Tuesday, September 25, 2018

NO for Matt Caldwell, Florida Agriculture Commissioner ... by gimleteye

Florida voters should pay attention to the importance of the agriculture commissioner.

During the terms of Gov. Rick Scott, the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services  assumed more influence and authority as budgets, rules and enforcement by state environmental and planning agencies were slashed.

Eye On Miami published extensively on the current ag commissioner Adam Putnam, who big polluters lined up to be the next Republican governor of Florida, Rick Scott, chosen by special interests to be the next US senator from Florida (to unseat Bill Nelson), and Matt Caldwell, the Republican legislator who is running as the GOP candidate for ag commissioner to replace Putnam.

It is a ladder carefully built by special interests. Each of the Toxic Trio was groomed to move up a rung.

In the recent GOP primary election, Putnam was upset by Congressman Ron DeSantis, who pledged to take no money from Big Sugar but is supported by mega political action committees funded by Big Sugar.

For the general election, "Red Tide Rick" is hobbled by serial algae blooms coating the coasts while championing lower environmental regulations.

In 2012 Caldwell helped run a political hit job against the one Republican elected official, Ray Judah -- then a Lee county commissioner -- willing to challenge Big Sugar.

Judah offered the following recent assessment of Caldwell's record in the State House:

The Miami Herald today published a puff piece on Caldwell. While the Herald did note his connections to Big Sugar, the newspaper let Cadwell slide on bland assurances that he treats Big Sugar just like everybody else.

But Caldwell was a major supporter of the 2017 Everglades Reservoir bill; a Trojan Horse that increases benefits to Big Sugar. At the beginning of the session, Caldwell opposed the bill, but as soon as Sugar inserted its poison pills into the bill, Caldwell was on board.

Poison pill #1: the elimination of eminent domain in the Everglades Agricultural Area. The prohibition occurred at the very moment more than 200 qualified scientists were pleading with the GOP led legislature to increase the extent of storage and treatment marshes to effectively cope with pollution from sugar plantations and Lake Okeechobee.

Matt Caldwell was the de facto House Whip, and all the Herald had to do was dig a little deeper to find out.

If you don't care whether you are sickened by drinking water or rivers where you swim, vote for Matt Caldwell whose main allegiance -- demonstrated over time -- is to Florida's wealthy and secretive polluters.

Otherwise, vote for Nikki Fried, Democrat, who is challenging to lead the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Friday, September 21, 2018

"Red Tide Rick": the nickname sticks ... by gimleteye

"Red Tide Rick" bet on killing environmental rules as governor.  Look what he did.

In his eight years as governor, Rick Scott axed the state capacity to effectively regulate and enforce against pollution of Florida's waterways. Now the toxic waters are wreaking havoc across the state and he wants your vote for US Senator.

His latest gambit is to call for the creation of research center for red tide. My God, man!

2013, 2015, 2018: Lake Okeechobee has been gushing billions and billions of gallons of toxic waters in serial calamities and NOW Rick Scott is paying attention?

He didn't paying attention as governor, or, better to say: he was ONLY PAYING ATTENTION TO POLLUTERS. His signature achievement: lax enforcement of environmental rules. Another achievement: putting hacks and polluter-friendly cronies into important positions on the governing boards of the state water management districts. From those perches, environmentalists have been attacked, marginalized, and ignored.

When environmentalists protested at the South Florida Water Management District, Big Sugar hired actors from Fort Lauderdale to counter protest, organized through dirty tricks huckster, Roger Stone.

In July Florida PEER wrote: "During the seven years under Governor Rick Scott, environmental enforcement has hit a modern nadir, with 2017 registering some of the most anemic results on record, according to a new analysis released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). The upshot is that not only is Florida’s environment bearing a greater pollution load, but also its Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is losing revenue as well as its capacity to monitor--let alone deter--eco-offenses. Apart from the 2017 results in isolation, the Scott record shows a deep, across-the-board nosedive in Number of Cases in virtually every enforcement category. As seen by these tables, new cases opened, penalties collected, and other enforcement measures are all down more than three-quarters since Scott took office."

This is exactly the outcome that Scott's transition team outlined in 2010: eliminate "excessive regulation" and especially regulations protecting the environment. Red Tide Rick has done a better job representing toxic algae than people.

And he wants your vote.

Under Scott's watch, pets are dying awful deaths from exposure to toxins, residents and visitors are getting sick, and Florida's iconic beaches are turning into no-go zones for tourists; preventable nightmares if Rick Scott, Adam Putnam, and Matt Caldwell -- the GOP candidate for agriculture commissioner -- had done their jobs. They didn't, because they were too busy being ideologues on behalf of polluters. Of the Toxic Trio -- Putnam, Caldwell, and Scott -- one is gone, two remain and they must be voted down.

There are going to be fewer and fewer weddings in Naples -- Scott's hometown -- because of all the gagging, coughing, and watery eyes from wedding guests sickened by air borne effects of toxic algae. Some of the aerosol algae carried aloft has been linked to serious, irreversible brain disease in humans.

There's a lot we don't know about Florida's water catastrophe.

What we do know: Rick Scott does not deserve your vote for US Senate. Not now, not ever.

Sierra Club Blasts Rick Scott's Red Tide Plan
For Immediate Release: September 20, 2018

More Studies Won't Cure State's Catastrophic Red Tide and Green Slime

St. Petersburg, FL – Sierra Club Florida responded to Florida Governor Rick Scott's letter today to the Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission asking it to create a Center for Red Tide Research.

Statement of Frank Jackalone, Sierra Club Florida Chapter Director

“Rick Scott's call for the creation of a Center for Red Tide Research is nothing more than a self-serving publicity stunt. He is desperately diverting attention from his failure over his two terms as Governor to address the pollution problems which have fueled massive toxic red tide and green slime all across the State.

"We're horrified that Scott is offering a half-baked, ineffective plan to Florida's ongoing water crisis at the end of his stint as Governor. Where has he been for the last eight years as devastating toxic algae blooms have repeatedly devastated the state's coastal waters, inland lakes, rivers and springs?

"While 'Red Tide Rick' fiddled, Florida's waters burned with toxic algae. As a result, our coastal communities are plagued by the smell of millions of dead fish on their beaches and a devastated tourism industry.

"Scott's proposal for more research won't cure red tide and green slime. The only way to reduce the occurrence, size and severity of harmful algae blooms is to stop the pollution that is feeding it at its source. We need prevention, not more studies.

"Rick Scott is the person most responsible for Florida's growing, catastrophic toxic algae problem. Over his two terms as Governor, Scott has put state enforcement of pollution laws in reverse by eliminating mandatory inspections of septic tanks and slashing enforcement of clean water regulations. His plan for reducing dirty water releases to Florida's Gulf and Atlantic coasts has been to spend billions of dollars over the next decade to store more polluted water in Lake Okeechobee and to build a 23 foot high reservoir in the Everglades over the next 10 years and fill it with more dirty water. His new plan today asking the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission and the next Governor to do more research should make every Floridian mad as hell."

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Florida Gov. Rick Scott's Recklessness Is Putting Your Health, Your Property, And Your Jobs At Risk. Don't Give Him Your Vote ... by gimleteye

The viral video shows angry Floridians shouting at "Red Tide Rick" as he scurries out the back door of a restaurant into his armored SUV, hoping to deny an unscripted media moment when his rapidly declining popularity is revealed.

For eight years as governor, Scott was obsessed with preventing such unscripted moments. Every photo op with Scott seemed airbrushed as a Clairol commercial.

At the same time, Scott helped erode protections for Florida's waters, cutting hundreds of millions from agencies and stifling law enforcement against polluters. With Florida's waters filling with toxins that can lead to severe neurological disease -- as in Alzheimer's -- , Rick Scott can't hide.

Scott can't hide the fact that he caused state environmental protection to dissolve at the same time his lawyers argued in federal court that the state can do whatever it wants, even if it means condemning natural resources like the Everglades to a long and tortured death.

The pro-Tea Party, anti-regulatory agendas were cynically organized to mesh with the needs of his big campaign contributors -- from the state's agricultural polluters, like Big Sugar, to the political action committees where big business mingled millions in contributions to funnel to its mostly Republican stars.

Florida environmentalists have been crying for the “precautionary principle” — first, do no harm — for decades. No one in political office listened, not Democrats or Republicans, because that's not how polluters make money. Wherever in state law the precautionary principle pops up, the polluters do their best to lop its head off.

The toxic waters in Palm Beach and Martin Counties, and Lee and Collier, are killing pets and threatening people. In the Scott early years, public health officials downplayed or ignored the threats because it cost money and angered polluters when public attention was shifted to the sorry state of Florida waters. Kind of like the clusters of rare pediatric cancer the Scott administration has ignored.

Telling these stories around a dinner table recently, a friend told me about a wedding he attended last year in Naples where the entire party had to move to the hotel indoors. Outside by the water and the sunset, people began coughing and wheezing because of the air drifting over the fouled waters.

There are going to be a lot fewer weddings in Naples because of Rick Scott.

There is evidence that breathing around some of Florida's toxic waters can expose people to brain disease. With warming temperatures, (note Scott’s ultimatum to state agencies to eliminate “global warming” from state communications), and no changes to the way Florida manages growth and industrial agriculture, this year's red tides could turn from chronic to permanent in certain waters.

And Rick Scott wants your vote to be next US Senator from Florida? Read this scathing OPED from the Palm Beach Post:

Editorial: Scott must answer for environmental malpractice
OPINION By The Palm Beach Post Editorial Board
Posted: 7:28 a.m. Sunday, September 16, 2018

With a horrific red tide killing marine life and tourism on Florida’s southwest coast, and with toxic green algae bringing misery to the Treasure Coast and Fort Myers area on a now-annual basis, it’s understandable that Gov. Rick Scott would want to run away from his environmental record.
Voters shouldn’t let him.

From the moment the health-care multimillionaire swept into office on 2010’s Tea Party anti-tax, anti-regulation wave, he began slashing the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD), cutting budgets, skilled staff and inspections.

The SFWMD, which had a $1.4 billion budget in 2007, is now an $814 millionagency. Scott’s administration cut $700 million out of all the state’s water management districts after his first year and crippled their ability to levy taxes. His justification — giving average property owners tax relief — is a sick joke; the state’s 15 biggest industries, like Florida Power & Light and the Walt Disney Co., got to pocket a combined $1.2 million annually, but homeowners save less than $3 per $100,000.

What got slashed? The state’s network for water monitoring shrank from 350 monitoring sites to 115, according to Florida International University’s Southeast Environmental Research Center. Enforcement of anti-pollution regulations slowed to a crawl. The DEP pursued almost 1,600 enforcement cases in 2010, but a mere 220 in 2017, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

In 2012, Scott repealed a law requiring septic-tank inspections. Now, only 1 percent of Florida’s 2.6 million septic tanks get inspected, and scientists say that pollution from leaking septic tanks adds fuel to toxic algae blooms.

The result: nitrogen and phosphorus loads are on the rise in Lake Okeechobee. Combined with agricultural run-off, this is the root of the toxic blue-green algae — and almost certainly a contributor to the unusual endurance of the red tide, the worst of which is occurring near Fort Myers at the mouth of the Caloosahatchee River, one of the exit points of Lake O’s waters.

Yet Scott is trying to fool voters into thinking that Sen. Bill Nelson, the Democrat whom Scott is trying to unseat on Nov. 6, is to blame for the algae blooms. A Scott ad released Friday contends Nelson has done “nothing” for “Lake O.” It’s supposedly Nelson’s fault that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers hasn’t limited water discharges or fixed the Herbert Hoover Dike.

This is nonsensical double-talk. The dike’s condition and the rate of discharges have nothing to do with the pollutants in the water in Lake Okeechobee. Letting all that phosphorus and nitrogen into the water to begin with — that’s the problem. And that’s on Scott.

The same Scott, by the way, who didn’t buy an available 153,200 acres of U.S. Sugar land, which would have given that water someplace else to go. Backing off that deal, in 2015, was a blow to Everglades restoration.

Sign up for The Palm Beach Post weekly Opinion newsletter: Text Opinion to 444999

The list goes on. In 2011, Scott abolished the Department of Community Affairs, which protected the state from bad development and gave the environment a vote in land-use decisions. He slashed funding for land conservation under the Forever Florida program, and later joined enthusiastically in the Florida Legislature’s nickel-and-diming of Amendment 1, the wildly popular ballot measure that is supposed to be generating hundreds of millions of dollars each year for environmental protection.

Most egregiously, the governor of the state most endangered by sea-level rise allegedly barred the very mention of climate change (although the climate denier denies that, too).

In sum, Scott “has regularly put the wishes of corporate polluters above the needs of Florida’s environment and families,” states Kevin Curtis, executive director of the Natural Resources Defense Coalition Action Fund.

“He’s sided with a fringe group of climate change deniers, defunded popular and bipartisan conservation programs, and undermined the enforcement of air, water and climate protections.”

This governor should not escape judgment for these past eight years. And any Floridian who cares about the environment — or simply gags from the stench of the algae blooms — should demand answers for such a putrid environmental record.

Any Floridian who cares about the environment — or simply gags from the stench of the algae blooms — should remember who has been in charge.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Mike Huckabee On the beach ... by gimleteye

Trump apologist Mike Huckabee owns a beachfront home in the Florida Panhandle. This is the region of Florida where radio channels are filled 24/7 with the holy carriers of Jesus Christ. Now it is a place Republicans can't go to the beach, because the Republicans they elected passed a law stopping them from the beaches where Huckabee, Rick Scott, and Trump live.

The Florida Phoenix published a fascinating report of Walton County citizens swarming the county commission to protest Gov. Rick Scott's law restricting the rights of citizens to access public beaches.

Locals raised on the state's iconic, pristine beaches have had their rights to access stripped.

"Citizens rising up against the Florida Legislature, Gov. Rick Scott, and private property zealots" dings Trump apologist and part-time Florida resident, Mike Huckabee. Huckabee is a frequent Fox commentator who wears the veneer of the ministry on his sleeve while he takes aims at Trump enemies, who these days are popping up in every direction including from the right.

"The troublesome state beach access law at issue was pushed by some Gulf-front property owners, including, as it turns out, a famous one: former Arkansas governor, past presidential candidate and Fox News darling Mike Huckabee. Huckabee has a house on the beach in Walton County, and he doesn’t want the riff-raff in front of his place, playing Frisbee, letting their dogs run around, and hanging beach towels on his sand fence, he explained in an email he sent to a Republican South Florida state senator who helped push the bill, Kathleen Passidomo. Huckabee explains he’s just spent 18 hours flying back from Qatar (I’d like to know quite a bit more about that), but monitored the legislative committee meeting on the Internet and wants to thank her for the beach access bill. About that bill – which became law July 1. You may remember the viral video this summer which showed a couple of Walton County sheriff’s deputies trying to show a beachgoer where he was allowed to sit on the beach. They literally had to draw a line in the sand. The beachgoer was local attorney Daniel Uhlfelder, who set up chairs in front of a condo complex, and someone called the Walton Sheriff’s Department. Deputies told Uhlfelder and his friend they were trespassing. Uhlfelder and one of the deputies walked towards the Gulf and drew a line. The “public” area they identify is in the wet sand along the wave break line – pretty much in the Gulf."

So there you have it. The region of the state that votes Republican won't allow citizen on beaches like they used to, because the Republican deal makers they elected passed a law keeping them out.
How long will Republicans in Florida keep voting against their own interests? We will see if anything changes in November.

Friday, September 14, 2018

Why I am NOT writing. By Geniusofdespair

I really hate writing for this blog now. I think because government: County, State and Federal is just so very bad, embarrassingly bad.  I feel like I am always looking away -- as if there is a dead rat on the sidewalk and I don't want to barf. How much can you look away? But when I don't, it just makes me crazy. We have a Bizarro world filled with hater, xenophobic, racist people. I have never seen anything like this in my lifetime... 

Everyone I research has skeletons in their closet. I can’t do it anymore, it sucks my optimism gene dry.

The Garbage Of "Estuary Protection Wells" ... by gimleteye

Florida is swimming in a sea of pollution. It is not a blameless event. Our water catastrophe has many mothers and fathers, but it is undeniably the case that Republican leadership in the state legislature and two terms of Gov. Rick Scott -- an opponent of environmental regulation and enforcement -- led to massive taxpayer jeopardy, severe risk to public health where people come into contact with dangerous toxins in the water, and a mess of property values including the lands of the Seminole and Miccosuckee Tribes.

Scott, who is running for US Senate against incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson, blames the federal government and "funding shortfalls". These talking points are cynical and wrong. Technically speaking, the federal government through the US Army Corps of Engineers manages the flood control system in South Florida, but Florida calls the shots.

Yesterday, a Miccosukee leader put it in context: "In the old days they practiced genocide against Native Americans by passing blankets to us with smallpox. Today they don't need smallpox, they just send us another kind of blanket: polluted waters."

The funding shortfalls are a result of the Republican Congress and the Trump White House.  They claim funding environmental protection is too expensive. Moreover, they heartily endorse turning over environmental protection agencies to polluters. They will not strengthen water quality laws because -- they claim -- the states can do it.

This is Big Sugar's claim, supported by Rick Scott, in a federal appeals court challenging Everglades protection measures that Scott has already taken credit for. But states like Florida deliberately underfund, undercut, and erode water quality protections.

Downstream in the Everglades, the Miccosukee Tribe is drowning in polluted water and upstream, suburban homeowners' pets are dying from contact with toxic water. Logic is dying in Florida because when common sense arrives -- like using eminent domain to build adequate storage and treatment marshes to clean up the foul water -- it is beaten into a pulp by Republicans who say: "You can't 'take' private property from sugar billionaires!". Actually, yes we can. 

Instead of hard, fast numerical standards to restrict pollution where it occurs, Florida is suffering under the figments of "voluntary compliance" and the kinds of soft, squishy verbiage that buries cause and effect where the sun doesn't shine.

That is exactly how Scott's South Florida Water Management District proposes to address the pollution crisis in Lake Okeechobee and highly toxic cyanobacteria algae blooms that are driving Florida's reputation as a tourist wonderland into the the toxic muck.

Yesterday, the District governing board -- Scott political appointees -- approved burying billions of gallons of filthy water in deep wells underground. They are called "emergency estuary protection wells", and they will work just about as well as Aladdin's magic carpet; great in juvenile imaginations and the supply chain that pushes the magical thinking into hard, engineered profits.

The Bush Environmental Protection Agency let this well drilling technology metastasize in Florida. The agency relaxed tough standards prohibiting migration of injection fluids underground. That rule, part of the Safe Drinking Water Act, was precautionary and prescriptive.

In a state virtually defined by porous aquifer layers, an earlier generation of leadership agreed that maybe using underground wells to dump shit, whether treated or not, was a bad idea. Funny how the goal lines change, isn't it, when it comes to the environment.

So instead of addressing pollution at its source or using shallow storage and treatment marshes sized to treat the toxic mess -- deemed too expensive to special interests who massively dominate the legislature and legislators' political campaigns -- Scott's appointees did the opposite yesterday: they decided to bury the problem. One of Scott's governing board members, Brandon Tucker, defended the indefensible in a Sunshine News OPED, "Misinformation results in a domino effect that can have real consequences on the future of restoration in South Florida. False information is published, the public accepts it as fact, campaigns of support are raised and media channels use this misinformation as if it were gospel."

The District extruded its misinformation-filled gospel: "The South Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Governing Board on Thursday approved a plan to move forward with test wells and exploration of a strategy that could further reduce damaging discharges to the coastal estuaries while larger Everglades restoration projects are completed. "With inconsistencies in federal funding causing delays to long-term restoration projects, Emergency Estuary Protection Wells serve as the most immediate and most beneficial option to provide relief to our northern estuaries during high water emergencies," said SFWMD Governing Board member Brandon Tucker. "This Board supports this proven, cost effective technology while working toward the ultimate goal of getting large-scale Everglades restoration projects online."

Shannon Estenoz, a former governing board member of the District and now COO of the Everglades Foundation, addressed the magical thinking of the Scott appointees in a June OPED, "Deep injection wells not the answer to state's water problems" in the TC Palm, "Not much is known about what happens when vast quantities of water are forced deep underground. Floridians, more than anyone else, know what harm can occur when massive volumes of water are forced to go where they don’t belong. More fundamentally, deep injection wells represent old, flawed thinking that tries to solve the problem of too much rain by “getting rid of water.” This sounds familiar. It is what our predecessors did when they designed the flood management system causing our current problems. They thought they could benignly shed trillions of gallons of water by dumping it into the Gulf and the Atlantic."

No, it is not the federal government's fault no matter how many times the state's GOP Congressional delegation and Gov. Scott repeat the lie: the fault belongs with state government which citizens and conservation groups have sued, time and again, demanding the state follow its own laws and fund environmental protection measures. (After Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a 2014 ballot referendum to allocate billions to purchase environmentally sensitive lands, the Republican legislature and Gov. Scott refused to do it. Environmentalists sued in state court and won.)

Jobs, jobs, jobs, beats like a metronome, while campaign funders get rich polluting waters we need for healthy, productive lives. Billions of taxpayer dollars continue to be spent in the grim charade, without addressing pollution at its source.

Yes, Democrats bear a fair share of responsibility for letting polluters get away with murder in Florida; for failing to confront the phalanxes of lobbyists in the state capitol who also profit from the state's miserable water quality disasters. But Gov. Scott and his GOP allies own this mess and neither "emergency estuary protection wells" nor any other creative loafing is going to change the outcome.

That power is in the hands of voters in November.

Friday, September 07, 2018

Andrew Gillum has Florida's vote ... by gimleteye

Florida Democratic candidate for Governor Andrew Gillum chooses Chris King as running mate. Both advocate changing state laws that turned Florida's waters into toxic sacrifice zones for Big Sugar profits
Here is an important interview with Andrew Gillum, the Democratic candidate for governor, standing at the polluted shore of Florida's tourism-dependent west coast.

At min. 5:36 of this interview shared on Facebook, Andrew Gillum calls for eminent domain, a legitimate government purpose to take land for fair market value for a critical public purpose: to build sufficient storage and treatment marshes to avoid spewing toxic waters from Lake Okeechobee -- waters made toxic by decades of Big Sugar farm runoff -- into the Everglades, into the Caloosahatchee, and the St. Lucie rivers.


Here is a FACT: in 2017 the Republican majority in the Florida legislature and Gov. Rick Scott (who wants your vote to be next US Senator) turned the Everglades reservoir bill -- to cost at least $2 billion -- into a Trojan Horse for Big Sugar's purposes: block eminent domain.

If that $2 billion had been used to close the 2010 deal to put US Sugar Corporation lands into public ownership, we would be nearly a decade closer to fixing the state's pollution crisis. But we aren't because Rick Scott and a Republican legislature claimed doing so was "too expensive", not important enough, and "extreme".

Tell that to businesses, visitors and residents (many of whom are Republicans!) whose quality of life, property values, and opinion of Florida is turning to shit like Florida waters.

It is going to take a new Democratic majority and a Democratic governor to undo tragic mistakes made by Rick Scott and the GOP, stretching back decades.

Why, tragic mistakes? Because today Rick Scott and his supporters support another dirty scheme: to pump billions of gallons of toxic water deep underground in a scheme that serves only one purpose: make well drillers, engineers, and lobbyists very rich. They even have a marketing tested name for this idiocy: "estuary protection wells". BULLSHIT.

It's another scam by Big Sugar to wring the last penny of profit from former Everglades wetlands until they can repurpose those lands as zero lot line housing, strip malls, inland ports, and power plants. Billionaire polluters have wrecked the state of Florida, and only voters can change that outcome.

Andrew Gillum gets it. Let's hope Florida voters finally get it too.

(Read more about eminent domain and Big Sugar, here.)

Wednesday, August 29, 2018

How the environment and toxic waters played in yesterday's primary election: quick take ... by gimleteye

Quick reactions this morning.

Gwen Graham: hurt by the American Dream Mall/ Graham Companies issue.

Big Sugar's sweet embrace wrecked Adam Putnam with disaffected coastal Republicans, who are watching their businesses and coastal property values disintegrate.

DeSantis took up the war against Big Sugar's dark influence over Florida politics and gained massively among Republican voters impacted by the state's toxic tides.

Rick Scott is also clearly aligned with the state's biggest polluters.

Prediction: Gillum, who was slow to warm to the importance of the toxic waters issue, will quickly come around.

It would be a big mistake for Gillum's campaign to align with the Big Sugar/ Jesse Jackson faction of the African American vote.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Election Day: VOTE ... by gimleteye

Today is primary day in Florida. Do your civic responsibility: VOTE.

Democracy requires the active involvement of citizens or it is bound to wither. The least you can do to honor the sacrifices made on our behalf by past generations is to exercise your right to vote.

And when you vote if you are Republican, my advice: do not vote for Adam Putnam, running for governor, or Matt Caldwell, running for state agriculture commissioner. They are part of the Toxic Trio including Rick Scott, responsible for the failure of the state to protect human health from toxics in our waters.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Gov. Rick Scott's refusal to test for toxics in water puts your life at risk but he wants to be your next US senator ... by gimleteye

The same state, Florida, that won't share data with the public or even acknowledge rare pediatric cancer clusters has neither tested, nor routinely analyzed, nor established protocols to monitor potentially lethal bacteria-laden algae coating its coasts.

Three years ago, Eye On Miami wrote about a distinguished statistician, Dr. Raid Amin, at the University of West Florida whose peer-reviewed analyses of rare pediatric cancer clusters had been ignored by the Florida Department of Health. The State Department of Health not only refused comment, in 2015 it refused to participate in a symposium convened by the top statisticians in the nation who reviewed Amin's data.

Today, millions of Floridians are discovering that the Florida Department of Health has studiously downplayed, ignored, and outright refused to test for deadly cyanobacteria in the massive toxic algae outbreaks that are wreaking havoc on public health, the economy, and the state's reputation as a tourism-friendly destination.

Who gave orders to the Florida State Department of Health to ignore the likelihood of rare pediatric cancer clusters? Who ordered the Florid State Department of Health to glide past the monitoring and disclosure of accurate information on cyanobacteria in Florida waters?

Yesterday, the Fort Myers News Press published a damning report, "Its mission is “to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county, and community efforts,” but Florida’s Department of Health has remained quiet as the blue-green algae/red tide crisis has escalated into an unprecedented toxic calamity."

The statistical prevalence of rare pediatric cancers and the presence of deadly toxins in Florida waters are not blameless phenomena. The same principle applies in so far as the Florida Department of Health is concerned: "do not seek, and ye shall not find."

The failure to test, to develop best science and analyses, leading to clear and enforceable pollution rules, and the failure to inform the public are decisions executed by senior state health care officials at the direction of the Governor of Florida, Rick Scott.

Today Gov. Rick Scott is running for US Senate. He is sprinkling state money into communities and businesses wrecked by foul, green algae coating Florida's coasts. A few million here. A few million there. He makes an occasional trip into affected waterways with angry citizens and bad photo ops kept at a distance from his US senate campaign.

Scott's handlers know: this is HIS disaster.

This state emergency didn't just pop up on his watch. 2013. Winter 2015/2016. 2018.

Today's toxic emergency in Florida's waterways is one Gov. Rick Scott substantially aided and abetted through his support of polluting industries that have dominated the rules and regulations meant to protect water quality in Florida.

Before spending his own fortune to win the governor's mansion, Scott navigated at the margins of health care reimbursements from government to hospitals and physicians. Put another way, government rules were a playing field and mastering the reimbursement game conferred great wealth on Florida's future governor.

It is a similar game with water management and infrastructure; public benefits that can be "re-balanced" to protect private profits.

The affinity between Gov. Rick Scott and the billionaire polluters of Florida's waterways is real. Over many decades, Big Sugar developed strategies and tactics to control the water quality "playing field", including rules governing pollution, and to persuade the public that they -- private industry -- were doing the best for Florida's economy, natural resources, and jobs.

Big Sugar never paid the full price of externalizing its pollution of Florida's waterways because it dominates the state legislature and Congress -- regularly flooding the hallways of the capitols with squads of lobbyists when its control is challenged by environmentalists or public emergencies like our current toxic catastrophe.

These natural allies -- Gov. Rick Scott and Big Sugar -- have one goal: to lock down the prerogatives of power and wealth at the expense of the public. And now, shockingly, at real cost to public health and safety.

This claim isn't idle speculation. According to yesterday's report, "Starting July 27, the Lee County Health Department didn't return increasingly urgent telephone calls from The News-Press with questions about its response and role, namely: At what point does a novel crisis like this merit intense surveillance and study? On Aug. 1, the department emailed that a reporter's questions had been referred to the state office in Tallahassee. Following another series of emails and calls, state officials responded to a reporter Aug. 10 by email, but they provided inaccurate information, according to scientists and neurologists."

Florida's water crisis is Flint, Michigan -- where government literally refused to protect against lead in drinking water supplies -- stretched across millions of citizens and billions of dollars of tourism-related businesses. It is proven every day, on every tide, in every photograph of the algae blooms containing cyanobacteria that is massively destroying Florida wildlife and exposing visitors, residents, taxpayers and voters to long-term health risks including those linked to severe and untreatable neurological diseases.

And Rick Scott, the political leader most responsible for this disaster and the silence of the Florida Department of Health, still wants your vote.