Crist on swine flu, DNA database, TK, etc.by Dara Kam | June 16th, 2009
Gov. Charlie Crist weighed in on a variety of topics this morning after signing several law enforcement-related bills at the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles this morning.
Sheltered from the blazing heat by tents, slews of department employees dressed in bright red shirts turned out to hear Crist speak and pose for pictures with the governor, who is also running to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Mel Martinez.
Among the bills Crist signed today was one that will expand the state’s DNA database. Law enforcement officials, now limited to taking DNA samples from those convicted of crimes, will now be able to take DNA from anyone who is arrested.
But Crist defended the bill (SB 2276) which civil liberties advocates argue is too far-reaching and have threatened to challenge in court.
“I think it’ll be alright or I wouldn’t have signed the bill. I think that we need to protect first and make sure that our people are safe. I think that this legislation will help us to do that even better,” he said.
Read what else Crist told reporters at a gaggle after the bill-signing after the jump.
Crist, a Florida State University grad, said he was disappointed that university President T.K. Wetherell is stepping down and brushed off rumors that Martinez is interested in the post.
“I’m disappointed. I love T.K. I’d love to see him be able to stay on. I think he’s done a tremendous job for Florida State University, my alma mater. But he’s got to do what’s right for him, too, and I respect that. We’ll have to ensue a search for a great leader with enormous shoes to fill,” Crist said.
Martinez “doesn’t have interest” in the job, he said. “He loves Florida State, but I don’t think he wants to be president of the university.”
Crist expressed sorrow at the swine flu-related death of a 9-year-old South Florida boy but said that state officials are taking the pandemic seriously enough.
The governor said he didn’t have details about the death and misidentified the victim as a female.
“It’s a tremendous tragedy. It’s just very sad. All of our thoughts and our prayers go out to her family,” Crist said. “You can always do more as I always say. This just makes the case that it’s a serious situation and people need to take it seriously. I’m sure Floridians will.
Finally, Crist said he is confident that the Seminoles will agree to the outlines of a deal passed by the legislature that the governor signed into law yesterday.
“I think we’re in good shape. I really do. I’m looking forward to it. I’m certainly looking forward to our students being able to have the additional money to be able to pay our teachers more. Very optimistic about that,” he said.