Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A good-news story

This is a good-news story.

American Bald Eagle
Lake Apopka
2018-10-08 (298)

Last Monday, 2018-10-08, Gary Kuhl and I made a trip to Lake Apopka located 15 miles north of Orlando.  It’s the third largest lake in Florida, about 30,000 acres, and is the head waters for the Ocklawaha Chain of lakes. I was hesitant at first because this huge, beautiful body of water was for years reputed to be one of Florida’s most polluted lakes.

Fed by a natural spring, rainfall and stormwater runoff, water from Lake Apopka flows through the Apopka-Beauclair Canal and into Lakes Beauclair and Dora. From Lake Dora, water flows into Lake Eustis, then into Lake Griffin and then northward into the Ocklawaha River, which flows into the St. Johns River” (Wikipedia).

This grand flow that starts north of Orlando is also joined west of Ocala by the crystal-clear waters of Silver River and ends up exiting the state at Jacksonville. It’s an extraordinary hydrologic system and an exquisite underpinning segment of north-central Florida’s water make-up.

Decades of abuse and lack of understanding of their impacts by local communities and farmers, however, who ditched, diked and drained 18,000-20,000 acres of marshlands along the north shore, caused the lake, for lack of a better way to describe it, to die.

Glossy Ibis
Lake Apopka
2018-10-08 (199)
Here, Wikipedia recounts one example of the disastrous abuse the lake suffered: “In July 1980, Tower Chemical Company (TCC), a local pesticide manufacturer, improperly disposed of significant amounts of DDE, a known endocrine disruptor, along with other toxic chemicals. As a result, these chemicals spilled into Lake Apopka, and the US Environmental Protection Agency was alerted. TCC shut down their operations in December 1980. In 1981, an EPA investigation began and the site was decommissioned and designated as a Superfund clean-up site. Despite their efforts, some of the chemicals seeped into the Florida(n) aquifer and have proliferated into some of Central Florida's interconnected lakes and waterways. This chemical has caused health problems in much of the lake's wildlife population, and has caused infertility and other sexual disorders in several species, including alligators.”

Florida Marsh Hen
Lake Apopka
2018-10-08 (267)
In addition, with the massive loss of wetlands which deprived the lake of its natural ability to absorb and process nutrients, combined with hundreds of thousands of tons of added nutrients and pesticides discharged from the surrounding farming operations, the lake eventually succumbed. Its enormous natural bounty was decimated along with its world-class reputation as a bass fishing mecca and dozens of fish camps and other dependent operations. The lake was left as a disastrous pea-green soup of dangerously fouled water and dying wildlife

In 1984, I left as director of the St. Johns River Water Management District after over five years redesigning the way the U.S. Corps of Engineers had intended to ditch, dike and drain 2,000 square miles of the Upper St. Johns River drainage basin and divert its flows south toward the Everglades. It was a bruising exercise but one that resulted in a showcase system where today environmentalists, developers, farmers and governmental interests have been brought together in support of common goals.

Great Blue Heron
Lake Apopka
2018-10-08 (158)
As I was leaving the district, I told the incoming director, Henry Dean, the next greatest challenge for him and the district would be Lake Apopka.  Over the next 17 years, to his credit, he built the upper St. Johns Project as redesigned and took on the challenge of Lake Apopka.

Little Blue Heron
Lake Apopka
2018-10-08 (298)
Today, the District’s efforts are comfortingly apparent for the lake. The farming operations have been displaced through the mechanisms and wisdom of funding from Florida Forever funds designed for just such problems. Farms were purchased and thousands of acres of fertilized and pesticide-laden fields are being converted back to the freshwater marsh ecosystems systems that originally flourished as the lake’s kidneys. As we drove along the “Wildlife Drive”, formerly part of the agricultural diking system, the beginnings of new a marsh ecosystem was apparent, and wildlife was abundant.

It was gratifying to actually see and experience at least one significant success by those who spent their careers – decades - identifying and addressing Florida’s growing water-related problems and finding ways to revert such damage or prevent it from becoming a continuing inevitability into the future.

The health of Florida’s natural systems is directly related to the health of the state’s future economic well-being.  It is a false premise that protection of Florida’s natural systems and the legal mechanisms it entails are antithetical to free enterprise and the spirit of entrepreneurial viability.

These are a few photos that bear witness.
Red-Winged Blackbird
Lake Apopka
2018-10-08 (45)


Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The world is laughing

Laughter broke out at the United Nations yesterday when Trump bragged how he had accomplished more than "almost any other administration" in the history of the United states. Later he said the laughter was due to his joking. Sad! He just doesn't realize he's the joke.

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Morning Thoughts - Sunday, 2018.09.16 - "Where have you gone Bob Woodward? Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you."

Leonard pits quoted Paul Simon in his column this morning: "Where have you gone Bob Woodward?  Our nation turns its lonely eyes to you."

His column offers a sad commentary on where we are today as a nation with Trump as president. "As an American, one feels an embarrassment roughly akin to finding one's tattered drawers hanging on a clothes line in Times Square."

With Bob Woodward's new book, Fear: Trump in the White House, Pitts points out Woodward is filling the yearn of the American people for someone with Woodward's cred to announce definitively that the new U.S emperor has no clothes despite his endless and bombastic self-serving claims to the contrary, and warns that the rest of us need to see the man as he is, not as he claims.

In Woodward's book, Pitts says, "Trump emerges as an idiot, an uninformed boor, a mean bully, an idiot, an incompetent lout, an idiot, a whiny toddler. And an idiot."

But worse, he says, "Woodward also teases out - and to a degree arguably no other observer has - a sense of how emotionally and intellectually damaged the man is."

The fact that more than 750,000 copies of Woodward's book were sold on the first day and, according to the Washington Post, foreign embassies have been buying it in bulk.

"The whole world, it seems, wants a peek inside this sad excuse of a presidency," Pitts writes.

All the more concerning, he adds, is that Bob Woodward is no false puissant. He's a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner, and the potential consequence of having such a loose cannon in the highest office of the most powerful country in the world, is worth serious and immediate consideration by the American public. According to Pitts, Woodward told Stephen Colbert, "We better wake up to what's really going on." Woodward, Pitts says, has "... set off an alarm. We sleep through it at our own peril."

See Leonard Pitts' full column here:

Friday, September 14, 2018

Morning thoughts - 2018-09-19: Fla. Chamber wants more of the same


Florida Chamber of Commerce - Outlining Goals for Florida in 2030

The Tampa Bay Times reported this morning that the Florida Chamber of Commerce has put together its "business competitiveness goals for Florida 2030.  It's worth noting that high on the list (3rd of 7) is this concern: "Florida's environmental permitting and land use processes (are) among the most complex in the nation."

Thus, we can expect to see the Fla. Chamber continuing to support the defunding and defanging of the state's environmental laws and agencies which has been devastated over the last 8 years under Rick Scott's regime through the next decade. And, along with it, the continuing decline, exploitation and loss of Florida's sensitive and unique natural systems to the greed of powerful special interests like mining, power, land developers, etc., and the lobbyists and consultants who serve them.  This is their plan for the next 10 years, as if we haven't had enough environmental disasters for the last eight.

Consider the above in context with the pressures our state's natural systems are under even today from the following realities: 1) Florida is the 3rd most populated in the country - over 20 million; 2) Florida is the 3rd fastest growing in the country - about 365,000 new residents per year, or 1000 per day, or one city the size of Tampa per year; 3) Florida is visited each year by a record number of visitors - over 100 million each year, or about one third of the nation's total population (330 million) per year.

There shouldn't be any wonder why Florida absolutely must have some of the most complex environmentally protective laws and rules in the country if the very reason all those people want to come here in the first place is going to be around for a few more generations, much less forever. Florida has some of the most sensitive, beautiful and complex natural ecosystems in the country.  Why else would all those folks want to visit?  If we let them be exploited to extinction we will have destroyed our bounty of golden eggs right along with the very goose that laid them.  How bright is that?

All the more reason for you to get to the polls in November and stop the pillage of our great state by electing people who will make the right decisions on behalf of Florida and its future, instead of the power of the party and the interests of special interests.  Haven't we had enough of that?

Gillum, the FBI and a boat

Also today, the TBT has a front page item about the continuing saga concerning rumors of an FBI investigation of Andrew Gillum for alleged public corruption. A close read of the article will lead one to believe it looks like a whole lot of smoke being blown at an issue that has no fire.  The FBI says he's not the target of an investigation and are warning those looking at it not to conclude there have been any unlawful transgressions.

The article is all about the significance of Gillum's photo in the boat with some undercover FBI agents.  Even though the FBI says he's not a target, no charges have been filed and people should be careful not to read anything miscreant into it, the article notes the DeSantis crowd will likely huff loudly and treat it as a great cloud of evil hanging over Gillum's head. So when you hear of it know for what it is, the fodder of prevaricators coming from an opponent's camp who after years in Washington won't discuss his positions on relevant issues because he needs to do more study and research.  What?

By the way, be sure to read Bart Bibler's response to those who think Gillum's a socialist HERE


Thursday, September 13, 2018

Andrew Gillum is being labeled a socialist - but he is not: Bart Bibler

I received the following in an email from Bart Bibler, a former employee of DEP who in was reportedly fired by the Scott administration for using the words "climate change" or "global warming" during a department meeting.  DEP officials later denied the allegation.  (See the St. Petersburg Times report HERE.)

His words here are relevant and worth your time.  It supports Andrew Gillum for Governor and I agree.  And, remember, I'm a Republican.     -Sandspur


Andrew Gillum is being labeled as a Socialist – but he is not.  Although he is endorsed by Bernie Sanders, he endorsed Hillary Clinton (a moderate Democrat) in the 2016 election.


Labeling is an old Republican tactic. Tie it into Venezuela; he’ll give everything away; the next step is Communism; etc.

Instead, he is trying to move us away from Extreme Capitalism, toward Cooperative Capitalism.

A Capitalism that cares about everyone, that cares about the environment, that recognizes that there are responsibilities, and not just rights.  That understands that we must work together to find solutions to gun safety, to address the climate change and water quality crises, to provide health care access and a living wage, to provide quality public education for all, to create job opportunities for all, to reform our criminal justice system and restore dignity, productivity, and voting rights, and so much more.


Rick Scott and Donald Trump are the poster children of Extreme Capitalism, both buying their positions with money made from unscrupulous business and exploitation, and willing to do anything to win.  They have destroyed any semblance of trust; the concept that a deal is a bond.  And Ron DeSantis is their clone and proxy.  Their policies are for the wealthy, because they are wealthy and they are the party of business over people and the environment, the party for the richest one percent.  They are both personally getting wealthier due to the policies that they have put in place, for their businesses that they continue to benefit from.  For their donors, they have dismantled our growth management, energy management, and environmental protection agencies.  They have eliminated access to healthcare for millions here in Florida, and sabotaged the public hospitals and health insurance system. They’ve privatized our prisons, which are packed with black non-violent offenders. They have encouraged the shifting of public funds to private charter schools, while public schools and teacher wages are eroded, and additional testing and gun safety requirements are added to their burden.  And women’s rights or LGBTQ rights – forget about it.


Andrew Gillum is a man who has overcome family challenges, economic challenges, and racial challenges.  Instead of becoming angry, mean and greedy, he became driven to lead positive change.  He did that through education and elected public service.  He has moved our great city forward on a number of important issues: discussion and improvement of race relations; enhancement of community policing and body cameras; reduction of our carbon emissions and construction of a 120-acre, 20 megawatt solar farm; challenging state laws enacted for the NRA restricting local gun control ordinances; declaring that Tallahassee would accept and welcome immigrants; promoting entrepreneurialism, job creation and jobs for felons that have served their time; funding major improvements in our infrastructure, including stormwater, advanced wastewater treatment and septic tank-to-sewer projects to improve water quality; restoration of Gulf Coast Amtrak Passenger Rail Service; etc.


I am proud to have Andrew Gillum representing our city, while leading the way for positive change for all of Florida and the nation.  Make no mistake about it, this is a Climate Change Crisis Showdown.  This is a Gun Control Showdown.  This is a Race Relations Showdown.  This is a Religious Diversity and Tolerance Showdown.  This is a Public Education Showdown.  This is a Women’s Rights and LGBTQ Rights Showdown. This is a Toxic Algae, Land Conservation and Environmental Protection Showdown.

But overall - this is a Showdown of Extreme Capitalism versus Cooperative Capitalism.


The eyes of the world are on us. 


Bart Bibler, Tallahassee