Thursday, September 26, 2013

United Way in Florida: late to the dance ... by gimleteye

It takes a lot to rouse United Way on environmental issues. For example, on the Everglades and water quality issues, United Way and other South Florida foundations have been exceptionally quiet. That changed in Martin County recently. There, the local United Way is weighing in on the massive pollution of waterways that is damaging the economy.

In Miami-Dade, United Way acts as a collector and distributor of charitable donations, but it is disinterested in funding environmental causes or groups, except when donors specify a portion of their gifts.

For political interests in Miami-Dade, environmental protection issues are ignored unless they are packaged in a way to benefit campaign contributors. Why? Money that eventually trickles down to politicians and also to charitable groups often come from special interests and individuals whose wealth is connected to exploiting the environment, or, manipulating rules and regulations meant to protect the environment: home builders, rock miners, and sugar barons for example. Some of these will join the boards of round bellied green groups that don't push or shove.

For as many decades as the Knight Foundation and other charitable groups scampered from the funding forensics of environmental crimes, the polluters in South Florida ran circles of yellow tape around the crime scene so thick as to be virtually impenetrable. Then, they went in and altered the evidence.

Transparency is the enemy of polluters. United Way, for decades, has tip-toed around the manifold ways development and developers closed off options to mitigate the damage to the Everglades.

In Martin County, mobilized by the recent massive pollution of the St. Lucie River and estuaries and coasts and the resultant destruction of business and real estate values, United Way is lending a hand. It will take a similar disaster to rouse Miami-Dade United Way

TOXIC WATER: United Way to figure out how much local business has lost due to Lake O discharges
Surveys will go out in next few weeks (WPTV, 9/24/2013)

STUART, FL - As lawmakers Tuesday met in Tallahassee to talk about the Indian River Lagoon, local business owners continue to lament a lost summer...

Now the United Way of Martin County wants to find out exactly how much financial damage has been done.

Kevin Lindsay has a financial stake in clean water. He says while boat sales at Lindsay Marine in Stuart haven't dropped this summer, he's taken a hit to his repair business.

"The less people use their boats, the less they're going to break and the less they'll bring them in here for us to repair them," said Lindsay.

Jim Vojcsik, Executive Director with the United Way of Martin County, said his board decided this week to get involved, not by providing money, but first finding out how much money has been lost.

"We started talking about it and we felt that there is an impact that goes beyond just the environment. There's an impact on people's livelihoods, on the health and safety of our community," said Vojcsik.

They plan on getting a survey together in the next few weeks to send out not just to businesses but also to area non-profits.

"Be that data collector and disseminate that information appropriately and understand what the impact is," said Vojcsik.

Like many who love the water, Kevin Lindsay is upset over the constant freshwater discharges from Lake Okeechobee into the Indian River Lagoon, resulting in months of health advisories.

"The different agencies in government can't get their act together. This should have been handled years ago after the last time we went through this," said Lindsay.

Lindsay is hoping the United Way's efforts will be the start of the right way to help local business.


Anonymous said...

Look who gives money to places like United Way or Fairchild Gardens, there's your answer.

Anonymous said...

i stopped giving when they cut off funding for the boy scouts. they claimed it was about gay rights but they kept giving to catholic charities. they also give large sums to the cuban american national foundation.