Richard Renick, a former Florida state senator and longtime member of American Legion Post 98 in Coral Gables, addressed members of the Coral Gables Forum (formerly the Ponce Business Association) at their monthly meeting on June 6.
The meeting was in the upstairs banquet room of JohnMartin’s Irish Pub & Restaurant on Miracle Mile, and because June 6 was the anniversary of the historic D-Day invasion of Europe that helped end World War II, Senator Renick spoke about that and also about his successful efforts to save Florida’s historic state Capitol Building when some in Tallahassee wanted it torn down.
“The Allied Forces had more than 4,500 men killed that day on the beaches of Normandy, France,” Renick said. “There were almost 7,000 vessels involved, from small craft to larger vessels and close to 10 or 12 thousand aircraft involved.”
Renick served as a Florida state representative three times and a state senator three times. He considered one of the highlights of his time in office to be the work he did to help preserve the Old State Capitol Building.
“Back in 1976, Kenneth Myers introduced a bill to demolish the old Capitol Building,” Renick said. “The governor was in favor of demolishing the old property because the architect and designer of the new capitol said the old building was in the way and blocked the view of the new capitol.”
Renick gave a recap of Florida history, how it achieved statehood and details of its past.
“In 1977, Gov. Reubin Askew had 30 of the 40 senators lined up in favor of demolition, and only four or five in favor of preservation,” Renick said, recounting how grim the prospects were for the vote that was scheduled the next day. “Since there was a five-hour time difference between here and London, at 5 a.m., the next morning I called Lloyds of London. I explained what was going to be happening later that morning, either the capitol was going to be preserved or destroyed in the next five days, and its history. Within five minutes I heard back from them. The entire board of Lloyds of London said that they would be happy to insure the Old Capitol Building.”
Renick said that hours later, when the issue came up for a vote and proponents of demolition were claiming the old building was in terrible shape, he announced that the board of Lloyds of London had said they would insure the building. That did the trick and convinced a majority of senators.
“The vote came out 28 to 8 in our favor,” Renick said. “I saw all those green lights coming up and I thought, boy, we got them. There was a companion bill in the House, but they knew they didn’t have the votes in the Senate so the bill died and the Old Capitol was preserved.”