In the News

By STEVE BOUSQUET, Times Staff Writer
Published August 23, 2005


TALLAHASSEE - St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Baker is Gov. Jeb Bush's choice to direct a new effort to harness Florida's long-range growth.

Baker, 49, a Republican, will chair the Century Commission for a Sustainable Florida. The 15-member panel was created by the Legislature as part of a rewrite of growth management laws.

The commission will annually advise the governor and lawmakers on how to improve growth management.

"We are very familiar with the issues being faced statewide," Baker said. Although St. Petersburg is built out, he said, the past few years have seen a construction boom, and the city is working on improving its downtown and waterfront, roads and sewers.

Besides Baker, Bush appointed his former chief of staff, Kathleen Shanahan, now chief executive of WRS, a Tampa engineering firm; Palm Beach County Commissioner Mary McCarty, a supporter of the Mecca Farms site for the Scripps Research Institute that critics say will increase sprawl; Steve Uhlfelder, a Tallahassee lawyer and lobbyist; and Robert Bullard, a Highlands County commissioner.

Bush, Senate President Tom Lee and House Speaker Allan Bense each pick five members. Bush chooses the chairman.

Bense's choices are Chris Corr, an executive of St. Joe Co., Florida's largest private landowner; Brooksville real estate agent Gary Schraut; Hialeah developer Julio Robaina; Bonita Springs developer Dennis Gilkey; and John LaCapra, president of the Florida Ports Council.

Lee will make his selections later this week. But a lobbyist for an environmental group questions whether the commission is top-heavy with pro-development interests.

"Certainly there are some developer-friendly appointments," said Janet Bowman of 1,000 Friends of Florida. She said McCarty is "outspokenly pro-economic development."

Florida Political News