While visiting Gainesville, former Florida governor and U.S. Senator Bob Graham voiced his opinion on current issues such as the government shutdown, conflicts in Syria, the Adena Springs Ranch water permit request and Silver Springs State Park.
Graham, a Democrat, looked first at the nation and the recent government shutdown.
Discouraged but not surprised, he said the shutdown and the reasons behind it are a manifestation of changing attitudes in America. People are more concerned with their own personal best interests rather than what may be best for the country as a whole, he said.
The status quo, he believes, is not satisfactory, and the country needs a change.
“If you don’t like the plan that currently is underway, what is your alternative?” he asked. “Just to be an obstructionist and say ‘no’ is not fulfilling your responsibility of contributing to understanding our current problem.”
Also the former chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Graham discussed President Barack Obama’s stance on the conflict in Syria.
He said the situation has been handled about as well as it could be, and he believed Russia’s working together with the U.S. was an indication of cooperation in the future.
A plan proposed by Russia and now backed by President Obama began on Wednesday to work on destroying Syria’s chemical weapons.
A more locally discussed issue was also among those Graham commented on.
A consumptive use permit application by Adena Springs Ranch has raised questions about the state of Silver Springs State Park and the environment surrounding the ranch.
Graham said there are two problems to be concerned with in this case: quantity, because of a long-running drought and over-consumption and quality, because of a spike in phosphorous and nitrogen.
In the end, he wants to see the permit denied to Frank Stronach, the Austrian-Canadian businessman who owns the ranch. The permit, Graham said, is very large for an area already showing consequences of overuse.
Now, with Silver Springs’ new status as a state park, he hopes for a return to “more appropriate and adequate use” of the springs.
Graham will appear with Florida businessman Preston Haskell to discuss the importance of civic engagement at 6 p.m. Thursday in Pugh Hall at the University of Florida. He will also speak at the Florida Law Review’s 2013 Allen L. Poucher Lecture 10 a.m. Friday at the Curtis M. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.