Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Picture of the day: Port of Miami. By Geniusofdespair

Our Port: Cruise Ship Heaven - As seen from the Perez Museum.
Did you know we have no way to get rid of sewage from the ships. It has to be pumped and carted away to Pepe Diaz's house. There is no sewage system at the port as far as I know. And, cruise ships have to idle their engines all the time when in Port. Do you know how much air pollution that causes? It might be equal to 40,000 cars in an hour for each cruise ship docked (in this case 4). In this photo you can see a gray plume in the air over the 4 ships at dock. How do you feel about that Fisher Island?

Cruise ships pay a cost per passenger to the port which is a good source of revenue. Too bad they don't hire their crew locally to give us jobs. For every cruise passenger they have multiple crew members -- but not from here. The crew might be a third of the passengers on the ship. Let's hire local Miami Dade County residents Commissioners!! Cargo gives us jobs, not cruise ships. They just pollute.

GOP puzzled by Gov. Rick Scott's isolation come up with novel idea to lure him out: an environmental award ... by gimleteye

Come out, come out, wherever you are! is the refrain of the child's game of hide-and-seek and it could also be appended to the news report from the Tampa Bay Times that reads like a parody from The Onion: a Republican foundation organized around what was once a state environmental agency, now lead by Miami developer connected to Jeb!, gives its annual award to the state's most anti-environmental governor, Rick Scott.

"Gov. Rick Scott as environmental champion? Yes, says foundation headed by developer" has state environmentalists laughing their heads off. This is a governor who axed the state land use planning agency, destroying decades of bipartisan consensus, who claimed victory for the Everglades after the state lost a ten year federal Clean Water Act lawsuit costing millions, who gives electric utilities free reign and Big Sugar whatever it needs while property owners adjacent to Florida's polluted estuaries fear deadly staph infections. Florida's iconic springs? Trashed. Water quality rules? Turned into narrative mush. Want to drill for oil or frack: just write a check to the GOP.

Rick Scott is going to walk on the moon before he gets good with the environment.

Today, a report by AP's Gary Fineout, "Florida Gov. Scott against at odds with Florida Republicans" sheds light on the award, in the context of a deeply strained relationship between court-penalized Republicans, shuddering at the prospect of having to draw fair districts, and an isolated governor.

What to do with a governor hunkered down in his coastal multi-million dollar estate from which he doesn't emerge, except to his private jet clutching talking points? Give him an environmental award! Cheer up his mysterious spirits, unknowable except to special interests and cronies.

To insiders, Gov. Scott does what is required. To Floridians, he is "Governor Gone".

Donald Trump Alway had stupid looking hair. By Geniusofdespair

I think the eyebrows suit him and the jutting jaw. He must have practiced for hours in front of the mirror.

Please Donald, run as an Independent when you are finished trashing Republicans.

Monday, July 27, 2015

The infection in Bruce Osborn’s leg and the myth of the eternal return ... by gimleteye

Barbara and Bruce Osborn are a couple living in Stuart, Florida; that much I know from their Facebook page. Also, they are activists involved in the community effort to protect the Indian River from pollution. The state of Florida has left them and the river they treasure, defenseless.

Over the weekend, Barbara posted news that after an ordinary weekend outing on the Indian River, her husband’s leg became infected with a dangerous bacterial infection associated with pollution. Pollution they have been striving to stop. Just because they went swimming in a river they loved.
Why is this story important? First of all, my heart goes out to the Osborns and any family that has endured the anxiety and consequences of being victimized by a bacterial infection that would never have occurred in the first place if our elected officials did their job; protecting the rights of people over the rights of corporate polluters. This is a familiar story in Florida, the Sunshine State, where shielding polluters from accountability is the highest and best use of elections.

About a decade ago, my youngest son was surfing in a remote and inaccessible part of Costa Rica during rainy season. On a phone call, he made light of an infection in his knee that followed the progress of a staph infection. With the help of a Miami physician and then Tico locals, I moved heaven and earth to get him medication that was unavailable in Costa Rica. Unlike some infections reported from exposure to Florida’s toxic waters, my son probably doesn’t even remember his encounter. I will never forget it.

Although I have this connection to the Osborn’s frightful story (and hope for Bruce's quick recovery), and in addition to shared anger at Florida legislators who refuse to solve the crisis of Lake Okeechobee and the Indian River in Florida — there is more to my interest.

The capriciousness of nature is woven through the threat of climate change to alter civilization. I am on the look out for the small story that represents the whole. Preventable disease, if only we protected our environment, is one of those stories.

It turns out these stories have any even deeper connection to our shared and common past.

Long before Christianity or any other religions we identify by name, our ancestors worshipped what the writer Mircea Eliade called, the myth of the eternal return. In the study of comparative religions, Eliade discovered traces of ancient beliefs and cultures revolving around common fears of uncertainty, of disease and crop failures, and of generations that burned brightly, burned out and then returned thanks to the power of nature to regenerate, not only to destroy. He called the phenomenon, the myth of the eternal return, and it echoes through all our named religions. In this way, we are connected to pre-history tens of thousands of years before Christ.

In only six decades that frame my own life, I have observed the destruction of parts of nature; Narragansett Bay in Rhode Island where I was raised, Florida Bay where I experienced, in my youth, the glories of a diverse, shallow water wilderness, of sea grass meadows vibrant with fish and birds as far as the eye could see.

I witnessed something else: how a generation younger than mine failed to keep the flame of indignation burning, once the older generation of observers burned out.

It happened in Rhode Island, where the last generation of bay men and families connected by history to Native Americans who sustainably populated the land and rivers, dissolved. It happened in Florida Bay, where fishermen woven from the same cloth as their brethren in New England, disdained government, treasured independence, and lost what they valued; what nature offered freely.

The same will happen in the Indian River, unless river activists successfully mobilize in ways that keep the fire burning longer than it did in South Florida and the Florida Keys.

It is human nature, perhaps, that unless one has experienced directly the value of something, one doesn’t know what was lost. The promise that this is not universally the case depends on education and understanding of those stories that connect us, as Eliade observed.

What is most upsetting about the loss of estuaries and ecosystems elsewhere within just a few decades and the span of just a few generations is that these will not return.

When our waters become so toxic that swimming becomes an existential threat, there must be a majority of people willing to overturn the threats.

The ancients understood perfectly well that our hubris, or denial, can conquer us. They did imagine a time when civilizations could be ruined by a leader’s single decision. What gave people hope — long before the written record even existed — was the belief that nature can provide the conditions that return economic security and safety to people.

With Narragansett Bay, Florida Bay, with the Indian River and the Caloosahatchee in Florida, with Lake Okeechobee and the springs of North Florida; all these places have lost protections under a government and elected officials who nonetheless professed and pledged their oath to protect under the state constitution.

The infection in Bruce Osborn’s knee is our problem today. If we don’t take care of today’s infections, they will spread like wildfire and not just any wildfire; they will end nature and the myth of the eternal return.

Don't Despair: We almost made it to Numero Uno! By Geniuofdespair

If it weren't for Darby, Pa. being number 1 we would have been tops.  However we didn't do badly. Out of the top most dangerous cities in the United States, Miami Dade County had 2 cities in the top 20 ranking.  We made it to number 2 with Opa Locka and number 3 with  Florida City.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Florida's water crisis: the impacts compound over time just like interest ... by gimleteye

A Facebook entry by Barbara Osborn in Stuart, Florida:
Took Bruce to the ER yesterday for an infected left leg. He had a sore on his knee on Monday, went in to the Indian River Lagoon (IRL) on Wednesday. We took several church families out on our new catamaran and anchored off Sailfish point (near the Walgreen house). Of course they all jumped into the IRL from the deck of the boat. Yesterday Bruce's knee and leg was black and swollen, hot to the touch and oozing. He had a fever. He NEVER complains of pain but I forced him to the ER. GOOD thing. The doctor thinks it is a blood infection from the bacteria from the IRL water on Wednesday. We will get the culture back on Monday to see what the bacteria actually is. Gayle Ryan's link to the TC Palm article regarding the local man who died within two days of a fish fin puncture bringing in bacteria from the IRL into his system, probably saved Bruce's life. I wouldn't have taken a closer second look at Bruce's knee had I not read her article link. The doctor lanced and drained the "volcano" the size of a grapefruit on his knee. His whole leg was swollen and hot to the touch. Today Bruce's leg 's swelling is down and it is not throbbing anymore. He is on Bactrim and Keflex. Doctor said he was so correct to come into the ER when he did, could have become so dangerous to Bruce. Thank you Gayle Ryan.

This post on Face Book should remind Miami that the current water crisis is not just one in a series of crises: it is a cumulative event where impacts are compounded. The mismanagement of fresh water resources in South Florida is mainly to benefit the big campaign contributors to state legislators and to Gov. Rick Scott. Big Sugar.

In a just world, state legislators would be made to swim in the Indian River Lagoon, then see how much they like gambling with people's water to benefit their patrons. A recent letter to the Miami Herald also applies:

South Florida has very real water troubles ahead - July 25, 2015

The July 17 article, Water table is lowest in 100 years, announced that the water table in Miami-Dade’s Biscayne Aquifer had hit a 100-year low. Lake Okeechobee fell below 12 feet.

This spring, water managers were dumping Lake Okeechobee water on the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee Estuaries.

Toxic green slime accompanied the discharges.

The South Florida drought was already in full swing, but they had no way to clean the water and send it south.

Last week, South Florida Water Management District Board member James Moran criticized the Corps of Engineers for not allowing the water management district to pump the lake even lower to move water south.

He called the corps’ environmental concerns “an overreach of the sovereign rights of Florida.”

State officials love to blame the corps for everything, but it is the sovereign state of Florida that got us into this mess.

The state asked the corps to build the plumbing system that over-drained the Everglades.

The state fought long and hard against federal water quality standards.

Now they are asking the corps to over-drain Lake Okeechobee. Why not?

Extremely low lake levels affect more than snail kites.

They kill the marshes that make it a living lake. Dead plants with dead roots won’t hold together the mud and muck that has accumulated.

When you kill the environment to get more water, you end up with less water and you end up with very dirty water.

This is the same James Moran who lectured a crowded meeting room in May.

The crowd was there to ask the SFWMD Board to buy land and send the water south.

Moran said that was impossible and unnecessary, “And I don’t know why you claim it will save the Dade County water supply. They get their water from wells.”

He finally seems to have figured out that Miami-Dade's wells are in aquifers that are recharged by water flowing south from Lake Okeechobee.

Too late.

Maggy Reno Hurchalla, Miami

Vice Mayor of Palmetto Bay John Dubois: Oh the Web we Weave in Miami Dade County. By Geniusodespair

John Dubois is back using lawsuits to solve his apparent distaste for the way Derm pursues mangrove protection. He is now suing in Federal Court instead of Civil Court. This time he is suing Jack Osterholt (deputy Mayor) and Lee Hefty (head of DERM). Above is the lawsuit. In Federal Court he refers to the the Constitution -- discrimination. Read it for yourself. Civil Rights? John Dubois? Interesting.  Apparently he might have a lawyer a few years out of law school on retainer, who might be using a UPS Store address in this document, mail box 107, 1845 South Dixie Highway, Cutler Bay.

Excerpt from the case as Dubois's attorney described it.
 You will remember a few months ago, Dubois had raised eyebrows in Palmetto Bay for holding a fundraiser for an accused sex offdender he had as his houseguest (he is not a house guest anymore):
Dubois not only has given Junior Kowlessar shelter. The Palmetto Bay News reports he held a fundraiser at his home on the bay to raise money for Junior Kowlessar’s defense.
CBS Video of John Dubois at the time.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Eye On Miami Saturday Editorial Page: Miami-Dade WATER AND SEWER FIRING. By Geniusofdespair

Miami Herald you gave up doing one -- we didn't...yet.

Another week gone. I was in New York for part of it visiting a sick relative. Jim Morin of the Miami Herald did a great cartoon yesterday:

Love his depiction of Trump
Ralph Terrero, wrongly fired? He has been at the County since 2005.

Ralph Terrero, Assistant Director of Water Operations was fired. Why? No one knows not even his superior Doug Yoder who was in Palm Beach during the time of the firing. Doug is now doing Ralph's job. Doug is Deputy Director of Water and Sewer. From all accounts Ralph was very efficient and a great Engineer.

I am told that AECOM, the engineering firm charged with managing the EPA Consent Decree,  didn't like him. AECOM was hired to manage the program to comply with the consent decree. They were not hired to talk to the other Government agencies involved with the consent decree, nor to represent the county to them, but they do. With all these consultants why do we need a Department?

Lester Sola did the dirty deed of firing Ralph. Sola is not an Engineer. He also was the one who went to France with the Mayor. Why? No one knows why he did either.

Every month AECOM has a conference call on behalf of the county with the EPA. It was the county's idea for the call, trying to be proactive but they curiously don't participate.  They have a discussion before the call with AECOM. The other engineering firm, CH2MHILL manages the ocean outfall. You would think with all these consultants you would want a qualified engineer on staff. Where did the order come from to fire him?? I don't think Lester Sola ever makes a decision on his own. Meanwhile, another Engineer is watching her job being advertised. The county is now implementing succession planning for senior staff. She isn't due to retire until 2017. Why hire someone 2 years early? Is she on the list as well? How does Doug Yoder keep out of the line of fire? Maybe because he is so short no one sees him.
Doug Yoder is the tall guy.

HEALTH - Stomach warning:

I have been eating Chia seed yogurt, blood orange Chia seed yogurt to be exact.

It taste a bit like orange flavored tapioca. Not bad tasting but I am very worried about what is growing in my stomach.

Chia pets are showing up in stomach X-rays.

More of you should have read my post on jobs yesterday. Go back you lazy bastards, read it. I don't write for my health. I eat Chia seeds for that.

When I think about jobs I have been thinking about the suicide of the retired Miami Dade County Police Chief Robert Parker.  He was 62. Too young to be retired but thanks to an insane county policy change he did retire. I assume that might have been depressing for him. Retirement can be a very sad time for many people. What do you do with your time? He was too young to be caught up in Doctor visits (that takes a good part of your day when you retire older). I think he was just too young to be retired and no one offered him a lifeline like being a mentor for other police departments/policemen. God Knows Bal Harbor police department could have used him and, of course, Homestead. He could have been going to schools to make speeches to children. I think his suicide is so sad and our County could have helped him by using him as a much needed resource.

State GOP: stop fighting redistricting! ... by gimleteye

"... lawyers for the Legislature, which has spent more than $8.1 million in legal fees defending its redistricting efforts, told Reynolds they are not prepared to accept that lawmakers were at fault in the Senate maps."

The Miami Herald can't say for certain how many millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent by GOP leaders to fight redistricting in Florida.

For a second time, the state supreme court ruled that the Congressional district map in Florida, drawn by state republicans, is illegal. Illegal, as in "violates the law". Republicans are fomenting anger and resentment among voters. An important election year is on the horizon. To come: another legal battle along the same lines decided by the supreme court on Senate district boundaries in Florida.

There are a few explanations for the continued intransigence by Republicans. 1) The fight against redistricting has become a cottage industry for top consultants and party insiders, generating fees that ensure the fighting doesn't stop, 2) The state GOP sees fairly drawn districts as an existential threat, 3) There is no GOP leadership, only a thirst for power and wealth, and 4) GOP leaders aren't afraid of alienating voters, because the GOP does a better job motivating their base and the GOP base doesn't care about districts.

Whatever the case, the GOP should be concerned how the redistricting fight, ignoring the state supreme court, is affecting the party's chances in the 2016 election. The GOP primary circus festival has already robbed dignity from the key voting bloc of Hispanics. This is the advice from a critic: drop the battle axes and get your own house in order.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Traffic and Roadways: Miami's Achilles Heel ... by gimleteye

A recent Miami Herald poll by Bendixen & Amandi International identified "traffic congestion" as the second most important issue identified by voters, after "jobs and the economy". No wonder.

Borrowing a term used in economics, transit supply is inelastic. Although we have maxed out on capacity to absorb automobiles, elected officials continue to permit new developments across the county. The tipping point was breached a long time ago. Traffic congestion not only diminishes quality of life for current residents, it is a real drag on job creation in South Florida.

The answer to traffic congestion, at least in the minds of Miami-Dade county commissioners, has been to dump more cars into commutes from the western suburbs and in the minds of Miami City commissioners, more permits for condos to rise vertically in concrete canyons.

Elected officials should be held accountable, but they are not. Only a few years ago, Gov. Rick Scott and the state legislature eliminated state planning mandates intended to regulated traffic by requiring concurrency, or, a clear picture how transportation infrastructure would accommodate new population growth. That concurrency never worked in Florida is a testament; not to the willingness of elected officials to turn a blind eye so much as the talent of transportation planners and lobbyists to rationalize irrational behavior. At the same time, voters whose lives are turned upside down by traffic believe elected officials are just doing their jobs when they permit traffic-inducing construction and development to overwhelm capacity.

To this list of transit debacles that are crowding out people, you may add your own:

1) Brickell Avenue at any rush hour.

2) Access to Miami Beach via Alton Road.

3) Commuting to and from Bird Road or any of the east/west corridors.

4) US 1 at Ponce and LeJeune Rd. in Coral Gables.

5) Any cultural or sports event in downtown Miami.

Still, in the Bendixen & Amandi poll, 67 percent of respondents glided past traffic while favoring the creation of the largest mall in the United States in northwest Miami-Dade.

At Politico, Miami-based writer Michael Grunwald recently published an investigative report on a related issue: "Overpasses: A love story ... With American transportation in crisis, why are we spending our money on massive new roads? An investigation of one city’s addiction to megahighways." For those further interested, our archive under "traffic" looks at how this issue plays out over time in Miami-Dade.

Well worth your time, to read.

Mayor Gimenez: THE PEOPLE WANT REAL JOBS. By Geniusofdespair

Mall Job

Ho hum, the Mayor's new mantra is Jobs. Always he starts off with Jobs, Jobs, Jobs. Where ever he goes it is jobs because it polls well. He says jobs but what he really means is menial jobs not good jobs. He fired librarians and other workers doing meaningful things, people happy in their jobs, and replaced them with part time people with no job security. Carlos Gimenez is a GOOD job killer not creator.

People, don't get old you will be out on the street. You will have to then do the hiring of some young person to do your texting, as your arthritic hands will be too swollen to do much of anything.

Exactly what is a job? Most people spend more time at their job than they do with their families. What does this mean? It means a job can't only be about money because life becomes meaningless, especially when the job pays a wage you can hardly scrape by on.  It has to be a job that gives one pride, accomplishment and self worth. I am sorry, most Mall jobs are not going to give you that. You might as well be invisible. Without some sort of training, technical or otherwise, you are headed for a shit mall job.  So when Mayor Gimenez says JOBS: What he is really saying is shit jobs.  He is not bringing in jobs that one cares to boast about to others. He is bringing in jobs that people are forced to take to survive. Service jobs like wiping the ass and diapering some old lady in a nursing home for $9 an hour. Have you every seen an old lady ass? I am still having nightmares having seen my mother-in-law's. It was frightening. So, I don't want to hear about jobs from Mayor Gimenez. He is not talking about careers, just illusions of $9 an hour windfall work that you wouldn't want to do on your worst day.  And imagine doing it for about fifty years. And that is if you are lucky.

When Barbara Jordan questioned the owner of the American Wet Dream Mall about jobs, he was pretty honest WATCH THE VIDEO BELOW DAMN IT.
Bored, wasted talent.

Faceless, unnoticed by everyone.

Store Clerk? She is there, all the way in the back on the right near the yellow shirt. She might as well be invisible.

Mall Kingpin.

The Ghermezian Patriarch didn't promise 25,000 jobs at the mall he is building, as Gimenez wants you to think, somehow that number even got in the newspaper. Listen to how Ghermezian complains when the subject of jobs comes up. He says in relation to jobs, don't create any problems for me (Hit on the video).

 In fact, in the contract to get the land, Ghermezian promised 12,500 (NOT 25,000) "part-time" and permanent jobs by 2030. That is 15 years from now folks.

Ghermezian did not want anyone looking over his shoulder to guarantee those jobs  -- as Jordan was requesting. He got pretty excited about not guaranteeing anything about jobs. Nothing, nada.

Do we want these kinds of jobs for our County citizens? Most, Gimenez is talking about, offer no security, low pay, no self-esteem and no sense of accomplishment. And, let's face it, most of the better mall jobs are reserved for the young and attractive. What they do is, offer you an air-conditioned work space for an unspecified time to be bored out of your mind. Can't we do better than that? These are the type of jobs that cause our college graduates to flee Miami. Adding retail jobs is like telling college graduates that this place is not for you. Mayor Gimenez brags about cutting professional public sector jobs, jobs that require education and training and provide a career opportunity, while he goes about dumbing down our workforce. Expect the "brain drain" to continue to separate families as the "kids" seek greener pastures.

Adding to the brain drain, the County is now implementing succession planning for senior staff and they are bringing the replacements in earlier to train them. So lets say you are retiring in 2017, they are advertising your job now.

Other cities that increased their minimum wage are doing better than those that didn't. We fall down in every aspect of real jobs for real people that want to work and be proud of what they do.

Do you know where you can stick your job mantra,  Mayor Gimenez? And as a former union man, now making hundreds of thousands of dollars, you have a lot of nerve criticizing unions.  You should be ashamed. They provide dignity to a worker.

Don't be fooled again!