BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer
ST. PETERSBURG — Front-running Democratic Gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist said at a press conference held Tuesday morning at the Enoch Davis Center that he would sign five Executive Orders of fairness immediately after being sworn in as governor if he were elected.
The first Executive Order (EO) that Crist said he would sign if he were inaugurated would be to bring back open, honest and transparent government.
“I think it’s fundamentally important that you have access to your government,” said Crist.
The gubernatorial hopeful further emphasized the conditions that people should not have to deal with while accessing governmental information. First, travel records should not be “redacted,” which is the process of editing or obscuring a document by removing sensitive information. Second, Crist attacked the fee structure for getting information.
“You shouldn’t have to pay exorbitant fees for information that is rightfully yours,” exclaimed Crist. He added that the Scott administration has made accessing information from the government a hindrance.
“We will direct state agencies to produce public records at the lowest possible costs available to all Floridians…and advocate on the public’s right to know,” said Crist.
The second EO Crist promised would be to raise the minimum wage for contractors doing business with the State of Florida to $10.10 an hour. Crist immediately reflected on Gov. Scott’s point of view of minimum wage.
“The concept of minimum wage makes him cringe,” said Crist.
Next, Crist said he would sign a third and fourth EO demanding equal pay for equal work and prohibit the practice of discrimination due to gender, race or gender identity. Lastly, Crist said that he would sign an EO calling for investing state tax dollars in Florida businesses.
“Direct government can make every effort within the bounds of the law to hire Floridians and Florida businesses for the work they do for the state,” said Crist.
Crist introduced Watson Haynes, the president and CEO of Pinellas County Urban League, to discuss the struggles of local community and civil rights organizations to encourage raising the minimum wage in Florida to $10.10.
“We are still progressing with congress to make that happen,” said Haynes. “This is a step out of poverty by raising the minimum wage. I commend Crist for saying this will be the first Executive Order because it will change the face of poverty in Florida one person, one family at a time.”
Next, Crist introduced Darden Rice, City Council Representative of District 4, who reiterated the need for redressing the issue of equal pay for women.
“The fact that women in this day and age still make 83 cents on the dollar for men (who make 17 cents more than women) points to the fact that it’s overdue, that we have strong leadership to address pay and equality issues.”
Rice further reinforced Crist’s position on fairness for all no matter what race or gender identity. “He is ready to get started on Day 1 for protections of LGBT employees of state government.”
Crist was questioned by reporters several times about why he has not debated Nan Rich, the only Democratic gubernatorial challenger.
“Right now, my priority is Gov. Scott.” Crist declared, adding that he would be willing to have more than the three debates that Scott has limited himself to.