Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Scott Pledges Support for Everglades, Amendment 1 … What?


The Palm Beach Post, in its blog yesterday placed this banner above one of its posts:
 
           "Scott pledges support for Everglades work, Amendment 1" 

The post reads says,  

“Gov. Scott’s budget plan would advance Everglades work.” 

And 
 
“Gov. Rick Scott proposed spending $150 million next year on continuing Everglades restoration efforts Tuesday, while largely endorsing land-buying and environmental preservation efforts of voter-approved Amendment 1.” 

And
 
“Scott said he is committed to getting the state started on the $5 billion over 20 years in spending that 75 percent of Florida voters approved in November.”  

Sounded promising!  Maybe a new guy?  But then I read,  

Scott said “During my first term, we made historic investments in our springs and Everglades and I am proud to continue to make important investments in our environment this year,”  

Historic investments?  He’s kidding? … No. the man is delusional. Understand this.  He has made no historic investments in our springs and Everglades.  It’s sheer misrepresentation.  A hallucination.  A revisionist lie. (Uneasiness stirs in my stomach.) 
He is also quoted saying,  
“We will keep working to make sure we preserve our natural treasures so Florida can continue to be a top destination for families, visitors and businesses,” he added.
Understand this also.  Rick Scott did more to damage this state’s ability to “preserve its natural treasures” than the volcanic eruption of Mount Vesuvius did to preserve the natural treasures of Pompeii in 79 AD.  (My stomach is churning.)
Then it reports,   
 
“The sugar industry also praised Scott’s balancing act.”  

(My stomach begins to shift the natural direction of its contents.)  

Then, I read some guy named Brian Hughes is said to have said, “speaking” for the “Florida sugar farmers”  

“Governor Rick Scott’s financial commitment toward real solutions for the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers should help cut through the rhetoric and begin building storage and treatment where the estuaries need it most,”   

So, at last we know what’s been holding up Tallahassee's commitment to restore the Everglades.  It’s rhetoric!!! (Language designed to have a persuasive or impressive effect on its audience, but often regarded as lacking in sincerity or meaningful content.) Til now, even the Florida Chamber thought it was just Scott’s hubris and ignorance of the problem because he's not a scientist.  (I’m gagging.)  

Then I read,  

“…Florida Sugar Farmers applaud today’s announcement of Florida’s continued commitment to restoration.”  

(My stomach is in full revolt.  I need to find a latrine.)

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Do not vote for Rick Scott

You should not vote for Rick Scott because he spoke the truth when he said he is not a scientist.  No, even though that statement is one of the few truths we’ve heard from CEO Scott in his almost four years of occupation of Tallahassee, we should not vote for him because it is true.  In fact you need to say loudly you will not vote for him, because this truth is highly suspect, as most of his pronouncements are, thickly underlain with obfuscation and deceit. 
 
This use of truth to mislead and fraud the minds of Florida’s public is characteristic of the man, a leadership style that directs without direction, a man in a dimly lit wheelhouse aimlessly turning the helm of his self-financed state vessel, dumbly looking for fair winds and a following sea in a monsoon of public ire and dissatisfaction, all the while speaking truths as if they were edicts of wisdom from Zarathustra and denying their injurious nature to our fair State. 
No, we should not, must not, vote for this shill of a man who has given away our children’s future to narrow focused special interests, the highest bidders for his enabling decrees so damaging to natural Florida.
He has done lasting, perhaps permanent damage to the very things that define Florida as Florida, all the while claiming against plain truth and human intelligence that what he is doing is The People’s will.  He destroyed the state’s ability to protect its natural systems and claimed it was needed to foster economic development when no study declared it was a rational path to forge; and even when a history of record-setting posterity under stiff environmental regulation offered prima facie evidence it was not. 
We must vote against another four years of this man’s shameless anti-Florida, anti-public, pro-special interest deceitfulness.  By destroying Florida’s capacity to plan for its future, he destroyed our State’s ability to determine its own fate, to determine how we as residents want it to look and function for our progeny, and has given it over to the vicious, unsympathetic control of shareholder-owned corporations whose only interest is profit; profit now, and as much as possible, even if it incurs the most cynical forms of abuse and destruction of our natural resources.

Under a sulphurous cloud of cynicism, deceit and subterfuge, he now hangs on to a poisonous political strength transfused by impossible promises of money to repair the very environmental rot he so enthusiastically fostered over the last three years.
No, you must not vote for Rick Scott.  You must exercise your right to take this ugliness from our midst, from our lives and from our children’s future.
And, yes, you must vote for Amendment 1 to change Florida’s Constitution and by doing so, look the tea-party destroyers of our State straight in their Norquist-jaded eyes and demand adequate, dependable funding be generated to repair the mounting environmental neglect they have fostered.
Go.  Now.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Tampa Bay Times blows it - Takes dumb position on Amendment 1


The Tampa Bay Times has recommended against Florida residents voting in favor of Amendment 1, an opportunity voters will have to assure funding is available for environmental protection for the next 20 years.
What are they thinking!!
They said the constitution is no place to house funding options that are more appropriately that of the legislature and governor.
TBT apparently has not been listening to itself over the last three-plus years as Craig Pittman and others have described time and again how T-Town’s tea-bagging conservatives gutted and dismantled over 40 years of carefully developed environmental protections which, by the paper’s own claims, are crucial to the state’s economic future.
The editorial published in Sunday’s edition correctly identifies the public’s frustration with Tallahassee’s pathetic attempts to declare its concerns for all things environmental while systematically destroying the state’s ability to protect its crucial natural systems. It is no less than stunning that the paper has somehow forgotten that this legislature and governor halted environmental land acquisition, decimated the environmental protective capacities of Florida’s primary agencies responsible for protecting the environment – the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the five water management districts - and blatantly caters to the moneyed demands of special interests.
TBT has gotten so wrapped up in some archaic narrow-principled idea of proper government it has forgotten why the constitutional amendment process exists in the first place.  For one thing, instead of frustrated people taking up sticks and stones against bad government, Florida allows its citizens to use the power of their right to vote to amend the constitution by referendum, and send a very clear and strong personal message to the People’s representatives that Tallahassee’s insulated governor and legislators are not properly representing the People’s interests.  This amendment is a way of sending them to the corner for a 20-year “time-out,” at least as it relates to taking care of Florida’s unique natural environment.  Amendment 1 is appropriate and badly needed, and it involves no sticks or stones.
TBT also points out, incredibly, that the Amendment is somehow flawed because it could lead to further legislative game-playing and funding skullduggery.  This is exactly why the People are forcing the issue and telling Tallahassee they’ve had enough such political nonsense.  How can it be worse than what this governor and legislature have already done?
Amendment 1 is a message that, if ignored, Tallahassee does so at its own political risk. The People should not listen to the Tampa Bay Times.   They should vote for Amendment 1.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Clean Water Act rules under attack by Farm Bureau and Fla. Cong. Steve Southerland

In a media release this morning, the Florida Conservation Coalition declared certain factions in Washington are trying to weaken federal clean water rules in a way that will have a negative impact on Florida’s waters.

It hasn’t been enough that our inept governor has already castrated the water management districts by firing their scientists, slashing their budgets, and reversing their regulatory mission from protection to serving special interests.  Now, one of those special interests, the Farm Bureau, an insurance company turned Big Ag advocate, and other industry groups, are trying to do the same thing to the regulatory authority of EPA at the federal level with the help of Florida Panhandle Republican Congressman Steve Southerland.

The Florida Conservation Coalition (FCC) is composed of over 50 conservation organizations and thousands of individuals devoted to protecting and conserving Florida’s land, wildlife and water resources. The first priority of the Coalition is to protect and preserve Florida’s waters.”

The Coalition is encouraging Floridians who value healthy wetlands and a strong economy to express their opinion of H.R. 5078 to their congressman.

Here’s the Coalition’s media release in full:

Florida Conservation Coalition Calls on Public
 to Support Clean Water Act Rules

Congressman Southerland’s Bill, H.R. 5078, Muddies the Water
In the face of attacks by the Florida Farm Bureau and a narrow group of elected officials, the Florida Conservation Coalition calls on the citizens of Florida to support the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed rule to protect Florida’s water resources.
The Clean Water Act prevents activities that would harm the nation’s rivers,
streams, lakes, wetlands and coastal waters. As required by the Act, EPA regulations protect water quality, help to prevent flooding and limit the impact of droughts. However, federal court decisions have made it essential that the EPA clarify which waters must be protected. 
Legislation proposed by Congressman Steve Southerland and supported today by the Florida Department of Agriculture, the Farm Bureau and other industry groups would prohibit adoption of an important new rule being proposed by EPA in cooperation with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to provide this clarity. The legislation would also shut down the public comment process, denying the public the opportunity to voice its position on the proposed rule.
This effort by Representative Southerland and others to keep the Clean Water Act rules muddy is not in Florida’s best interest. Clarifying that streams and their wetlands are protected but uplands are not regulated brings certainty to landowners and assures protection of Florida’s most important natural resources.

The proposed rule actually excludes regulation of most dry ditches, the subject of the Farm Bureau’s objections. All historical exclusions and exemptions for agriculture are preserved, and the proposed rule provides exemptions for many farming, timber and other land-use activities. 

“Southerland’s legislation is a misguided reaction to the proposed rule.  This legislation intervenes in the middle of the public commenting process and raises suspicion that the industry groups demonstrating today do not want to allow citizens to voice their support of our natural resources. Clean water depends on clear standards,” said Vicki Tschinkel of the Florida Conservation Coalition and former Secretary of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.  
It is especially important that Floridians support EPA’s efforts to protect wetlands which are an integral part of many Florida waterbodies. They are essential to human life in Florida, providing safe drinking water, flood protection for our homes and roads, and our food supply.  In addition, wetlands are vital to the health of Florida’s waters; to wildlife which depend on them for food and habitat; and to our fisherman, tourists and all citizens who depend on the productivity of our estuaries, Atlantic and Gulf.  There is nothing more central to Florida’s economy than the health of our water resources.
Despite the political fracas created by the Farm Bureau, EPA’s proposed rule does not increase or decrease regulation of farming or other activities. The rule simply makes clear the boundaries between flowing waters, wetlands and uplands.
“We are puzzled by the fierce reaction against something that only seeks to provide needed clarity to the Clean Water Act. The proposed rule does not regulate any new types of waters that have not historically been covered under the Act.  Clarity of these regulations is desperately needed to protect our precious, yet deteriorating waters and to stop endless litigation,” said Tschinkel.

 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Scott - desperate for environmental love


Please read this Ocala Star Banner article: Florida Governor pledges major spending on environment .
Okay, thanks.  So, what do you think about it?
If you think that because of this announcement Rick Scott has seen the light and has become a virtuous soul of piously good environmental intent, you should read the rest of this … and then go see your therapist.
  • Scott’s announcement is a desperate, insensitive, disingenuous ploy by a weak re-election campaign to grab reluctant support from an environmental community he has callously disregarded for the last four years … and which he is only now realizing was a very significant political mistake.  It is such a complete reversal of his positions for the last four years, his credibility should now be as embarrassing to his supporters as it is a joke to the environmentalists he disparaged so vehemently.
  • $500 million for new water supplies?  If Florida is going to continue to have an economy at all, it must have more new water if enough cannot be conserved to meet the expected demand.  So, this could be a signal that conservation is going to be given a back seat.  If so, where are the new supplies going to come from?  In terms of the state’s projected needs, groundwater is not the answer.  More pumping is going to require many MFL’s (Minimum Flows and Levels) to be exceeded, more lost wetlands, impacts on springs, rivers, lakes, salt intrusion, etc.  If it’s from surface bodies, there’s not even a handful of rivers that might not be significantly impacted by large diversions.  Large diversions are only feasible on flashy rivers, like the Peace, that have huge “excess” flows on few occasions annually that can be effectively captured and stored.  The main body of most rivers’ flows cannot be impacted without commensurate impacts to all else that depend upon their continuous historic average flows.  Desalination?  Not even in the conversation.  And, where and for what purpose will this new water be used? Mining, power, big agriculture, “planned communities” that really aren’t? Finally, who’s going to receive the money to build the production, treatment and delivery systems?  The private sector?  That’s just transfer of more public wealth from working taxpayers to the pockets of special interests. Seems that’s what Tallahassee is all about anymore. If he lays $500 million on the table, it’ll be like the California gold rush to grab the last cheap water before someone else does.  MFL’s and the environment will be damned and you and I will pay for it.
  • $500 million for springs protection?  That just means a whole lot more waste water treatment plants, a good thing for certain if it’s truly and only to get the nitrate production out of the springsheds.  But what if it’s a ruse just to have you and me pay agriculture to clean up their messes.  More “big ag” welfare?  Aren’t they subsidized enough?  New waste treatment plants?  For whom?  Use to be when a developer wanted to build a community, the cost of water production and waste treatment had to be covered by the developer and recovered from the folks buying the rooftops, even when the money went to the local government to build the facilities - a user-pay thing.  Is Scott now proposing to help out a lot of developers under the guise of protecting springs? Certainly could be. It is completely consistent with his actions so far and highly doubtful the man could change his colors so fast. His disparagement of natural Florida's economic and aesthetic values has been so systemic and complete within Florida government the damage will be lasting for many years.  No, strongly suspect subterfuge here.
  • Regarding Amendment #1 - Placing this Nouveau Scott plan on the table now will give strength to the argument that this is how we need to pay for environmental protection and preservation, and why Amendment 1 is not needed.  The timing and inexplicable reversal of it smells an awful lot like a Trojan Horse.  Do we want to just forget how the environment has been subjected to the whims of a thoroughly (and embarrassingly) anti-environmental legislative and gubernatorial sentiment for the last four years and why the Amendment is needed to overcome the annual unpredictable whims of the legislature?  No we will not, but watch for the anti-amendment legislators to scurry out from under the baseboards on this.  Do not buy this Trojan ruse.
    This would be condos were it not in public ownership.
  • $150 million for Florida Forever?  If it’s not guaranteed by a constitutional amendment for certain purposes, rest assured it’ll be spent in ways that favor special interests and not the environment, e.g., subject to utility and roadway easements, not with mineral rights reserved, not for connecting wildlife corridors, not for protecting and preserving remote environmentally unique areas, not to prevent destructive private leasing, not limited to passive public uses ... and billboards will be allowed in the swamps.  Scott has spent the last four years weakening the protections our public dollars have bought and placed upon public lands.  Why should we think he’s going to do any different with any new lands bought under this guise?
  • Finally, increased regulatory scrutiny of permit holders is going to require a huge, really huge, shift in the anti-regulation culture Scott, Vinyard and Jeff Littlejohn have so meticulously constructed in place of the “pro” culture they destroyed.  It represents a stark and unbelievable 180 degree reversal of a major campaign platform.  Can we actually believe there is even an ounce of sincerity in this man and the army of anti-environmental minions he has strategically positioned within his administration?  Where from and how did they come upon this near-religious revelation?  Are we simply going to let them say, The devil made us do it, and thank them for their service?  I don’t buy it and you shouldn’t either.  The last four years have been a disastrous reality for natural Florida, much worse than just a bad dream from which we can now awaken.  If we believe this man now, it’ll just be four more years of that same horrid destructive reality.
Carl Hiaasen wrote today about Rick Scott’s credibility and where he might hang the head of the deer he killed at King Ranch recently, “The bathroom wall would be a fitting place, hanging right over the toilet where he flushed his integrity.”
Yes.