T H E C A B I N E T
S T A T E O F F L O R I D A
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAY SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE
INTERNAL IMPROVEMENT TRUST FUND
The above agencies came to be heard before
THE FLORIDA CABINET, Honorable Governor Bush presiding,
at Polk County Administration Building,
330 West Church Street, Bartow, Florida,
on Monday, February 7, 2000,
commencing at approximately 9:00 a.m.
PATRICIA K. GOUGH
Certified Verbatim Reporter
Notary Public in and for
the State of Florida at Large
ASSOCIATED COURT REPORTERS
P. O. Box 211508
Royal Palm Beach, Florida 33421-1508
Representing the Florida Cabinet:
Commissioner of Agriculture
BOB MILLIGAN (Absent)
Secretary of State
Commissioner of Education
* * *
I N D E X
ITEM ACTION PAGE
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
(Presented by Tom Gallagher)
1 Approved 30
2 Approved 46
3 Approved 46
DEPARTMENT OF HIGHWAY SAFETY AND MOTOR VEHICLES
(Presented by Fred O. Dickinson, III,
1 Approved 48
2 Approved 59
3 Approved 60
FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF LAW ENFORCEMENT
(Presented by Commissioner Tim Moore)
1 Approved 64
2 Approved 68
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE INTERNAL
IMPROVEMENT TRUST FUND
(Presented by Secretary David Struhs)
1 Approved 69
2 Deferred 70
3 Approved 71
4 Approved 77
P R O C E D I N G S
GOVERNOR BUSH: Now we begin the business part of our agenda, and what I'm going to ask each person that's making a presentation, if they could describe and explain a little bit about what they do and its impact on Polk County. If you can make it specific to the folks that we serve here, I'd be grateful. And the first --
MR. GLOVER: Excuse me, Governor. Excuse me. That's just where I want to interject myself on the business end of Polk County. I'm from Mulberry, Florida. I'm a trucker and --
GOVERNOR BUSH: What's your name, sir?
MR. GLOVER: My name is Howard Glover. The name of my company is H.J. Trucking. I was defrauded. I'm sure everybody in here would be pissed off if they were defrauded out of $876,000. And ever since then I've been -- when I filed the civil suit against the people that did this to me, it was over a year ago, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement jumped all over me when I turned up these people. They forged 16 checks in my name totaling $876,000. It's been over a year of investigation. The people that's involved in this conspiracy against H.J. Trucking is J.D. Mill & Sons Trucking.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Mr. Mill, can I make a suggestion so that --
MR. GLOVER: -- Teran Trucking and Granite Construction.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Can I make a suggestion?
MR. GLOVER: These people -- yes.
GOVERNOR BUSH: General Butterworth, do you have anybody on your staff that you might be able to ask to talk about this and get the details?
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Yes. In fact, I'd like to temper it -- push the green button. Thank you, Governor. Ken Perez, of my staff, will be glad to talk with him. He handles a lot of these type of cases. Also, Tim Moore, from the Department of Law Enforcement, has some people here today. We'd be glad to discuss with Mr. Glover as to the particular incident. This is the first I've heard about it, Mr. Glover.
MR. GLOVER: Yes. The Attorney General Office in Tampa, Dennis Moore, I had to call him twice. He should have been calling me.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Well, Mr. Glover, we are
now -- you made your point, you got right here, prime time, you got a chance to express your views, and now we're going to see if we can get information for you. So, there's -- Commissioner Moore is right there and there's Mr. Perez. If you could -- thank you.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: I'll be glad to speak to Mr. Glover after the meeting.
GOVERNOR BUSH: I will, too. I look forward to shaking your hand, sir, afterwards. Commissioner Gallagher.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: Thank you, Governor. GOVERNOR BUSH: That, by the way, doesn't happen every time we go to Tallahassee. Which is another --
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: It gives the citizens a chance to speak their mind.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Exactly. This is -- just before we begin, there is no other state in the country that has a cabinet of elected officials that govern and serve the way that Florida has. It is a unique institution that's going to be changed by the Constitution. The voters decided to change it a bit. But it does have some wonderful attributes, one of which is that people like Mr. Glover and step up to the plate and express their concerns. So, this is democracy in action.
With that, we're going to begin the part of our agenda where we go through some of the agencies that report to the cabinet.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: Okay. Do you want me to talk about the Department first?
GOVERNOR BUSH: Yes.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: I am Commissioner of Education. As commissioner, I have quite a few responsibilities. I serve as a member of three Board of Education boards, one, of course, is the State Board of Education, which this Cabinet sits as. And another one is the State Board of Regions, which oversees the university system, which we have ten universities in the state. And the third board is the Board of Community Colleges, which oversees the 28 community colleges located throughout the State of Florida.
The State Board of Education, which consists of all the members you see here, is the chief policy making body of public education in the State of Florida. We, as a board, have the authority to adopt rules for the improvement of the state's system of public education as long as those rules are based on the provisions of law.
Public education is basically a function and responsibility of the state. It is our responsibility to ensure efficient operation of all schools and adequate educational opportunities for all of our children.
As Commissioner of Education, I have the duty to advise and counsel with this State Board of Education on all matters pertaining to education, and to recommend to the State Board of Education actions and policies to be acted upon and adopted. Within the Department of Education we have a variety of responsibilities. We have over 3500 schools statewide, a total student enrollment of over two million students -- 2,331,958.
We handle such diverse issues as teacher certification, curriculum and assessment, administration of the Bright Future Scholarship Program, and funding for the K-12 school system throughout the state, county by county. And if any of you would like some more information on the Bright Future Scholarship Program, please stop by our table at the agency fair which will be outside. We also have provided copies of the publication "Life From the Land: Florida Agriculture In the Classroom" for anyone that's interested, and we'll have some of these available also. This was nice of the -- produced by "The Orlando Sentinel," and it's part of the newspaper and education program. So, we want to thank "The Orlando Sentinel" for producing this for us.
And, Governor, that's our bit about education.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you, Tom. Item 1. Is there a motion on the minutes? Oh, there is no minutes.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: We are in the educational agenda now, and this is Wayne Pierson, who is our deputy in charge of finance and administration.
MR. PIERSON: To begin our agenda, Commissioner Gallagher has asked Dr. Tom Blomberg, Florida State University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, for an overview of the juvenile justice education enhancement program, which he serves as criminal investigator.
DR. Blomberg: Thanks, Wayne. It's really my pleasure to have an hour and a half to address you on some of the research that we are doing. I think I have ten minutes. Generally, when I find a joke it never works. What my purpose here is, again, Florida -- I'm going to try and do three things and I'll try to do them very rapidly.
Florida really has been judged to lead the United States in its quality assurance, technical assistance and research on juvenile justice education, and I want to share some of the highlights of those activities. I've been involved in it the last two years and I want to share that. And I've been involved in that in conjunction with the Department of Juvenile Justice, the Department of Education, and a project called JJEEP, Juvenile Justice Education Enhancement Program. I just want to hit sort of three major highlights, and then if there are questions I will answer them.
In terms of how quality assurance evolved in Florida, it actually began in the 1980's. The impetus for quality assurance began in the 1980's with the Bobby M. case, which alleged inhumane treatment and conditions in the state's three most secure training schools. That's the program at Dozier, the boys' program at Okeechobee and the girls' program in Ocala.
In the 1990's, in response to the federal requirements associated with Bobby M., the State of Florida, the legislature and then HRS, who is responsible for juvenile justice programs, and the Department of Education came to consensus that one of the ways to avoid Bobby M. related condition would be to develop an intensive quality assurance process in all of its juvenile justice facilities.
In 1994 the legislature established, the Department of Juvenile Justice, and mandated the Department of Juvenile Justice would conduct quality assurance. From 1994 up until 1998 -- excuse me, 1996, the Department of Education, in conjunction with DJJ, carried out the quality assurance review of education programs while DJJ carried out the quality assurance of the facilities.
In 1996 the legislature authorized and got these quality assurance reviews, but also to update the standards of education programs each year, and, additionally, to provide the legislature with an annual report. Now, where I come in, in June of 1998 the Department of Education deemed it appropriate to advance the quality of education in juvenile justice facilities, and through a special project they established the JJEEP Program with the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at Florida State University.
The JJEEP project has four interrelated functions: Quality assurance. And what that quality assurance means is going into every single facility, on site, and studying the education programs in detail in those facilities.
A second function that DOE established was ongoing technical assistance. Don't just go in there and gotcha, but, rather, help the program, eliminate, get over any deficiencies that are found.
The third function was DOE recognized that how to do it, how to be effective in juvenile justice education was fairly inconclusive when you looked at the literature. So, what DOE charged with JJEEP with was a research function aimed at identifying promising practices and validating those promising practices as best practices as determined by community reintegration outcomes.
The fourth function of JJEEP was to provide DOE with suggestive recommendations for ongoing improvement. What I want to share are some of the major findings, in other words, what we've learned. You know, researchers like myself typically say, well, it's too early to tell and we need to do more research, more research. Well, I'm here to tell you, we have a long ways to go, but I have some very specific findings that I can share. So, I'm going to just share some of these findings and then draw some conclusions. I should be able to do that in my allotted time.
First of all, I'll begin with quality assurance, and that's a term that's bandied about. Everybody has heard of quality assurance, but what does that mean? In the case of the Department of Juvenile Justice and the Department of Education, the way these two agencies collaborate in providing quality assurance is they notify the program that they're coming, they have an interest interview in which they establish a protocol and what they're going to do, what sorts of observations, what sorts of data they need, how long they'll be here, and then they conduct that review.
That review, for example, in the case of education, it includes observing classrooms, it includes interviewing teachers, it includes interviewing students, it includes a whole variety of data gathering activities that pull together, try to capture and disentangle the educational process in that facility.
Now, there are four standards that we use in the education review. Those four standards are transition, which is critical, a third is curriculum -- a second is curriculum, the third is teacher confidences, and the fourth is administration. And within each of those four standards there are a series of key indicators. Each of those key indicators are rated on a scale of 0-9, 9 being the highest, superior, 0 being out of compliance. So, all of the programs receive these numerical ratings.
However, in doing these quality assurance reviews, one of the things that we try to do is not simply just rate the programs. As I indicated, when our people, our reviewers, are on site, they will uncover problems. They go around the state. They can do comparisons. They know that certain things work in other programs so they share that information and provide this ongoing technical assistance.
So, the QAR is a fundamental system of assuring accountability. And if you look at the '99 scores compared to the '98, the numerical scores are about the same, but between '98 and '99 we raised the standards dramatically, which means that the quality of juvenile justice education in '99 has improved substantially over '98. What we try to do in these quality assurances is we measure programs, across programs during a given year. We can't measure these things linear, from year to year, because we keep raising the bar. We keep raising the bar.
A second component that we have in place is a corrected action strategy. If we're on site and there's problems with the program, we give the program 90 days to correct these significant deficiencies. They have 90 days. In '99 there were 73 programs that had to carry out corrective action, 73 programs in 32 school districts. And I'm very pleased to say 100 percent compliance with the corrective action. We had unusual enthusiasm and great support. One of the things I can share with you is that the program people love to have the assistance. They grappling with very serious problems and they love the help.
A third area that we've been doing is best practices. What are best practices? And we have been able to identify a number of programs in the State of Florida that clearly epitomize what we would call best practices. It just so happens that these programs consistently score at the high QAR level.
These best practices program include multi-assessment, include various types of curriculum offerings, they include excellent transition. They also include teacher training and they also include teacher awareness to cultural adversity. These are some of the components that we've found in best practices.
Another research piece that we're doing is recidivism. Doing the best performing education programs have a lower recidivism rate than the satisfactory or below? And the answer is unequivocally yes. Not surprising. The better the education, the less likely the recidivism. Now, I do have to kind of caution you that recidivism, according to DOE and the JJEEP project, is a very poor measure of community integration. So, we are launched to a contracting view based upon not just recidivism, but of return to school, return to work, family adjustment, and, very importantly, self-reported measures. Kids will tell you what they're doing, and so we're actually collecting self-report measures, basically detailing a child's experience.
Beyond that, another component to that practice that we've identified is after care. After care. And, again, I think it's critical for everyone to recognize that you can have the best educational program, you can make substantial gains in a child's educational growth, but if you don't have sufficient after care it goes by the wayside. And what we're trying to do with the JJEEP project, in conjunction with DOE and the DJJ, is to develop a model in terms of duration and intensity: How long should the after care exists and how intensive should it be. And this would provide us with a continuing service which we think would also provide a model for best practices.
Now, the final issue that we're dealing with is this longitudinal tracking, and we continue to track kids. We are looking at the best practices, we are looking at the satisfactory, and we're looking, in addition, at the low performing programs to see if, indeed, we can find discernable differences.
With regard to what it all means and where we're going in the future -- I'm probably getting close to my time limit. With regard to where we're going in the 2000 cycle, one, we will be very specifically looking at uniform preimposed academic assessments. You've got to know what the academic gains are. We will be looking, as I mentioned before, at after care and trying to delineate what after care should be in Florida.
Thirdly, we'll be looking at cost, the cost of the superior program versus the satisfactory program versus the lower program so that the policy makers in Florida can make very informed decisions as to what is it going to cost to implement best practices. And then, additionally, the ongoing study of community reintegration.
The point is, is that we're building a major database. We're going to enable the State of Florida in its attempts to improve the quality of education. We know unequivocally if kids are subject to responsible and effective education, that makes them more hopeful, that gets more order and discipline into their lives, that makes them -- basically increases their likelihood for successful community integration. We know that. That's established. What we don't know is precisely is what works specifically and best for these young people. And that is our charge. Thank you.
COMMISSION GALLAGHER: Item 1 on the agenda is 6A-6.05281. I'd like to move it as amended, Governor.
MR. PIERSON: Speaking on the rule is Secretary Bankhead, Department of Juvenile Justice.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Is there a second?
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Second.
GOVERNOR: Secretary Bankhead, why don't you give us first a brief overview of what the Department of Juvenile Justice does and how big it is or how small it is, depending on your point of view, and how it relates to local school districts and local law enforcement and social service agencies in the like here in Polk County.
SECRETARY BANKHEAD: Governor and members of the Cabinet, the State Board of Administration, I appreciate the opportunity to be here in support of the rule, and also to tell you a little about our department because we have 5500 full-time employees, our FTE count. Our budget this year was $680 million. The Governor has proposed a budget next year of over $700 million.
And our mission -- well, I'll talk just a minute about the scope. In many states, the Department of Juvenile Justice only deals with kids after they've been sentenced to a long-term commitment program. And in Florida, though, we have responsibility for prevention work, and we spent this year about $74 million on preventing kids from coming into the juvenile justice system. That primarily is spent -- half of that goes out through the CINS/FINS effort or your local youth crisis centers that are pervasive around the state.
GOVERNOR BUSH: What is CINS/FINS?
SECRETARY BANKHEAD: Yes, I'm sorry. Children in Need of Services/Families in Need of Services. These are kids who are runaways, incorrigible, truants, homeless kids, who need a place to go and some therapy, some counseling, in an effort to join families and children that are having problems and work out those. It's very important work because kids who are on the street, or have dysfunctional families, likely they're going to end up in the juvenile justice system.
Then when the local sheriff or the local police chief or investigate that does break the law, they bring them to us. The detention centers throughout the state -- there are 22 detention centers. They all are operated by state, by Department of Juvenile Justice personnel. There are -- we are fortunate in 20 areas of the state, including Pensacola -- Polk County, to have juvenile assessment centers where the kids are dropped off to begin with. It reduces the time that a law enforcement officer has to spend with the child once they're arrested, and the child has some screening and assessment done right there to determine what is best to do with the child.
From there, we follow the child through the court process and implement whatever sanctions the judge feels is appropriate. That can be from probation to a short- or long-term secure or nonsecure commitment program, the juvenile equivalent of the adult system prison, but we like to think we do more for the kids in our system.
We provide, in addition to holding them and making sure they're off the street, we also provide various therapies and education. And that's part of what we're here to talk about today.
Once they leave those facilities, then we provide after care. We follow them back into the community and help make sure that they stay on the right track and apply what they've learned in our facilities. So, that is pretty much the scope of our activity.
We enjoy a very good relationship with the law enforcement community in Polk County. The Sheriff here runs one of the very best boot camps in the state, and I believe, quite frankly, Florida has some of the very best boot camps of any state in the country. And for public record, we are proud of our good camps and we want to see a long relationship. We need to continually work to raise the bar, as we've talked about, and to make all of our programs better. But we think that boot camps, in part, are working, and we don't have any plans not to continue those boot camps. I spoke to the Governor about that very issue this morning and he is in accord with that.
If it's appropriate, I will make some comments. Number one, the Governor asked each of his agency heads to come up with a revised mission statement. And I think it's important because I was in the legislature for a long time, and you see what is called a mission greed where the mission of the agencies gets so broad that you cannot possibly accomplish all that is necessary to do.
So, the Governor didn't just ask for a new mission statement, but he asked for a three word mission statement. And I will tell you, with a three word mission statement you get fairly focused. And ours is "reduce juvenile crime." Period. That's why we're in business. We're not in business to do a lot of things that are nice. We're in business to reduce juvenile crime. Even I can remember that. And he makes sure that I remember. We're a very focused agency, and the things that we do go to reduce juvenile crime.
Some of the initiatives that the Governor has proposed for the coming legislative session are one, that we better identify kids when they come in early. On their first arrest we need to be better able to differentiate between the child that is going to get in trouble again and again and again, and the one that is a casual participant and will go away and we'll never see again. Again, we need to focus a lot more resources on those that will continue to recidivate, continue to be our best customers. We want to lose customers.
Once we get them in our system, we need to expand the length of stay. We need to be sure and have those kids in our system long enough to provide protection to the public, and also give us an opportunity to provide the appropriate treatment and education to the kids so that when they do get out of our facility they'll be able to better withstand the pressures in the community to return to crime.
And, thirdly, there's a major commitment in this year's budget to provide specialized treatment for drug abuse and mental health treatment, and those are very important problems. Most of the kids that come to our system have one or two or both of those problems and we need to be better able to address them. We will.
Our real purpose in being here is to support the rule. And I can tell you that I'm proud of the cooperation that Commissioner Gallagher's staff and my staff have had in developing this rule. We had a number of issues we had to work through. And I think by doing this and in prolonged negotiation, we got a better understanding of each other and each other's goals and what we need to do to accomplish our joint vision of providing the education to these kids.
The rule covers -- when you read it, it sounds fairly mundane, but I can tell you the things in it and what it does are very important. It covers such things as student assessments and academic plans and the selection of instructional staff and the funding and sanction, some of the things that you heard about. All of those things will go to make us have a better educational system in the juvenile system.
Let me close by sharing with you a quote from Reverend Ralph Helms Stockton. He once said, "The larger the island of knowledge, the longer the shoreline of wonder." And perhaps this rule will help us to better expand that island of knowledge with some of our youthful offenders. And if education can open their minds and hearts, perhaps hopes and dreams will replace delinquency and crime.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you, Mr. Secretary. Thank you. Mr. Gallagher.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: Governor, we're, obviously, for this rule. I will tell you that there were three public workshops held on October 25th in Tallahassee, Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, and we do have -- the reason I move it as amended because it's primary to include the reference to the 504 Plan, which are the federal requirements for eligible students with disabilities to make technical and substantive changes.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Commissioner.
TREASURER NELSON: Thank you, Governor. Mr. Secretary, I was curious. There was a case, a very interesting case that was in front of Federal Judge Stafford in Tallahassee involving a juvenile from Gadson County who was not in a juvenile facility but was being tried as an adult, and, therefore, within, in this particular case, I think, the Sheriff's Department in the county jail. And the question came up to Judge Stafford, and he said that the law seemed to be silent as to the educational opportunities for a juvenile charged as an adult.
In this particular case, the Gadson County juvenile was in jail for a year, and then the charges were dismissed or either he was acquitted. So, the kid does not have any educational training for a year. What, in your discussions, have you all concluded about that?
SECRETARY BANKHEAD: Well, I think the law is fairly clear, Commissioner Nelson, that the -- once a child is charged as an adult, maybe considered to be a sufficiently significant offender, if you say it that way, that he ought to be separated from the juveniles that are in our system.
And so, when the State Attorney makes a decision to charge the child as an adult, or someone under 18 as an adult, he needs to understand the impact of that is broader than just -- we cannot keep that child in our system. The law is clear about that. The law very well may not require, and I'll tell you I don't think it does, educational services for that child while he is in an adult facility. It maybe something we ought to look at.
But I can tell you it's not now part of the law, and it is one of the consequences of charging a juvenile as an adult. One of the reasons why -- and I'm particularly pleased to see the pretty significant annual increase in the adult files, sort of top over, if you can leave more of those kids in the juvenile system, I think we can provide better services.
TREASURER NELSON: So, if I may, Governor. So, your interpretation is that, as a matter of policy, so that the law is silent with regard to this, that silence would indicate that there is no intention of the state to provide educational opportunities for those kids being tried as adults.
SECRETARY BANKHEAD: Well, I'm not sure I want to say that. What I will tell you is that once they're filed on by the State Attorney as an adult, then the responsibility for those children and the policy development for those children is through somebody else. And, frankly, I've had my hands full with my own bailiwick this first year and I haven't quite gotten into somebody else's.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: I'll be glad to respond, if I may. Under IDEA, which is the Individual's Disability Act, all students that would have a disability, wherever they would be, from ages 3-21, would be required to get the services they need because of that disability, which would include education. The reason Judge Stafford threw this particular case out is because this particular individual did not have a disability, therefore, did not come under the federal law, which is where this lawsuit took place.
I will tell you that as of the Department's position, and, actually, espoused in a 1995 opinion by the General Council, that opinion was issued and basically it stated that school boards are responsible for providing educational services to all children of compulsory school age who are incarcerated in local jails. Except as otherwise noted in the discussion, there is no corresponding obligation for school boards to provide educational services to youth of both the compulsory school age who are incarcerated in local jails.
So, it is our belief, and we stand to reenforce this, -- and I'm glad you brought this issue up -- that the local school boards are responsible for education in the local jails by anyone who is of school age under mandatory requirement.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Which is 15 and under. Up to 16.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: Up to 16. That's correct. And so, we would, of course stand, when we know of an issue, would enforce that and work with the districts on that. The law may not be as clear as it should be, and so I think it's good that you brought this up. And we're looking at clarification in probably this session.
TREASURER NELSON: Well, thank you for clarifying that. I think that's really important, and I think it's important that the school districts get this. Because in this opinion by Judge Stafford last September, he says, and I quote, "This Court takes" -- let me go back. "Florida law is silent as to the provision of educational services," talking about the fact situation here. "This Court takes that silence to mean that a child in Florida who has been charged as an adult with a serious crime and has been confined in a jail does not have a property or liberty interest in educational services." So, your clarification is most timely and most welcome. Thank you.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Any other discussion?
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Governor, I have some discussion, but I think maybe we'll do it after this.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Okay. Sure. There's been a motion and a second to the proposed rule. Is there any objections? It's approved then.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Governor, if I could.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Yes, General Butterworth.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: I'm really pleased with what Secretary Bankhead is doing with the agency and I think it's really going in a real good direction. You mentioned boot camps, which I'm also a fan of and I'm pleased that you're going to continue it. A little bit of history on boot camps.
Sheriff Crow -- and I'm really a Sheriff Crow fan. I believe he is one of the finest sheriffs not only in this state, but recognized in the country. And he developed a tremendous boot camp program here. And under the old administration, they did want to privatize a lot of these things. They did not think that a sheriff should be eligible to compete for privatization, which I never quite understood. So, if we could, Governor, I'd like to have Sheriff Crow talk about the boot camp. And he does have the only, the first and the only, boot camp for girls in the State of Florida.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Sheriff, please.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: And when we cut the ribbon about -- I guess it was about six years ago, my three-year-old daughter wanted to come up there with me, and what happened was I tried to explain to her what it was. And then she knew what type of attitude she had. And she was worried that if I brought her up there and she acted out that Sheriff Crow would keep her here.
But I'm very impressed with what Sheriff Crow has done, how he developed his boot camp, the design of it. Very inexpensive, especially the girls' wing. So, Sheriff, if you could just expand a little bit on your after care, the boot camp itself, type of kids you are getting and after care. And if you want to talk about your cellular phone program, you were first in the country, in where you dropped the domestic violence by a whole lot and saved a lot of life. You can talk about that, too.
SHERIFF CROW: Thank you, General. I won't take much time. I know it's a Cabinet meeting, but I appreciate the opportunity to speak with you and the Governor. I am also a fan of you and the Governor and his brother.
My boot camp does go back a long way. We began a program when boot camps were not popular. One of the things that the Attorney General did was help me build the first wing for the first female boot camp, and, as far as I know, was the first juvenile female boot camp in the nation. And he did that through a penalty that was paid by an insurance company, and they turned around the used that money to build our wing at the boot camp.
The County Commission actually built it. There's no state funds involved except for the day-to-day operation. It has about a 70 percent success rate, one of the highest in the State of Florida for over five years. We do our own after care with drill instructors staying with the kids after they go into the transition, and even after they leave the boot camp they live another three months with us in transition, and then, finally, the last three months on the street. So, it's a one-year program. The school element, it's a most successful -- one of the most successful schools in Polk County.
It's been recognized -- operated, by the way, by the school system, not by the Sheriff's Department. We are seeing four semesters improvement on an average in six months. That's because there's discipline in the classroom, there's uniformity, and it's an exceptional program. And we want to -- I know there's been some talk about cutting back on funding, but I want you to know that we're real proud of that program. We've seen some successes. One of our early successes was a young man that went through our boot camp. We couldn't put him back with his family. And, by the way, many cases we need to have the family in there. I've said that over and over. But we couldn't put him back with the family. We put him in the forestry service. He went through their program, attended forestry school, became a forest ranger and has been reassigned back to Polk County. That's the type of successes that we like to see.
I appreciate the work and relationship we've had at the state level. As the General said, not only have we worked with you on the boot camp, but we began the first cellular telephone location program for abused victims of abuse by their husband or their boyfriend, and that program has proven so successful it's been adopted by the State of Florida. We began by using a cell phone and it could call nothing but 9-1-1, which worked out very well. And now we have more than a hundred of those out at any given time.
So, we appreciate the working relationship with the Attorney General's Office, and with your office, and we salute you for the support that we've received.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Sheriff, how's the crime fighting business going here? What are your numbers for the first ten months?
SHERIFF CROW: That's exceptionally well, Governor. We're running about 35, 36 percent reduction in overall crime. Violent crime is down more than that. One are I'm really pleased with is auto thefts, which is down about 50 percent over what it was last year. We have a community initiative, putting cops back in the community that stay there all the time and become involved. We call it PROCAP for Proactive Community Attack on Problems.
We have about 500 cars that are equipped with lap top computers hooked back to headquarters, who have the same access to all of the files that I have in my office. And just to give you an example of how that works, one of the screens you can bring up on our computer system is the 9-1-1 screen. As a call comes in, we build a screen or build a call, and we've found that many of the deputies look into that screen from their patrol car, from the time the screen is built and it goes forward and it's dispatched, the deputy is already there because he saw the call coming. That's been innovative. We didn't think that would happen.
But we see a real potential for the use of cellular telephone technology. We are now an agency, one of two agencies, Nashville Police Department and Polk County Sheriff's Office, are now experimenting with a fingerprint scanner hooked up to the lap tops in the field that will scan your fingerprint and tell us who you are, check the statewide database through APAS without ever seeing any identification. Because this may come as a shock to you, but some crooks lie about who they are. Some of them don't carry identification, and this is one way we're overcoming that problem.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Thank you, Sheriff.
SHERIFF CROW: Thank you.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Sheriff, we were talking earlier -- and I can brag on him all day. The program where having your cell phone automatically, which the officer need not dial, it automatically comes on, whereby the officer will be able to speak to the 9-1-1 person who placed the call in order to say, "I'm a block away. I'm two blocks away."
SHERIFF CROW: Yes. We believe that is the next step. One button transfer from our communication center on what we call hot call where we're having to respond to help, where we can actually -- that victim needs to talk to the officer that's responding, not to a dispatcher. And, of course, he could say, "I'm five blocks away. I'm turning west on such a street. What color is your house? What kind of vehicle do you got in the driveway? What's going on now?"
And we'll be having, at our juvenile crime seminar this afternoon at Bartow High School, one of the programs we've got now just funded is Bartow High School will go online with cameras that will be accessible by our deputies in the field. It will receive a call there.
And we have 12 banks -- a new program just approved within the last week, 12 banks in Polk County that have their cameras will be placed online. The deputies in that area will have an icon on their lap top computer with that bank's name. If they receive a call there, they can click on that icon and they can see and hear what's going on inside that bank if they have a robbery call. And that's technology, and we're already doing that. We've got one up on an experimental basis, and 11 more will go online within 30 days.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Well, we figure that a law enforcement officer walking into a very dangerous situation will be better prepared with the knowledge of how to respond to it because the officer will know what actually is going on and where the offender may actually be seen through the camera. And I can see to expanding this to your, perhaps, even paramedics whereby when someone is going to a home, the actual EMT can actually say to somebody at the house what to do in order to help keep that person alive.
What you're doing here, I find it to be absolutely amazing and I think it's the real cutting edge of law enforcement. It's undergoing a complete revolution right now. And I think this is one of the reasons why your crime rate is down. I talked to you earlier today about when you put everyone who had a warrant against them or a capias against them on the Internet, and how many hits did you have the first arrests you had the first 24 hours?
SHERIFF CROW: We had about 35 hits. It's a very successful program. I'm working with the state now to put all of the warrants statewide. We have 25,000 warrants online. Statewide, in Florida, there are about 200,000 warrants. And I'm working on the committee to put those online and make them accessible to all of our citizens.
In addition, all of the stolen property in Florida we're going to put online so that anyone can check the Internet to see if a piece of property is stolen. We believe that's the future. And Tim Moore has asked me to serve on the committee to do that, and we will be approaching your office and the Governor's office later this year, making some recommendations to do that statewide.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Governor, one more thing. I don't want to take up too much time. One more thing I think is so important for us to hear as to where we're going. Many times -- our prisons are built primarily in the rural areas. This is not unique to Florida. It's just the way it is. Land value is less expensive, unemployment is down in many of our more rural areas. So, some of our rural counties want prisons. The land is too expensive in the bigger counties, especially the southeast counties like Dade County, Broward and Palm Beach, who end up sending most of the prisoners into the system.
What usually happens is then is the family basically cannot afford to do too many personal visits, they really can't. Everything is done by mail, occasionally by telephone, which gets to be a little bit expensive. And still, most people are going to get out of prison at a point in time. Ninety-five percent will get out. You want to keep the best way you can, especially to a person there who has his children, to keep the children communicating with the parents, so at least it will be a family structure back in there and it would be a feeling of family structure.
What the Sheriff is doing in his jail, the county jail, which is, since you really can't really have any real contact anyway and it's going to be a glass window, will be able to, using the Internet and using the camera on the Internet, someone will -- a family of inmates will actually be able to go into a public facility, wherever it might be, and be able to talk to their loved one, who could be as far away as Union County, and be able to still keep -- and be able to see their picture and talk and communicate.
And that, I think, will do a whole lot in encouraging a person to want to get out to be a better person or whatever, but also, it will help keep, I think, the family together. Because I guarantee you right now, someone who's dad is in prison, that dad in prison is going to do all he can possibly do to say son don't -- or daughter, don't follow in my footsteps.
So, I think that this is a program which I hope Florida can take the lead on. It's not expensive. It's very, very inexpensive for this type of program, and I feel it's being developed here. Now, some people say that this may be why it's called Imperial Polk County because of the innovations coming here in many, many arenas, but law enforcement definitely.
SHERIFF CROW: We believe the future is electronic visitation. We're doing -- we're preparing to do all first appearance hearings, and soon it will not matter where a jail is located. If you want to visit with an inmate, all you need is a computer, and preferably one with a camera so you can both see and they can see you. But that can be done at a local library, for instance. And we would see that way for the state to go for state prison visitation. The equipment is rather inexpensive now and the Internet is free. So, I think the future for that potential is great.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you, Sheriff. A couple of items before we move on to the next item on the agenda. Just for the civic students here, you probably already know this, but rules are not made in a vacuum. Sometimes the legislature claims that rules are made in a vacuum. Laws are passed. And last session House Bill 349 was the genesis of the creation of the rule that we just passed. So, laws are passed, then it's up to the Department of Education, the Department of Juvenile Justice to develop the rules that will reflect what the legislature wants since they are the policymakers. And I, being a governor that always wants to extend the hand of friendship to the legislature, we have several members of the legislature -- I saw Adam Putnam in the back and Representative Paula Dockery here. There may be other members, if you could stand up. Because they are the ones that pass the law. There's Paula.
Secondly, during the presentation you've heard the use of acronyms and if my microphone was on you heard the "ughh" of the hit to the solar plexus in my lone struggle to try to make government more responsive to people. I'm fighting this fight and I'm losing it. I want to announce that if anybody wants to join my side and fight against acronyms, even though my name is one, JEB, I want you to join me. I eventually will win this fight, Sheriff, in spite of all the great programs you have that have to have an acronym in front of them, please join me in my fight. It's a lonely battle out there.
And then, thirdly, Commissioner Crawford, would you like to recognize anybody in the crowd, in the audience?
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Yes, Governor. Thank you. If I could, there's a lot of special residents of Bartow, to me most special, just came in a few minutes ago, and that's my mother. I'd like to welcome her.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Item 2.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: Governor, if I may, I'd like to thank Secretary Bankhead. He and I spent quite a few years in the legislature together, and our staff has worked long and hard, through a lot of ups and downs to get that rule that we've just passed done and completed. And I want to thank him very much and his entire organization for their cooperation in helping get this rule passed. Thank you all.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: Item 2 is 6A-20.111, criteria for documentation of disability. And speaking for the Department Shan Goff and community education.
MS. GOFF: Thank you. I'm from the Department of Education, Division of Public Schools, and I'm here to just give you a little bit of brief information about a rule that really represents the interest of post-secondary continuing education for students with disabilities.
This rule is required by a statute that was passed by our legislature, specifically requiring the State Board of Education to set the necessary criteria. And it's criteria to ensure that students who are identified as disabled under the Americans With Disabilities Education Act -- I didn't say DEA. That if it's been determined, because of their disability, they need part-time student status as a reasonable accommodation for them to be able to continue their education, this statute requires that the State Board set out that specific criteria so that it can be reviewed, and that the student can still earn a prorated share of the financial aid, which we obviously think is a very important piece.
The statute also requires the secondary institution specifically decides when the part-time status is a necessary accommodation. One of the things to remind people, the Americans With Disabilities Act has a very broad definition of persons with disabilities. You can have a record, someone can think you are a person with disabilities, or you can have specific documentation.
We know that many of our students that go on to secondary have been identified as students with disabilities in their public school career, and their school records would have that information readily available to them. But we also know that there are other persons identified and eligible for services under the Americans With Disabilities Education Act that do not have such specific kind of evaluation.
What this rule does is it specifically indicates the kind of professional that must do the assessment. They have to be a licensed or qualified person and have some expertise in the related area. There's a time line that says the evaluation must be recently sufficient as determined by the specific institution and include a valid and reasonable assessment of the student's need. What we're really looking for is documentation that says why that impacts the student's ability to take a full course load as a secondary student.
To tell you a little bit about the rule promulgation process very quickly, as I mentioned, it's been an activity with the Board of Regents, with the Division of Community Colleges, Department of Education also. Trying to work together to ensure that this rule had sufficient specificity, but also was flexible. That rule development process didn't begin before July of 1999. But also, one piece that has helped move our process a little quicker is that there was, in August of this year, a complaint filed against the state university system by a person with a disability.
So, this draft rule is presented to you, has been shared with the Office For Civil Rights. We believe that that will address that individual's concern, and they have approved the language as presented to you today.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: I move the rule.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: There's a motion and a second. Any discussion? Moved and seconded. Without objection, it's approved.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: Item 3 is a repeal of several community college rules, 6H-1.014, 015, 016, 020, 021, 031, and 032.
MR. NELSON: Motion.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moved and seconded. Without objection, it's approved. Secretary Harris, would you like to recognize anybody?
SECRETARY HARRIS: Yes, I would. I just wanted to say, Governor, it's an honor and it's humbling being back in a community that really raised you. But I'm privileged to be here, and, certainly, those who worked overtime on that are here. My parents, Harriet and George Harris, I would like to acknowledge them and thank them.
GOVERNOR BUSH: I'm sorry I didn't see them to begin with.
(The State Board of Education Agenda was concluded.)
* * *
GOVERNOR BUSH: Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Motion on the minutes.
COMMISSIONER NELSON: Second
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moved and seconded without objection. It's approved. Item 2.
MR. DICKINSON: Governor, before we get too far down, I've asked one of the students in the crowd to assist me today.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Absolutely.
MR. DICKINSON: Mentor for a day, if you will. Katie Bell is a 14-year-old, and I tried to find somebody that had something to do with our agency, and she assures me she's going to be getting her driver's license. Katie, go ahead and just -- the Commissioner has already asked for the first item. Why don't you go ahead and read it off for us.
MISS BELL: Number 1, we have the approval of the minutes for the November 23 and December 14, 1999, Cabinet meetings.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Well, I'll move those minutes.
COMMISSIONER HARRIS: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moved and seconded. Without objection, it's approved. Item 2.
MISS BELL: Item 2 is approval of the quarterly report for the quarter ending December 1999.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: I'll move Item 2.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: It's moved and seconded.
MR. DICKINSON: Governor, if I may step in here for a second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Well, I was wondering if Katie was going to give the report or were you?
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: I think she could do it pretty well.
MR. DICKINSON: We have a good report. Let me, if I may at this point, tell everybody what we do. The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles is your Florida Highway Patrol, your Division of Driver's Licenses and Motor Vehicles, your tags, titles, mobile homes and things of that nature. And then we have support staff which includes a computer system here in Florida.
We've got about 1,800 troopers statewide. You probably know about those at the most inopportune or most opportune moments of your driving day or night. We are, fortunately, on the road 24 hours a day. I would like to comment, if I may. Working with Tim Moore at FDLE and the sheriffs in the various counties, Tim, of course, tells me what a great job the sheriff -- we just heard what a great job he does.
I wish we had the money to put mobile data terminals, or MDT's, as the Governor doesn't want us to call them, in all our patrol cars, but that's something that with the support of the Governor and Cabinet, we're certainly moving towards, and that's more automation. Along the lines of automation, I'd like to report to you that later this spring you'll be able to renew your driver's license over the Internet, as well as your car tag renewals. So, that will be forthcoming. And I'm not going to tell you it's going to be a painless process, but we just put in a new system and I beg your indulgence while we get it streamlined, but it's coming. It's working.
We've got about 5,000 employees statewide, about 200 locations. As I told you, about 1800 sworn law enforcement officers. We collect
about -- this is every day, we collect about $5 million dollars. We patrol over 150,000 on Florida's highways. We register about 70,000 vehicles, issue about 12,000 license plates, transfer about 20,000 titles to vehicles.
We do about 20,000 emissions a day, Governor, but I think that's going to be substantially reduced in our future. Those of you in Polk County really don't have to worry with that, but they do in Hillsborough and Pinellas, and looks as though, with the Governor's leadership and Secretary Struhs' we're moving towards a reduced --
GOVERNOR BUSH: At EPA's approval.
MR. DICKINSON: With EPA's approval, cleaner air folks. The program has cleaned the air as well as the rains and some other cyclic things, but we're moving in that direction. We serve about 25,000 driver's license employees -- excuse me, customers a day, dispose of about 3500 court dispositions, issue about 4200 citations of various things -- you won't have to worry about that, Katie, because you're a good driver -- and handle about 200 hearings of those that may get stopped with drunk driving.
Governor, the quarter has been a good one for us. We look forward to more productivity in the next one.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: Let me just ask a question. I see that you issued 15,595 roadside suspensions to driver's with an unlawful blood alcohol content or for failure of a field sobriety test.
MR. DICKINSON: Correct.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: That's just for the quarter?
MR. DICKINSON: Yes, sir. There are about 60,000 DUI arrests a year, and that represents one-quarter, roughly, of the administration suspension, where the law enforcement officer actually takes the license at the scene, issues them a piece of paper where they have 30 days to get their affairs in order, and then depending on whether they blow or not, we take their license administratively, separate from the court action. So, we may have only done 3,000 DUI arrests on the patrol. The Driver's License Division does all the administrative suspensions statewide for all law enforcement arrests for DUI.
GOVERNOR BUSH: A serious problem.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: It is a serious problem.
GOVERNOR BUSH: In fact, our state -- you may want to talk to the people here of what we've done to respond to this in terms of enforcement and our laws. We're recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Students Against Drunk Driving as one of the leaders in the nation, and we're pretty proud of it.
MR. DICKINSON: That's a loaded question, Governor. I appreciate that. But we have reduced alcohol-related fatalities 50 percent over the last ten years, and it's a time when our records keeping has gotten substantially better. Our medical examiners are much better trained, so we know that there are more alcohol-related crashes out there. But the statistics are showing that we've gone from about 60 percent down to the 30's, and our alcohol-related fatalities have tumbled as well.
It has MADD mothers -- I should say MADD organization, as they've recognized Florida as one of the top states. And it's not a time to let up. I know all of you all support the effort. We really want to push hard. The patrol, for instance, does a number of wolf packs and related sobriety checkpoints all over during holidays. We try to do one per quarter per troop. We have ten troops around the state, so that tells you how many we try to do. We interact with the local law enforcement, Department of Transportation.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Wolf pack, is that an acronym or is that --
MR. DICKINSON: Well, no, sir, that's what that's --
GOVERNOR BUSH: That's what it's called. Good. It used to be called W Pack, but now they changed it. Is there a -- we've had a motion and second on --
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: May I make a comment, Governor?
GOVERNOR BUSH: Yes, please.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Thank you very much. I know it's not in your report at this time, but also the agency licenses all new and used car facilities in the state, and also, the Department has a consumer protection bureau. If anybody has a problem with any dealer, they're able to call in. And the Department has the opportunity to not renew someone's license if there happens to be consumer complaints out there of a serious nature. So, Fred, if you can tell us about the one you had last -- this quarter, which I thought was one of the better ones your agency has done.
MR. DICKINSON: General, one of the car dealers in Pinellas County, who's got, I think, about seven dealerships --
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: You can mention the name. It's okay. He deserves it.
MR. DICKINSON: Lokey, I believe, was the name. They had a little -- I guess you would call it a scam going, where they would lease cars to unsuspecting buyers who thought they were buying a car, and then they'd a notice two years, three years down the road saying bring your car back in. And they'd say, "Well, we own it," and he said, "No, you don't as soon as you pay me another payment."
So, they had been paying lease payments all the way through. They came back in, unbeknownst to them, and had to belly up even more to buy the car. And with the help of the Attorney General, local law enforcement and our unit, we withheld the license for 31 days unless he paid over $1.5 million in restitution, legal fees and investigative fees. It's a real plus for the consumers, Attorney General Butterworth. He had great knowledge of the Department because of his past experience as a --
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Well, you're the second best Executive Director of the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Mr. Nelson.
TREASURER NELSON: Governor, I just wanted to give another kudo to Fred. The legislature had passed a pilot program several years ago to basically try to get people to stop driving without insurance. At one point in this state, we had an unbelievable 30 percent of all drivers on the road were uninsured. And, of course, you know who pays. It's all the rest of us have to pay to protect ourselves against those uninsured motorists.
Through Fred very aggressively pursuing this in his wolf packs, as well as this law that gave the ability, the new ability, for an arresting officer to impound the car as well as repo men to go out and take the tags, what we have is a considerable diminution of the uninsured motorists in this state, and I thank you for that.
MR. DICKINSON: Thank you, Commissioner, for your support also on that.
GOVERNOR BUSH: There's a motion and a second. Without objection, it's approved. Item 3.
MR. DICKINSON: Governor, Cabinet, do you want to just bring something close to home here while we're up here?
GOVERNOR BUSH: Yes. Let's do it.
MR. DICKINSON: Let me just give you a little personal note. My father was in politics for a number of years and I always wondered why is this place called Imperial Polk County.
GOVERNOR BUSH: You trying to win the $10 award?
MR. DICKINSON: That's right. I drove through here during the, I guess it was late 50's, early 60's. I'm dating myself a little bit. Polk County had the first four-lane roads in the State of Florida, and I'm sure Commissioner Holland was responsible for that. They had the best roads in Florida, and I always remembered that. And I was fortunate enough to work in the legislature in the late 60's. And Ben Hill Griffin was my sponsor, and that's who I worked for, Sandra Griffin. And the great part of it was that Senator Wilbur Boyd was right next door and he had three beautiful daughters that were a couple of years older than I was, so I got to sit there and watch them the whole time.
But Polk County has always had some very distinguished leaders. Senator Crawford, when he was president of the Senate, forced through a law enforcement pay raise, and, quite frankly, we hadn't had since or before, and we're certainly appreciative of that. And, of course, another plus, former Senator Harris has always been supportive of law enforcement. But Polk County's got a long, distinguished history of that.
And in the old days, the offices closest to the Chamber designated the highest seniority and the highest power. And, of course, Ben Hill was closest to the Chamber and Wilbur was right down there, and then a fellow named Lawton Chiles was in another building and he used to always show up over there. This was the start of his political career. But I always have fond memories of Polk County. It's been a real breeding ground for some great politicians of this state and great leaders. I have firsthand knowledge of that and thought I would relay that to you.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: One thing I meant Governor Mark Trammel was from Polk County when he became an Attorney General, the State Attorney General. And he is -- it was a hundred years ago. He was the only Cabinet member which had ever become a governor in the State of the Florida, the United States Senate. The only Cabinet member.
TREASURER NELSON: Others have tried.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: And some tried twice.
TREASURER NELSON: Others have tried more than once.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Knowing statistics on that. It was something like 65 to 1. So, I learn from history.
TREASURER NELSON: Some of us don't learn from history. They make history.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Fred, one of the things we're doing is back in the 50's and 60's the only four-lane roads were in Polk County. Now we're going to see if we can accelerate the expansion of I-4 so it's no longer a four-lane road, to make it a six-lane road.
Having been a candidate like everybody here, you get to go from Orlando to Tampa regularly and it becomes clear that it's important to expand the road for safety purposes, for economical development purposes and just for quality of life purposes.
So, we're -- one of the things that we did early last year, I had the opportunity to kill the bullet train and use the interest earnings that would have been spent on this train to accelerate the project that is probably the most important one for central Florida, which is to go from St. Pete to Volusia County on an Interstate that doesn't allow you to have to be stopped by the Highway Patrol because of dangerous conditions or be able to make sure we get goods to market. So, we're committed to that and the legislature has been great supporters of expanding our road system.
Item 3. Katie, what's going on?
MISS BELL: Item 3 is a submission of the following new State of Florida license plates: State Wildflower, and the Florida Memorial College.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Katie, how many license plates do we have? Do you know?
MISS BELL: Fifty-one.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Very good.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Motion on Item 3.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Is there a second?
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moved and seconded. Without objection, it's approved. Would you like to make any comments about these new plates?
MR. DICKINSON: Governor, we have some people here from -- what did you bring? Florida Wildflower.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Excellent.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: It's a very pretty plate.
GOVERNOR BUSH: They're both pretty.
MR. DICKINSON: Frank Walter.
MR. WALTER: Thank you, Fred and Governor and members of the Cabinet. Once again, our statutory role was expanded to keep Florida beautiful, and we were asked to more or less preside as stewards over a new license plate. And we do have 51 of them now, so we have quite a few.
But most importantly, what we're going to work to do is to develop a native seed stock, which is kind of the economic development side of what the program is going to be about, and they've done a great job in the State of Texas with that. And then we're going to produce additional revenues for planting grants, to give those grants to folks like Polk County. Because that's really our role as stewards here is to get as much as we can on the ground to allow communities to be cleaner and more beautiful places to live.
And so, Commissioner Parker and Commissioner Young, we met in this room to talk about the five goals that Polk County established, two of which related to cleaning up and improving the appearance of Polk County. This is an additional tool that we can help you with as far as meeting your community-based goals and what you're trying to do here in Polk County.
So, we do have some volunteers that are with us today, Governor, that we'd like to have a photo taken if at all possible. After the meeting? Okay. So, anyway, thank you, on behalf of the Florida Federation of Garden Clubs, the Department of Transportation, and about 150,000 volunteers that are involved in our "Keep Florida Beautiful" program.
GOVERNOR BUSH: These license plates, 51 of them, we're reaching the point where, Fred, I think that the regular license plate will be the special, very cool license plate. But the proceeds for these license -- you pay a little bit more, as you know, and they go for a whole wide variety of very important causes, and I think we're probably a leader in this as well. I can't imagine states having more than 51. Are we number one in the country?
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: I think we're number two, Governor.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Who's number one?
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: I think Virginia may have us.
GOVERNOR BUSH: I'm not suggesting we try to become number one.
MR. WALTER: This will be the last two tags that I'll have before you for two years. We had none that qualified -- they have to qualify three months prior to session, and we had no qualifiers.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you very much, Katie.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: How many does Virginia have?
TREASURER NELSON: I'll get that for you.
GOVERNOR BUSH: We don't need to beat them. MR. WALTER: Thank you, Governor.
(The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles Agenda was concluded.)
* * *
GOVERNOR BUSH: Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Commissioner Moore.
COMMISSIONER GALLAGHER: Motion on the minutes.
TREASURER NELSON: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moved and seconded. Without objection, it's approved. Item 2.
COMMISSIONER MOORE: Governor, I would like to forward the report for the quarter just ended in December of '99. And to make that make some sense, perhaps a couple of remarks about what we do under the Department of Law Enforcement to our visitors here.
You know, most law enforcement in our state is local, as it should be. You heard today from one of the best, Sheriff Crow. He's ably assisted here in Polk County by Chief Sandvik here, the Chief of Police in Bartow and Sam Baca, who is the Chief of Police over in Lakeland. Those individuals, along with a lot of others in Florida, do a great job keeping Florida safe.
Our role, as you know and as I'll share with the audience here, is really to partnership with local law enforcement and with federal law enforcement to make sure that we increase the solvability factor, increase the efficiency of the entire effort in policing in the State of Florida. And as you know -- you heard Sheriff Crow's numbers here in Polk County -- it's having some very positive consequences not only in Polk County but across our whole state as well.
In the Department of Law Enforcement, we have some 1700 men and women who make up the Department. We have an annual budget of around $155 million a year, and we do our work, essentially, in three areas: in criminal investigation, as you might imagine, in forensics, laboratory science, and really support local law enforcement in solving and preventing crime, and in providing the information of the infrastructure that you heard Sheriff Crow talk about, that allows the exchange of the information and the data of the Florida's 70,000 police officers and correctional officers that meet every day to do their jobs.
Governor, as you know, in our investigative arena we focus principally on investigating tragedy, on public corruption, on violent crime and on economic crime and fraud, and we've had some successes in that area. Any year -- any given year we'll work about 2500 criminal investigations. Usually, we make sure that we're not duplicating the good job that local law enforcement does. We are building on that. We do that by focusing our effort principally on multi-jurisdictional cases across county lines that go statewide that involve several players.
In the area of forensics, we have the largest accredited forensic laboratory system in the United States. It was the first laboratory to be accredited by the American Society for crime lab directors some 12 years ago. This year, we'll handle over 100,000 pieces of evidence in criminal proceedings. That's done by 250 scientists who are recognized as expert witnesses not only in Florida courts, but in federal courts as well. And I might add that well over 98 percent of those 100,000 pieces of evidence in these criminal proceedings are submitted from local law enforcement.
In the area of information, we mentioned that it's that infrastructure that provides Sheriff Crow and our other sheriffs and 300 plus chiefs of police and their men and women to exchange data among and between each other and with us at the state level, and do a lot of exciting things that are going on in the area of technology. Sheriff Crow mentioned some of them. On any given month, we'll handle in excess of 75 million transactions and messages amongst and between local law enforcement and the State of Florida.
We also house the Florida Government Information Center, which many of you use regularly, your employers use regularly, as does a lot of individuals in the private sector in Florida, to check on backgrounds, information related to people in your community or people that may be subject to employment.
It's in the Florida Government Information Center that our sexual predator files are available online, free of charge, so you can pull up by zip code a street name and find out if, in fact, there are any of the 17,000 plus sexual predators and sexual offenders that live in your neighborhood, all under the heading of giving the public the information they need to do what we've always asked the public to do and that you do so well, help provide for your public safety and the public safety of Floridians.
Finally, Governor, in our Department we are charged with the responsibility of, I guess, extensively policing the police, if you will. Through the Criminal Justice Standard and Training Division, we establish minimum employment and training standards for all of the police and all the correctional officers and correctional probation officers in the State of Florida. And in the less than one-half of one percent of the time that they need policing, that is, certifying this body, this Criminal Justice Standard and Training Division, actually be certified as the few problem police and correctional officers that we have in our system.
Governor, our goal is a real simple one. It's to be the best law enforcement agency in the State of Florida as well as the country, and to support local law enforcement in them doing their job every day.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Is there a motion?
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Motion made.
TREASURER NELSON: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moved and seconded. Without objection, it's approved. Thank you, Tim.
COMMISSIONER MOORE: Thank you, Governor.
(The Florida Department of Law Enforcement Agenda was concluded.)
* * *
GOVERNOR BUSH: Secretary Struhs.
SECRETARY STRUHS: Motion on the minutes.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moved and seconded. Without objection, it's approved. Item 2.
SECRETARY STRUHS: Governor and Cabinet, we're actually going to move to defer on Item Number 2, but I did want to use it as a --
GOVERNOR BUSH: Please.
SECRETARY STRUHS: I bring to the attention of all the good citizens of Imperial Polk County of the display in the lobby back there, and it describes some of the great work that we've done in terms of land acquisition in Florida and how it has benefitted this region of the state. Properties that I hope you all are familiar with and perhaps have even enjoyed, properties like the Lake Wales Bridge, Catfish Creek and the Green Swamp area. headwaters for the waters furnished through the state.
So, please take a look at the display. And there are also some very handsome posters, on the way out if you want to take a poster home to your kids to put on their bedroom wall. It's actually an educational tool, and they can learn about some of the conservation work we're doing here in the State of Florida.
Unfortunately, Representative Paula Dockery had to leave. I was going to single her out for some special attention. She is the chairman of the Environmental Committee in the House of Representatives here in Florida, was the sponsor of the -- one of the original sponsors of the Florida BVRAC, and represents you all very well, particularly in the new role where she is a chair of the advisory panel that is helping to gear up the new Sports firm program, which will be a ten-year acquisition program.
So, with that, we'll defer Item 2. I'd like to defer Item 2.
TREASURER NELSON: Motion.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Is there a second?
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: There's a motion and a second to defer. Without objection, it's approved.
SECRETARY STRUHS: Substitute Item 3 is a partial release of a deed restriction and a reverter. We're recommending approval.
TREASURER NELSON: Motion.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moved and seconded. Without objection, it's approved.
SECRETARY STRUHS: Item Number 4 is an item that's been before you a number of times previously. You'll probably remember it as the Orange Harbor Mobile Home Park.
GOVERNOR BUSH: What I remember are the very nice people from Orange Harbor that are back here now. There they are.
SECRETARY STRUHS: Yes. They're wonderful people, Governor, and they've actually worked very closely with the Department in coming up with a compromise that I think is going to be fully protective of the natural resources and still give them the access that they need to their waterfront. Some of them would like to speak to the Cabinet, so I would invite Mr. Pengale, Mr. Budorff, Aileene Lackey, and Bud Gordon is the commodore of the folk up there.
GOVERNOR BUSH: David, you may want to describe why we are here dealing with this issue. I don't think everybody in the state fully appreciates the landlord status of this body and your responsibility with that as they come up.
SECRETARY STRUHS: Right. The Cabinet sits as the Board of Trustees for much of the land that is held in trust for all the citizens of Florida. One of the areas that is, perhaps, most interesting is those lands that are actually submerged or under water. And there is a system in place where citizens who require access to use those public lands come before the Cabinet through lease arrangements to gain that kind of access. Of course, we do that in a way that is fully protective of the natural resources that we're all protecting. And this is a good example, I think, where we've been able to meet both of those tests.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Good morning. Nice to see you again.
MR. PETENGILL: We have worked on this five years from the beginning of this, and in the last eight months, the Governor's office, the Cabinet, DEP, our owner and all our residents have worked diligently to come up with a solution to this problem. We feel that the solution that has been arrived at by the DEP is spirit of the state, spirit of the owner, spirit of the residents, and we wish to thank every single one of you who have worked on this problem. We are highly grateful. Thank you.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you, sir.
MR. BORGER: Good morning, Governor.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Good morning.
MR. BORGER: I'm Phil Borger and I'm a resident of Orange Harbor Mobile Home Park.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Why don't you tell us where Orange Harbor Mobile Home Park is, because I'm not sure everybody in Bartow knows.
MR. BORGER: Along the Caloosahatchee River, Fort Myers, Lee County.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you.
MR. BORGER: We're right in the heart of the manatee area. First of all, I want to thank you, Governor Bush, and your Cabinet for listening to our plea back on June 8th when we went to Tallahassee. And it was because of this, I think, that we've had a fair and equitable solution to this submerged land use. At that time, in Tallahassee, you started the ball rolling by giving us -- issuing us a six months temporary use agreement that we could park our boats at our docks and use it until we come up with a permanent agreement. We feel that this agreement meets our concerns.
And I would like to thank, especially, the Secretary David Struhs and the DEP, and also, or especially our director, Rick Cantrell, who is the head of the Fort Myers District, and his staff, Lucy Blair and Mark Miller, who have spent countless hours in working out all the detail of the agreement. And this is a unique agreement, I believe, that set a precedent for the state.
On behalf of all the residents of Orange Harbor Park, the boat club, and representative also of -- representative of the owners, I want to thank you.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you, sir.
SECRETARY STRUHS: I want to give a special introduction to Ms. Aileene Lackey who is a graduate of a finer institution of higher learning, Indiana University.
MS. LACKEY: Governor Bush, members of the Cabinet. I didn't know that he was going to get that plug in. The residents of Orange Harbor wish to convey their appreciation of the work that everyone related to this submerged land lease have been involved, from the local level to the head of the State of Florida.
We need to take recognition today of something that is very fundamental. A group of average citizens came to the halls of government. We were patient, we had determination and tenacity. We were able to air our concerns and they were heard. This is an example of how the American democracy works. Everyone who has been involved with this project should feel a feeling of pride, for this is what America is all about. Thank you.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you very much. This is a very interesting case, because in our deliberations here we have set rules that apply statewide, and many times circumstances don't quite fit the rules. Laws change. Our standards, our commitment to the environment has changed over the last generation dramatically. So, people who may have been there before the rules existed, many times are put into unusual predicaments.
And I think it's incumbent upon people in government to be sensitive to the fact that one size doesn't fit all. And in this case, I think the Department, I think, had a change -- had an attitude check based on the bosses that were here, and they responded in a way that was sensitive to the unique nature of this. It took a while, but it does work.
TREASURER NELSON: Governor, I want to thank the residents who were tenacious and straightforward, and worked very, very diligently and were very understanding with the problems of government and allow us to get to where we are today.
GOVERNOR BUSH: And they didn't have to travel all the way to Tallahassee this time.
TREASURER NELSON: That's true. Not so far. Thank you very much.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: I have one amendment, which I understand everyone agrees with. As the gentleman stated, this is a very high manatee concentration area, and all of us, all of us want to protect the manatee. Each person has it. I don't think I need to read the entire thing, but just to say that what it does is that -- is if, in fact, somebody violates the boating laws, the Department can revoke that person's particular privilege of docking or launching a boat.
And also, there will be a number of posters saying that, so we'll be able to preserve the manatees. If we get some reckless person out there, then we can take care of that particular person. So, I'll move that amendment.
TREASURER NELSON: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: There's a motion and a second on the amendment. Can we take it all up at once?
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: That amendment was to page 4 -- or Item 4, I'm sorry.
GOVERNOR BUSH: There's a motion and a second to approve the amendment. Without objection, it's approved. David?
SECRETARY STRUHS: Well then, I think you need to decide the entire item.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moves it with the item.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Second.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Moved and seconded. Without objection, it's approved. Thank you all very much.
* * * * *
SECRETARY STRUHS: My instructions are now to turn the podium over to the Chairman of County Commission.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Excellent.
MR. PARKER: Governor, ladies and gentlemen of the Cabinet. I have a few things that I need to say. I just want to recognize the most important people, from our standpoint, that made all this happen on "Capitol For a Day." I would like to call Commissioner Young forward, if she will, please. I would like for her to help me with this. But our county manager, Jim Keene, he has directed his staff to make this as pleasant for everyone as possible.
Another thing is that I would like to also announce that "Capitol For a Day" is being paid for by 16 sponsors of the corporate community. They're doing that on behalf of the citizens of Polk County. Tax payer dollars did not go into it. And we are very appreciative of those folks.
And another thing is that you've heard that there's no such thing as a free lunch. Well, right across the street, in a few minutes, there will be a free lunch for all the citizens that are attending. At this time, I would also like to remind everyone that the school system in Polk County has reminded me that volunteer forms for public schools for the Governor's mentoring program will be available at the fair across the street. So, look for the table and get your form.
At this time, I'd like to introduce Commissioner Marlene Young, who is a former president of Florida Association of Counties, and she is also the legislative liaison to honor some of our people who made this event possible.
GOVERNOR BUSH: All right. And after that, we're going to ask -- I'm going to ask each one of the Cabinet members to describe what their -- outside their Cabinet functions, what they do in service to the state, and then we'll reconvene back at the next event.
COMMISSIONER YOUNG: Thank you, Governor Bush and Cabinet members. Certainly, I want to echo the pride and gratitude that we feel today for being able to host you here in Bartow. We are really excited. I particularly wanted to acknowledge and publicly thank our respective staff persons who really made this possible. You and I know that a great deal of work goes into arranging something like this. And it seems to be flawless and very easy, but, indeed, there's a lot of behind-the-scenes work.
On our side, our lead person was Sarah Cheney. She is Polk County's information director, and we thank her, but there are dozens of other people. I also want to thank your staff who, I know, have been inconvenienced to come down here. But I want to tell you how important it is to us in county government that we are able to see them face to face, make the introductions, because we have an important partnership with the state in providing essential services to our citizens, and it is so much more helpful when we have a face to put with that face and are able to communicate with them. So, thank you very much. We feel it's been very productive.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you. Secretary Harris.
SECRETARY HARRIS: Thank you, Governor. No one is more thankful than I every time you allow us to expound on our responsibilities. When I was running for office, many times they would ask why I had to run so hard or raise all the money around the state to be your secretary. So, I have a unique opportunity to explain that the office is a little more than that.
And, actually, there are seven divisions in the Department of State. We oversee all of the arts, history and libraries. In the arts we found that when you incorporate the cultural arena in the educational curriculum it raises SAT points 68 points verbally, 32 points in math. And because we all learn differently, the arts in the curriculum can help transcend some language barriers and, certainly, cultural barriers, and it's very important to our children at risk.
The Tallahassee Boys Choir is probably one of our hottest tickets in Tallahassee where 120 young men, youth at risk, are now not only the hottest ticket, they've been invited to sing at the Vatican before the Pope and maintain a B average. So, it changes lives.
We're in charge of all the libraries. And as we were talking earlier, in terms of law enforcement and being able to see, we now have 100 percent comp activity throughout the state. Every single library is connected to the Internet. Every single library is equipped with technology so that our students can be online there and be able to compete not only county to county, but globally.
Our libraries are also participating in the Governor's mentoring process initiative so we can make sure that our kids have those opportunities. And I'm really proud to tell you that our libraries have done so well that Bill Gates has recently, through his foundation, awarded the State of Florida the most needy areas, a $10 million grant for technology, which is very exciting.
With regard to history, here in Polk County we understand how vast and deep our history is. We've all read Patrick Smith's "A Land Remembered" and know how special our state is, but many people don't understand that history. So, the Department of State, we get to interpret that history. We're creating heritage trails that will wind throughout the state to tell our story. And, actually, it's an incredible economic boom. We found that anyone who visits our historic site or cultural site will spend 38 percent more than they will just on leisure activities, as well as in terms of ecotourism. So, we have the opportunity to develop those billion dollar industries throughout the state.
With regard to -- we also have oversight over all the international affairs. And you may not think that that's so important in Polk County, but I can tell you we've now identified 20,000 corporations who should be exporting. And if you export you're going to be 20 percent more profitable. In the last year alone, we grew in 32 billion in exports to 48 billion, a 50 percent increase, which is incredible. And anyone that can participate needs to. And we found that each billion dollar increase creates 20,000 new jobs. So, the future is very bright for Florida.
We also have oversight over all of the elections, which is so important in terms of the integrity of our public officials. We have responsibility for the Division of Corporations. You may see your corporate filings online. We do more corporate filings than anywhere else in the world. And also, licensing for security officers. We have four officers -- sorry, we have one officer for every four citizens, which is very important to help the overload on FDLE. And also, we do concealed weapon permits. It's an extraordinary office and I'm really honored to have the opportunity to serve you there. Thank you.
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: You can see Kathy stays very busy. I'm glad to see her doing so well. When I was growing up here in Polk County I always looked up to her. She's four or five years older than me. It's nice to see one of the people you've admired so much, you know. That's not true. Her mother is here. She'll get on to me about that.
But your head of the Department of Agriculture Consumer Services is probably one of the more diverse agencies in state government. We're the largest agriculture department of any state in the nation. I think we're now at somewhere around 4,000 employees. Our chief function, although it's diverse, is to maintain a wholesome and plentiful food supply.
In addition to that, over the years the legislature has given us a significant amount of consumer responsibilities. We're the chief consumer intake agency for complaints in the state. And that gets into a broad category of responsibility, dealing with anything from travel agencies to gas pumps, making sure a gallon is a gallon.
For many years, our largest division has been the Division of Forestry, which is about 1100 employees. That's the division that when the forest fires break out, they're the ones out on the front line fighting those fires. And we're hoping this year won't be too bad, but some of the weather reports we've been getting is we're going to have a very dry winter and not much rainfall probably till around the end of May.
So, we're gearing up for a pretty tough fire season this year. In that position, we're responsible for managing over a million acres of Florida forests. One of our awards we gave this morning to the fellow who walked the forest trails. So, they keep -- that's an exciting area and one that's a lot of challenges, but there's a lot of fun in being involved most of the time except when the fires are here.
The division that's now the largest division is our plant industry division which is responsible for protecting our agriculture crops from plant pests and disease, and, unfortunately, that's gotten to be even more and more of a serious problem, particularly with all the international visitors we get that bring in exotic plants that have disease, particularly from Asia and South America.
We've recently hired about 700 people down in Dade County area to battle citrus canker, which continues to be a real troublesome item for us down there. We're trying to keep it contained and eradicated. Now that's become our largest division.
Safe, also, food supply. We're in the grocery stores. There's about 32,000 grocery stores in the state that we inspect on a regular basis to make sure you do have the safest food. And I can tell you, it's Florida grown. It's the best. So, we're real proud of that.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Commissioner, can you -- I want to let you brag a little bit about one of your high priorities, and that is to expand markets abroad. Can you give us a little bit of an update on where we stand with the possibility of Florida citrus finding a new market which is the largest market in the world?
COMMISSIONER CRAWFORD: Thank you, Governor, yes. We're really excited about the prospects, for the first time, getting fresh Florida citrus into China, which has somewhere of almost two billion residents in China. We think it's about a 350 million person market over there for Florida citrus. And they've never let us in before. We posted a delegation from China just recently and we got the final approvals on all our protocol in terms of making sure they don't want us to take any pests or plant disease into China. But we've met all of their standards.
This week is the Chinese New Year, so they're kind of -- they take a whole week for New Year's. That's kind of interesting, I guess. But we don't expect any announcement this week. We hope very shortly after that we'll hear the announcement that Florida citrus will be allowed into China and we plan to take the first -- we want to beat Texas and California in with Florida citrus. So, we're going to take some real quick. We're going to get the Governor to sign the first box and we're going to get on an airplane and take it to China. And I think it will be a tremendous market for the future of Florida citrus.
GOVERNOR: Thank you. Bob.
GENERAL BUTTERWORTH: Governor, thank you. The Attorney General's job is being the chief legal officer of the State of Florida. In a department of over 1,000 people, we have 400 lawyers. It's the largest in-state law firm in Florida. We handle all criminal appeals in the entire State of Florida. If there's any -- like, Jerry Lee, the State Attorney, if he gets a conviction, most convictions are all appealed. We handle all the appeals from all the 20 state attorneys, and we also -- we handle, especially, all the Capitol cases.
We also have a statewide prosecutor which works under the Attorney General's Office. That's the prosecutor that has statewide authority to try criminal cases, and only does such is the case is more than one judicial circuit, such as the -- let's say the offending parties have organized crime activities in Polk County, Orange County and Hillsborough County.
We also defend the State the Florida when we're challenged. We also defend all the statutes that the legislature enacts. And we also answer legal opinions for any public official and for many citizens that ask us. We also resolve sunshine -- govern sunshine and open records legislation, and we give advice, and we receive over 3,000 telephone calls each month in that particular area alone for various governments and the public.
We also work on -- we also have a Division of Economic Crimes, which also handles anti-trust and consumer protection violations. Just here in Polk County, a number of years ago we had anti-trust against the school, the school lunch milk program, the little half-pints, where the milk companies were getting together and fixing the prices.
Polk County received over $2 million back from these companies because of the actual increasing illegally the price of milk through price fixing. And who would ever think that Elsie the cow was that bad of a person, fixing prices on Polk children's lunch?
We also are very much involved in the area of protecting the state's sovereignty lands as David Struhs stated. A while back we had the opportunity to, in essence, make sure that the public ownership of the Peace River stayed with the public. And we actually owned it way out to the 25-year flood plan. That historic case was resolved in your new courthouse, before you found out the problems you had in your courthouse, and it was signed in a ceremonial -- I didn't mean to bring it up. It's just history.
You said you wanted us to say something about how our agency is related to Polk County. I don't know whether it was the settlement that caused the problem or whatever, but it was a great settlement and actually did put to rest the actual Peace River always being in public ownership and also being protected.
We were involved in a tobacco case which had the -- which is bringing back to the State of Florida about $13 billion over the next 25 years, more after that. But more importantly, we got involved in that case in order to have tobacco companies stop targeting our children and tell the truth about the product. The money was not as important. What has happened is that the smoking has actually decreased in the State of Florida by about 18 percent in the last few years. I think that is historic and that is going to be something -- I think that is going to be very, very important.
Commissioner Crawford and I both, we deal with the Lemon Law and Lemon Law protection. If someone buys a vehicle which they think is not operating the way it's supposed to, our offices jointly work on those cases. And today I think it's about close to $2 million now in refunds to the public over the last ten years. I think that's pretty good.
As the Sheriff stated, we were involved with him on building of the wing of the -- the girls' wing of the boot camp, and that has been a tremendous success. We also train all the school resource officers, and most of them in the entire state, over 6,000, have been trained by my agency. We're the only state in the country that has school resource officers in every single county.
We took statewide Sheriff Crow's idea of the domestic violence, and every cellular company donates cell phones to people who are victims of domestic violence.
I'd also like to thank the people of Bartow, Polk County, for having us here today, but also for sending to Tallahassee two of the finest people I've had the opportunity to ever serve with in my 30 years of government, and that is Secretary Harris and Commissioner Crawford. Thank you so much for your service. Mr. Crawford, you should be proud of your son. He's a fantastic public servant, president of the Senate, a real good friend, and also a tremendous agriculture commissioner. As he stated, the largest agency of its kind in the country, second to Secretary of Defense Cabinet.
And to the Harris', you have a wonderful, wonderful daughter who literally has taken the Secretary of State's Office to really where it should be, when Florida is literally going to be the Tokyo of this hemisphere, not only going east and west, but north and south, and Florida is right in the middle of that. And Secretary Harris has taken that leadership role to make Florida the state in this country like none before.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Before we close with Commissioner Nelson, Secretary Harris had a comment regarding the FTAA which is an issue that has great impact on the state.
SECRETARY HARRIS: Thank you, Governor. Thank you, General Butterworth. FTAA. Not an acronym. Free trade area of the Americas. There we go. And so, I think it's important for you to know, as probably the Governor has headed this initiative up, it's one of the issues that can attack Florida in the most positive way of any opportunity that we've had. This is an agreement that was begun by President Bush called the "Enterprises Of the Americas."
And when President Clinton use the summons it's 34 democratically elected nations coming together to decide on issues they agree upon. Now, what that means is a $14 trillion trade block, the largest in the world, with 800 million consumers. And we have the opportunity in Florida to host that permanent secretariat that would not only make us, in essence, the Brussels of this hemisphere, but truly the Hong Kong of the U.S. as well.
So, I wanted to bring this to your attention because what we'll see, indeed, if we are fortunate enough to host the permanent secretariat. Not only are those the most exciting, emerging markets being traded within Latin America, we'll see an expansion there, but every European, Asian, African, multi-national firm that's doing business in these markets will want to have an office in Florida.
And our studies have shown, with regard to Asia and Africa and their relocation of offices in the state, they want to be in the I-4 corridor. They want to be coming into the Tampa-Orlando airport in the I-4 corridor. So, you have the unique opportunity to get some of the highest skilled highways jobs and national firms in terms of additional offices here. So, I just wanted to bring you up to speed on that sort of late-breaking opportunity, and we'll work closely with the Cabinet and the Governor to try to make certain that happens.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you, Katherine. Commissioner Nelson.
TREASURER NELSON: Thank you, Governor. This office actually has three jobs. It's treasurer, which is the constitutional title, it's insurance commissioner, and it's state fire marshall. And a little known fact is that the state fire marshall is the only member of the elected Cabinet that is authorized and permitted to carry a firearm. And what I found as insurance commissioner, is that I need one.
The duties of insurance commissioner just really eclipse in time, energy the other activities, especially in the aftermath of the most costly natural disaster in insurance losses in the history of this country, which was Hurricane Andrew.
And the duties of fire marshall really kick in, as Bob had just talked about -- the two of us work together with the Governor -- a year-and-a-half ago spending many more hours in the emergency operation center than we ever thought or wanted to when wildfires were just totally eclipsing our state.
One notable change that will occur. Bob Milligan, the Comptroller, and I went to the Constitutional Revision Commission a couple of years ago, and we suggested that our two jobs be abolished. We said we think that you ought to take these two respective jobs, the constitutional jobs of comptroller and treasurer, and merge them into a new job of chief financial officer.
And when the constitutional amendment was approved by the people in the last general election, that, in fact, will occur three years from now in January of 2003. As the entire Cabinet is shrunk to a Governor plus Attorney General, chief financial officer and commissioner of agriculture. And right now the legislature is toying over fleshing out this constitutional change by statute as to where all of the respective duties in the Department of Banking and Finance that Bob Milligan has, and the Department of Insurance that the state treasurer has, where they will go.
I have testified, as have Bob, that we think that those activities ought to be merged together. And then I have additionally testified that I think it ought to be under the elected chief financial officer so that the insurance commissioner of Florida will remain an elected official instead of an appointed official. Those will be some of the hot debates that you will hear as this session of the legislature convenes. Thank you, Governor.
GOVERNOR BUSH: Thank you. Thank you all very much for hosting us, and we look forward to seeing you in about 30 minutes, I guess, at the next event. Thank you.
(The Board of Trustees of the Internal Improvement Trust Fund Agenda was concluded.)
* * *
CERTIFICATE OF NOTARY PUBLIC
STATE OF FLORIDA
COUNTY OF HILLSBOROUGH
I, Patricia K. Gough, a Notary Public in and for the State of Florida at Large, do hereby certify that the foregoing proceedings were taken before me in the cause, at the time and place, and in the presence of counsel as set out in the caption hereto, at Page 1 hereof; and that the foregoing typewritten transcript consisting of pages contained herein, inclusive, is a true record of the proceedings had at said session.
I FURTHER CERTIFY that I am neither an attorney or counsel of any of the parties in this cause, nor a relative or employee of any attorney or counsel employed by the parties hereto, nor financially interested in the event of said cause.
IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto subscribed my name and affixed my seal this 16th day of
NOTARY PUBLIC, STATE OF FLORIDA AT LARGE
My commission expires May 21, 2003