April 24, 2014

Florida Icon

Icon: Janet Reno

Former U.S. Attorney General, State Attorney General, age 67

Amy Keller | 5/1/2006

I haven't read the comics in a long time. But Pogo was just such a wonderful ... I mean, I think Walt Kelly was a genius.

The worst moment is Waco. There's no question about that.

I've been in public service long enough to know if you prevail in one moment, you may be down and out the next moment. You may be on top of the world the next moment. It's important to not let a single issue defeat you.

I think it's important for public officials to look at their job as: What is the right thing to do? And then you've got to figure out how to get it done.

I don't miss the posturing and divisiveness in political discussion. I think we can do a better job of discussing the issues in candid, constructive ways.

Watergate created a tension and a suspicion that won't go away. I think the amount of money spent, not just in elections but on issue advocacy by lobbyists, makes it very hard for the people to be accurately informed, sufficient to make a valid judgment about the issues before them.

When I was in Germany when I was 13, in about 1952, I visited my aunt and uncle. He was a judge with the occupation forces. He took me past Dachau as we rode on one of his judicial circuits, and he told me what happened there. And that night I came home to Regensburg, where we lived, and asked my adult German friends how could they let this happen. And they said, "We just stood by." And I determined that when I saw wrong, I did not want to be accused of just standing by.

I think Ashcroft changed the presumption we had created in favor of openness in the handling of FOIA requests. Again, it's a concern we all must have because how can we have a democracy unless people can understand what the government is doing in the democracy?

When you've worked at the problem for a long time, then you begin to see results -- it is one of the most rewarding experiences you can have, and I cite two examples: One, the drug court. Now there are over 400 drug courts across the country that are providing effective treatment opportunities for a larger number of Americans. And then with child support. We made it a priority, and we developed an effective effort. That's what makes public service so rewarding.

Somebody suggested that the major educational institution in America is the middle-class family, and I think there's probably worlds of truth in that statement. But for the child that doesn't have a middle-class family, how do we give them the opportunity early on when they do not have a voice? How do we give them the opportunity to become strong and self-sufficient and capable of doing far more to live by their own means rather than by government?

The Democratic Party should be talking in terms of these issues, and providing alternatives, not just criticizing, but providing positive alternatives.

The great joy in my life today is the chance to spend time with my great-nieces and nephews.

Tags: Florida Icon, Around Florida

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