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Bob Martinez

Water For Fighting
Water For Fighting
Bob Martinez

This week, Brett had the privilege of sharing some time with Tampa and Florida legend – Governor Bob Martinez.  He was Tampa’s 54th mayor and Florida’s 40th governor; both positions held as the first of Spanish descent.  He also has deep roots in Tampa, his grandparents having immigrated from Spain at the turn of the 20th Century during a great boom in the cigar industry there.  His father worked in the restaurant business, including as a long-time employee at the famed Columbia Restaurant in Ybor City, and then later at the family-owned Café Sevilla in West Tampa.

Martinez was a star athlete at Jefferson High School, a graduate of the University of Tampa, and got his professional start as a classroom teacher before becoming the Executive Director of the Hillsborough County Classroom Teachers Association.  He was called upon by Governor Ruben Askew to serve on the Governing Board of the Southwest Florida Water Management District and chair three Basin Boards there: The Hillsborough River, Northwest Hillsborough, and Alafia River.  

They discuss his childhood in Old Tampa where he enjoyed school, excelled at sports, and spent his free moments fishing with his father and his friends; how Café Sevilla became the birthplace of a mayor’s race and the campaign to be Governor of Florida; how his service as head of the teachers union gave him his first taste of real politics; his time at Swiftmud gave him a taste for the water and environmental needs of a region; and a mayorship that gave him the opportunity to restore, innovate, and move his home city forward.

His term as governor would be marked by enacting some of the most consequential environmental policy in Florida history including the enactment of the Preservation 2000 conservation land acquisition program, the Growth Management Act, and the Surface Water Improvement and Management Act.  He also implemented the Florida Lottery, created Florida’s Turnpike Authority, and created Space Port Florida.  

There are a few other achievements in particular that hold a more personal value to Brett including Martinez’s restoration of the Lowry Park Zoo from the ground up as mayor; the creation of Florida Prepaid College; the rebirth of Nature’s Classroom in Hillsborough County; an amazing nearly 70-year (and counting) partnership with his beloved wife Mary Jane; and of course, his analysis of why the Tampa Cuban sandwich is superior to the one from Miami (it’s the bread).

He’s still as active as ever, serving on many boards and clubs, is a Senior Policy Advisor with the Holland & Knight Law Firm, and at 89 years-old, you can still find him on his daily walks or on the tennis court.

We hope you enjoy the conversation!

To visit Governor Martinez’s page at the Holland & Knight law firm, go here:  https://www.hklaw.com/en/professionals/m/martinez-bob

To see his useful, but woefully incomplete Wikipedia page, head here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Martinez

To see a decent history of Florida’s land conservation programs, including Governor Martinez’s efforts which led to Preservation 2000, go here: https://ufdcimages.uflib.ufl.edu/IR/00/00/19/42/00001/FE33100.pdf

To see an image of the menu from the Governor’s family restaurant, check it out here: http://ciadigitalcollections.culinary.edu/digital/collection/p16940coll1/id/14253

The Governor was a star athlete at the University of Tampa, and the sports facility there is even named in his honor.  To get a look at that, head to their site here: https://www.tampaspartans.com/information/athletic_info/facilities/Martinez/index

This episode of Water for Fighting is brought to you by my friends at Sea and Shoreline.  

Sea and Shoreline is the Southeast’s leading innovator in protecting coastal communities from devastating storms and restoring ecosystems that once faced ecological collapse. Visit their website at www.Seaandshoreline.com.  

This Episode is also thanks to my friends at Resource Environmental Solutions.

RES is the nation’s leader in ecological restoration, helping to restore Florida’s natural resources with water quality and stormwater solutions that offer communities guaranteed performance and outcomes. Check them out at www.res.us 

Please be sure to check out the Florida Specifier Podcast hosted by Ryan Matthews and myself as part of a new venture where we’re striving to become Florida’s first source for environmental news, educational tools, and unique perspectives on our state’s natural environment and the events that shape it.  To learn more about its flagship print publication and more, visit The Florida Specifier.

You can follow the show on LinkedIn and Instagram @flwaterpod, and you can reach me directly at FLwaterpod@gmail.com with your comments and suggestions for who and/or what you’d like to know more about.

Production of this podcast is by Lonely Fox Studios. Thanks to Karl Sorne for making the best of what he had to work with. And to David Barfield for the amazing graphics and technical assistance.  

And finally, a very special thank you goes out to Bo Spring from the Bo Spring Band  for giving permission to use his music for this podcast.  The song is called Doing Work for Free, (Apple Music | Spotifyand you should check out the band live, or wherever great music is sold. 

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