Let me start by saying it is my privilege and honor to serve you with news coverage of Florida's Capitol. I've been reporting from Tallahassee since 2001.
I've been intrigued by the process of crafting public policy, but truly, the most fascinating part of the job is following the people and the personalities. Florida's part-time, citizen Legislature produces such a varied collection of folks from all corners of the state, it certainly can be a compelling show to watch. But of course, it's a high-stakes exhibition, some would say melodrama at times, because the ideas generated in the Florida Legislature often have a very direct impact on your family, finances and freedoms.
I've been a reporter for more than 25 years. For most of the last decade I worked for Associated Press Television in Tallahassee. Before that, I spent about 20 years in another state capital: Springfield, Illinois as an anchor and reporter. I covered thousands of stories there - everything from the crime beat to politics, and of course the crazy weather extremes. Central Illinois winters can be downright brutal sometimes. I covered more blizzards and ice storms than I care to recall, but you know, you never forget some of the images. I remember driving with a photographer down Interstate 55 during a bitterly cruel blizzard that produced such awful white-out conditions, you could barely see beyond the hood of your car. Dozens of vehicles spun off the highway only to be swallowed by icy snow drifts.
I won an AP award for spot news in one of those storms. It was so cold that day the wind chill was estimated around 40 below zero - the type of cold that takes your breath away when you step outside. My photographer and I chronicled the efforts of an Illinois State trooper to help a trucker whose big rig had jackknifed across the slippery highway and snarled traffic.
And don't get me started on the tornadoes.
But that's the essence of this job - offering access to places and moments that most people don't get the chance (or want the chance) to experience, as well as delivering the information that you want and need. I will do my best to do that for you in Tallahassee.