Friday, June 28, 2013

Fire Vinyard and Littlejohn for subversion of public interests!

Bruce Ritchie writes in today’s Florida Current that,
 “DEP wants to award $571,961 in bonuses to 269 regulatory employees based on criteria including faster permit processing and feedback from customers including permit applicants.
Rep. Mark Pafford, D-West Palm Beach and member of the Legislative Budget Commission, says he's concerned that the bonus will reward faster permit approval at the expense of environmental protection.
"I don't have any problem with people getting bonuses, especially state employees," Pafford said. "The question is, are some of those dollars going to be used to lessen the time required for reviewing applications?  And will it limit the scope of a thorough examination of those applications for projects?"
Pafford, is also the ranking Democrat on the House Agriculture & Natural Resources Subcommittee.
Doug Martin, legislative director and spokesman for the state employees union, said it more accurately,
 "I’ve never heard of bonuses being given for not enforcing the law and being paid out of funds from employees who were dismissed for doing their jobs."
And, what’s worse, the toxic, anti-environment senator from Eustis, Alan Hayes, who has introduced some of the most damaging bills in the history of the legislature, is defending the idiocy.  Given his record and galactic ignorance of environmental management technology, unfortunately, no one will be surprised.
But, this is just another ignorant management decision by CEO Scott and his boys, DEP secretary Herschel Vinyard and DEP minion Jeff Littlejohn, who should know better.  Is there no end to their ignorance of common public agency management practices?
As a career manager and agency head, I have never heard of providing raises just for issuing regulatory permits in fewer days than the law allows.  Regulatory staff must follow the law.  They are required to follow very strict legal guidelines that, frankly, may not be very efficient, but they are the law.  Most inefficiencies result from having to accommodate all the varied public interests involved in issuing a permit, including those who will be negatively impacted by the permit if granted.  Every legitimate interest must be heard and considered. 
Rewards or bonuses can and should be given to an employee who finds or develops a procedure that will make the process more efficient but such proposals should be carefully reviewed before implementation to insure they will not inadvertently weaken the agency’s obligations under the law.  Only then, should they be made part of the process. 
Vinyard and Littlejohn apparently want to reward individual staff members for taking short cuts.  This will encourage regulatory hot-dogging, unauthorized rogue decisions by individuals, which would be a blatant subversion and perversion of public interest.
CEO Scott should fire the boys at DEP for incompetence and Hayes should be removed from elected office immediately for being virtually devoid of good sense.  Then CEO Scott should donate all that reelection money he’s raising, projected to eventually exceed $100 million, to raises for all state employees and conservation land acquisition, and go back to the private sector where defrauding the federal government and public taxpayers of Medicaid and Medicare funds seems to be a very lucrative common practice.
The whole thing smells to high heaven but if you want to read the entire disgusting story anyway, Tap HERE.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Patronis off base for attack on former Governor Graham

The ignorance of panhandle legislator, Jimmy Patronis once again proves how badly Tallahassee has lost its way.  This guy is the personification of arrogance and ignorance gone awry.
Not only did he proudly sponsor the most environmentally toxic bill of the 2013 legislative session, HB 999, but he’s now accusing a respected former Florida Governor and United States Senator, Bob Graham, of something that simply isn’t true.  It shows how pervasively the Florida legislature has adopted obfuscation and disingenuity as acceptable behavior for elected state government officials.
The Tallahassee strategy typically used in defense of the indefensible is to stuff veracity down a rat hole and become as personally offensive as one possibly can.  This is what Patronis chose to do when Senator Graham expressed concern over the negative impacts Patronis’ bill would have on Florida’s sensitive natural systems.
However, one articulate and unafraid person, former secretary of the Department of Environmental Regulation Vicky Tschinkel, has called Patronis out for his uninformed and puerile allegations.  She served in the Askew and Graham administrations as assistant secretary of the department and as its secretary from 1977 to 1987, so she knows the factual history that Patronis clearly does not.
With her permission, here is her very on-point, recently-written “letter to the editor.”  It has been published as a guest column in newspapers around the state. 
I am astonished by state Rep. Jimmy Patronis' portrayal of the Bob Graham governorship as bringing "dramatic negative changes to environmental law" and his claim that Graham "has had a change of heart now."
These comments appeared in The Panama City News Herald May 26 ("Patronis: Scott will sign bill on well permitting") in response to Graham's vehement opposition to H.B. 999, the 40-page behemoth presented by Tallahassee lobbyist Frank Matthews, to Patronis for his sponsorship.
Graham is chairman of the Florida Conservation Coalition, with Nathaniel Reed and former state Sen. Lee Constantine serving as vice chairs.
Bob Graham was part of the Florida Legislature's group of daring young members who, during the "Golden Age of Florida Politics," threw themselves wholeheartedly into establishing the bedrock of Florida's environmental laws.
Gov. Reubin Askew proudly signed laws protecting air, water quality and land use, all of which were more advanced than anything at the federal level and all of which enjoyed bipartisan support. Our water-use law, which was adopted during this same intense time, derives from the internationally acclaimed model water code developed at the University of Florida.
It is true that Graham was business-friendly and that he cared about jobs. During his tenure, the state added 1.2 million jobs, and for the first time the per capita income of Floridians exceeded the U.S. average. Florida was rated by the consulting firm Grant Thornton as having the best business climate of all the states for three of his eight years in office.
Graham's vision
The difference between the "new politicians" such as Patronis and Gov. Rick Scott on the one hand, and Graham on the other, is that Graham has always known that our prosperity is absolutely linked to the health and sustainability of our natural resources.
A state dependent on beautiful beaches that protect us and invite tourists is a successful one. A state where water is clean and plentiful protects our health and allows for industrial and residential development. A state where natural areas are valued as gifts from nature has its ethics right and its future assured.
So, Graham was the one who established the Save Our Rivers program in 1981 (now part of Florida Forever), which protected 1.7 million acres of floodplains and recharge areas, including those of North Florida great rivers. Panama's City's water supply is protected by the Save Our Rivers program.
Patronis is a proud fisherman and his family's restaurant depends on plentiful and healthy local seafood. He should be thanking Graham every time he leaves the dock, because the clean, clear, productive bays and offshore are fed by the protected Choctawhatchee and Apalachicola rivers.
Another program was the historic Save Our Coast program, established in 1981, which purchased 73 miles of shoreline, also benefiting beaches which are visited by tourists from all over the world who delight in them.
Protecting water sources
Gov. Graham began the Save our Everglades Program and started it with a bang, by setting in motion the restoration of the channelized Kissimmee River into a free-flowing river once again.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of beach property, river property, Everglades and natural areas throughout our state are now in public ownership, thanks to Bob Graham. At least these natural treasures are forever protected for all of us, and will never be damaged from special interests and such environmentally destructive legislation as H.B. 999.
From hazardous-waste cleanup and banning of dangerous pesticides, to establishing the first rules in the country protecting ground water from contamination, to forcefully supporting the state's first law protecting wetlands, to establishing modern growth management practices, Gov. Graham's record has universally been lauded, never challenged. Until Rep. Patronis presented his, yes, astonishing alternate view.
History, for those who take it seriously, will not look kindly upon the Legislature of 2011, which razed much of 40 years' worth of bipartisan efforts to conserve our environment. It will not look kindly upon the fact that those land acquisition efforts I described went from being bipartisan programs, with a $300 million per year budget, to being programs whose budgets were virtually obliterated for the previous two years, with only $10 million of new money (much of it restricted) allocated this year.
Nor will it look upon Rep. Patronis' self-described bills, containing "Christmas tree(s)" of privileges bestowed upon special interests, as anything but a thumb in the eye of the future generations of our state.
Vicky Tschinkel