1st black Democratic nominee for Florida governor concedes
By GARY FINEOUT and BRENDAN FARRINGTON
Sunday, November 18
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Andrew Gillum, who tried to energize Florida’s young and minority voters through a Democratic coalition seeking to end two decades of Republican control of the governor’s office, ended his hard-fought campaign Saturday as the state’s first black nominee for the post.
Gillum, whose refrain had been “bring it home” as he recounted stories of growing up poor in the state, concluded his campaign with a Facebook video he recorded alongside his wife in a park.
In his four-minute plus video, Gillum congratulated Republican Ron DeSantis and also vowed to remain politically active even though his term as mayor of the Florida capital of Tallahassee ends next week. Of his future plans, Gillum said: “stay tuned.”
Gillum, just 39 years old, earned national attention and financial backing from well-known liberal billionaires with his first bid for statewide office. He ran on a liberal platform that included expanding Medicaid and raising taxes to spend more on education even though both ideas would have been hard to pass through the GOP-controlled Legislature.
His final act as a candidate was less confrontational than that of another prominent African-American candidate in this year’s midterm elections: Stacy Abrams in neighboring Georgia ended her campaign for governor on Friday, ceding to a Republican with an unapologetically indignant tone establishing herself as a leading voting rights advocate.
“This has been the journey of our lives,” said Gillum, appearing in the video with his wife, R. Jai Gillum. “Although nobody wanted to be governor more than me that this was not just about an election cycle. This was about creating the type of change in this state that really allows for the voices of everyday people to show up again in our government, in our state, and in our communities. We know that this fight continues.”
Gillum’s concession came hours before Florida’s counties must turn in their official results at noon Sunday after tense days of recounting ballots in both the gubernatorial and a U.S. Senate contest — two nationally watched midterm elections that have keep the presidential swing state on edge since Election Day.
Gillum’s brief remarks came hours after President Donald Trump, who at one point in the campaign had sharply criticized Gillum, praised him for running a tough race.
“He will be a strong Democrat warrior long into the future – a force to reckon with!” said Trump in a Twitter post.
Gillum had initially conceded to DeSantis on election night, but he retracted it as the razor-thin margin between the two candidates narrowed. But he still trailed DeSantis by more than 30,000 votes following a legally required machine recount. Counties are wrapping up a hand recount this weekend and must submit their official results by noon Sunday.
Gillum’s concession assures Florida Republicans will retain their grasp on the governor’s office since Jeb Bush’s term starting in 1999.
DeSantis, 40, was considered an underdog before Trump tweeted his support for DeSantis in December, a month before DeSantis even entered the race. Trump campaigned to help push DeSantis to a primary victory in August and visited Florida two more times to help the Republican in the final days of the election.
DeSantis’s campaign did not respond to Gillum’s remarks, pointing instead to a statement the former congressman put out two days ago.
“Campaigns are meant to be vigorously debated contests of ideas and competing visions for the future,” DeSantis said. “The campaign for governor achieved this objective as evidenced by historic voter turnout from people of all parties across our state. But campaigns of ideas must give way to governing and bringing people together to secure Florida’s future. With the campaign now over, that’s where all of my focus will be.”
DeSantis stumbled out of the gate after winning the Aug. 28 primary, telling Fox News that voters shouldn’t “monkey this up” by electing Gillum.
Despite implications that DeSantis is racially insensitive — an idea he angrily disputed during a debate — he is poised to officially win the state that Trump carried in 2016. He has promised to keep intact many of the same policies on education and health care that have been in place by previous Republican governors.
DeSantis ran as a political outsider despite serving three terms in Congress and running for the U.S. Senate in 2016 before dropping out of the race when Republican Sen. Marco Rubio decided to run for re-election.
DeSantis is a former Navy officer who graduated from Yale University before getting his law degree at Harvard University.
He gained name recognition during the primary with more than 100 appearances on Fox News, often to defend the president.
DeSantis ran a largely negative campaign, calling Gillum a socialist and saying he oversaw one of the most corrupt and crime-ridden cities in the state. Trump joined in on the criticism, tweeting similar messages. The corruption allegation stemmed from a continuing FBI investigation into City Hall that Gillum has said he is not a target of and is cooperating with; the charge that Tallahassee had the state’s highest crime rate was false.
Gillum portrayed DeSantis as racially divisive, repeatedly pointing out his “monkey this up” comment.
“I’m not calling Mr. DeSantis a racist. I’m simply saying the racists believe he’s a racist,” Gillum said previously.
Gillum’s announcement came as most Florida counties were winding down their hand recount in the state’s contentious U.S. Senate race. The smattering of results publicly posted Saturday showed that Democratic U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson was only gaining a few hundred votes in his bitter contest with outgoing Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican.
State officials ordered a manual recount earlier in the week after a legally required machine recount showed that Scott led incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson by about 12,600 votes. More than 8 million voters cast ballots in the race.
Nelson and Democrats filed several lawsuits following the close election, challenging everything from the state’s signature mismatch law to deadlines for mail-in ballots.
If the 76-year-old Nelson loses, it would likely spell an end to a lengthy political career that stretches back four decades. Nelson was first elected to the U.S. Senate in 2000. A win for Scott would mark his third victory since the multimillionaire businessman launched his political career in 2010. In each race, Scott has barely edged his Democratic opponent.
State law requires a machine recount in races where the margin is 0.5 percentage points or less. Once that recount was complete, if the differences in any of the races are 0.25 percentage points or less, a hand recount is ordered. Local canvassing boards only review ballots where a vote was not recorded by voting machines.
Domicology: A new way to fight blight before buildings are even constructed
November 19, 2018
Director of the Center for Community & Economic Development and Adjunct Faculty in Urban and Regional Planning Program, Michigan State University
George H. Berghorn
Assistant Professor of Construction Management, Michigan State University
M.G. Matt Syal
Professor of Construction Management, Michigan State University
Rex LaMore receives funding from U. S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration. Rex LaMore is the recent Past President of the Michigan Association of Planning.
George H. Berghorn receives funding from the National Science Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the US Fish and Wildlife Service, the US Forest Service, the National Housing Endowment, and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.
M.G. Matt Syal receives funding from the National Association of Home builders, U.S. PA, U.S. HUD, U.S. DOC, United Nations Industrial Development Organization, Govt. of Qatar, Takenaka Construction Co, Japan, and National Electrical Contractors Association. He is affiliated with Am Society of Civil Engineers, National Association of Home Builders, Associated Schools of Construction,
Michigan State University provides funding as a founding partner of The Conversation US.
Detroit has been demolishing about 200 vacant houses per week since December 2014, with a goal to take down 6,000 houses in one year. Much of the demolition work is concentrated in about 20 neighborhoods where the blight removal is projected to have immediate positive effects of improving remaining property values and clearing land for future development.
While Detroit may be an extreme example, economic decline, disinvestment, racial segregation and natural and human-made disasters have left other American communities with unprecedented amounts of structural debris, abandonment and blight, too.
As scholars who focus on understanding the complex circumstances that have led to blight, we also have some ideas about potential solutions that could prevent this cycle the next time around.
We’ve coined the term domicology to describe our study of the life cycles of the built environment. It examines the continuum from the planning, design and construction stages through to the end of use, abandonment and deconstruction or reuse of structures.
Domicology recognizes the cyclical nature of the built environment. Ultimately we’re imagining a world where no building has to be demolished. Structures will be designed with the idea that once they reach the end of their usefulness, they can be deconstructed with the valuable components repurposed or recycled.
Thinking about the end at the beginning
The U.S. reached a record high of 7.4 million abandoned homes in 2012. When people leave homes, the local commercial economy falters, resulting in commercial abandonment as well. The social, environmental and economic consequences disproportionately affect already struggling communities. Abandoned buildings contribute to lower property values and are associated with higher rates of crime and unemployment. Due to the scale of the problem, local governments are often unable to allocate enough resources to remove blighted structures.
All human-made structures have a life cycle, but rarely do people embrace this reality at the time of construction. The development community gives little thought to the end of life of a structure, in large part because the costs of demolition or deconstruction are passed on to some future public or private entity.
Currently, publicly financed demolition and landfilling are the most frequent methods used to remove abandoned structures, but these practices generate a huge amount of material waste. Upwards of 300,000 houses are demolished annually, which generates 169.1 million tons of construction and demolition debris – about 22 percent of the U.S. solid waste stream.
Here’s where a shift to a new domicology mindset can help. Unlike demolition, deconstruction is a sustainable approach to systematically disassembling buildings, which can result in up to 95 percent material reuse and recycling. This method, however, may increase time and cost, while at the same time potentially creating a vibrant reuse market for salvaged materials.
Domicology’s comprehensive paradigm shift from landfill-dependent demolition waste streams to sustainable construction, deconstruction and material salvage will affect both methods of construction and the materials used. For example, in design and construction of structures, modular components tend to be easier to dismantle than “stick-built” methods. Construction techniques that rely more on connectors like screws instead of glues or nails mean dismantlers can remove materials with less damage, increasing the value of the salvaged material.
On the materials side, using salvaged wood products to create new structural wood products can reduce reliance on virgin timber, which has recently experienced shortages and price fluctuations. Salvaged concrete can be used as aggregate in new construction. In some cases, even roof shingles can be melted for asphalt road surfacing. In the Midwest, where there are substantial numbers of abandoned properties, an underground “scrapper” economy has emerged that salvages copper and other valuable metals from structures.
What needs to change?
All of this requires forethought in recognizing that structures have an end of life. There is value in planning, designing and building in such a way that when a structure reaches the end of its usefulness, people can maximize the salvage of the materials removed from these structures. Creating a value in the end of life of a structure also decreases the likelihood of walking away from these valuable resources – reducing private sector abandonment in a community experiencing distress.
Governments can help by putting in place policies, incentives and regulations to prevent abandonment and facilitate removal. Domicology will depend on figuring out the best processes and technologies for safe removal. Deconstructors will need to hire differently skilled laborers than for a standard demolition. And for domicology to work there will need to be a way to take the removed material to a place where it can be given a second life of some kind.
As with any paradigm shift, the most challenging issue is to change current mindsets. People need to leave behind a “build it, use it, demolish it” perspective and replace it with a “plan it, design it, build it, use it, deconstruct it and reuse the materials” view. Builders must imagine at the beginning of a structure’s life what will happen at the end of it.
Economics do add up
Our domicology team recently tested the economic feasibility of using deconstruction practices rather than demolition as a way to reduce blight. We also wanted to explore how feasible it would be to establish a deconstruction-based repurposing economy.
Our findings suggest that the central collection, reuse and repurposing of material from legacy cities in the Great Lakes region is feasible with the help of specific policies, practices and targeted economic development strategies.
A crucial support would be a strong supply chain for salvaged materials. In Europe, California and the East Coast of the U.S., deconstruction firms can more easily acquire the material from blighted structures, access a skilled deconstruction labor force and use low-cost modes of transportation to move salvaged materials to processing facilities. All these advantages make deconstruction cost-competitive in those regions against demolition and disposal.
As a result of the work done so far, we and our colleagues have begun to incorporate the concepts and practices of domicology in targeted courses for students. By introducing this emerging science in the classroom, students here at Michigan State University are helping to pioneer a new 21st-century conception of a sustainable built environment.
As these ideas take hold and spread through planning, design, financing and construction industries, the goal is to prevent another blight epidemic like the one we see today in Detroit.
Roland Magyar: Thank you for the article, I enjoyed the new perspective. As a practicing urban planner for 30 years, my first thought was how does historic preservation come into play? Some local government historic preservation offices are almost draconian in preserving older structures, and the trend in preserving older commercial districts as trendy often prohibits any redevelopment, not to mention nostalgic motivations. Secondly, how does age, quality of construction and long term maintenance of a structure affect whether to keep or demolish the structure, or is your view geared to newer construction? Are you proposing “planned obsolescence” for new construction? Please do not take my questions as anti-domicology. I can appreciate the reduction of waste and reusable concepts, but I do not believe economics should be the only driving force.
Rex LaMore, Director of the Center for Community & Economic Development and Adjunct Faculty in Urban and Regional Planning Program, Michigan State University, In reply to Roland Magyar: Thank you Roland for your insightful response. Regarding historic preservation we have had several conversations with historic preservation let me summarize some of the points we have discussed in this context:
From a Domicological perspective the most preferred, efficient and effective use of a structure is its renovation, preservation and reuse to extend its useful life. The practices of demolition and deconstruction should only be brought to bear when renovation, preservation and reuse are absolutely not feasible.
As Domicologist we understand completely the importance of preserving the cultural/structural footprint of a society and support the work of historic preservationist. We understand the reticence to embrace a “life cycle” paradigm that may be perceived as fixed or rigid.
Yes, Domicology embraces a life-cycle conception of structures but it also bases that life-cycle conception in the context of the “end of useful life”. It may be reasonable to suggest that in that context the critical work of preservationist is to extend the “useful life” of a structure or at least some of the unique architectural elements of structures that can find a reuse.
We have generally found that preservationist are not suggesting we need to sustain substantial blight and abandonment as elements of historic preservation and I don’t think trained Domicologist would argue that removing historically/culturally/architecturally significant structures would be desirable either.
It would appear that fundamentally the key question is when does a structure reach its end of useful life and how do we know when that is? The Science of Domicology would suggest we need to devise reasonable methods and an agreed upon criteria that might provide a reasonable assurance that historic preservation is respected but that extended blight and abandonment is not the method of achieving that preservation. This criteria would probably best be agreed upon at the local level where the fabric of the community and a structure is most well understood. It is a grey area certainly but a set of criteria that is reasonable to a local context can be pursued.
If practiced effectively Domicology could strength the reuse market, increasing demand for historic structures and artifacts and potentially improve our preservation of structures and unique building artifacts.
Regarding your second point, you are absolutely correct in your observation age, quality of construction and long-term maintenance of a structure will be factors in a domicological paradigm. For example a pole barn is an easily deconstructed structure, and may represent the worst of a domicological paradigm. Communities will need to be attentive to this in their zoning and building codes to minimize this potential negative visual effect. I don’t think we want all structures to look like pole barns.
On the other hand if a designer/builder knows at the beginning of a structures life , that at the end of the useful life of a structure you will be responsible for the removal of the structure you may design in such a way as to maximize the value of the materials that might be removed. We may see the use of materials that demonstrate “longevity” in the market place or are unique in their design and more likely (valuable) at their end of useful life to be salvaged and reused. The adoption of domicology principles rather than “proposing” planned obsolescence for new construction recognizes the empirical reality that most structures do have a relatively predictable end of life (planned obsolescence) and reinforces this fact and asks us to plan, design, use, reuse, salvage accordingly.
Finally to your last point, and thank you for this observation, you are absolutely correct economics should not be the only driving force to this new paradigm. The social, environmental and health impacts of blight and abandonment on individuals and communities is horrendous and are equally if not more important in driving an end to our current practice of structural abandonment. The health and safety of communities confronting abandonment are of major concern to domicologist. Our most vulnerable people and places are those who often carry the disproportionate burden of our current structural paradigm.
Thank you again for your thoughtful insights. Please help us get the word out on this new paradigm and help us discover both the positive and potential negative elements of this concept.