FLORIDA TURNPIKE REACTS TO RIGHT WING PRESSURE by Mitch E. Perry11/30/06
Motorists driving on FloridaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s turnpike who found it politically offensive that Citgo has been the only brand of fuel available at service plazas will be getting some roadside assistance on other options.
The Florida Department of Transportation has announced that within the next few months, , signs will go up at turnpike exits listing other gas stations just off the highway. Drivers will not have to pay an additional toll if they get off to fill up.
Citgo is the U.S. subsidiary of VenezualaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s state-run oil company, Pedevasa. It supplies fuel for the 8 gas stations along the turnpike. But anger towards Citgo among some Americans reached a fever pitch in the U.S., after VenezuelaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s president, Hugo Chavez, blasted President Bush back in September.
JoAnn Hurley is the Community Coordinations Coordinator with FloridaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Turnpike. She says the state was already in the process of installing logo signs on other toll roads, when the Citgo controversy erupted. But there had NOT been any plans on the turnpike (roll tape#1 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?system roadsÃ¢â‚¬?) But Delray Beach State House Member Adam Hasner wasnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t complaining about other toll roads when he reacted with fury after Chavez blasted the President at the United Nations in New York in September, calling him Ã¢â‚¬Ëœthe devilÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ among other things.
It certainly was not the first time Chavez criticized Bush Ã¢â‚¬â€œbut because his verbal attacked was on U.S. soil, it received huge media attention in the U.S. at the time. JoAnn Hurley from FloridaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Turnpike says the authorization to add the signs to the Turnpike came from the highest levels of state government (roll tape#2 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?ticket systemÃ¢â‚¬?)
David McCullom is a spokesman for Citgo. He says that although the move to provide Turnpike motorists with alternative options for gas appears to be a slap at Citgo, and in turn, President Chavez, in fact it will be regular Florida citizens who run the gas stations that will feel the pain (roll tape#3 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?paying the price for thisÃ¢â‚¬?)
Although the U.S. government has had an antagonistic relationship with Chavez for years, anger amongst rank and file citizens seems to have erupted only after his incendiary UN Speech, in which the leftist leader verbally laid waste to the American commander in chief, to laughter and applause.
Venezuela currently is the 4th largest supplier of oil in the world, which as CitgoÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s David McCollum says, means that some American might feel good about boycotting Citgo, but thereÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s still a good chance that theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re car is using Venezuelan oil (roll tape#4 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?and CanadaÃ¢â‚¬?)
WMNF attempted to contact Representative Adam Hasner today..He was not available for commentÃ¢â‚¬Â¦But he had this to say to WMNF back in September (roll tape#5 o.q.Ã¢â‚¬?energy futureÃ¢â‚¬?)