Tuesday, February 14, 2012

JD Alexander sticks it ... just like he did to the WMD’s

It is common practice in the legislature to do something dastardly behind the public’s back and cleverly conceal it beneath an opaque cloak of esoteric procedural maneuvering.  It’s become so common, in fact, that everyone knows, no matter what happens during the regular session, if the so-called “leadership” wants it, it’ll get done in the last hour, sometimes in the session’s last minutes, public interests be damned. 
Just before the clerk drops the hankie and says sine die signaling that the insanity of another session is mercifully over, language is surreptitiously added or deleted and the lap dogs of the legislature, elected to represent the people’s interest, do as they’re told by the “alpha,” and the damage, the political favor, or the secret payoff gets done.  They do so because, in reality, if they don’t kowtow to the mighty and kiss the boot, they know they will suffer devastating political retribution on a very personal level.  This is the way of unrestrained political muscle that the Tallahassee system has learned to nurture and sustain session after session.
Why do we, the people, allow this madness to so fully infect those we send to the hallowed halls of our representative democracy?  We send these people there to provide us with reasoned governance and wise structure for our heavily interrelated lives.  Why is it that when we see our system being manipulated to serve the personal interests of a few, or even one, and not the public’s, we find ourselves paralyzed to do anything about it?  It is only later that we will learn what took place and with great disdain and disbelief we will rant with great editorial indignation only to allow it again next year.
This is the ugly backside of greed and self aggrandizement at its absolute worst.  During this session and last, there has been no other human personification of gross political power gone amuck as JD Alexander; a guy who inherited both money and power from one of the most influential agricultural families in Florida’s history; a guy who’s only legacy will be that he became the epitome of what we should never again allow to be elected to political office at any level.
You’ve heard what he is trying to do to the University of South Florida.  He’s trying to choke them into submission for resisting his personal desire to sever USF’s brand new USF Polytechnic University completely from USF.  He disingenuously denies that cutting the USF funding by over $100,000,000, far more than any of the other state funded universities, will do long lasting damage to the school’s academic standing and its ability to deliver a quality education.
If you haven’t already read in disbelief what this guy is doing, see the Tampa Bay Times front page article and its main editorial about it published this morning (2.14.12).  Find the article HERE and the editorial HERE.
Some Quotes from the editorial”
“… his proposed state budget would starve to death the university, an unmistakable threat to anyone who dares to oppose his theft of the branch campus.”
“This is the sort of political interference that gives Florida's universities a bad name.”
“…the focus is on one powerful senator's obsession to create a new university and how far he will go to get his way.”
Daniel Ruth of the Times had much to say as well.  Here’s an excerpt:
It is axiomatic that not much happens in Tallahassee until toward the end of the legislative session when the final deals are cooked, the last minute conspiracies are hatched and, of course, the annual rite of back-stabbing begins in earnest.
This isn't democracy in action. It's a good old boy junta, taking names, settling scores and extracting revenge. Think of this as the reign of the Borgias, only without the sense of whimsy.
So it's a fair question: Why even bother with the charade of legislating? Why not dispense with filing bills, holding committee hearings and voting on stuff and put Senate Budget Committee Chairman JD Alexander in charge of everything, since it certainly appears the Big Daddy of Lake Wales is firmly in charge of establishing Florida as the Dogpatch of the nation?
Find Ruth's complete column published by the Tampa Bay Times, “Droppings from the lamest of lame ducks,” HERE.
So … because all the above is so much more sexy than water management, it’s a pretty good bet you don’t know that Alexander is doing the very same thing to the water management districts of this state, but you should.  And you should be no less outraged.
Today, the e-news publication, the Florida Current, reported that the Florida Conservation Coalition has come out in strong opposition to Alexander’s Proposed Committee Bill 7092.  It is common knowledge that Alexander would likely try to slip something like the earlier SB 1834 through the process and under the public radar, and sure enough that’s exactly what PCP 7092 will accomplish if approved.
This is the same maneuver he used against USF.
PCB 7092 if passed will take away the governor’s traditional budgetary oversight of the water management districts and leave him only to review and report findings to the legislature where the real control will be shifted.
So complete will its control be that many, lawyers included, are saying it patently violates the Florida constitutional prohibition against the state levying an ad valorem property tax for state purposes.
But for you and me, that’s not the issue.  Not really sexy enough.  The issue is that water management will become completely politicized at the state level.  This is where it will hit your backyard first. Want a water use permit in Citrus County that will impact Rainbow Springs, or Weeki Wachee Springs in Hernando, or as it is happening right now in the Suwannee River district, a permit in the St. John River District that will impact the springs in the Suwannee District?  Just call your local powerful committee chairman in Tallahassee, give some money to his PAC, and you’ve got your permit.
To be specific, the SJRWMD is issuing a permit to the Jacksonville Electric Authority for huge quantities being pumped from the groundwater basin of the Suwannee River and its related multitude of springs.  The SJRWMD says it will have a significant impact.  SJRWMD now run by political hacks appointed by the governor are whistling Dixie and saying it isn’t so.
The executive director of the Suwannee District at the direction of his governing board filed an objection to the permit on behalf of the resource they are by law compelled to protect.  He also filed it on behalf of folks who don’t want the water they need for their own purposes and their future being sucked off to Jacksonville to cool electric turbines. 
Here’s the point.  Now that Tallahassee is gaining control of districts’ budgets, the folks who continue to work there will have no choice but to do the political bidding of the Tallahassee powerful or be fired.
David Still the courageous executive director of the Suwannee district who filed the lawsuit, for example, was “let go” today (02.15.12).
This is the kind of political chicanery the state is in for.  JD Alexander will be gone from the legislature after this session.  But make no mistake.  His devil’s work will not go with him and Florida’s vast and unique natural resources are at grave risk.
But Wait! There's more. There is also the fraud perpetrated upon you, the property owners within all the counties of SWFWMD, who, because of his scheming will now be paying for a fully half of a $330,000,000 water supply project for Polk County.  But that’s a story I’ve already told you.  And, will tell again and again and again.
Still sitting quietly believing someone else will take care of the problem?  In the words of Dr. Phil, “How’s that working for you?”
Do what the Florida Conservation Coalition strongly suggests:
Chair, Senate Budget Committee, Senator JD Alexander (R),
Vice Chair: Senator Joe Negron (R)
Chair: Senate Budget Sub-Committee on General Government Appropriations, Senator Alan Hays (R)
and your local representative and senator.

Urge them to (1) remove the current revenue caps and restore maximum millage rates; (2) restore oversight of district budgets exclusively to the Governor’s Office; and (3) avoid legislative involvement in the "core missions", regulatory functions, administration outreach and management of the water management districtsIn other words, kill this bill, kill it dead, but then restore the districts to their earlier status when they worked for the resource and the locals who depend upon it.
Yesterday, I saw a where Paula Dockery posted this on her Facebook page :
It's official, I'm not really in the Florida Senate, I'm in the twilight zone.”

You can believe it, Paula.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, Sonny, for your insightful comments. What you have said about SWFWMD, applies to SFWMD. The officials in Tallahassee seem bound and determined to wreck sound water policy in the districts. Thanks again, Sonny.