Saturday, February 28, 2015

Marco Rubio, in self-destruct mode … by gimleteye

What's happened to Marco Rubio? At Eye On Miami, we speculate that Senator Rubio's presidential bluster is like a pace car circling ahead of the pack until the Jeb Bush campaign gets moving. Marco could act as a blocker, to prevent the circus show of a GOP primary. That would make Marco's role, more roller derby swing-man than NASCAR. Anyhow, you get the drift. We have never taken Marco Rubio seriously as a presidential candidate, tracking back to our dismal observances of his climate change denial and refusal to meet with scientists on the topic.

But maybe, just maybe, we are wrong. Not that he isn't a climate change denier but that he takes himself seriously in the presidential game. If we are wrong -- that Marco genuinely thought he could be competitive with Obi-Wan (Jeb), then it must be a shock to discover that he doesn't have a prayer. That news might just have penetrated through to Senator Rubio last week. If that is the case, it could also be the reason that Senator Rubio has stumbled so badly in recent days?

Marco Rubio Tries To Lecture Obama On ISIS, Commits Epic Error

Potential 2016 presidential candidate Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) inexplicably told a conservative audience on Friday that President Barack Obama lacked a military strategy to confront ISIS because he feared upsetting Iran, a country that has actually committed itself to defeating the terrorist group.

Speaking before the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Maryland, Rubio told radio and TV host Sean Hannity that “if we wanted to defeat them militarily, we could do it. [Obama] doesn’t want to upset Iran.”
Referring to the United States’ ongoing negotiations with Iran to contain that country’s nuclear program, Rubio continued, “In [Obama’s] mind, this deal with Iran is going to be the Obamacare of the second term, and he doesn’t want them sending military to the region because they think the region belongs to them.”

There’s just one problem: Iran has been fighting ISIS just like the United States and has publicly urged America to take a larger role in the operation. Obama has even sent a letter to Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei suggesting anti-ISIS cooperation.

As the Obama administration and its global partners have “dropped more than 8,200 bombs and missiles on ISIS targets in 2,500 air strikes” in Syria and Iraq and are now preparing to train moderate Syrian forces and the Iraqi army to take on the combatants, Iran, which sees Iraq as a strategic buffer against Sunni Arab states, has worked to ensure that Iraq does not pose a military threat to its influence in the region.
Tehran has launched military strikes against ISIS militants. It has tried to prop-up the Iraqi government, sent General Qassem Suleimani, commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, to coordinate the defense of Baghdad and has worked with the country’s Shiite militias to stop the militants’ advance. Last month, more than 2,000 Iranian troops traveled to Iraq to tackle the insurgency and publicly Iranian officials urged the world to fight.

“The expansion of terrorist elements of [ISIS] and their violent acts in Iraq was a warning for the region,” Ali Shamkhani, the secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council, said in June. “There is a need for attention and action from governments and the international community.”

In the Senate, Rubio is a member of the Committee on Foreign Relations and the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Marco Rubio Doesn't Have A Clue of What a Public Servant Is! By Geniusofdespair

This was actually in the Miami Herald attributed to Marco Rubio, who wants to be President:

"I don't want to be in politics my whole life. I want to serve our country and I'd like to do some other things. Like maybe own an NFL team or something."

Well that is serving our country - buying an NFL team.  Here is the strange part. He struggled to pay his student loans and his mortgages (a house he owned in Tallahassee with shamed David Rivera had a foreclosure). He needed help from his friends at Century Bank to get a mortgage. He used ECO money for fixing his car and general living expenses.  His friends at FIU had to give him a cushy teaching gig so he could pay his household expenses. So why does Marco Rubio, a guy that has been living hand to mouth, think that in politics he will amass enough money to buy a sports team? Something is very wrong with his aspirations and his expectations of serving. If he expects to have that much money after serving the people of this great nation, he should not be serving period. He is a warped 'Patriot'.  Get this pariah out of politics.

P.S. Who exactly buys his books? The Republican Party? I will have to renew my Stop-O Marco Campaign.

US Army Corps of Engineers permit application in Broward County: seriously? … by gimleteye

The Corps offers notice of a permit application to fill wetlands in Broward County. Specifically: 1.4 acres "of historical mitigation wetlands" for an industrial facility.

The Corps conditions the notice: it is for "expansion" of an existing industrial facility. But how can the Corps authorizing filling any wetlands that have already been designated as mitigation for an earlier removal of wetlands? Robbing Peter to pay Paul.

Isn't this like re-gifting a present you gave to another person? The first person gifted you, the public, some designated wetlands because that person (corporations are people!) wanted to fill some wetlands and the Corps said, OK! Now a second person has come along, to take those designated wetlands -- erasing the mitigation -- and will be required to do, what exactly for that privilege?

If the 1.4 acres was already designated as "mitigation" for to allow another project to move forward in wetlands, is it still mitigation if the "historical" designated wetland is filled in?

I'm rubbing my eyes.

A public notice for the permit application described below has been posted at

Classification: UNCLASSIFIED
Caveats: NONE

Project Name: Cliff Berry Family, LP/Storage Yard
County: Broward
Comment Due Date: MAR 18, 2015
File Name: SAJ-1988-1204(SP-KDS)

WATERWAY AND LOCATION: The project would affect waters of the United States associated with the Intracoastal Waterway. The project site is located at 3400 SE 9th Avenue, Section 23, Township 50 South, Range 42 East, Dania Beach, Broward County, Florida.

PROPOSED WORK: The applicant seeks authorization to discharge 16,940 cubic yards of fill in 1.4 acres of historic mitigation wetlands for the expansion of an existing industrial facility.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Live Long and Prosper. By Geniusofdespair

Goodbye Spock.

This weekend: Information on upcoming Ludlam Trail Charrette

From: Friends of The Ludlam Trail

In anticipation to the upcoming charrettes beginning this Saturday, Friends of the Ludlam Trail would like give you some more information on what exactly will be going on and when.

This charrette process will give all of us in the community a chance to give our direct input on the design of the Ludlam Trail. Also in attendance will be Miami-Dade County staff as well as stakeholders. The recommendations made at these workshops will then carry on to studio days, also open to the public, where Miami-Dade Planning staff will be working on them to draw up a clear picture on what all the different parties would like to see happen. There will be two charrette dates as well two sets of studio dates where this will happen and we hope to see you all there throughout this process:

The first charrette will be held this Saturday, February 28, in District 6 at West Miami Middle School located at 7525 Coral Way Miami, FL 33155 at 9:30am. Click here for information on District 6.

This meeting will be followed by studio days for District 6 on March 2-4, at A.D. Barnes Park located at 3401 SW 72 Ave Miami, FL 33155 from 2pm-8pm.

The second charrette will be held on Monday, March 9, for District 7 at A.D. Barnes Park located at 3401 SW 72 Ave Miami, FL 33155 at 6pm. Click here for information on District 7.

This meeting will be followed by studio days for District 7 at Gibson-Bethel Community Center 5800 SW 66 Street Sunset Drive, South Miami, FL 33143 on March 10-12, 2pm-8pm.

The Friends of the Ludlam Trail, along with the Ludlam Trail Neighborhood Association, will be hosting a picnic at A.D. Barnes Park on March 8, 12pm-4pm. There will be food, games for the whole family as well as information on how this process is supposed to work. We hope to see you all there as well! Again, this is your chance to have your voices heard and have a direct effect on the FUTURE of the Ludlam Trail.

For more information, please call (305) 375-2513

Is Hialeah WASTING HUD money? By Geniusofdespair

Four million plus dollars to acquire a 1/2 acre parcel and build 18 to 22 units of affordable housing on it. Sounds Expensive to me. Here is the history of selling price for the property:

The land was sold as a 3 parcel package. The one considered for the affordable housing is assessed at $100,000. The other two pieces are assessed at $107,000 and $44,000.
Here are the top officers of the Corporation owning the Property (Spinal Cord Living Assistance):

The 1/2 acre:

Maybe we have to start looking at affordable housing. I talked to an affordable housing developer and he thinks $4 plus million is not out of line for that many units. They say this is the only property available. I doubt that. I think there is something wrong with the system.  Does affordable housing really work?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Is Being Star-Struck the Simple Reason for Carlos Gimenez's Political Suicide? by Geniusofdespair

Is Carlos Gimenez a suck up or just a sucker?
I have spoken to many political mavens around town about the bad choices that Mayor Carlos Gimenez has been making lately.  First it was David Beckham. Gimenez was feverishly trying to find Beckham a waterfront location for a soccer stadium - even proposing to fill in the slip at Bicentennial park (that the City of Miami owns) or give him a Port of Miami location. Why? Because Beckham wanted a waterfront location given to him. Then it was the support of funding Steve Ross's stadium renovations...a billionaire, not forgetting the high rollers from Malaysia he wanted to please.

Now it is playing golf with The Donald that has Mayor Gimenez giddy. Let's face it, if I met some of my heroes and they wanted to play with me, I would be Star Struck too. I might even give them what they a point: I would have to OWN what I was giving. Besides there is no room at my computer for them, so it is a moot point that celebrities and the very rich would want to suck up to me.

So some of these VERY BAD DECISIONS on the part of the Mayor, I chalk them up to being Star-Struck.  Get over it Carlos. It is not you they want, it is what you have the power to give them. Once out of office you will be nobody again, just a retired fire fighter that no one needs wwith a hatchet on your wall. In this case, I am glad we have a County Commission to knock some sense into the Mayor. The people don't want to give their assets to billionaires. They learned their lesson from the Marlin's deal. When is everyone going to get that?

Body Language?

Big Sugar, The Big Squeeze, Estuaries and the Everglades … by gimleteye

A picture is worth a thousand words. Here is a picture of the Big Squeeze: wealthy farmers -- mostly through growing sugarcane -- in the Everglades Agricultural Area between Lake Okeechobee in the center of Florida holding hostage the fate of public lands including water conservation areas, (not in the picture), the remnant Everglades, and the value of bordering real estate and quality of life of residents. 

Bear in mind, looking at this map, that sugar is one of the most highly subsidized industrial crops in America. Taxpayer dollars not only support a commodity that harms public health -- sugar poisons people -- but is wrecking public lands and billions of dollars in real estate values.

The groups that supported then Gov. Charlie Crist's 2008 deal to buyout US Sugar lands (see the graphic below) then believed and still do, that the acquisition of a significant part of the EAA was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and worth the cost -- $1.2 billion at the time. As one can see from the map, the US Sugar lands may not be centrally located to the purpose of re-establishing cost-effective pollution control, but they are central to the political gridlock that is driving taxpayers to distraction.

Water from Lake Okeechobee is highly polluted by storm water runoff and agriculture. Since the polluted water doesn't adversely affect farming south of the lake, it flows unimpeded to sugar and other agricultural crops whenever and wherever it is needed. The Lake provides a storage basin during rainy season and a reservoir for irrigation during dry season. When the Lake levels rise too high, threatening the integrity of levy, massive volumes are pumped out to rivers of waste; the Caloosahatchee and Indian River.

What sugarcane production also does is vastly increase the levels of polluted water, flowing off farms through canals and feeding into the Everglades.

To fix the pollution of the rivers and  the Everglades to the south requires massive cleansing marshes and water management infrastructure. The question is where to put the infrastructure to effectively protect taxpayer investments in property and in the Everglades.

Advocates for the purchase of US Sugar lands -- a drastically scaled down option-to-buy by Gov. Rick Scott --  were hardly wild-eyed radicals. They understood other EAA sugar barons -- in particular, the billionaire Fanjuls of Coral Gables and Palm Beach -- have property rights that must be dealt with; either through eminent domain powers of government or trading parcels. Without US Sugar lands, there is no trading. Without trading or otherwise compelling the strategic accumulation of lands, there is no solving Florida's water crisis and taxpayer woes.

This is not just a map detailing property ownership in the EAA, it is the map of political and environmental gridlock in Florida.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Bill O'Reilly scandal, made simple … by gimleteye

Comment: It is hard to be neutral about the sham performance of Fox News supporting its beleaguered anchor, Bill O'Reilly. As noted previously, the world of difference between the way NBC handled the Brian Williams controversy -- suspended six months without pay -- and O'Reilly with Fox speaks volumes to the role of the media and democracy.

Waldman, below, is right on target: "Brian Williams got suspended from NBC News because his bosses feared that his tall tales had cost him credibility with his audience, which could lead that audience to go elsewhere for their news. O’Reilly and his boss, Fox News chief Roger Ailes, are not worried about damage to Bill O’Reilly’s credibility, or about his viewers deserting him. Their loyalty to him isn’t based on a spotless record of factual accuracy; it’s based on the fact that O’Reilly is a medium for their anger and resentments.

Plum Line
The Bill O’Reilly scandal, made simple
By Paul Waldman, Washington Post

Fox News personality Bill O’Reilly, host of the highest-rated show in cable news, is under fire for reasons that are drawing comparisons to Brian Williams’ recent troubles. In case you haven’t had the time or inclination to sort through all the back-and-forth, here’s a simple guide to this affair.

* The basic charge — that O’Reilly exaggerated his record covering war — is true.

It all started with this article by David Corn and Daniel Schulman published in Mother Jones on Thursday, in which they detailed how on many occasions over the years, O’Reilly has characterized himself as a veteran of war reporting. Among the quotes they cited are times when O’Reilly said things like “I’ve reported on the ground in active war zones from El Salvador to the Falklands,” and “having survived a combat situation in Argentina during the Falklands war, I know that life-and-death decisions are made in a flash,” and “I was in a situation one time, in a war zone in Argentina, in the Falklands…” That O’Reilly said these things is not in question. But in fact, O’Reilly was never in the Falklands, and he never reported from any “combat situation.”

* O’Reilly’s defense of his original false statements is itself built on one falsehood and a bunch of claims that are questionable at best.

O’Reilly insists that everything he has said is true, because when he was working for CBS News he reported on a violent protest in Buenos Aires around the time of the Falklands war, and that constitutes a “combat situation” in a “war zone.” That part of the claim is absurd on its face; if covering a protest over a thousand miles away from where a war is being fought constitutes being in a “combat zone,” then that would mean that any reporter who covered an anti-war protest in Washington during the Iraq War was doing combat reporting.

Then there’s the matter of the protest itself. O’Reilly asserts that Argentine soldiers were “gunning people down in the streets” as evidence of how combat-esque the scene was; he wrote in one of his books that “many were killed.” But neither the story that CBS ran that evening nor any contemporaneous reporting mentions anyone being killed. The Post’s Erik Wemple has tried to substantiate O’Reilly’s claim, and been unable to do so. Former CBS reporters who were O’Reilly’s colleagues at the time have also disputed his description of the protest, which was certainly violent, but as far as we know, not actually deadly. But even if everything O’Reilly said about that protest was true, it wouldn’t mean that he had seen combat.

* O’Reilly can’t admit that he was wrong.

To the surprise of no one who is familiar with his modus operandi, O’Reilly has responded to the evidence against him with a stream of invective against anyone who contradicts him. He called David Corn a “guttersnipe liar,” and called CNN’s Brian Stelter, a media reporter whose sin was merely discussing this story, a “far-left zealot.” When a reporter from the New York Times called to get his comments on the story, he told her that if the article she wrote didn’t meet with his approval, he would retaliate against her. “I am coming after you with everything I have,” he said. “You can take it as a threat.”

So why not just say, “I may have mischaracterized things a few times” and move on? To understand why that’s impossible, you have to understand O’Reilly’s persona and the function he serves for his viewers. The central theme of The O’Reilly Factor is that the true America, represented by the elderly whites who make up his audience (the median age of his viewers is 72) is in an unending war with the forces of liberalism, secularism, and any number of other isms. Bill O’Reilly is a four-star general in that war, and the only way to win is to fight.

The allegedly liberal media are one of the key enemies in that war. You don’t negotiate with your enemies, you fight them. And so when O’Reilly is being criticized by the media, to admit that they might have a point would be to betray everything he stands for and that he has told his viewers night after night for the better part of two decades.

* The truth of the charges against him won’t matter.

Brian Williams got suspended from NBC News because his bosses feared that his tall tales had cost him credibility with his audience, which could lead that audience to go elsewhere for their news. O’Reilly and his boss, Fox News chief Roger Ailes, are not worried about damage to Bill O’Reilly’s credibility, or about his viewers deserting him. Their loyalty to him isn’t based on a spotless record of factual accuracy; it’s based on the fact that O’Reilly is a medium for their anger and resentments.

Night after night, he yells about the “pinheads” and other liberals who are destroying this great country, saying the things his viewers wish they could say and sticking it to the people they hate. If anything, this episode proves that the media are out to get him, and he has to stay strong and keep standing up to them.

* This is another demonstration of the inherent problem with the conservative media bubble.

Fox built its brand not just by convincing conservatives that it was a great place for them to get their news, but by telling them that the rest of the media can’t be trusted, so you almost have to get your news from Fox. In the last couple of years, however, what seemed like a great success of institution-building (including Fox and other media outlets) has begun to look less like a strength of the conservative movement and more like a liability. This was vividly illustrated in November 2012, when Republicans up to and including Mitt Romney convinced themselves that it was just impossible that the American electorate would grant Barack Obama a second term. Within that bubble, Obama was a failed president all right-thinking Americans rejected, and so he would of course lose badly on election day; they were genuinely shocked when the election turned out the way it did.

I haven’t yet seen any conservatives arguing that Bill O’Reilly is right, and that covering a violent protest 1,200 miles from a place where a war just ended is in fact seeing combat in a war zone (although I haven’t been WATCHING Fox today, so maybe they have). But the farther they move from reality, the less able they are to make wise strategic decisions and find ways to persuade people who don’t already agree with them. And the more surprised they’ll be the next time they lose an election.

Paul Waldman is a contributor to The Plum Line blog, and a senior writer at The American Prospect.

News from Miami Pine Rockland Coalition: Protest at University of Miami on Friday, February 27th, 3:00PM to 6:00PM

Miami Pine Rockland Coalition:
Join us on Friday 27th from 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm at the Corner of South Dixie & Stanford Drive / University of Miami's Main entrance. Parking on Ponce near the University metrorail station.

Help raise awareness of the University’s shameful act. Given to U of M by the Federal Government who required a 30 yr commitment to use the Pine Rocklands for educational purposes. In 1998 Miami-Dade offered to put the land under EELS conservatorship. In July 2014 RAMclosed on the 88 acres, which had been rezoned as commercial. One month later, the Pine Rocklandswere declared a critically endangered habitat by the Fish and Wildlife service. Why was the property not cared for, did UM really not realize that the land was a rare vanishing habitat in need of protection?

Tuesday, March 3rd, 9:00 am at the
Government Center, Commission Chambers

Just your presence will send a strong message to the Commission. & or, Take 2 minutes at the podium and tell the Commission you oppose any development!!

Miami-Dade commission will continue it's process of declaring the Richmond Pine Rocklands a blighted slum so they can declare the area a Community Redevelopment Agency and tax and fund development.

- RAM Realty’s claim: The environmentalists are misguided; That RAM is in fact the habitat's best stewards. RAM’s “preservation” is the minimum mandated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service - a small portion of the acquired property - the rest will be developed into a Walmart/strip mall…

- If RAM / Miami-Dade has their way, expect increased traffic, congestion, yet more development, low paying jobs and of course the loss of our last significant Pine Rocklands Habitat.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Biz Pac Review and the Great Destroyers: will they ever pay the price for their dishonesty? … by gimleteye

I'd never heard of "Biz PaC Review" or John R. Smith, the author of "Reject the wackos’ solution to Lake O water issues", but reading Mr. Smith reminds how the sugar industry deploys at will a variety of tactics to promote its agenda. (Genius: Biz Pac Review brings you Conservative political, government, business news and video in Florida.. John R. Smith was/is the Governor's appointee to the Bioscience Land Protection advisory Board of the City of Palm Beach Gardens. I think he also writes a blog for the Sun Sentinel.)

Mr. Smith writes, "Floridians are being deliberately misinformed about water flow in Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades. Sometimes, those promoting the falsehoods are purposely misinforming the public to push misguided agendas."

What would those "misguided" agendas be: protecting property values from rampant pollution in the Indian River Lagoon or along waterways trashed by Big Sugar's pollution of the Caloosahatchee? Or saving the Everglades from billions of dollars of taxpayer investment that comprise, in toto, a work-around of Big Sugar in the Everglades Agricultural Area? How about the agenda of providing cheap and affordable fresh water for millions of Floridians instead of highly engineered, chemically processed water?

"The misinformation brigade is led by environmental groups that ought to pay a price for their dishonesty. Sadly, the only antidote is for others to publish the truth. The enviro voices would sound less hollow if they were truly unselfish. But they want the taxpayer to foot the bills for irresponsible purchases touted by a loudmouth minority that could care less about the consequences to taxpayers or private landowners."

Sad to say, this "misinformation brigade" includes thousands of residents who have been spurred to action by the weak, tepid response of their elected officials to meaningfully and comprehensively address the mismanagement of fresh water resources, causing great harm and hardship to individual lives. Mr. Smith's sort of nonsense does seem to come out of the Fox News playbook: take facts, twist one hundred eighty degrees so a plausibly sounding reversal can be pitted against the truth.

Why would anyone do this? To cast doubt and eventually overwhelm uninformed readers.

Environmental groups paying "a price for their dishonesty"? How so, when the fact is that Big Sugar only pays a small fraction of the cost of cleaning up its pollution, thanks to taxpayers' and voters' willingness to accept the burden for the industry's massive pollution.

"This fight is all about how water is released from Lake Okeechobee when water levels rise to threatening heights. The enviros want to send water south, mostly through farmland and the Everglades. But the best solution involves finishing key projects already underway, sending excess water to reservoirs along two rivers to the east and west of the lake. From the very beginning, this has been the key solution in restoring the Everglades and protecting wildlife habitats."

The point about Big Sugar and the reservoirs is that they are severely under-sized to the purpose of cleansing phosphorous pollution. "Staying the course" means kicking the Everglades and restoration ball down the road for the foreseeable future.

"Now, environmental groups want the South Florida Water Management District to exercise an option to buy 46,000 acres of land to store and move water south. The problem is that only 26,000 acres are useable, which is nowhere close to resolving the issue. It’s not the solution, because this land will provide only a tiny storage reservoir that will fill up quickly. To move water south, storage sites with 40 times more capacity than 26,000 acres are needed. And there are dozens of constraints if water is “simply sent south”, not the least of which requires protecting nesting grounds for birds and endangered species. Also, when water rises in the Everglades, it’s a huge threat to the safety standards of surrounding earthen dams."

Mr. Smith, to my knowledge is not a hydrologist. Moroever he's wrong that 40 times the land is necessary. It is a number pulled from Big Sugar's hat. There is not a single environmental position paper or from state or federal agencies that state 40 times, or more than 1 million acres, are needed for water treatment and cleansing marshes. Somewhere between ten and fifteen percent of that acreage is needed. The only reason Mr. Smith would say 1 million acres is to promote the idea environmentalists "want to destroy" Big Sugar. Laughable. Not even the Wall Street Journal, the Cato Institute or American Enterprise Institute, combined have been able to dislodge the sugar subsidies from the Farm Bill, that shed dollars and contaminate our politics. Nevertheless, misinformation plays to the fears of people who live and work in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

The topic that no one wants to discuss -- and this goes especially to the point of the mainstream media -- is that the acquisition of the US Sugar lands will provide the first step necessary to take lands owned by the most politically powerful sugar grower in Florida; the billionaire Fanjuls of Coral Gables and Palm Beach. The Fanjul lands are more centrally located to restoring connectivity between Lake Okeechobee and the Everglades than US Sugar properties. There is no way to bring the Fanjuls to the table, unless there is an advantageous land swap to be made or otherwise buy out the centrally located acreage. And it's far, far from a million acres that is needed.

"Gov. Rick Scott is fulfilling his pledge to finance a fix, and sugar farmers support the governor’s priorities and funding, which are part of his commitment in his 2015 “Keep Florida Working” budget. The Legislature and the South Florida Water Management District should also be applauded for prioritizing the completion of more than $5.5 billion in existing and planned, shovel-ready restoration projects. Florida should stay the course."

There it is again, the latest talking point you will hear from legislators to board members of the water management district: "Stay the course". Rep. Katie Edwards, former Dade County Farm Bureau executive director, just used exactly those words in an OPED. The course that Mr. Smith wants to stay (Is Mr. Smith related to Nancy Smith, the writer for the faux Sunshine State News that regularly prints pro-sugar propaganda?) is simply to do what Big Sugar wants; to make money the old fashioned way, shifting the great majority of costs to taxpayers.

"The driving force behind all the protesting chatter is the Everglades Foundation, which needs something to do because the Everglades Restoration Strategies plan was unanimously passed by the Florida Legislature."

A couple of points. First, while the Everglades Foundation is a counterweight, it is a David compared to the Goliath, Big Sugar. Secondly, to give the Florida legislature credit for the "Everglades Restoration Strategies" plan is stretched credulity. Any movement by the Florida legislature or Gov. Rick Scott on the Everglades has been thanks to federal litigation waged by environmental groups.

"It is also supported by every state and federal agency as the best way to clean up water flowing to the Everglades. When the strategies are complete, the final water quality standards will be met. That means that, to be relevant and keep raising money, the Everglades Foundation must find another way to re-direct its political machine."

It is not at all clear "final water quality standards will be met" in large part because then Gov. Jeb Bush did Big Sugar's bidding and pushed off meeting final water quality standards for the Everglades from 2006 to the indefinite future. The latest date is 2025, although the difficulty in reaching the water quality standard has scientists reaching for better solutions: ie. increase the size of water treatment marshes such as would be offered through the opportunity of using US Sugar lands to leverage water storage and cleansing marshes that collectively offer the best chance for meeting the 10 parts per billion phosphorous standard in water moving to the Everglades.

Mr. Smith writes, "If the foundation really cared about meaningful progress on restoring the Everglades and helping the coastal estuaries along the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee rivers, it would be joining other major players in pushing to build projects already planned and focus on cleaning water north of the lake."

No group has pushed harder for building projects than the Everglades Foundation. The problem is that Big Sugar is constantly chipping away at the effort to fund projects that have to be built. They do this in Washington DC, through lobbyists far from the public eye. It is all part of the grand disinformation campaign by Big Sugar: 'we want to be partners in fixing the Everglades and estuaries', and then go about undermining anything that might accomplish those objectives.

"At this point, there is no plan to use the optioned land south of Lake O. As a water management board member said recently, “If it was that simple, it would have been done already.” He’s right.

No one said it was simple. But the reason that there is no plan for the optioned land south of Lake O, is because Big Sugar -- and especially the Fanjuls -- have been doing everything in their power to make sure there will never be a plan.

"All state and federal government parties, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and sugar farmers, agree that they should build the projects already planned, authorized and agreed on in the strategy that passed. The plan is working. These science-based projects will actually produce real benefits for all of South Florida. The work done to date demonstrates proven results, with a dramatic improvement in water quality.

It’s time to finish the job and actually build the entire $5 billion in projects on the land that has already been purchased, not spend another $500 million of taxpayer money for a project that will provide little benefit. Florida doesn’t need to own more land. It’s futile to waste taxpayer money on an irresponsible, pie-in-the-sky scheme to push water south."

This "pie-in-the-sky" label is actually the same wording that environmentalists have used to describe the absurdities of aquifer storage and recovery; the heart of the 2000 Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan that meant to drill 300 wells for water storage; a kind of vertical parking lot for excess (and dirty) fresh water.

It is regrettable that in Florida there is no organized Democratic response to what is primarily a GOP-engineered support system for whatever Big Sugar wants. Right now, the Florida legislature -- controlled by the GOP -- is churning through various scenarios to undo the will of the people through Amendment 1, the provision that put in the Florida constitution a permanent funding source for environmental land acquisition because the legislature -- again, at the urging of Big Sugar -- would not step to the task.

Read the recent editorial from the Tampa Bay Times for the facts. The wackos are in full control of Tallahassee. Big Sugar poisons people, poisons democracy, and poisons the Everglades.

Editorial: House takes wrong approach on water
Friday, February 20, 2015 4:52pm
Tampa Bay Times

The Florida House is moving to quickly change how the state manages and preserves water that is more about pleasing developers and farmers than protecting the environment. The legislation delays the cleanup of the Everglades and puts new pressure on the water supply in fast-growing Central Florida.

The Florida House's move to quickly change how the state manages and preserves water is more about pleasing developers and farmers than protecting the environment. The legislation delays the cleanup of the Everglades and puts new pressure on the water supply in fast-growing Central Florida. The priorities are upside down, and the Senate should insist on a more balanced approach.

Supporters are framing the legislation (HB 7003) as a comprehensive approach to address both water resources and conservation. In reality, this is an action plan for contractors and agribusiness masquerading as a sound policy for growth.

The bill addresses a legitimate concern for meeting the water needs in fast-growing Central Florida, where water demand is expected to increase by 40 percent by 2035 as the population swells to 4 million. It pushes the state, the three water management boards and local governments in all or parts of five counties to better collaborate on their water needs. But the bill advances an aggressive strategy toward developing new water resources while remaining silent or vague on the role that conservation should play. And it leaves the door open to forcing taxpayers in distant parts of the 5,300-square-mile region to pay for water improvements for the Orlando suburbs. Thinking in regional terms makes sense. But this bill is too skewed toward the interests of the utilities.

The measure also expands the effort in South Florida to curb the runoff of pollution entering Lake Okeechobee, a critical step in cleaning up the Everglades. But it allows farmers to effectively opt out of clean water enforcement by the Department of Environmental Protection, leaving them instead to adopt a regimen under the Department of Agriculture that replaces tight permitting restrictions with new targets. There should be tougher monitoring and enforcement of the use of large amounts of water by agriculture interests, not less.

The House killed a Senate plan for restoring Florida's springs last year, arguing that Rep. Steve Crisafulli was the incoming House speaker and wanted a bolder and more ambitious water bill to pass under his watch. This one's neither bold nor ambitious. Though it addresses the springs, the House doesn't indicate how much it would spend. It doesn't attack the source of nitrogen-choking pollution by cracking down on leaking septic tanks. And the bill requires that any plan to limit farm runoff must "balance" water quality with "agricultural productivity."

The bill sets the stage to water down the Everglades cleanup timetable, and it does nothing to advance efforts — from setting stronger antipollution rules to buying land in the basin — that would have a real impact. It gives the state more authority over local officials in determining how water resources are used. And the Agriculture Department will assume more of a regulatory role over the very industry the agency promotes.

This is not what Florida voters had in mind in overwhelmingly voting in November to enshrine water and land conservation in the state Constitution. And many aspects of this legislation work against the very projects that taxpayers will commit billions of dollars to in the coming years. The House has work to do; advertising this bill as a forward-looking water policy doesn't make it so. It is in many respects a step backward and tilts in favor of both large urban and agricultural water users rather than conservation and the concerns of individual Floridians.

Editorial: House takes wrong approach on water 02/20/15 [Last modified: Friday, February 20, 2015)