How Florida Happened - Book Review

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Information about How Florida Happened - Book Review
News & Politics

Published on March 7, 2014

Author: dnt323



Published in the Florida Bar Journal

VOLUME 84, NO. 10 DEC EMBER 201 0 THE FLORIDA ADVANCING THE COMPETENCE AND PUB LI C {'{"{'{{""'{{'{{""'{{'{{"{'{""'{{"{'{{"'{{'{"'{{"{ RESPONSIB I LITY OF LAWYERS

BOOKS . The 57 Club: My Four Decades in Florida Politics By Frederick B. Karl Reviewed by Jessica. Zimmer Frederick Karl's odyssey through Florida's political landscape explains how legislators worked to modernize the state's legal and legislative sys­ tems in the mid-twentieth century. The title refers to the group of state legislators, all white men, who were elected to the Florida House of Rep­ resentatives in 1957. Karl, in turn an attorney, state representative, and Florida Supreme Court justice, ex­ plains that complex instruments and legislation such as turnpike bonds and workers' compensation were created to serve a state that was becoming more heavily populated and economi­ cally powerful. Karl's book is divided into four sections: the people, the issues, the campaigns, and the operators. Karl weaves humorous stories and person­ al anecdotes about voters,journalists, and politicians into every section. The most valuable portions ofthe book il­ lustrate where public opinion stood in the mid-twentieth century. These por­ tions show how much work it took to change the tide. Karl shows that racial discrimination was an extremely con­ troversial issue. In 1957, segregation­ ists put their full support behind the Last Resort Bill. This bill would have shut down public facilities, such as schools, if integration was made law. The bill passed both houses. The bill was vetoed by former Governor LeRoy Collins. Only with a great effort was the legislature able to rally the votes needed to sustain the veto. Karl reveals why it was necessary to reform Article V, the judicial article of the state constitution. Before the reform in 1968, a variety of specialty courts were presided over by men who often did not have legal train­ ing. Karl tells of presenting a case before a justice of the peace in his hometown, Daytona Beach. The jus­ tice explained to a dumbfounded Karl that ''he couldn't let me win because a northerner was suing a local man and he had to look out for the local person." Karl says this same man was rumored to let his dog decide cases and apply the Georgia code to impose a sentence. In the same light-hearted vein , Karl explains the rise of the Southern Regional Education Board , how a two-party system was introduced to Florida, and the first sunshine laws. These accounts constitute a short refresher course in Florida consti­ tutional law. Karl keeps the lessons lively by exposing the personal flaws of offending representatives and tell­ ing the truth about Tallahassee insti­ tutions. He writes of the Old Capitol building, "One day my son, Jim, who was in middle school at the time, came for a visit and fell through one ofthe rotten areas of the floor down into the office below. Fortunately, only his pride was hurt." One of the most important purposes of Karl's book is to outline a code of ethics for politicians, lobbyists, and judges. He invites those who value the work he and his colleagues have done to continue the traditions of the 57 club. In his conclusion, Karl offers "that one can disagree with others - even those in control- and if done honorably, can continue to have their respect ." Published by the University Press of Florida, the 400-page book retails for $40 and is available in some book­ stores and all major online retailers. J essica Zimmer is a member Florida 8G/: or Th e How Florida Happened: The Political Education of Buddy MacKay By Buddy MacKay Reviewed by David N Torre Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo once said that a politician campaigns in poetry, but governs in prose. Prime examples of both are abundant in former Florida Governor Buddy MacKay's recently published autobiography. However, this political tome has a unique flavor that only a Bar members can submit book reviews of approximately 500 words for publication. The reviews should be related to law but may be practical, esoteric, entertaining, or fiction. Reviews should include the number of pages, the publisher, and cost. Book reviews may be e-mailed to THE FLORIDA BAR JOURNAUDECEMBER 2010 59

career in Florida could provide. MacKay begins his story with ex­ pected facts and figures regard,ing his family and its roots in Central Florida. MacKay, a Florida attorney, also discusses the outset of his politi­ cal career. Yet what makes the book interesting is the recurring theme of change. The reader is treated to details and insights from what is rapidly becom­ ing a bygone era in Florida politics. From run-ins with entrenched Pan­ handle political interests during his time in the Florida Legislature to conflict faced while trying to kill the Cross Florida Barge Canal as a mem­ ber of Congress, MacKay's stories are a treat for those interested in learning how dramatically a p6liticallandscape can change during the course of one politician's career. Another valuable nugget of Florida politics encapsulated within the pages ofMacKay's book are the descriptions, struggles, and triumphs of many of Florida's most celebrated elected lead­ ers of the past 50 years. This loose affiliation of elected of­ ficials is comprised of LeRoy Collins, Reuben Askew, Bob Graham, Jon Mills, and Sandy D'Alemberte, among many others. To describe this group as simply Florida Democrats leaves something to be desired. Perhaps Key lime liberals or some other such term should be used to more fully de­ scribe how this group both influenced and was influenced by the Sunshine State. However, MacKay'S relationship with former Governor Lawton Chiles truly dominates the prose ofthe book. MacKay describes Chiles as "an im­ probable combination of King Arthur and Don Quixote." This description of Chiles is apt. Recognizable yet aloof, a scholarly biography of the late gov­ ernor is clearly needed. To his credit, MacKay easily accepts that his role during their political run was more Sancho Panza than Lancelot. MacKay quotes Sancho Panza from Man of La Mancha when asked why he contin­ ues to follow Quixote on his eccentric crusades. Panza's response: "I like him. I really like him." That senti­ ment describes the feelings MacKay expresses toward Chiles throughout 60 the book. The book, however, is not lacking in listing the accomplishments of its au­ thor. Stories from the campaign trail are supplemented by prose describing the inner workings of government on the state and federal levels. The book treats policy wonks to an in-depth discussion on tax policy, insurance reform, comprehensive land planning, HRS reform, tobacco litigation, and the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA). Throughout the book, the reader is reminded that the buck stops with MacKay himself Moreover, the book does not spin or abridge his political failures and defeats. Success is attrib­ uted to team work, luck, and support of family and friends. Defeats are evenly apportioned between MacKay's poor judgment or poor strategy, or both. Furthermore, one is left with the notion that in success and defeat, candidates are often no match for the capricious winds of political change. David N Torre is a Florida Bar member. Betrayal By Tony Capria Reviewed by Annie Butterworth Jones In his book Betrayal, former sher­ iff's deputy Anthony Capria recalls the years spent fighting for justice against the state government system in New York. Injured while serving as a prison guard, Capria spent over 10 years of his life seeking compensa­ tion for his injury. In the meantime, both his professional and personal life came crashing down around him. Prior to his life-changing injury, Capria had exposed corruption and safety issues in the state prison system. He reported his findings to local media, an action that garnered negative attention from his superiors at the prison where he worked. In his desire to be a "good cop," Capria made plenty of enemies who eventually ful­ filled their promises to make Capria's life miserable. When Capria suffered a serious back injury in December of 1985, his superiors - unhappy with the way Capria had reported prison corruption to the media - worked diligently to ensure he received no compensation. In addition, these individuals fought THE FLORIDA BAR JOURNAUDECEMBER 2010 for Capria's forced retirement, a battle they eventually won. In the years that followed, Capria sought help from attorneys to take his case. Betrayal focuses not only on Capria's battle with higher-ups in the prison system, but it also details Capria's search for legal representa­ tion and his quest for a return to normalcy. The true account delivers no shortage of details and provides readers with an inside look into self­ representation. Betrayal is available for $9.95 from Annie Butterworth Jones is an associ­ ate editor far The Florida Bar News and Journal. The Find By Marilyn Jax Road to Omalos By Marilyn Jax Reviewed by Daniel J Spiegel It all begins on a scorching Miami day when a skeleton is unexpectedly discovered at the bottom of a suspi­ cious environmental dig site, and from there the reader is pulled into a spellbinding, unforgettable tale as the author Marilyn Jax weaves a powerful and suspenseful story in this cannot put down mystery, The Find, After reading this novel, I waited impatiently for the author's next. This summer, her second in the series was released. Road to Omalos takes the reader on a new investigation that begins with an explosion of a plastics factory in Miami and quickly takes the two main characters to the mystical Greek island of Crete. This intrigu­ ing novel raises the thorny issue of vigilante justice. Both of these mysteries are gripping tales that leave you begging for more. Lawyers, judges, police, prosecu­ tors, defense attorneys, and anyone connected with law enforcement will be enthralled by these well-crafted mysteries, as the sleuths take on what appears to be unsolvable cases. DNA and other new detective techniques are applied in a believable and skillful manner in order to aid Claire Caswell and Gaston (Guy) Lombard in bring­ ing the perpetrators to justice. Highly acclaimed six-time national

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