It’s frustrating and I’m angry. All of us who care about our state and what’s left of its wondrous natural beauty are feeling like we’ve been bitten by a rattlesnake, and the slithering deliverers of the venom are the selfish interests of those who freely exploit natural Florida for profit without regard for its future.
You know how unique the state’s springs are. There have been hundreds of thousands of words and photos describing them, hundreds of editorials lamenting what’s happening to them, and thousands of people shouting for Tallahassee to take urgent and effective action to stop their pending demise if nothing’s done very soon. And yet … nothing.
Once again, we find ourselves at the end of a legislative session that started with promise only to end with thinly hidden obfuscation and deceit. The actual events that took place resulting in the failure of the valiant bill, SB 1576, that would have been critically beneficial to the Springs will eventually be revealed, I guess. But until then, we are left only with quickly dissipating smoke trails of the perpetrators and having to watch with disgust the spins of those most probably responsible already claiming it was the right thing to do.
So, who are we talking about? Apart from the legislative lemmings in the House lead by chief puppeteer, Will Weatherford (son-in-law of the right wing powerbroker and former House Speaker, Allan Bense, who put him there), there are the special interests. If you want to know the real why and how of anything happening in Tallahassee, as everybody knows, just follow the money … and the money comes from special interests.
In this case, the money to fund the army of lobbyists that crawled from the cracks to defeat the bill came, not surprisingly, from business and agriculture, and the Florida Chamber of Commerce.
Yes, the Florida Chamber was openly involved in lobbying the House not to spend even one minute of committee time to consider the bill after it was passed unanimously out of every Senate committee and even the full Senate.
So who is the Florida Chamber? You can tap HERE to see a complete list of its Board members or, here’s a list of some that may surprise you and whom you’ll quickly recognize: Florida Power and Light (Eric Silagy), Beall’s, Inc. ( Steve M. Knopik), Tampa Port Authority (Paul Anderson), Broward College (J. David Armstrong, Jr.), GAC Contractors (Allan G. Bense), Gulf Power Company (Stan W. Connally, Jr.), Walt Disney Parks and Resorts (Anthony J. Connelly), Waste Management of Florida (Charles Dees), Regions Bank (Don DeFosset), A Duda and Sons (Tracy Duda Chapman), Auto Nation (Jonathan P. Ferrando, Esq.), Duke Energy (Alex Glenn), Bank of America (Mike M. Fields), Shands Hospital (Timothy M. Goldfarb), Charter Schools USA (Jon Hage), Seaworld Parks and Entertainment (Dave Hammer), Ron Jon Surf Shop of Florida (Debra Harvey), TECO Energy (Charles O. Hinson III), Publix Super Markets, Inc. (John T. Hrabusa), CSX Transportation (Quintin C. Kendall), Florida Southern College (Anne B. Kerr Ph.D.), Suntrust Bank (Dan W. Mahurin), Darden Restaurants (Robert S. McAdam), State Farm Insurance (Allen McGlynn), General Electric (Trey H. Paris), Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce (Bob Rohrlack), and Allstate Insurance (Mike Sheely),
If you are frustrated and angry like me, you will want to learn what in the world these businesses are thinking. Why don’t you send them a letter, avoid their services or products, tell your friends, ask them to tell their friends, start a blog, or all the above. The point is, these companies and their executives who serve as directors on the Florida Chamber’s Board are the culprits who by their membership, direction and support of what the Florida Chamber is shamelessly doing, are complicit in the destruction of natural Florida, all in the name of “progress,” commonly known as higher profits. You can follow links by tapping a name. You’ll see who these people are and find another link that will take you to their company’s site where there will likely be contact information.
Don’t get me wrong, economic progress and profit-making is a good thing, but not at the shortsighted expense of one of the most economically significant ecosystems on the planet. Why in the world would the arguably largest tourist-dependent businesses in the country play a significant part in stopping a critical effort to protect and restore one of the state’s most important and signature natural characteristics? I mean Disney World and SeaWorld, of course. Are they so arrogant that they can contemplate the destruction of Florida’s environment and still have tourists flocking to their entertainment venues? Don’t they realize they are jeopardizing their own futures by jeopardizing Florida’s
I hope you’ll sit down right now and write a bunch of letters. Send them to the companies, of course, but also to the media demanding to know why these companies are participating in the destruction of Florida’s natural springs.