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The New Governor’s Staff Called!!!

Posted by: Kathy Fleming in Speaking Directly

The Governor is interested in learning more about issues that Florida’s Lighthouses face! Wow, how exciting! How humbling! And it is kind of scary! What an opportunity to share our work and vision. Florida's lighthouses face futures which are both glorious and struggling. Some are stars like well St. Augustine or Ponce or Jupiter or Key West. Others are mired in paper work, red tape and other issues, like Egmont or Mayport. The Coast Guard wants to divest itself of lighthouses and we support that effort. Lots of good people want to do the right thing. We lighthouse preservation types need funding.

The Florida Lighthouse Association a group of about 1000 of us around Florida is trying to get a license plate to help fund lighthouses. Maybe the Governor will help? I hope so. His staffer asked some good questions. He was engaged and interested. He really seemed to care. He asked about the need that lighthouse face. Well, we added it up for him based on a 2002 lighthouse architectural study in Florida. Florida Lighthouses face a $20 Million dollar need. Wow. It is more than even I thought. And I'm someone that spends time pushing others to understand this need. Do I believe that this maritime heritage is so very important? Yes, I do. Do I think we have a responsibility to lead? Yes, absolutely. Saving lighthouses is not only good for a few, it's good for our state and our culture.

Climbing the Lighthouse Tower Ca

I have been taking this class on-line at Gonzaga University about leadership. I am working on my master’s degree in Organizational Leadership, something I have always wanted. It’s fun and it’s challenging. The challenge comes from doing the work at home where kids and dogs and cats and husband make life akin to a Steve Martin movie. There is action and confusion and drama at the center of our lives.

In all this I am thinking and writing about leadership. Leadership interests me in the way that the Civil War might interest a history buff, or the way that energy might interest a physics major. I personally think true leadership comes from faith in others and a willingness to talk about what’s real so that we can move forward together. I think leadership is also born of struggle, and of a need to change the world for the better.

I am grateful to those who lead because I also think leaders can also be vulnerable. Florida’s lighthouse need is real. And the power they hold to help Florida in return, through heritage tourism and economic impact, is real. The need to protect a shared heritage tied to the sea, well that is like saving the story of old salts, of our grandfather's fishing trips, and of the way we think Florida looks and feels in our head. We are saving those precious items that make it valuable as a place to live and work in and to visit. This is real too. Sounds canned. It isn’t. We live and breath it here at the lighthouse.

I am extremely grateful to Governor Crist’s staff for looking into saving our maritime heritage. I did not know much about him when he took office. But this is very much appreciated. We’ll see what comes of it, we are all deeply in debt to him if he can help us save Florida's maritime heritage. It is very much a part of who we are in my view.


Comments (2)

Yes, I have become one of those bleego people. Who comment on their own blogs.

I wanted to report that the Governor still has in March of 2007 the $5 million in the budget for lighthouses. This just may go through since he "wants it to happen." I am so very grateful.

Here is something cool as well. The money is not to detract from other funds that supply other historic sites in Florida. And it doesn't detract from the FlA liscense plate project either. How wonderful.

Imagine having a person in the place of Governor with a staff who are smart, who listen and who get it. Wow, we lighthouse folks and citizens, all of us together are really lucky!

Kathy

Governor Crist gets it.

He likes lighthouses and he is working to fund them. He's followed up. It is budget time and he's suggested $5 million for lighthouses. I'm really grateful. Has a great team and people who "listen" on board.

What's the problem? Well, it's a tough budget year. They happen. Everyone is asking for money. The extraordinary sales tax revenues of the immediate post hurricane are past, the real estate market is slower. There are reasons for the short fall.

So...some folks are saying that lighthouse funding has to come out of other historic preservation funding, and you know what it doesn't and it shouldn't.

Some other folks are saying St. Augustine made a special request for a Turkey. We didn't. It is amazing what people will believe about each other.

What we did do is to point out that our fomer Rep. Doug Wiles helped with a Floirda lighthouse study in 2002 that documented a $20,000 million dollar need to care for Florida's maritime jewels. We did talk about the needs of Florida's 29 lighthouses that are standing and one Cape St. George that is being put back up by a dedicated group of volunteers. We want everyone to understand that Florida's maritime heritage is being lost forever, if we all don't care about it. Why should it matter? Don't believe me, go to the Florida Lighthouse association web site. Take a look at Cape St. George or Egmont Key. When you see the pictures of the reef lights think they can use $3 million each just to stablize them.

Well, the Governor understands that for every dollar you invest in historic preservation the State's economic engine gets $10 back, or so the Secretary of State Kurt Browning just told us.

Here in St. Augustine we put back four times annually the total State investment into our restoration over 15 years. That's the reality of our economic return. Why not allow other lighthouses do that as well for their communities?

Also, since we have a few concerned folks out there. I want to clarify publically that the request to funding lighthouses in the Governor's budget was not from the Communities Trust fund for Special Category funds. It's an easy mistake to make, since lighthouses are getting some press, but we here in St. Augustine are pro historic preservation funding overall. And we have archaeology money in Special Cateogry funding that we really, really want.

Since the House and Governor and the Governor and the Senate budgets have differences in how they are carving up the pie, they are going to have to dialog and work together.

We have a smart, listening and open new Governor in office. I hope that we can be as lucky with creative law makers who have all of us in mind. I think we will. Working together for a greater tommorrow is not about compeitition which is a 'zero sum game.'

It is about making good choices. Working with others to bring needs to light that serve more than ourselves. I'm for all those things.

Kathy

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