Here is what makes the Big Sugar billionaires happiest: in Tallahassee their army of lobbyists successfully boxed in a group of environmentalists -- including Everglades Foundation and Florida Audubon -- making it appear they supported their side in a lousy deal that will make the BS BS'ers even richer. There is nothing more delightful to the BS BS'ers than being able to market poison pills as "historic partnerships".
Here is the unbridled BS, Big Sugar billionaires mailed to voters recently. If you want to know the truth of unabated pollution and costs imposed on taxpayers, compare the BS BS to the editorial by Florida fishing guide Mike Conner.
Mike Conner: Sending a little 'shared adversity' to South Florida Water Management District, Army Corps of Engineers
Mike Conner, Stuart, is a charter fishing guide and editor of Fly & Light Tackle Angler magazine.
Friday, June 21, 2013
As predictable as afternoon thunderstorms in July, Treasure Coast residents are again bracing for another slug of polluted Lake Okeechobee water. It is headline news, but there is nothing really new about it.
When I lived in Miami, I worked as a charter fishing guide on the sparkling waters of Biscayne Bay and Everglades National Park. Weather, not water quality, was my biggest concern.
Now I live in Stuart and fish professionally and for pleasure in the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. Before moving here 13 years ago I was "distantly" aware of the damage that polluted lake discharges inflict on this region's waters. I was shocked when I finally saw it for myself. After all, I grew up fishing Biscayne Bay, where waves lap the shore of a sprawling megalopolis. Yet that bay is a sparkling jewel compared to our waters much of the year.
It doesn't figure that there is a clear, subtropical bay in a county of millions of people, and a relative cesspool runs through little old Martin County, does it? But that is the reality, and it's punching us in the face as the South Florida Water Management District and Army Corps of Engineers again open the sludge gates.
So here comes Lake O, and earlier than normal thanks to a wet spring, but more so to antiquated, poorly conceived, agriculture business-manipulated water management infrastructure and policies.
The water quality is tanking quickly, the "do not touch the water" signs are posted, and I have a charter business to run. Repeat customers who have fished with me are reading the headlines and asking, "Is the fly fishing going to suffer?" "Should I schedule my late July trip at another time?" "Do the snook have those skin lesions again?"
These are folks who put money in my pocket in exchange for a quality experience. And I am angry that, unlike the weather, the water is probably going to be the deal-breaker.
Can I scare up a few fish no matter how bad the river's condition? Maybe a few, as I subject my anglers to putrid, brown water and the smell of chemicals and ultimately, the smell of rot and death.
So I am going to Plan B, strongly suggesting to my customers that we fish somewhere else, such as Flamingo in Everglades National Park and Biscayne Bay, 176 and 132 miles, respectively, from my front door, rather than the 10 miles or less I travel now to launch my skiff here.
Will anglers who usually come to Martin County want to travel that far south to fish with me? Will vacationing anglers here for other activities want to leave their families for 12 or 14 hours? Probably not.
But I must make adjustments, just as any business owner does when subjected to conditions or events he can't control. Trailering a boat that far is daunting through the mind-numbing gantlet of Broward and Dade County highways. I will have to book lodging, as will my customers. I will spend money for extra gas, food and turnpike tolls, as will my customers. And that is money they would otherwise spend in Martin County, at restaurants, gas stations, hotels and other places.
Can I raise my charter rates to soften the blow? Not in this economy. Plus, I wouldn't be comfortable doing that. So here's Part 2 of Plan B: I am going to invoice my expenses to the agencies whose actions are hitting me in the wallet. I want to give the Water Management District and the Corps a chance to actually "share that adversity" they are always spouting about - with me!
Do I expect reimbursement? Of course not. But I expect a response. We always get responses when our waters are trashed, with the same old side dish of heavy spin from the same old spokespersons following the same old marching orders.
Just wondering, should I copy Big Sugar on my invoices? The cane growers seem to have particularly deep pockets these days. On second thought, scratch that. To get their check, I would have to be elected to office.
Mike Conner of Stuart is a charter fishing guide and editor of Fly & Light Tackle Angler magazine.