FLORIDA TURNPIKE REACTS TO RIGHT WING PRESSURE by Mitch E. Perry

11/30/06

Motorists driving on Florida’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 Venezuala’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 Venezuela’s president, Hugo Chavez, blasted President Bush back in September.

JoAnn Hurley is the Community Coordinations Coordinator with Florida’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.�system roads�) But Delray Beach State House Member Adam Hasner wasn’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 ‘the devil’ among other things.

It certainly was not the first time Chavez criticized Bush –but because his verbal attacked was on U.S. soil, it received huge media attention in the U.S. at the time. JoAnn Hurley from Florida’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.�ticket system�)

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.�paying the price for this�)

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 Citgo’s David McCollum says, means that some American might feel good about boycotting Citgo, but there’s still a good chance that they’re car is using Venezuelan oil (roll tape#4 o.q.�and Canada�)

WMNF attempted to contact Representative Adam Hasner today..He was not available for comment…But he had this to say to WMNF back in September (roll tape#5 o.q.�energy future�)

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