican Governor Rick Scott has barred state employees from even referring the wordage of “climate change” in any of their work products.
Here’s the rest of the story…
On September 16, 2017, William March of the Tampa Bay Times posted the following report on Gwen Graham’s speech delivered at local Democratic Party dinner/ fund raising event, “Gwen Graham: Florida wasn’t prepared for Irma.”
“Florida wasn’t prepared for Hurricane Irma, and much of the blame goes to Republicans who have controlled state government for 20 years, Gwen Graham told a big, cheering crowd at a Democratic Party gathering Saturday (9/16/17).”
“We need our elected officials in Tallahassee to address climate change and comprehensive hurricane preparedness,” she said. “When the power went out across Florida, our state was not as ready as we could have been. We cannot overlook that major deficiencies have been exposed.”
“Graham faulted Gov. Rick Scott and GOP-dominated Legislatures past and present for defeating regulations that could have prevented the deaths of eight patients in a Hollywood nursing home following the storm; for failing to act on climate change; for weakening building codes, and for failing to keep up with infrastructure and transportation needs.”
“I could not believe this — an hour after the nursing home deaths were reported by the media, House Speaker Richard Corcoran was tweeting about tax rates,” she said. “Floridians were dying and the Speaker was tweeting about tax rates. It’s a sickening example of how the politicians in Tallahassee have the wrong priorities for the wrong people.”
“Graham spoke at the Hillsborough County Democratic Party’s annual Kennedy-King fundraising dinner, an event that saw what party officials called a record crowd of 450 and record fundraising of more than $70,000.”
“Graham told the crowd she expects to be criticized for politicizing the hurricane, but said, “This isn’t about politics … this is about saving lives.”
“Still, she made it clear where she places blame for problems in Irma’s wake.”
“The Republicans own this,” she said in an interview. “After 20 years of one-party dominance, they are responsible for our failure of preparedness, and failure to take care of the most vulnerable citizens in our state.”“If I’m governor, we will make sure the most vulnerable citizens in our state are protected.”
“My experiences were moving and life-altering — people caring about each other and seeing each other through the storm,” she said in the interview, telling stories of evacuees who saw a shortage of workers and volunteered to take on jobs at the shelter.
“She had less kind words for legislators who defeated a proposal after Hurricane Wilma in 2005 to require nursing homes to have backup generators capable of running their air conditioning systems, telling the crowd it was blocked by industry lobbyists who said it was too expensive.”
“In the interview, she added, “Shame on them (the legislators) and shame on the special interests.”
“If she’s elected, Graham told the crowd, she will seek to have Florida join California, New York and other states in acting on the Paris climate accords; ban fracking in Florida and prohibit oil drilling off Florida beaches.”
“Referring to a bill passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Rick Scott last spring, which criticis said will weaken the state’s building codes, Graham said in the interveiw, “Developers have taken over in our state since Rick Scott has been governor. I am pro-growth, but as governor I’ll make sure our citizens are first and foremost.”
“She blamed Scott for failing to have a plan to allow reversing southbound highway lanes to expedite evacuations, resulting in jammed interstates.”