Friday, February 02, 2018

Martin County's Drama For Our Times: The George Lindemann Jr. Lawsuit Against Maggy Hurchalla ... by gimleteye

Maggy Hurchalla at the Reno family home in Kendall, FL,  2016

We've written at length about Maggy Hurchalla as one of Florida's heroes. Today Hurchalla finds herself finally with her day in court as defendant at the point of a long running lawsuit by Miami developer George Lindemann Jr.

This saga has all the elements of a morality play for our times.

A woman tilting at the windmills of the powerful and wealthy. An environmentalist against the mercenary interests of Big Agriculture and rock miners and utilities, to speed the conversion of Florida's environmental treasures to private, economic gain. The wealthy asserting the rights of property and business against the intrusions they allege to be illegal: the tortuous interference against their business contracts.

It is a sordid saga playing out in a county that, until Big Sugar decided to meddle in urban politics, stood for a kindler time in Florida, before sprawl developers commandeered the levers of state and local politics.
"... In a small Stuart courtroom, Hurchalla will defend herself against Lake Point Restoration, a rock-mining company co-owned by George Lindemann Jr., whose father, George Lindemann Sr., (and family) is worth an estimated $3.5 billion, ranking him No. 226 on Forbes' list of billionaires.

Lake Point claims Hurchalla interfered with its contract with Martin County and the South Florida Water Management District to mine rock and treat water on thousands of acres in the western reaches of Martin County.

The company is seeking $22 million in lost profits from Hurchalla.

At the heart of the case are two questions:

Was Hurchalla a concerned resident employing her free-speech rights when she advocated against a project she believed was bad for Martin County?

Or did she secretly work to undermine Lake Point's contracts, which had been previously approved by a more sympathetic Martin County Commission?"
Sister of Janet Reno, environmentalist heads to trial against developer seeking $22 million Treasure Coast Palm, Eve Samples, Published 9:54 p.m. ET Feb. 1, 2018
At Eye On Miami, we are in the midst of a related uproar: the extension of a major highway into the last open space in Miami-Dade County. Powerful and wealthy insiders have been buying up land in anticipation of sprawl moving their way. Big farmers are moving behind the scenes, just like they have in Palm Beach County and Martin.

The script is utterly familiar. It is the same nativity play memorialized by David Mamet in "Glengarry Glen Ross"; the conversion of cheap swamp land into plots marketed to witless buyers in the cold north. What changed?

The biggest change is that a vision shared by Democratic and Republican state lawmakers during the late 1970's and 1980's, alike, has disintegrated; namely, that the state should determine and enforce the state interest in a sound environment and economy. In other words, the abuses by rampant development and suburban sprawl did in fact attract the attention of legislators who created the Growth Management Act and, at the federal level, the nation's most important laws protecting the environment.

Today -- thanks to the Gov. Rick Scott administration that delivered the coup de grace -- state authority for growth management is gone. And in case you've been sleeping under a ledge, federal authority is withering at a pace that blisters the consciousness.

The resulting vacuum is now filled, exactly as one would expect, by special interests and campaign funders. The extreme pressure manifests in ways insiders call "just business". Just business like the Lindemann project, spurred by Big Sugar at first, to convert to a rock mine a section in Martin County not far from the intersection of Lake Okeechobee and important waterways edging toward our estuaries.
Florida's politics organizes around a single, heavily-subsidized industry: Big Sugar
For jumping into the divide, Maggy Hurchalla is paying an enormous price. It's not just a matter of financial mismatch; a citizen against a billionaire. A David against a Goliath. It happens in all morality plays.

One can't help feeling the wrong party has been injured, but as Lindemann's attorneys will argue, it's all about law.

Only our badly damaged politics could create this outcome and it bears repeating: the role of big campaign funders through Citizens United and the flood of corporate money is responsible.

Only voters can rectify the injustice to democracy, which the billionaires in Florida cry is just "spilt milk".


Anonymous said...

Martin County Commissioners hid public communications from view. A couple of them were charged with crimes.

Anonymous said...

Gorge Lindemann went to prison for four years for committing felonys. Felonies? He murdered horses for insurance money.

Linda Cook said...

Maggy Hurchalla is a former County Commissioner, an environmental advocate and honored expert on this subject. She is a member of this community and a constituent of the County Commissioners to whom she voiced her serious and knowledgeable concerns about this project. If we had listened to her then, we wouldn't be in this mess now. This lawsuit is an unjustified/malicious attempt to intimidate and silence the citizens of Martin County who wish to preserve our environment and slow-growth plan. If you value your right to free speech and your right to oppose the destruction of our unique eco-system, you should be out there supporting her.

Anonymous said...

Keep us updated please.

lala blood said...

Trump continues to pack the courts with pro-corporate hacks. Soon, there will be no where to turn for redress.