Thursday, April 02, 2015

There is no "new normal" with climate change … by gimleteye

I wrote the following blog post a year ago. Here is the last paragraph: "... the next news from the American west will be along the lines of mandatory water cutbacks on the order of historical intervention by government. The strange reaction of people to global weirding -- the chaotic changes in climate as a consequence of global warming -- include the idea that somehow what we have been seeing constitutes a stable, new normal. Pray for rain, but when it comes to reversing climate change causing gases and emissions, we ought to be acting as though our national security and individual lives depend on it."

I was a year early, and there is no sign that the public is catching up to the degree of alarm raised by the call to act on climate change "as though our national security and individual lives depend on it." Mitch McConnell, GOP Senate majority leader, is running around the nation urging the states to do the opposite; reject the federal governments efforts to curb greenhouse gases emitted by coal fired electric utilities.

On the other hand, yesterday Gov. Jerry Brown (D-CA) announced the first mandatory water cutbacks in state history. On network news, a reporter noted how most leaf vegetables for the United States originate in California. Have you checked the price of almonds lately?

Gov. Brown told TV cameras, "… we have to get used to this new normal", channeling our blog a year ago. Surely the governor knows, this is not the new normal. Hardships in California will ratchet higher and higher -- visible on the 24/7 news cycle-- until next winter, when the entire nation will be praying for rain in the American west.

The UK Guardian is calling climate change "the biggest story in the history of the world." It is why you will keep reading about it, at Eye On Miami. And by the way, with climate change there is no "new normal".


Friday, January 24, 2014

Drought in the American West: pray for rain but act like your lives depend on political change … by gimleteye

On Wednesday, federal officials designated portions of 11 drought-ridden western and central states as primary disaster areas. I'm traveling through some of them. A local newspaper in Santa Monica reports, "Last year was one of the driest in California's history. Rainfall in Los Angeles was 3.6 inches. The yearly average to date is 14.93, according to statistics from the National Weather Service." You can feel the drought everywhere, although people still seem to be sleepwalking through the consequences.

In his State of the State remarks this week, Governor Jerry Brown sounded warnings about this year's drought. His tone was not so dire as reality would dictate, generally following the pattern of political caution when it comes to delivering really bad news. After all, climate change messengers are walking around with so many arrows from sources like Fox News that they look like porcupines.

I drove up through Ventura county yesterday, through rich farmland where many hundreds of acres of crops have not been planted or where crops that have been planted are all tented to maximize water retention. The earth looks like it could blow away in the first strong wind. On NPR, stories of farmers sadly, bitterly pulling out fruit and nut trees they cannot nourish for lack of rain. Fire danger is extremely high. In January, a friend remarked to me, the hills above the Pacific in Ojai are supposed to look like Ireland not like the Arizona desert.

Comparisons are being drawn to the great California drought of the mid 1970s. The big difference is that climate change signals had not yet manifest as they are today, everywhere.

“What we’re seeing meteorologically is a blocking pattern that is deflecting all the storms,” said Brian Fuchs, a climatologist with the Lincoln, Neb.-based National Drought Mitigation Center. “There really hasn’t been a lot of indication that this pattern is breaking down.” In Utah the winter snowpack has not materialized. "While storms have dumped rain and snow in the East, droughts are persisting or intensifying in the West, according to officials connected with the U.S. Drought Monitor, an index on which the USDA’s declarations are based. A ridge of high pressure is to blame for keeping storms off the Pacific coast and guiding them to the East." (Insurance Journal, Jan. 23, 2014)

On the flight from LA to Salt Lake City, the weather was clear. Below, the Sierras -- the primary water supply to southern California -- were brown smudges, abnormal in the absence of snowpack.

We have experienced our own climate extremes in Miami this winter -- mosquitoes in December and January thanks to extraordinarily wet weather. Climate is oscillating at extreme ends: extremely wet, extremely dry, extremely hot, extremely cold. The Australian Open tennis tournament was played with court side temperatures in excess of 115 degrees. As Tom Friedman noted in the New York Times, the other day, drought in Syria has already created a million climate change refugees. Temperature swings during and after the recent polar vortex event in the northeast were on the order of 70 degrees.

Still, the anti-environmental trolls cruise the blogsphere to dampen down public outrage, calling up the story lines from Rush Limbaugh, Karl Rove, and Fox News.

So the comments on blogs continue to reflect a small minority of people who continue to grind away, denying climate change, providing political cover for elected representatives across the spectrum. In Florida, from Gov. Rick Scott to US Senator Marco Rubio (REP) and Senator Bill Nelson (D) still agitating for Congressional legislation to bail out coastal dwellers.

But the facts of business are immutable: insurance industries and bankers are already planning for their staged retreats from business models wrecked by climate change. Joe Romm, founder of ClimateProgress.org, asks Tom Friedman in the NY Times, "In the future, who will help a country like Syria when it gets devastated by its next drought if we are in a world where everyone is dealing with something like a Superstorm Sandy?" Never mind Syria, who will help tens of millions in the American Southwest or Floridians, for that matter?

So far, we can manage the impacts but the next news from the American west will be along the lines of mandatory water cutbacks on the order of historical intervention by government. The strange reaction of people to global weirding -- the chaotic changes in climate as a consequence of global warming -- include the idea that somehow what we have been seeing constitutes a stable, new normal. Pray for rain, but when it comes to reversing climate change causing gases and emissions, we ought to be acting as though our national security and individual lives depend on it.

Wednesday, April 01, 2015

International Aviation Show in Everglades? Mayor Carlos Gimenez bets on trading America's wilderness values for a few good meals in Paris … by gimleteye

The news finally percolated to the surface at the County Commission on Tuesday: Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez rolled out his plan to use the Dade-Collier airstrip in the middle of Big Cypress National Preserve for an international aviation show.

This June in Paris at the world's largest aviation exposition, Mayor Gimenez and God-knows-how-many county staff, sycophants, and "business leaders" will pitch their idea to for an international air show in the middle of the Everglades. Batting this environmental hornet's nest troubles them, not.

The Dade Collier Training Facility is a mostly mute testament to an earlier environmental battle royal that engrossed the US Congress and a president. We remember what happened in the 1960's.

The organization I represent as volunteer board president, Friends of the Everglades, was founded by civic activists opposing that airport scheme, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas -- author of the River of Grass and daughter of a Miami newspaper publisher.

To paraphrase the late author Edward Abbey, the wilderness value of the Everglades -- including the site of the Dade Collier Training Facility -- doesn't need defense, it only needs defenders. There are plenty. (It took six years of my life to persuade the US Department of Defense to reject the scheme by Miami-Dade cronies to privatize Homestead Air Force Base on environmental grounds.)

Only a few years ago, the Dade Collier facility in the middle of Big Cypress was the subject of another scheme by a Miami-Dade County Commissioner. Sweetwater's Pepe Diaz promoted a recreational playground for all terrain vehicles in the middle of Big Cypress. Fortunately, Everglades defenders rose to the occasion, underscoring the history of the battle to protect the area, and the ATV plan sank under its own weight.

What's up with Mayor Gimenez, anyhow?

Last week it was his support for the largest mall in the United States in a region of the county already saturated by traffic and malls. The week before it was the Nail Clipper building by Biscayne Bay; an observation tower from which tourists will have front row seats to the pile-on of poor planning, enabled by US visa-seeking, EB-5 investors.

Who of the aviation industry's multi-millionaires and gad-jillionaires really wants to trek out to the middle of the Everglades for an air show? Picture salesmen and executives in bespoke suits and hand-made Italian shoes, stopping on Krome Ave. for a Quik Mart empanada.

What the boosters for an international aviation exhibition in the middle over the Big Cypress really have in mind is more highways and more development into agricultural lands in Miami Dade to build constituencies for leapfrogging growth into the Everglades.

This June while Mayor Gimenez eats at Michelin-starred restaurants in Paris, taxpayers will get heartburn and voters, another good reason to vote for new leadership in Miami-Dade. If Florida's aviation industry enthusiasts are honest, they will argue for an international air show where they are not wading into thickets of litigation.

Michael Pizzi: He's Back At the Helm in Miami Lakes! By Geniusofdespair

Former and NOW Current Mayor of Miami Lakes: Michael Pizzi

MAYOR PIZZI DECLARED RIGHTFUL MAYOR OF MIAMI LAKES; PREPARING TO RESUME OFFICE OF MAYOR

Tuesday, Circuit Judge Cardonne Ely declared the Mayor Michael Pizzi is the rightful Mayor of the Town of Miami Lakes and is entitled to resume the Office of Mayor. through November 2016.  UNLESS...there is another appeal (judge left 30 days for that).

Validating Mayor Pizzi’s principled stance in favor of democracy and the rule of law, Circuit Judge Cardonne agreed with Mayor Pizzi’s legal team that he is entitled “to perform all official acts, duties or functions of the office of Mayor of Miami lakes immediately ...” Mayor Pizzi’s lawyers, Ben Kuehne, Ed Shohat, Ralf Rodriguez, David Reiner, Kent Harrison Robbins, Michael T Davis, and Josh Young, applaud Circuit Judge Cardonne Ely for her adherence to legal precedent and the will of the voters of Miami Lakes, who overwhelmingly elected Mayor Pizzi to lead the Town until the November 2016 election.

Mayor Pizzi Said:
“This is a time for Unity and Joy, at this special time of year when many members of our community are preparing to join with their friends and family to celebrate the joy of freedom and justice at Passover and Easter, we should embrace this decision that allows all of us to look forward.”

The town imof Miami Lakes/Mayor Wayne Slaton said they will appeal. What do they have to lose: Mega tax dollars.

Miami Dade County With Sea Level Rise. By Geniusofdespair

Awesome graphic on climate change in South Florida to accompany a great article by Katrina Schwartz. I tried to post the graphic but it slowed down the blog.

Illustration - Peter Harlem - FIU

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Under ANY circumstances, do not let your elected officials privatize Florida's water supply … by gimleteye

Voters, heed this warning. Ever since Enron tried to persuade the Florida legislature to privatize Florida's water supply (1999), the issue has been percolating in the cozies of top Republican legislators and leadership.

Enron was based in Texas, from whence cometh poisonous law granting private water rights. It should escape no one's attention that Texas' largest private landowner, the King Ranch, has had a strong presence in the Everglades Agricultural Area since the Jeb Bush terms.

It was a simple twist of fate that Jeb, then governor, dodged the Enron implosion by going slowly on Enron's privatization scheme; one that his top lieutenant at the time, David Struhs, supported in gatherings industry meetings.

Last year, the Tampa Bay Times disclosed that King Ranch hunting grounds in Texas were the site of GOP junkets, paid for by US Sugar Corporation. Of the secret trips, Gov. Rick Scott said that "no business was discussed", but when a Tampa Bay Times reporter asked Ag Secretary Adam Putnam, the door was slammed in the reporter's face.

Maybe it wasn't bid'ness; just talk over single malt whiskey how to privatize Florida's water supply.

Last week, NJ governor Chris Christie approved a GOP state plan to private water supply, over the protest of citizens.

What should be driving Florida voters' interest in this issue -- who controls our water -- is climate change. As a nation, we are on the verge of massive economic impacts. For example there is no Plan B for California, where scientists estimate there is only a year's supply left of potable drinking water.

The case can already be made that large California agribusinesses have become extraordinarily wealthy by exploiting their claims to water that cities desperately need. Let's bar that economic scavenging from Florida.

Voters need to be vigilant. (click read more for relevant reports)

Coral Gables: Proposed Development Mediterranean Village and the Mayoral Election. Guest Blog

Voters Beware! … in Coral Gables where a 1.2 million square foot “Mediterranean Village” is being proposed that makes the Village of Merrick Park look like a single-family residence. The proposers are the well financed, or better said, the self-financed Agave LLC, an affiliate of a humongous business and commercial conglomerate in Mexico. Think Jose Cuervo, think tequila, think agave worm.

The project includes retail (almost the amount of total retail on Miracle Mile), a cinema, gym, office space, and a hotel and residential component. Height restrictions in the Gables are maximum 16 stories, but Agave has requested to build 19 stories. This 6.72 acre project is surrounded mostly by single-family residential homes that are dwarfed by this grossly out of scale project.

With recent staffing cutbacks by the City Commission at the Fire Department, will public safety be compromised? Never mind the shortage of parking of approximately 651 parking spaces, the amount of ever-precious water this project will require or the green space that will truly be in the public realm.

“It gets curiouser and curiouser” and down the rabbit hole we go... when you read Mayor Jim Cason’s campaign report. Items 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, and 10, are ALL from Agave owned companies. Item 7 is from the construction company hired to do the job. And yet another $5000 is from Armando Codina who also has a development project in the pipeline. That’s $14,000 dollars from two developers with a lot to gain from a Cason re-election.

Will money buy this election? It’s up to us the voters on April 14th to say no to this out-of-scale, out-of-character development by sending Jim Cason into retirement.

Maria Anderson - Former Commissioner Coral Gables



Letter to the Editor:

Greed in the Gables


On March 25 the first commissioner’s public hearing was held for the largest and densest mega-block project ever proposed in the history of the city of Coral Gables that is not “as-of-right”. The proposed project, called the Mediterranean Village, covers 7 acres of land flanked by Ponce De Leon on the west, Galiano on the east, Malaga on the south, and Sevilla on the north. At the hearing, The Mediterranean Village developers, Agave Company, rebutted by saying that they were men of honor and that they deserved to be approved because they had spent three years in the approval process.

There is no honor in a company that is worth hundreds-of-millions of dollars and purchased about 70% of the land at 50% discount during the Great Recession, and proposes to build almost double the amount of square feet that is allowed by right. Moreover, The Mediterranean Village is not congruent with the city’s historic character because it’s unreasonable in size, scope, and scale; and its uses are economically and urbanistically questionable.

Additionally, this project has taken three years in the pipeline, and has cost the city hundreds of staff work-hours because of its unreasonable and unprecedented requests. For instance, it proposes that the city vacates alleys to developers and permits higher heights than what the code allows. Alleyways are historic and they belong to the people. It is unheard of that residents will ask the city to build larger and taller homes than they are legally allowed to do; and, it is also inconceivable that residents will be granted requests to vacate public city alleys to be able to build more in their private properties.

There is also zero honor in the commissioners who have led developers to create an unprecedented McProject that sets new standards in height and density just for their own self-interests. Greed and not honor runs our city. On April 2, the Commission will meet to deliberate on the approval of this project. Let's stop this project the way it’s being proposed and let’s take our city back from special interests on Election Day.

Maria Cristina Longo
Coral Gables Resident


Monday, March 30, 2015

What Does Each Miami Dade County Commission District Pay to Support County Services. By Geniusofdespair


According to the County's Finance Department, this is the total real property tax levy for Miami-Dade County districts. The amounts listed below represent the total amount of property taxes billed and sorted by Commission District. Is your District a donor district or a taker?

Commission District Bill Amount:

1 Total $ 155,616,035.44 - Barbara Jordan
2 Total $ 119,802,275.60 - Jean Monestime
3 Total $ 250,976,290.00 - Audrey Edmonson
4 Total $ 729,782,915.74 - Sally Heyman
5 Total $ 812,809,543.24 - Bruno Barreiro
6 Total $ 253,887,916.36 - Rebeca Sosa
7 Total $ 733,931,762.01 - Xavier Suarez
8 Total $ 263,396,987.01 - Daniella Levine Cava
9 Total $ 158,124,875.69 - Dennis Moss
10 Total $ 185,865,923.51 - Javier Souto
11 Total $ 202,126,843.08 - Juan Zapata
12 Total $ 388,390,883.22 - Jose "Pepe" Diaz
13 Total $ 160,474,957.15 - Esteban Bovo

Grand Total $ 4,254,712,250.90 

The first three districts added together pay $526,394,600 which doesn't even come close to what the 4th District pays in: $729,782,915.   

Maybe we should be dividing districts more equitably money-wise so everyone has a voice. My issues are never addressed. All we have to do is have districts divided East to West instead of North to South.

Sally Heyman, Xavier Suarez and Bruno Barreiro's districts pay the most: about half of the Grand Total. So 3 districts pay the same as the other 10. Maybe Javier Souto should remember that when he admonishes people East of U.S. 1 for their environmental interest. They are paying a lot of the bills for his district. Those 3 districts pay about half of the Grand Total for ALL 13 districts (over $2 Billion).  Maybe Souto should learn to say thank you and try to address issues in the districts that fund his, at least to be polite.

See Fire Boat Issue brought up by Sally Heyman -- governing a donor district. That blog prompted me to get this information.

Florida voters: your state legislators don't give a f$%k, what you want … by gimleteye

It takes patience and perspective to understand just how little Florida legislators care about voters. Consider: newspaper editorial boards across the state of Florida are up-in-arms that the state legislature, halfway through its session, is utterly ignoring the will of the people expressed through Amendment 1, to purchase environmentally sensitive lands like those under option from US Sugar; some 46,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

The Miami-Dade delegation is blank-faced. Silent. Immune to pressure. Why? Because voters keep returning them to office, one election cycle after another, until they graduate to another chamber of the legislature thanks to term limits or find comfortable employment as part of the lobbying class.

75 percent of voters approved Amendment 1, yet the state legislature and Gov. Rick Scott are giving voters the finger.

Voters should understand Florida's political dynamic, and how poorly their interests are represented by "government-designed-to-fail". Here are two other examples.

The first is a local one. The dredging at the Port of Miami to accommodate (fingers crossed) the deep port needs of the new capacity of the Panama Canal. Environmentalists sued to make certain that the US Army Corps of Engineers, supervising the project requested by Miami-Dade County, would not destroy fragile reefs nearby. An agreement was reached. The project commenced and the agreement was violated. Where are the voters, demanding that legislators punish punish the Corps, its contractors, and the County?

That's a small example. Here's a much bigger one.

When Gov. Rick Scott came to office in 2010, one of his first acts was to kill the Florida Department of Community Affairs and a regulatory system that attempted to channel Florida's growth to benefit communities and the environment, through the planning of major infrastructure and development schemes.

Growth management had been the result of decades of bipartisan consensus, seeking to preserve at least parts of the quality of life and natural heritage that defined Florida once upon a time. Killing off growth management in Florida was strictly a partisan affair. The cause had been embraced by GOP operatives and leaders stretching back to the Jeb Bush terms as governor, in order to speed wealth creation for Big Ag, big real estate developers and construction/materials suppliers.

It has taken a while for the full consequences to be felt, and those consequences are predictable: just take a look at the plan to build the largest mega-mall in the United States, in northwest Miami-Dade County; a scheme that seemed to hatch from thin air a few weeks ago, even to county commissioners on the dais.

The point is that legislators and Gov. Scott just don't give a f@#k what you want. More sprawl in historic Everglades? Check. More highways into Miami-Dade's remaining agricultural land? Check. The privatization of water rights in Florida to benefit Big Sugar? (That one -- private corporations selling water to you, that you already own -- , is on the way.)

They get away with it because they can: because voters do not hold them accountable at the polls.

As a result, there has never been a greater distance between Florida's people and the government than there is today. That's what Florida voters get for electing candidates who only seem to represent their interests. That's also what Florida voters get, for not voting at all.


Dockery: Why is it so hard for legislators to listen to voters?
By Paula Dockery
Thursday, March 26, 2015
Tampa Bay Times

We're nearly halfway through the legislative session and the Florida House and Senate are releasing their respective budget plans. Many important budget issues are still in flux.

One issue that shouldn't still be in flux is funding for the Land and Water Conservation Amendment, which passed in November with 75 percent of the vote. Amendment 1 received more votes than any other item on the ballot — by far. One could call it a mandate.

The amendment language was clear, and voters understood what they were voting for.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Congressman Patrick Murphy shows President Obama dirty St. Lucie River water, but will he take "the no money from Big Sugar pledge"? … by gimleteye

When President Obama stepped off Air Force One yesterday in St. Lucie, he was greeted by aspiring US senator Patrick Murphy holding a bottle of polluted water.
US Rep. Patrick Murphy clutching a jar of polluted water from the Indian River
"What have you brought me, a present?" President Obama quipped on the tarmac. In 2012 Congressman Murphy (D-Jupiter) narrowly defeated Republican lightening rod, Allen West, in the most costly US House race in history.

The real present would be for Congressman Murphy to announce that in his campaign to succeed Marco Rubio in the US Senate, he will be taking "the no money from Big Sugar pledge".
“In 2009, (sugar) crop producers spent more than $20.5 million on federal lobbying.” (“How Big Sugar Gets Its Way”, The Florida Independent, Sept. 11, 2011) That is the tip of the iceberg. Sugar producers and related industries cumulatively spend billions through dark money channels in political campaigns and “independent” expenditure committees supporting their candidates at all levels of government: from the smallest fry in Florida counties, to the state capitols wherever sugar can be grown. (“Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012″, Washington Post, 1/7/2014) Sugar money in American politics disappears through the figments of campaign finance law and filaments of law enforcement. The United States is that special snow flake fallen on a pile of white sugar, melted golden by corporations more powerful than people.
"The Killer Politics of Big Sugar", Counterpunch, Jan 10 2014

Marco Rubio and Jeb Bush, both, won office thanks to massive inputs of campaign cash from Big Sugar.

Who will be Florida's first state-wide politician to reject Big Sugar's polluted campaign contributions?

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Eye on Miami Saturday Editorial Page. By Geniusofdespair

...Only too happy to fix the Miami Herald's bad decision, to do away with their Saturday Editorial Page.

Homestead has regained its title of most Dysfunctional Entity in Miami Dade County.  Congratulations Homestead. Palmetto Bay was vying for the title but Homestead has it hands down with its phony petition and because Homestead x-Mayor Lynda Bell has been appointed by Governor Scott to the Florida Communities Trust Board (under the Florida Department of Environmental Protection). They oversee land grabs grant funds.  Never can get rid of those bad pennies in Homestead. It must be a paid position, she needs money bad or else she will turn it into a money-maker.

Yep, that is just where Lynda Bell does not belong. This is a slap in the face by Governor Scott. Remember, she is vengeful so forget getting anything for Miami Dade County. The other members don't sound very good, one works for WCI development.

The Florida Communities Trust has a five-member governing board chaired by Jon Steverson, Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. The other members include the four public members appointed by the Governor of which Bell is one.
Florida Communities Trust assists communities in protecting important natural resources, providing recreational opportunities and preserving Florida's traditional working waterfronts through the competitive criteria in the Parks and Open Space Florida Forever Grant Program and the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant Program. These local land acquisition grant programs provide funding to local governments and eligible non-profit organizations to acquire land for parks, open space, greenways and projects supporting Florida's seafood harvesting and aquaculture industries. The source of funding for Florida Communities Trust comes from Florida Forever proceeds.
Parks and Open Space Florida Forever Grant Program
The Parks and Open Space Florida Forever grant program assists the Department of Environmental Protection in helping communities meet the challenges of growth, supporting viable community development and protecting natural resources and open space. The program receives 21 percent Florida Forever appropriation.
Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever Grant Program

The creation of the Stan Mayfield Working Waterfronts Florida Forever grant program by the 2008 Florida Legislature acknowledges the importance of the traditional seafood harvesting and aquaculture industries in Florida. The program receives 2.5 percent of the total Florida Forever appropriation.
Florida Communities Trust projects play a significant role in improving the quality of life of Florida's residents. The local and regional parks funded by the Trust's Parks and Open Space grant program also help to promote economic growth and revitalization in local communities through nature based tourism. To learn more about Florida's industries and how Florida Communities Trust fits into the state's economic fabric, please visit the Enterprise Florida website.
Florida Forever

The Florida Forever Act provides for land acquisition to protect environmentally significant lands, to protect ground and surface water, to provide high quality recreational opportunities in urban areas, and to help local governments implement their comprehensive plans. Florida Communities Trust is one of several state agencies that receive money from the Florida Forever Program.
 Proposed Annexation District for Commission District 11:


It includes large developments waiting in the pipeline: Parkland, Ferro and Green City Miami. Oh to have super density out there when traffic has never been worse. Sounds like a happy mix for District 11, Gridlock and more people to build shopping centers for. We would have to redistrict wouldn't we? Too many people in one District.

Big Sugar, pressing forward to privatize Florida's water supply … by gimleteye

For Big Sugar, the exploitation of Florida taxpayers is a ceaseless enterprise. Its success is measured in hundreds of millions of dollars. However much money Big Sugar earns for shareholders -- dominating Florida -- it is never enough.

With profits virtually guaranteed by federal farm bill policy, Big Sugar freely seeds Florida with disinformation campaigns through skilled and well-paid message machinery.

More and more, the 2010 deal between US Sugar and the state of Florida to sell its lands to the state of Florida looks like a tactic to politically neuter then-Governor Charlie Crist. Why? Because now, five years later, after Florida voters took to the polls and passed by 78 percent a measure to "guarantee", tamper-free (by the legislature) funding for land acquisition, Big Sugar has mounted its own campaign to discredit the option to buy that its top executives negotiated, themselves.

Crist made the deal with one of the Big Sugar behemoths, US Sugar. The 40,000 plus acres of land is necessary to begin the process of assembling adequate surface water storage -- from other sugar barons -- to protect the rest of south Florida from Big Sugar's pollution, generated by the outflow of excess fertilizer and toxic byproducts.

As soon as the 2010 deal was announced, the other Big Sugar giant, the billionaire Fanjuls of Coral Gables and Palm Beach, harshly objected, galvanizing an impenetrable political morass.

The single significant result of the 2010 controversy? It propelled millions of dollars into the campaign coffers of Crist's political opponent, Marco Rubio. (Florida already knows where Jeb Bush stands: he is Big Sugar's golden boy and proved his worth in 2003, when he undertook to dismantle the federal/ state agreement on numerical pollution standards, resulting in ten years of Clean Water Act litigation.)

Today, the state legislature is acting as a political division of Big Sugar's shadow government. Big Sugar billionaires have now set loose their disinformation campaign through various public relations outlets; from the Tea Party ("Don't buy more land") to the Sunshine State News/ Pravda. Their strategy is to drown out -- or at least to compete -- for public attention and against the thousands of coastal residents who are desperate to have their shorefront real estate and quality of life protected from the outrageous pollution spewing from Lake Okeechobee.

This year's issue would seem to be whether the will of Florida voters -- to purchase more environmentally sensitive lands through the measure, Amendment 1 -- will be hijacked by Big Sugar and Ag Secretary Adam Putnam who is angling to be Florida's next governor or senator.

As usual, the controvery-of-the-moment provides cover for even worse from Big Sugar. Craig Pittman, the intrepid reporter at the St. Pete Times, got to the point this week without elaboration: Big Sugar is seeking to revolutionize Florida's water policy in order to mine profits from water. Pittman, by the way, reported last October on the secret, private-jet trips taken by state GOP leaders to the hunting preserve in Texas owned by the King Ranch, not only the largest land owner in Texas (a state where "ownership" of water goes along with land rights) but a significant owner of land in Florida's Everglades Agricultural Area.

The failure of the reported scandal to make a dent in voters' perception emboldened Big Sugar. Now is the time to strike. There will never be more favorable politics. Steal Florida's water.

Read Pittman's: "Florida taxpayers pay ranchers millions to hold water back from Lake Okeechobee."
"For generations, Florida's farmers and ranchers have used their land to grow oranges, sugar, tomatoes and beef cattle, among other things. But now they've added a highly profitable new crop: Water.

A state agency is paying large agricultural operators millions in taxpayer dollars to hold water on their property, treating it as if it were a crop. The agency sees it as a way to create a series of "reservoirs" without the expense of building anything permanent."

Once it is a "crop", it becomes "private property". Remember: the Fanjul's Miami colleague, George Lindemann, is litigating against Maggie Hurchalla -- former Martin County Commissioner -- in a SLAPP suit alleging Hurchalla's interference caused Lindemann from losing an opportunity to sell tens of millions of dollars of water to the municipality of West Palm Beach from a rock pit he owns adjacent to Big Sugar lands.

Whose water is Lindemann planning to sell? It not his to sell! How does the Tea Party -- funded by Big Sugar -- feel about that? It is clear enough: being used by corporate funders, whether by the Kochs or Big Sugar billionaires, is what Florida's Tea Party does best.