by Art Levy
» I’ve learned that both political parties in Florida do better running and building than they do governing. Really. The Democrats had a lock on things for many, many years — no elected Republicans to speak of — and they weren’t interested in my view of doing what’s right for the state of Florida. Now, the Republicans have been in control for many years, and they’re not doing what’s right for Florida. Parties get the power and then work to stay in power.
» My dad left when I was 8 years old. We didn’t know he was leaving. Just one day he wasn’t there. It was about a week later, the furniture that my mother and dad had bought on credit was repossessed. That left us in a house we couldn’t pay any rent on and without furniture. My grandfather came and took us to live in the country.
» When I sold Summit Consulting the first time, I made the company that bought it promise that it would never put in an automated telephone service. You call and should get a person. We talk about how much more productive businesses are today. Well, of course. They don’t have people. They have phone systems.
» My grandfather was teaching me to dig ditches — we were laying water pipe at the farm — and he says to me, ‘Boy’ – he never called me anything but ‘Boy’ — he says, ‘Boy, if you can dig a ditch that you can be proud of, then you’ve learned something about work. Whatever you do, you do it the best.’
» Legislators don’t need to be in Tallahassee more than 60 days a year, but they like to go back for committee meetings. Why? They need their egos stroked. I mean, how many lobbyists do we have now? And every one of them is stroking somebody or more than one. Tallahassee is a great treat for your ego. By the way, my wife (former state Sen. Paula Dockery) is an exception.
» I would hear from my dad from time to time. I suppose I was 9 years old when he promised by letter to come and pick me up and take me to visit him. He was supposed to be there early in the morning. I sat down on the shoulder of this dirt road all day waiting for him. My grandmother came out at lunchtime and told me to come in for lunch — or dinner as we called it — and then I could go back out and wait. I didn’t go in because I thought I might miss him. He never came.
» The effort to get rid of the water management boards is a terrible thing. Are they doing everything right? No. But that power should not be concentrated in the hands of one or two individuals.
» I wasn’t all that smart, but I had a knack for hiring good people who were smart.
» It was tough seeing my wife criticized because I knew that she was one of the very, very few people in the Florida Legislature who did not have an agenda somehow related to their own financial welfare. She didn’t have it, and it enabled her to be loyal to her constituents and loyal to her own beliefs, which did not always sit well with leadership. You were supposed to be loyal to them.
» We’re both big NASCAR fans. Paula never heard of NASCAR before she met me. We were at some races last February, and she looked over at me and said, ‘You know, one of the greatest things you introduced me to is stock car racing.’
» I’m an optimist about high-speed rail. Just because Gov. Scott wouldn’t accept the federal money for the Tampa-Orlando link, it’s not the end. We still have to do it. There’s no alternative. And I think that All Aboard Florida, which is a private venture by the Florida East Coast Railway, will be successful.
» It’s just impossible to get anything done in Tallahassee — unless it’s a social issue — without a lobbyist. Some people hire a lobbyist to deal with just one member of the Legislature. That’s their job, dealing with that one member. Companies have become accustomed to spending a lot of money to get what they want. Is lobbying an evil? No. It’s a way to make a living, but it certainly has turned the Legislature on its head.