Saturday, January 24, 2009

Repost: Gonzalo Sanabria, not for Coral Gables City Commission... by gimleteye

A challenger has emerged to run in an April election for Coral Gables City Commission against popular incumbent Maria Anderson: Gonzalo Sanabria. Eyeonmiami has written about Gonzalo Sanabria before. News of Sanabria's intention to run for public office gives us reason to write again.

"I will shortly be challenging Maria Anderson to any and all debates. I look forward to analyzing her record in front of the public.'' Bring it on, she said. ''I love the democratic process,'' Anderson said. "Campaigns are a great way to have a great dialogue about the issues of the city. I love debates. So I would say, let's go for it."

Gonzalo Sanabria's career has been tied up in one real estate deal after another, and in his public service has represented Miami's addiction to growth-at-any-cost that helped foment the housing market bubble and now the worst decline in property values in history. Sanabria served on the County Planning Advisory Board as chief barker for serial horrendous development applications; from the Homestead Air Force Base (HABDI) to other developments outside Miami Dade's Urban Development Boundary. Sometimes Gonzalo seemed to be reading from the same script. Gonzalo Sanabria relished his role as the black hat and could always be counted on to deliver the viewpoint of special interests.

Sanabria's viewpoint on growth is like a saw blade cutting through the public interest in two directions: first, the complaint that environmental and planning regulations are excessively burdensome and, second, that regulations adequately protect the environment from development impacts.

While Gonzalo Sanabria was pushing his arguments back and forth on the Planning Advisory Board, his team-mates in the lobbying business were all about neutering, dismantling, or otherwise wrecking those regulations and intimidating those regulators at every opportunity.

We can't wait to hear his defense of the indefensible.
(this is a repost because of a technical error of first post on 1/19/09 Gonzalo Sanabria not for Coral Gables City Commission.)

A Former Miami Dade Planning Advisory Board Member Speaks Out on Gonzalo Sanabria. By Geniusofdespair

Rod Jude (pictured) was a Miami Dade Planning Advisory Board (PAB) Member for approximately 14 years. I asked him for his impression of Gonzalo Sanabria. Gonzalo was also a PAB member for many years. I believe Sanabria was appointed by County Commissioner Gwen Margolis. Here is what Rod had to say about Gonzalo Sanabria:

"Clearly I don't think his votes were ever reflective of smart growth principles. He voted in favor of every sprawl development that came before us."

I mentioned that comments were coming into our blog, giving Gonzalo Sanabria credit for the incorporation movement in many cities in Miami Dade County (That is not saying that Gonzalo Sanabria is claiming this). Rod said of the claim/rumor:

"He cannot take credit for incorporation. He didn't initiate these efforts. We all voted pro or con. He might have voted for them but so did I. I believe in self-determination. Remember, we were only voting that citizens' incorporation initiatives would be considered by the Miami Dade County Commission and then these initiatives would be voted up or down by the people themselves."

I have long considered Gonzalo Sanabria, a developer from Coral Gables, as the Natacha Seijas of the Planning Advisory Board. I am glad he has moved on. (For more on Gonzalo Sanabria enter his name in the search above left of this page).

Friday, January 23, 2009

Congressional District 17 – The Meek Seat – Candidates Are Shaking Out. By Geniusofdespair

Kendrick Meek is running for the open Senate seat because of Martinez's announcement that he will not run again. Throwing their hat in the ring for Meek's seat are Former State Rep. Phillip J. Brutus and Current State Senator Frederica Wilson (Bella Abzug is smiling on you, Frederica). Maybe we will also have Mayor Shirley Gibson, Activist Marleine Bastien and State Rep. Yolly Roberson who are said to be considering a run (mentioned in same order as photo, which you can enlarge by hitting on it).

Why should you care? Because this is Federal. They make decisions for all of us. When Carrie Meek retired a few weeks before the election in 2002 it locked out all candidates, except her son, because she left no time to mount a campaign. Now we will see the heavyweights in the 17th district.

This is a map of the 17th:

Stockholm syndrome: Obama, Congress and the fiscal stimulus ... by gimleteye

OK, doom and gloom is everywhere. We now see what happens when the productive capacity of a nation is propelled by ever widening wheels of debt, tied not to strength of assets but to derivatives of debt. Now comes the question, what to do.

Here is the problem with fiscal stimulus: if not applied to rebuilding our nation’s productive capacity, it is money down a black hole. For certain, it is important to provide some floor under this free-fall. But government spending on infrastructure serves a temporary purpose. a limited purpose. Fiscal stimulus that fails to provide for new productive capacity—jobs making products that people need—will bleed out the economy like a slow suicide.

Miami-Dade County recently submitted to Congressional leaders a three page letter detailing $23.46 billion in “approved, programmed, multi-year capital projects” that the county would like funded from the Obama plan when it emerges, attaching a list of $7.2 billion that are shovel-ready. All the projects are needed, it is true. It should be acknowledged, too, that information about the scope and scale of the county infrastructure deficit was willfully suppressed by local government, anxious to keep the building bubble expanding without concessions to lagging infrastructure. But these are not projects that will revive the economy. They represent what Florida’s most populous county left behind in the chase for tax base.

Today they represent, moreover, a repudiation of values, fiscal prudence and ethics that sunk the economic ship.

Across the nation, thousands of counties and municipalities have similar shovel-ready lists to paper over egregious mistakes by public officials who failed to account for, fund and pay the costs of growth when and where they occurred.

Realistically, civil works projects will prop up the economy only so long as the vast inputs continue. But you can’t use debt to solve the problem of too much debt, whether you are a credit card junkie or a municipality. Without increasing productive capacity, those short-term benefits will disappear like smoke.

Florida is a state in crisis because it doesn’t make much of productive value. Its agriculture and tourism are vulnerable to disruptions in the broader economy. Its natural resources are in the midst of expensive, uncertain rehabilitations. The impacts of climate change are on the horizon, if not already here.

What Florida does have is a lot of sunshine. That makes the state a premier candidate for massive investment in renewable energy technologies.

To be bold, and to create permanent jobs requires a vastly de-centralized energy grid. Right now, Florida’s utilities green-wash their energy portfolios with pilot projects for solar but for the most part, they are like any other states’: relying on decadal investments and mountains of new debt and costs to consumers for large-scale investments around a fixed, antiquated grid.

Just like the banks, the big electric utilities will do business-as-usual—including all the millions in compensation and perks to top executives—until the system breaks down. Then, like the banks, energy will be nationalized.

It is not clear if our democracy is facile enough to adapt to the bold thinking and steps and implementation to get us through this economic crisis. To a large extent, members of Congress owe their own seats to powerful economic interests who would consume the nation’s capacity for bailouts before surrendering an ounce of privilege. That’s what happened with Merrill Lynch’s billions in compensation, while billons of taxpayer dollars were being injected to stave off its bankruptcy.

How could Congress let this happen, unless Congress itself was suffering from Stockholm syndrome?

Whatever formula the Obama administration chooses to allocate the national debt to revive the economy must be guided by analyses enlightened by recent behavior of the serial bubble architects. Trillions of dollars of fiscal stimulus must be transparent, must have stringent federal controls, audits, and oversight and must be supported by a much more muscular regime to investigate, prosecute and penalize white-collar crime and public corruption.

This is no plain vanilla recession. The Obama administration should consider preemptive measures to nationalize sectors of the economy, to speed change, rather than be forced to nationalize once those sectors have been stripped and looted like the banking and insurance industries.

Who knew the fall of the Berlin Wall was a comma, on the way to; this?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

What brought down the plane in the Hudson?

You saw it here, first or second!

Heard it First: State Rep. Oscar Braynon, II will not seek Kendrick Meek's Seat. by Geniusofdespair

Our Best Looking Office Holder for 2009, Oscar Braynon, II said he would not seek Kenrick Meek's U.S. Rep seat according to Miami Gardens Mayor Shirley Gibson.

Great Orlando Sentinel Editorial on Florida Hometown Democracy

"Developers versus voters for say in Florida's growth" is an excellent summation of the pathetic Chamber of Commerce poison pill constitutional amendment designed to kill off Florida Hometown Democracy. The writer is more tactful. Read for yourself and ask the following question: why has The Miami Herald been completely silent on this issue?


Dueling constitutional amendments: Developers versus voters for say in Florida's growth

Lauren Ritchie | COMMENTARY
January 21, 2009

Let's say Lake County commissioners lose their collective minds and approve a pig farm next door to your subdivision.

Or maybe a nuclear-waste disposal facility is seeking approval from Sumter County commissioners to build a nice little plant within sight of Lake Sumter Landing -- never mind that they're willing to build a golf-cart path so everyone can picnic on the front lawn.

Or, more likely, a city government decides to annex a big piece of property and allow yet another subdivision with quarter-acre lots that will jam up your little road and overcrowd your kid's school even more.

What does a homeowner do?

If a development- backed consortium gets its way -- and the state Supreme Court has already ruled it can -- voters will see a "remedy" on the 2010 ballot. Unfortunately, it will be useless because it is designed not to work.

This is all part of a continuing battle between developers who want to make sure they can continue to build anything they want wherever they want and the good guys -- backers of the Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment.

Developers aren't exactly burning through the swamps to build right now, but the war continues because they want to be ready to fire up the bulldozers when the economy ticks back upward.

Red-herring tactic

Florida Hometown Democracy is working to get a constitutional amendment on the 2010 ballot that would force elected officials to ask voters' permission to put sprawling subdivisions in rural areas. Or pig farms next door, or that delightful nuclear-waste plant within sight. In short, any big change.

The nonprofit group behind the amendment has roughly 616,000 petitions to get the initiative on the ballot, and it needs 680,000.

That's why big-money developers and their organization, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, have come up with this second amendment, which is designed to throw voters off the track.

The notion of residents who live here right now having a say over how their state will grow and what types of developments are OK is terrifying to development interests.

It's hardly a secret that most people here aren't thrilled with overcrowded schools and shoddy subdivisions packed against one another. Chances are decent they'll vote "no" for any more of that sort of nonsense.

So development backers created "Floridians for Smarter Growth," which is anything but an organization that would promote good growth.

It is funded by all the usual suspects: the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Association of Realtors and the National Home Builders Association.

High court's go-ahead

The group is trying to get a competing amendment on the ballot, and in a 4-3 decision on Dec. 18, the Supreme Court said it could.

Never mind that the amendment discriminates against active-duty military people, the disabled and those of us with real jobs that require us to be at work during business hours. No problem. Just details.

What makes this second amendment particularly confusing is that it, too, would allow for a vote on development.

But it would require 10 percent of voters to get into their cars and drive to the supervisor of elections office and in person sign a petition within 60 days of the growth-plan change.Of course, any military voter stationed elsewhere couldn't do that. Lots of disabled people couldn't get there. And plenty of plain old folks with plain old jobs would find it awfully hard to schedule time off work amid life's other demands to drive to Tavares.

In Lake County, passage of the "Smart Growth" amendment would mean 19,000 people would have to care deeply enough to make the trip.

Military lose out

Absurd, isn't it?

The Florida Hometown Democracy Amendment would provide for an automatic vote. No driving required.

Lesley Blackner, a lawyer who leads the fight to put genuine growth decisions in the hands of voters, said the Supreme Court's ruling on the scam amendment completely overlooks the effect on thousands of Florida voters.

"The irony should not be lost on anyone that thousands of Florida active-duty military and National Guard will be barred from participating in a Smart Growth 'democratic' process while deployed abroad, defending American democracy," she said. "Where is George Orwell when you need him?"

What's most troubling about the "Smart Growth" amendment, however, is its clear intent to fake out voters and to confuse the issue so that the Hometown Democracy amendment fails.

Yes to automatic vote

Consider its title: "Florida Growth Management Initiative Giving Citizens the Right to Decide Local Growth Management Plan Changes."

Ha-ha-ha-ha. If passed, this amendment will ensure that nary a single voter -- military or otherwise -- gets a crack at voting on growth changes.

To defeat this bogus proposal, voters will have to be particularly savvy to push the button for the right proposal -- the one that calls for an automatic vote on growth changes.

Need more information on the real growth-limiting proposal? Go to Florida HometownDemocracy. com.

Lauren Ritchie can be reached at Lritchie@orlandosen or 352-742-5918.

County Commissioner Carlos Gimenez is Right Again on Miami-Dade Bailout Plan...Almost. By Geniusofdespair

The Miami Herald asks the question: Will Miami-Dade Commission's local bailout plan fly?

“Miami-Dade commissioners are expected to seek a financial bailout plan for small local businesses Thursday, a move portrayed by backers as vital aid for the needy but viewed by critics as potential pork that could help keep politicians in office.”

Don’t look for Carlos Gimenez’ quote online (oops there was a second page online so it is there). He said of the Rolle/Moss plan:

“He could support the bailout as long as the money is distributed countywide, not on a district-by-district basis.”

You are right rejecting the district part Carlos, except why should the county bailout businesses at all? Are we just throwing money at a problem? Let’s get out of crisis-think and really do a reality check on the use of shrinking County funds.

I have a problem with discretionery funds themselves, having reported on them in the past: Commissioners Giving our Tax Dollars to Non-Profits: Bad Idea (6/23/08). I think it is a worse idea to give them more. The County Commissioners already use $5.5 million of our tax dollars to wrangle votes and now they want to vote more funds to themselves to distribute. Broward County is right:

"Broward County officials, meantime, said the last thing they could do in this economic climate is hand out money. ''We just don't have a pot of money that we can address a problem with. We have to balance our budget,'' said Broward Commissioner John Rodstrom."

Does anyone really think our County Commissioners are going to do their giving equitably? I sure don't. If they MUST give funds it should be given to a charity to distribute, or some neutral entity. I want their sticky fingers to stay off our tax dollars. But, the core question remains: Why are they giving funds in the first place?

Does anyone seethe on seeing that Wells Fargo bank merger AFTER the bailout? We have to stop and do some thinking before we do our giving...unless you are planning on giving the money to me.

On Lennar and what is Eyeonmiami doing to 'help'? by gimleteye

I received two recent comments from readers, expressing different points of view about our blog,

On "Lennar's Peace-of-Mind Job Loss Mortgage Payment Protection Program" a reader writes: "LSD and Houses - This post is silly. This company is not the only one offering some kind of payment incentive and I dont get what you are complaining about. Did lennar do something to you? What the hell are YOu doing to help. This post FAILS. You own me $$$ for reading it."

Another reader writes: "Please do not think i am being cynical as I mean it from the heart when i wish you all the very best in 2009. You are a ray of sanity in an otherwise gloomy and frustrating low ebb in human activity. Keep up the great work, you articulate for us who are not very good at expressing what we understand, experience and feel know has to be said. thankyou, thankyou, thankyou."

Let me try to address some points raised by reader #1.

Lennar's ad appeared on A1 of the real estate advertising section. It was noteworthy and included few details and a long disclaimer at the end. In my opinion, it was the worst form of incentive to consumers already battered and bruised by the collapse of the housing asset bubble.

On the question, "Did Lennar do something to you?", the corporation has been and continues to be at the center of local zoning decisions that we have written about extensively. Not in the way reported in recent news or on other critical housing blogs. Our tax dollars have been regularly employed on behalf of prominent developers like Lennar in ways we disagree with. Lennar's expired Florida City Commons plan in Miami-Dade comandeered a big investment of county staff, time and energy to break through the Urban Development Boundary.

In our archive, among thousands of individual blog posts over a period of years, readers can find other information on the role of lobbyists and corporations like Lennar to break through the Urban Development Boundary. What else has Lennar done? At the same time as Florida City Commons was being muscled forward (at the height of the housing boom), Lennar and its lobbyists pushed forward in closed meetings at County Hall for an affordable housing ordinance that in key respects omitted the needs of the neediest. The company heavily lobbied the annexation by Florida City of property in Miami Dade County in advance of its Florida City plan that many objected to on the grounds of important federal and state environmental laws.

I have written about the housing bubble financing methods in terms of metaphors, too: weapons of mass financial destruction or financial hallicinogens-- choose your poison. I'm not far off given the collapse of the US private banking system triggered by layers and layers of speculation by men and women of supposedly high standing.

If you trace the misplaced risk analyses by investors, by builders, and individuals who in many cases were encouraged to buy homes they could never reasonably afford, you arrive at the greatest jeopardy to the free enterprise system in modern history: the nationalization of the private banking industry. Put another way, it took no ideology to get us there other than greed.

Back to the question, 'how does Eyeonmiami help?' Many readers appreciate the information and views we provide. We add to a wider dialogue in the sunshine. That irritates some builders who have pressured the media by picking up the phone and calling the publisher or arranging special meetings in newspaper conference rooms from which reporters are excluded. By doing what we do, we 'help' public officials understand that the public cares, reads, and follows what is happening in our communities.

Corporate irresponsibility and private greed helped trigger the housing bubble an economic and political fact. We began providing this viewpoint to our readers well before the mainstream media would touch the subject. And we have connected the dots to the seeds of financial despair descending on so many families.

Lastly, I am deeply sceptical of federal intervention to "bailout" production homebuilders. Lennar and other homebuilders are pleading with Congress to allow them to write-off losses against profits stretching back into the boom.

Taxpayers never were asked to vote on whether they supported in the first place the economic policies and models that lead to the bubble in the first place, whose collateral damage to our quality of life and environment has been severe; why should we bail them out after so many unheeded warnings proved true? Many responsible homeowners and citizens were appalled by the lack of personal and corporate responsibility that fomented the housing bubble. Now we should allow federal tax policy to write-off those errors which already conferred great wealth on a few and socialized risk for millions of Americans?

As reported by Reuters yesterday, NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a statement. "The fact that there has been microscopic movement in the historically low (consumer confidence)... over the last three months provides further evidence of the need for government action to rejuvenate housing demand," he said."

As far as owing our reader money to read our post; it could be a threat or a joke. Dumping more money into a failed economic model will inevitably lead to inflation and consequences even more serious than we have already endured.

In the not-too-distant future there will be a huge debate how to consume billions in federal tax dollars parachuted to the states from the federal government. Land speculators and big developers like Lennar whose financial model is built on large scale will want to steer those dollars to support new sprawl, new "transportation improvements" that do little for the needs of existing residents. We will object. And we will contest the pitch that investment in housing and infrastructure to serve sprawl creates the kind of lasting economic growth our nation desperately needs. That is our point of view.

January home builder sentiment sinks to new low
Wed Jan 21, 2009 1:48pm EST
By Julie Haviv

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Home builder sentiment sank to a new low in January as concerns about the faltering economy and reluctant home buyers hurt confidence in the market for newly built single-family homes, an industry group said on Wednesday.

The National Association of Home Builders said its preliminary NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index was 8 in January, down from 9 in December. That is the lowest level on record since the gauge was launched in January 1985.

Readings below 50 indicate more builders view market conditions as poor than favorable. The January index was below expectations of 9, based on a Reuters survey of economists.

Eric Belsky, executive director at Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, said home builders are not only struggling under sinking demand and a credit crisis, but are facing a flood of homes in foreclosure.

"They have been responding to slack conditions by reducing production dramatically, but demand continues to fall and until that comes back, the drop in production is not enough to make the market turn around," he said.

Interest rates on mortgages have fallen sharply recently, a key development that could help turn around the hard-hit housing sector, but not enough to improve demand at this point.

"Even though we have lower mortgage rates, people are staying sidelined out of fear over further home price drops, anxiety about the economy, their income and their job," Belsky said.

The housing market is suffering the worst downturn since the Great Depression as a huge supply of unsold homes, tighter lending standards and record foreclosures push down home prices.

"Clearly, conditions in the nation's housing market aren't getting any better, and they aren't going to get any better until the federal government takes substantial action to encourage qualified buyers to get back in the market," NAHB Chairman Sandy Dunn, a home builder from Point Pleasant, West Virginia, said in a statement.

The gauge of current single-family homes sales fell to 6 from 8. The index of sales expected in the next six months, however, increased to 17 from 16. The prospective-buyer traffic measure also climbed, rising to 8 from 7, the group said.

Home builders have curbed new construction as they have been working through inventories of unsold homes by slashing prices at the expense of profits to pay off debt and keep afloat.

"Builder views continue to track with historically low consumer confidence measures," NAHB Chief Economist David Crowe said in a statement.

"The fact that there has been microscopic movement in the historically low HMI and its component indexes over the last three months provides further evidence of the need for government action to rejuvenate housing demand," he said.

(Editing by Leslie Adler)

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Email addresses for Florida legislature

Email addresses for Florida legislature. Click 'read more'.



Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Miami-Dade Mortgage Foreclosure Filings 2008: More Than Double 2007. By Geniusofdespair

The total mortgage foreclosure filings in 2008 in Miami Dade County, according to County records, is 56,530. That is more than 7 times the amount of filings in 2005. The good news is, I meant to say 'bad' news, they are going up not down. In January 2008 there were 3,544 and in December 2008 there were 5,582.

The lost decades: the US EPA and water quality protection in the State of Florida ... by gimleteye

When Jeb Bush came to office a decade ago, he was carried by a wave of anger against regulation in its many forms, especially related to the environment. There would be a new way, according to his formula for Florida's future, that followed the now discredited notion that enlightened self-interest by business would prevent toxics from overwhelming the public interest.

Former Gov. Bush didn't just favor voluntary compliance by industry to restrict pollution, he suppressed rule making, laws, and enforcement actions against polluters. But Florida's troubles with polluted waterways didn't start with Bush; from a political point of view the antipathy to regulations began almost as quickly as the nation's strongest federal laws were put in place. The backlash acquired momentum during the Reagan revolution when the Sagebrush Rebellion against environmental laws bred its own connections to southeast Florida.

President Clinton's triangulation strategy also veered away from tough federal intervention in favor of the states. His EPA, under Carol Browner, shied away from a tough regulatory regime in Florida where the conflicts between development and water resources pushed issues related to pollution. For the most part, the response by Florida's environmental organizations was to take what they could get; which wasn't much but words and a succession of state legislation weakening pollution standards and putting citizen objectors at an ever greater distance from their government.

In one of his last acts in the White House, George W. Bush approved requiring the US EPA to set water quality standards for nutrients for all Florida surface waters. It is an astounding reversal and leaves the clean-up after decades of mismanagement of the federal interest to the Obama administration to sort out.

The problem: over the past decade, and in Florida in particular, the capacity of EPA to do much more than send a few people to meetings has been severely truncated. Does anyone even know how many enforcement actions EPA initiated against polluters in Florida or wetlands' violators in the past ten years?

Clinton didn't run away from the nutrient pollution issue because he wanted to-- it was because the politics were so damned severe, wrapping his fortunes with sugar barons like Alfie Fanjul and campaign supporters hungry for development that only succeeded by mispricing the risks of financial derivatives at the same time as mispricing the costs of pollution.

The Bush White House decision was driven by a recent federal court decision against the State of Florida's grossly distorted, new phosphorous standard rule pushed by Big Sugar, land speculators and former Gov. Bush in 2002 and pitched to the media by then FDEP Secretary and chief carnival barker David Struhs on federal courthouse steps in downtown Miami, where a federal judge was gravely disturbed by alterations that violated the intent of an agreed upon settlement by the state and US government. It's over now, but how the US EPA will be able to pick up the pieces remains to be seen. (click 'read more' for a detailed press release by Florida Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.)

Contact: Jerry Phillips (850)877-8097; Luke Eshleman (202) 265-7337
Rising Percentage of State Rivers, Lakes and Estuaries Impaired by Excess
Nutrients *
Washington, DC - In one of the final acts of the Bush administration, the
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced that it would set "water
quality standards for nutrients" for all Florida surface waters. The action
signals a breakdown in the state's water pollution protection program so
profound that federal intervention is required, according to Public
Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER).

Already, one-third of all Florida lakes, one-quarter of its estuaries and
one-sixth of its rivers are officially classified as "impaired" by
pollution. The January 14, 2009 U.S. EPA "determination letter" states that
poor water quality in Florida is "likely to worsen" without federal action.

Currently, Florida lacks any quantitative or numeric pollution standards for
nutrients, such as phosphorus. The state instead relies on a "narrative
criterion" that pollution should not cause "an imbalance in natural
populations of aquatic flora or fauna". EPA concludes that "Florida's
narrative nutrient criterion alone is not sufficient to …meet the
requirements of the CWA [Clean Water Act]".

"Our state Department of Environmental Protection is flat out losing the
battle to save Florida's waters," stated Florida PEER Director Jerry
Phillips, a former DEP enforcement attorney. "This 'narrative criterion' is
essentially a smell test - which itself does not pass a smell test."

The EPA letter states that it "expects to propose numeric nutrient criteria
for lakes and flowing waters within 12 months, and for estuaries and coastal
waters, within 24 months" - a timeline which puts these tasks squarely in
the lap of the incoming Obama administration. PEER points to mounting
pressure on EPA to act coming from multiple sources, including -

- A long series of adverse federal court rulings that EPA has been
derelict in protecting Florida's water quality, particularly as it affects
the Everglades. The agency is under court order to shape up the state
pollution program, even as more suits are being filed against it;

- Florida DEP has tried to cook the books by firing its key lab manager
who was finding pollution readings that were off the chart. That lab
manager, Tom White, is represented by PEER in a whistleblower lawsuit
nearing trail. In the determination letter, EPA notes that DEP has spent
"over $20 million in collecting and analyzing data" but has yet to develop
numeric standards; and

- DEP has little idea of how much of which pollutant is being discharged
to state waters. In response to a records request, the agency told PEER
that it "would have to develop a new [computer] program" to be able to track
how many permits had been issued or renewed.

The announcement came in a joint press release, entitled "EPA and Florida
DEP Work Together to Restore Florida's Surface Water", which seeks to
portray the federal intervention as a cooperative venture. It was issued on
January 16th, the last full working day of the Bush administration.

"This press announcement is an ardent attempt to put a lot of lipstick on a
very big pig," Phillips added. "When the Bush EPA is forced to step in is a
sign that things are really bad."


Read a copy of the EPA determination letter

See the "happy talk" joint EPA/DEP

Note the series of adverse court rulings against EPA oversight in

Look at whistleblower suit by DEP water quality lab

View DEP inability to answer request for overall water permit status

What does Gonzalo Sanabria really want? by gimleteye

Gonzalo Sanabria loaned his campaign $100,000 and hired Armando Gutierrez for ideas to run for Coral Gables City Commission against popular incumbent, Maria Anderson. What does Sanabria's experience have to do with municipal government in Coral Gables? Not much, compared to his experience advocating for big development and big infrastructure at the county level.

The Planning Advisory Board where Gonzalo Sanabria served, business associates like Rodney Barreto, and the record of sprawling developments seeking zoning outside the Urban Development Boundary helps focus public attention on the wave of foreclosures and a failed economic model. During the housing boom, the beneficiaries became very wealthy.

Today, the remaining speculators who purchased large acreage properties at the top of the market from 2003 to 2006 are burning cash and treading water while the Obama fiscal stimulus moves money into Florida. Miami's production homebuilders represented by the Latin Builders Association-- where Sanabria was a director-- need change.

Within a short number of years, the leadership at the county commission will change. War horses for developers on zoning issues like county commissioners and charter members of the unreformable majority like Javier Souto and Natacha Seijas can't count on surviving the outcome of the economic troubles. One or more of the current county commissioners will be running for county mayor in 2010. Inevitably, top lobbyists will be pushing new county commissioners who will advocate for real estate development, failed model or not.

Development interests and big land owners need the next wave of public officials to fill in; that is the appropriate context to consider Gonzalo Sanabria's election campaign in Coral Gables.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

January 20, 2009 ... the unforgotten ... by gimleteye

To tens of millions of Americans, today's inauguration of a new American president is the end to a national nightmare; one of the most unpopular presidencies in US history.

Barack Obama's presidency, that begins today, should and will be held as a unique event. One that stands on its own. But many have noted as well that President Obama is the legacy of former president George W. Bush. As fate would have it, that presidential legacy began in Florida.

I wouldn't begin to know, how to total the number of Floridians who understood the consequences of a Bush victory in 2000, who committed their time and energy as activists to the Gore campaign and, importantly, began on November 5th to fight for a fair and equitable process to recount the contested ballots. Is it a few dozen? A few hundred? Few, in the media, have looked backward along this particular railway track. There is not a single word in today's edition of The Miami Herald, for instance, on this passage through darkness to light. Whatever their number, they are the unforgotten.

As Barack Obama's hand rests on Lincoln's bible, his hand will stop up an equally historic pain. The trauma began at dawn of November 5th, 2000. Leading to that day, candidate Al Gore did not have Clinton's help in Florida, and in key respects sailed with faulty GPS coordinates on a political map. The trauma bled out the following month with a botched recount, steered in important respects by the president's brother, then Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. The worst happened in Miami, where youthful Republican partisans pretending to be aggrieved locals parachuted in to protest the Miami-Dade recount. At the moment of crisis, key Democrats like then-mayor Alex Penelas disappeared like smoke, for reasons of their own, helping send the election to be settled by the US Supreme Court.

History matters. Every eloquent speech of president-elect Obama this week has drawn attention to this fact. To those Floridians, then, who understood the stakes and what consequences would befall the nation in terms of balance, equity, and the protection of democracy; to those Floridians who lived with the results along with the rest of the world-- today's presidential inauguration of Barack Obama represents the first moment of relief in more than eight years. But there is a cautionary note, always.

Only people who have studied history understand: we hope for change but we learn from the past. From Miami, we know how bittersweet that knowledge can be.

Why Can’t I Get a Good Honeybell in Miami? By Geniusofdespair

Enough with the inauguration hype, I am ready to move on. Oops! The inauguration hasn't actually happened yet -- but I am still moving on to more pressing issues, like: Oranges.

There is one thing about produce I just don’t understand. Why, after all we live in Florida, can’t we get a good Navel Orange or Honeybell in urban areas of Miami-Dade? Where do all the good orchard oranges go? Not to Publix that is for sure. I just came home from Fort Pierce with a supply of excellent oranges from an orchard farmstand and they were not expensive, fifty nine cents a pound. Anyone have answers?

Monday, January 19, 2009

I Need a New Clock. By Geniusofdespair

Never thought this clock would run-down...Almost there!

The Financial Times on Bush ... by gimleteye

A tragedy of errors... click 'read more'.

A tragedy of errors
By Edward Luce
Published: January 18 2009 20:05 | Last updated: January 18 2009 20:05

In his farewell address last week, George W. Bush, America’s 43rd president, quoted America’s third, Thomas Jefferson, who said: “I like the dreams of the future better than the history of the past.” Put there to highlight Mr Bush’s very American sense of optimism, it could just as well serve as an unintentional epitaph on his presidency.

Not generally a noted fan of scholarship, the outgoing president has developed a habit of plundering episodes from the past in defence of his eight years in office. Among his unknowing allies, Mr Bush has enlisted Theodore Roosevelt (a strong sense of nationalistic purpose), Winston Churchill (unwavering resolve in the face of evil), Ronald Reagan (ditto) and, most of all, Harry S. Truman.

Although a Democrat, the last has proved most helpful. As the statesman who presided over the beginning of the cold war, Mr Truman stood for freedom against tyranny. In spite of his leaving office with what was then a record low voter approval – dragged down by US involvement in the Korean war – history has elevated the plain-spoken and unintellectual Mr Truman into one of America’s most respected presidents.

The analogy has proved irresistible to Mr Bush, who departs with the thanks of fewer than one in four Americans. So far it does not have too many takers. “Harry Truman and George Bush both left office with rock-bottom approval ratings,” says Strobe Talbott, head of the Brookings Institution, America’s most venerable think-tank. “That is as far as the parallel goes.”

He adds: “Truman set up Nato, strengthened the United Nations and helped lay the groundwork for the European Union – all legacies that persist to this day. Bush leaves no architecture, no institutions, no treaties and no respect for the international rule of law. His unintended legacy may be for America to turn back to those institutions and try to revitalise them after the aberrations of the last eight years.”

It is a damning but unexceptional commentary. Will future historians bear it out? Defenders of Mr Bush say his legacy will hinge substantially on whether democracy takes root in Iraq and thereby helps spread stability to the rest of the Middle East. This is an updated version of one of the many original justifications for the invasion: “The road to Jerusalem runs through Baghdad,” neo-conservative proponents used to say of the war.

So far, however – and in spite of the undoubted gains of the 20-month-long US troop surge in Iraq – Jerusalem does not seem to have noticed. Mr Bush leaves at one of the worst times in Israeli-Palestinian relations, with more than 1,000 killed in the three-week assault on the Gaza Strip. “The Gaza conflict is a fitting end to the Bush presidency,” says Francis Fukuyama, author of The End of History and initially a supporter of regime change in Iraq. “Israel is applying the original Bush doctrine in Gaza, which says that politics can be changed on the ground through military means. Ironically, in Iraq, Mr Bush has learnt this lesson painfully and has adopted counter-insurgency tactics aimed at winning over the civilian population. But he cannot seem to apply it to Israel.”

Perhaps the most common argument mounted in defence of Mr Bush is that he has prevented any further terrorist attacks on the US mainland since the day that became known to all as 9/11. In the words of Stephen Hadley, his outgoing national security adviser: “If you had told us on 12 September 2001, when we were coming off the 11 September attacks and going into the anthrax attacks and when we were getting a lot of intelligence that told us that 9/11 could be the first in a series – if you told us then, ‘Don’t worry, you’ll be sitting with the FT in January 2009 and you’ll be able to tell them that America was not [subsequently] attacked’, we would have said it sounds too good to be true.”

Detractors argue that this came at the price of having widened and deepened the pool of support within the Islamic world for future such attacks on America and its allies. In addition to the invasion of Iraq, they cite the use of torture – or “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the words of its defenders – and the use of Guantánamo Bay as a dumping ground for suspects deprived of legal rights. “We kept America secure but at a high cost,” says Richard Armitage, Mr Bush’s former deputy secretary of state. “Much of it was unnecessary.”

John Ashcroft, who as Mr Bush’s first attorney-general helped frame the legal rationale for the administration’s “global war on terror”, disagrees. “At every stage we acted within the constitution,” says Mr Ashcroft. “[Franklin Delano] Roosevelt interned thousands of Japanese-Americans in the second world war. [Woodrow] Wilson suspended civil liberties in the first world war, as did [Abraham] Lincoln during the civil war. We never resorted to such measures. We never went beyond what the constitution empowers the president to do in defence of liberty.”

In spite of having a 5-4 conservative majority, the US Supreme Court has rebuffed Mr Ashcroft’s interpretation of the constitution in a series of landmark rulings that have restored many of the rights that had been denied to terrorist suspects. Barack Obama, who will on Tuesday ride with Mr Bush from the White House to Capitol Hill for his swearing-in ceremony, has pledged to put an end to much of what America’s highest court has yet to address, including Guantánamo.

But the debate over the methods Mr Bush deployed in the “war on terror” – and on whether he should have declared the struggle against terrorists to be a “war” in the first place – has given way to a more subtle but perhaps more lasting critique of his presidency. Republican and Democratic critics tend to agree on one point: regardless of what is thought of Mr Bush’s policies, he stands accused of serial incompetence. Mr Fukuyama is blunt. “Governing is about setting goals and then executing them. George Bush couldn’t execute his way out of a bag.”

The indictment sheet is lengthy. From Mr Bush’s inability to plan for the occupation of Iraq in 2003 to his slow response when Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005, the outgoing president is accused both of failing to understand the consequences of his actions and of an inability to follow through on proclamations he has made.

Even diehard supporters such as Michael Gerson, who was Mr Bush’s chief speechwriter for most of his presidency, concede some of the criticism. “Perhaps the most powerful message of the Bush presidency was his ‘freedom agenda’ [to spread democracy round the world],” says Mr Gerson. “But he leaves office without a clearly defined freedom agenda to speak of. It just kind of faded away.”

Neo-conservative former supporters accuse Mr Bush of having sold out on the principles of his first term, for example by engaging with North Korea and offering to engage with Iran – the other two points on his “axis of evil”. Liberal critics concede that Mr Bush embarked on a reluctant “course correction” in his second term but complain that he has done so ineffectually.

Neither group can any longer provide a clear definition of the “Bush doctrine”. Early on in Mr Bush’s presidency it meant acting pre-emptively – with military force if necessary – to forestall threats to America even before they were “fully formed”. After Condoleezza Rice moved to the State department in the second term, the Bush doctrine morphed into “transformational diplomacy”. By the end of Mr Bush’s term, all that is left of the president’s doctrine is his familiar homily about light and darkness. “I have spoken to you often about good and evil and this has made some people uncomfortable,” Mr Bush said in his farewell address. “But good and evil are present in this world and between the two of them there can be no compromise.”

Observers have traced much of Mr Bush’s alleged incompetence to his dislike of what he calls “process decisions” – conclusions reached through the normal Washington inter-agency process. Following his father’s defeat by Bill Clinton in 1992, the future president was quoted as having dismissed George Bush senior’s tendency to synthesise widely sought advice. In contrast, the younger Bush saw himself as “The Decider” – someone who acted on principle and never lost sleep over the consequences.

Many admired his gut instincts. But as his presidency wore on, they dwindled in number. Some suspected, often correctly, that Mr Bush’s impulses were supplied by Dick Cheney, his vice-president, whose skill at circumventing the usual channels of decision-making was second to none. “I lost count of the number of times that we learnt of decisions that had already been taken – we were never invited to the meetings,” says Mr Armitage. “Then we would get back on the gerbil wheel [the normal calendar of meetings] even though we often didn’t know about decisions that had already been taken.”

Naturally, Mr Bush’s most secretive decisions were not subjected to expert scrutiny. Sometimes, such as when the Iraqi army was disbanded shortly after the US invasion, the president was unaware of decisions carried out in his name. Particularly since Katrina, his style of decision-making grew into his chief badge of notoriety. For months after 9/11, Mr Bush enjoyed the highest ratings of any president in American history. He leaves office with the lowest. “That takes some doing,” says James Lindsay, a politics professor at Texas university.

“After 9/11 Bush had most of the world and all of America on his side. He responded by dividing the world and spurning bipartisanship. The result was that he united rather than divided his enemies. Is that incompetence? You could say that Bush had aspirations but lacked strategy.”

The same charge has been levelled at Mr Bush’s economic policies. Inheriting a budget surplus from Mr Clinton of more than $200bn, Mr Bush bequeaths Mr Obama a record-shattering $1,200bn (€905bn, £815bn) projected deficit for 2009. Following the financial meltdown last autumn, Mr Bush summarised thus: “Wall Street got drunk and left us with the hangover.”

In his defence, almost nobody anticipated the depth or scale of the crisis. The outgoing president has also won grudging plaudits for having forgone his free-market instincts last October in favour of a $700bn market intervention. Mr Bush’s lieutenants have since been heavily criticised for alleged mismanagement of the emergency bail-out funds. Many conservatives now accuse Mr Bush of being a “socialist”.

That is a bit of a stretch. But Mr Bush can be accused of having been asleep on the watch. “I tried in 2005 to persuade the administration that mortgage lending was way too lax and that we should tighten up the terms and conditions,” says Larry Lindsey, who was Mr Bush’s chief economic adviser. “I was ignored. They said: ‘Oh Larry’s always too pessimistic. Now he thinks there’s a housing bubble.’ But I would not put the blame for this mess chiefly on the Bush administration. When there’s a bubble there’s always plenty of blame to go around.”

As with the key tenets of Mr Bush’s “war on terror”, Mr Obama has pledged to dismantle much of his predecessor’s economic legacy, most notably the large-scale tax cuts that went disproportionately to wealthy Americans in 2001 and 2003. Again, however, the most pointed criticisms directed at Mr Bush’s economic policies dwell on his alleged incompetence.

Until Hank Paulson was recruited in 2006, Mr Bush’s Treasury secretaries were derided as unqualified and seen as peripheral. The same charge was levelled repeatedly at many other appointees, large numbers of whom had scant credentials for the jobs they took on. On the campaign trail, Mr Obama’s biggest applause line came when he promised to appoint “qualified people to government”. From Florida to Ohio, it had audiences on their feet.

Skipping wordlessly over his father, Mr Bush often cites Reagan as his chief inspiration. The father of modern American conservatism came to office proclaiming government was the “problem, not the solution”. Almost 30 years later, that line appears to have run its course.

On Tuesday Mr Bush will hand over to a man who won a thumping victory by rekindling a dormant American enthusiasm for public service. Mr Obama could not have done it without Mr Bush. Among the epitaphs available, Prof Lindsay’s from his home state of Texas might prove the most enduring. “I can summarise Bush’s legacy in two words,” he says. “Barack Obama.”

Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2009

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Keith Olbermann: 8 Bush years in 8 minutes

Gonzalo Sanabria, not for Coral Gables City Commission... by gimleteye

A challenger has emerged to run in an April election for Coral Gables City Commission against popular incumbent Maria Anderson: Gonzolo Sanabria. Eyeonmiami has written about Gonzalo Sanabria before. News of his intention to run for public office gives us reason to write again.

"I will shortly be challenging Maria Anderson to any and all debates. I look forward to analyzing her record in front of the public.'' Bring it on, she said. ''I love the democratic process,'' Anderson said. "Campaigns are a great way to have a great dialogue about the issues of the city. I love debates. So I would say, let's go for it."

Gonzalo Sanabria's career has been tied up in one real estate deal after another, and in his public service has represented Miami's addiction to growth-at-any-cost that helped foment the housing market bubble and now the worst decline in property values in history. Sanabria served on the County Planning Advisory Board as chief barker for serial horrendous development applications; from the Homestead Air Force Base (HABDI) to other developments outside Miami Dade's Urban Development Boundary. Sometimes Gonzalo seemed to be reading from the same script. Gonzalo Sanabria relished his role as the black hat and could always be counted on to deliver the viewpoint of special interests.

Sanabria's viewpoint on growth is like a saw blade cutting through the public interest in two directions: first, the complaint that environmental and planning regulations are excessively burdensome and, second, that regulations adequately protect the environment from development impacts.

While Gonzalo Sanabria was pushing his arguments back and forth on the Planning Advisory Board, his team-mates in the lobbying business were all about neutering, dismantling, or otherwise wrecking those regulations and intimidating those regulators at every opportunity.

We can't wait to hear his defense of the indefensible.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Great column on the rising stench of public corruption: not in The Miami Herald... by gimleteye

When was the last time The Miami Herald printed the email address and information for citizens and government employees to report public corruption? Try, never. How's this from Kenric Ward, Columnist for the Treasure Coast Palm: "Palm Beach corruption laps at Treasure Coast." Ward gives praise to the Miami-based US Attorney Alex Acosta for rooting out illegal activities linking elected officials, developers and rock miners. He writes, "Now that Florida’s real-estate bubble has burst, and deals have collapsed, the rats are turning on each other." Never truer words spoken. I wish the US Attorney would test "Honest Services" against the performance of the unreformable majority of the county commission right here in Miami-Dade. To read the full editorial, click read more.

Citizen complaint hotline: (305) 961-9173

Kenric Ward: Palm Beach corruption laps at Treasure Coast

By Kenric Ward (Contact)
Sunday, January 18, 2009

A booking shot of Joe Knight, also known as Joe Paladin and Joe Palladino, circa 1989.

Despite his criminal background, Joe Paladin has managed to become a key adviser to the Indian River County Commission.

The rising stench from South Florida is moving ever closer.

For decades, the political shenanigans of Miami-Dade have been the butt of national jokes. Then came Broward County, where Sheriff Ken Jenne was convicted of taking $151,625 in improper services and payments.

Lately, the action has been in Palm Beach. Three county commissioners have resigned under a growing cloud of corruption: Tony Masilotti and Warren Newell are serving time in federal prison for influence peddling on land deals; a third, Mary McCarty, stepped down this month, pleading guilty to fraud.

Now that Florida's real-estate bubble has burst, and deals have collapsed, the rats are turning on each other. McCarty, who had called Masilotti "scum," got a taste of her own medicine.

Alexander Acosta, U.S. attorney for South Florida, has used the current climate to turn up the heat on public "servants" who enrich themselves through crooked connections.

Next stop: Treasure Coast?

Since Acosta's district extends north to the Treasure Coast, local government officials should take note of what's been going down to our south.

Developer-friendly politicians — which include virtually every office holder, regardless of party affiliation — need to realize there's a new sheriff in town. If the local state attorney isn't interested in pursuing allegations of misfeasance or malfeasance, Acosta's office is. He's made public corruption, along with Medicare fraud and gang activity, his top priority.

Using the federal Honest Services Act, the U.S. attorney wields broad power to bring politicians to account. They can be charged for accepting benefits that merely allow their judgment to be compromised. There is no requirement to prove that political favors were explicitly sold.

Most politicians aren't usually that stupid. But fraternization with and campaign contributions from developers raise questions, as they did with Masilotti, et al.

For example, is it such a stretch to consider that the interaction between some Indian River County commissioners and ex-con Joe Paladin — Joseph Knight, as he was known while building homes in the late 1980s in St. Lucie West — might not raise the same red flags?

While there's no evidence of Honest Services Act problems, is commissioners' connection to an ex-con really worth the risk?

Paladin prominently positions himself at every commission meeting, advising commissioners on a host of topics. Last week, he sparred with county attorneys, offering his "legal" opinions on eminent-domain actions. He alternately identifies himself as a builder, developer or, most recently, "consultant."

Unofficially, he's been called the "sixth commissioner" for his influence in local governmental affairs. He even chaired the county's "Growth Awareness Committee."

Some might consider this good civic volunteerism. Yet Paladin hasn't exactly been a model citizen. Convicted of making false statements in his 1988 bankruptcy petition — a felony — he also served time for three counts of theft and was an FBI informant, providing the names of 146 suspected criminal associates. Ironically, this political activist has not had his voting rights restored.

Nonetheless, Paladin (aka Joseph Paladino) shamelessly pals around with commissioners and staff, throws holiday parties and is omnipresent at the County Administration Building.

Why public officials would want to associate with such an individual — let alone give him credit or credence in policy decisions — is one of the mysteries of local politics. Or is it? Similarly self-serving behavior, perhaps not with ex-cons, plays out in halls of government across the Treasure Coast.

By now it should be abundantly clear how special-interest groups work the system for pecuniary gain. Developers routinely win zoning variances, waivers and financial incentives for their projects. They constantly attack urban service boundaries and fight development impact fees, shoving the costs of growth onto existing taxpayers. Naturally, they disparage any attempt to bring more transparency and democracy to the decision-making process.

Is there a quid pro quo?

"Honest services" presuppose that public officials will act in the best interest of the public at large, with neither fear nor favor. Acosta has aggressively pursued this principle, and may yet find grounds to investigate here. Let's hope President Barack Obama doesn't take this U.S. attorney off the case.


Highlights of stories about Joe Paladin (aka Joe Knight) printed in 1989 and 1990 in the News or Tribune:


Jan. 14: "Joe Knight, president of RWS Development Corp., was named St. Lucie West's 1988 Builder of the Year." He built in Country Club Estates and Heatherwood.

March 27: Paladin was charged with insurance fraud and grand theft after being stopped in a Porsche 911 with tags from a stolen vehicle. Police said a "gold-plated .357 magnum Colt Python revolver with an 8-inch barrel" had been re´ported stolen, but was found by authorities in his Indian River Drive home.

March 29: RWS Owner Robert Simpkins fired Paladin, who, it turns out, was just a project manager.


April 6: "Judge orders plea bargain to be sealed," which led to lawsuits to unseal filed by the Tribune and Miami Herald.

May 10: Judge partially releases records.

May 30: Headline: "Arrested builder agreed to help nail acquaintances." In a story: "The man is a con artist from the word go," Simpkins said.

June 23: Paladin was sentenced to 15-month prison terms, to run together, on state and federal charges. Questions were raised about his role as an FBI informant.


Fort Pierce: (772) 466-0899

Citizen complaint hotline: (305) 961-9173


Polluted Panama; Bocas del Toro pollution continues and no response from government ... by gimleteye

Last fall, wrote about the nastiest ocean dumping I'd ever seen: a municipal waste dump spilling directly into a pristine surf break on Panama's Bocas del Toro, an island whose economy heavily relies on promoting ecology.

I visited Bocas to surf, a year ago. I had planned another trip with my family this year but was waiting for a response from authorities I had tried to contact about the unfolding environmental disaster. I received no response. A recent reader told me everything I need to know:

"DECEMBER 30, 2008
CM said...
I have been surfing bocas for the last 2 weeks, one of which was about a 1000 feet from the dump. This is one of the worst things I have ever seen. Even surfing at Isla Carenero, you can see and smell the burning waste of the dump while you surfing. I surfed the wave in front of it, "inner dumpers" I was the only person out and got some of the best waves of my life. It is much much worse than the pictures that you see here in one of the most beautiful areas of beach and coast I have ever seen."

Yuck! I'll spend my money elsewhere, thank you very much, Panama. The January 2009 online edition of Bocas Breeze is filled with news about November's record flooding on the island. Inevitably, the flood pushed a wall of toxics from the municipal into the ocean surf. Shame on Panama!

The Bocas Breeze "... has been told that the dump will be moved, according to a contract signed by the Municipio, before Feb. 18, 2009. As this January issue was going to press, no progress has been made, which means the dump has gotten larger and the problem worse."

What a disaster for Panama's public image. The nation champions its "ecological" heritage and attracts foreign dollars and investment at places like Bocas; its municipal dump on the ocean at Bocas is an international disgrace.

Register your complaints at this website please! Click here.

Ice Fishing Sucks (LOL). By geniusofdespair

"Buffer Lands to the Everglades": What does it mean? By Geniiusofdespair

We talk a lot about buffer lands to the Everglades. Here are just two examples of production home developers (Sergio Pino owns with Rodney Barreto) owning buffer lands to the Everglades. You can see by these maps where the developer's land is and where the Everglades starts.