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Over 200 Citizens Attend Town Hall Meeting With Sen. Nelson

Martin County Democrats

Senator Nelson Talks Politics, River Muck at IRCC Stuart Campus

Stuart News Article
By JIM TURNER jim.turner@scripps.com
January 10, 2006

Port Salerno — A jar of muck drawn from the St. Lucie River last summer during Sen. Bill Nelson's visit didn't convince Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of the need to fully fund Everglades restoration, including the Indian River Lagoon. Next time Nelson plans to hand deliver the jar...More

"When I go back next week I'm going to take another bottle of that green water, and walk over to his desk and say, 'Sen. Frist, we've got to have that bill up to save not only Florida, but save the planet Earth ..., '" Nelson told a town hall meeting of more than 200 at Indian River Community College's Chastain Campus on Monday.

The session was Nelson's fourth town hall of the day — stopping earlier in La Belle, Punta Gorda and Wakulla — as he tours Florida during the winter recess.

Before a mostly Democratic crowd, questions and comments came from both sides of the political aisle, ranging from the legalization of drugs, gay marriage, the new Medicare drug benefit and homeland security to Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito and growing political scandals involving warrantless wiretaps ordered by the White House and lobbyist Jack Abramoff.

Senator Nelson Listens to Citizen's Concern

• On Alito, "I want to see him eyeball to eyeball. I want to size him up. Then I'll make a decision."

• On Medicare prescription benefits: "A flawed piece of legislation." He will seek to give senior citizens six more months to understand the program and sign up.

• On the wiretaps, he doesn't think there was any reason not to seek warrants, but he wants to wait for Senate committee hearings before making a judgment.

• On Abramoff: "I'd ban all gifts and travel to members of Congress, and we will have an opportunity to do that."

Senator Nelson Listens to Citizen's Concern

The night started with David Levine of Hobe Sound attacking the Democrats and Nelson for blocking oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge, drawing a few catcalls and hisses as Levine interrupted Nelson's response.

Nelson said there are not enough positives to drilling in Alaska, saying there wouldn't be any oil for years and most of the oil would go to Japan. The nation needs to use and seek alternative sources of fuel, including synthetic coals and nuclear power, he said.

"You have got to break the seduction with oil if we're going to have any kind of future," Nelson said.

Levine appreciated his willingness to consider coal and nuclear fuels, but that single opinion wouldn't sway him to support the state's senior senator.

"He did give a good answer when the guy asked that question about nuclear power and coal-fired electric plants, however, that's like the tip of the iceberg. In most parts of the country, Democrats are against building coal-fired plants," Levine said.

The rest of the night was more civil.

Senator Nelson Enjoys a Lighter Moment

Another Republican, Amanda Brown, a junior at the Clark Advanced Learning Center in Stuart, said she was impressed with Nelson after listening to his response to her question about the need to control growth, as well other topics.

"I know this is stereotyping, but I expected Democrats to be a little more obnoxious, but that is what I see on television," Brown said. "But I was very impressed with his view on the environment."

She still, however, intends to register as a Republican when she turns 18.
By JIM TURNER jim.turner@scripps.com

Senator Nelson Being Introduced by County Commissioner Susan Valliere

All Photos: Martin County Democrats