Friday, October 20, 2017

Health and human safety and Florida’s water supply ... by gimleteye

NOTE: Eye On Miami has taken special interest in the avoidance by the Gov. Rick Scott administration of metrics and toxic regulation that could protect the public but end up riling polluters.  I don’t believe we have ever seen in Florida the alignment between government regulators and polluters, like Big Sugar, as we have today. This phenomenon falls well within the plan of major campaign contributors, the executive branch, and state legislators who have whittled down the intent of environmental protection to a bare nub. Read the latest from BULLSUGAR:

The Army Corps wants to hear from you about developing water and drainage plans. Is this a chance to start talking about where health and human safety rank in South Florida’s water management system?
The Corps’ public comment request is for the Combined Operational Plan, which will set how its infrastructure moves water south into Everglades National Park and Florida Bay. It includes the gates, pumps, and canals that send water under the Tamiami Trail and drain the Wildlife Conservation Areas (WCAs) where rainfall and runoff from sugarcane fields flooded out wildlife during the past two years and forced officials to keep more water in Lake Okeechobee.
So the COP will affect lake levels, the risk that people living below the dike face a deadly breach, and the risk that toxic algae blooms are discharged to riverside communities.

Water flowing under the Tamiami Trail's One-Mile Bridge
But the Corps warns that COP, whatever it turns out to be, has to work within the 68-year-old rules of the Central and South Florida Plan, authorized by congress just after World War II. In other words, “Our hands are tied” by a federal decree that was handed down when:
  • The current extension of the Herbert Hoover Dike didn’t exist 
  • Florida sugarcane south of the lake took up 1/10th of its current land, water, and drainage needs
  • soil subsidence hadn’t turned the flat EAA (created by that same federal decree) into today’s moonscape of non-draining bowls
  • medical science barely understood most cancers, ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and liver diseases--much less their links to toxic algae blooms fueled by agricultural runoff
  • Florida’s population was less than 3 million (vs. 20 million today) and communities on the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie rivers were 1/20th their current populations--and most didn’t have telephones, or TVs, or cars
In January Sen. Bob Graham called for an update of these authorizations, but antiquated statutes are only part of the reason today’s management routinely puts people at risk. A bigger part is our accounting separately for the lake’s capacity for water supply and drainage from the watersheds to its north and south, and refusing to accurately measure how much water and drainage everyone in the system needs and gets. The danger of this uncoordinated management is exposed by events like Hurricane Irma.
Drainage is scarce in this system, and we already knew that heavy rain fills the lake faster than we can drain it. It would be common sense to prioritize dike safety during the summer and fall by keeping lake levels low and stopping unnatural inflows. That would also reduce the chances of discharging toxic algae and its associated health risks to riverside communities. But today’s management system isn’t governed by common sense.
Instead we allow a section of the federal Water Resource Development Act (2000) called the “savings clause” to prioritize the sugar industry’s drainage needs, letting them pump excess rainfall (anything over 1”) all summer long into the system south of the lake, and when that’s full, into the lake itself--the back-pumping that raised lake levels this year even as fears of dike failure dominated headlines.
Meanwhile the federal Lake Okeechobee Regulation Schedule (LORS) does nothing to account for the savings clause’s influence on the system or to prevent the sugar industry’s back-pumping into a rising lake--it just tells the Corps when to flush it into the rivers. Asked last month how the industry could get away with this, SFWMD’s Ernie Marks replied honestly: They have a permit.
Better, the sugar industry has--thanks to a disjointed, complicated, ancient collection of regulations--the highest priority in the system. That’s why no matter how catastrophic a year Florida Bay or the Everglades or the Caloosahatchee or the St. Lucie have, the sugar industry thrives--since 1980 the crop has never had a bad year. Meanwhile liver failure clusters pop up along the river, with neurological diseases and a host of serious illnesses that we’re only just beginning to trace back to toxic Lake Okeechobee discharges. And residents living in the shadow of the dam wait for the next storm and the next evacuation order.
It’s time to change the priorities in this system and place health and human safety above all else. It’s time to consider how much total drainage and water are available and manage it as a single, interconnected set of resources. (Could COP and LORS be combined, managing drainage and lake levels to prioritize the people in the system?)
Please voice your support for these ideas and make them part of the public record by emailing the Corps’ Melissa Nasuti at Ask the Corps to prioritize Lake Okeechobee’s impact on the health and safety of glades residents and riverside communities as it plans COP.
Peter Girard Bullsugar supporters are making it harder than ever to hide policymaking from public view. If you can, please click here to make a donation to help us work for transparent and fair water management for all Floridians.

John Kelly and Donald Trump were wrong, Congresswoman Frederica Wilson was right. By Geniusofdespair

John Kelly the White House Chief of Staff is wrong. Maybe he was told of his son's death in such a fashion, but he is military. They have their own way of communicating with each other. Advising Trump to give that kind of speech to a grieving widow as not correct in any form. You fashion your message for whom you are speaking with.

A grieving widow does not get the same speech as a General being told of his son's death. It is common sense. And Donald Trump botched up the message he was advised to give to the widow, making it worse.  He is the worst at translating a simple sentence.

Trump tells her: "I'm sure he knew what he was signed up for". How about the simple: "I am so sorry for your loss Mrs. Johnson, our country lost a good man and we all mourn with you and your family."
Sergeant LaDavid Johnson
In case you live in a hole somewhere, this is what happened:
On Tuesday night,  (Congresswoman Frederica) Wilson claimed Trump called Mysehia Johnson, widow of La David Johnson, as Johnson was driving to the airport to receive his body; the Army sergeant was one of four Americans killed in an attack in Niger earlier this month. Wilson said Trump reduced Mysehia Johnson to tears when he told her, “I’m sure he knew what he was signed up for, but when it happens, it hurts anyway.”
Wilson, who had known the soldier since childhood, was in the vehicle with Johnson and said she heard that part of the call on speaker phone. Trump insisted he said no such thing (Me: Such a liar), but Kelly’s subsequent remarks told a very different story than Trump had pitched.
 Here is what General Kelly said he was told by FRIENDS (not a President), this is not a comforting speech for a widow either but apparently he liked it as a military father:
“Let me tell you what my best friends told me: He was doing exactly what he wanted to do when he was killed. He knew what he was getting into by joining that 1%. He knew what the possibilities were, because we’re at war. And, when he died, he was surrounded by the best men on Earth, his friends."
 Trump's botched up message wasn't the right one for Mysehia. He should have asked a pregnant woman who just lost her husband what to say, not a military man dedicated to service, a General yet. The woman was not in the military. She wouldn't "get" comfort from what Kelly's friends told him.

Trump might as well have said: "Buck up lady and pull up those boot straps. It is time to move on."

...And Frederica, enough with the ridiculous cowboy hats. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava: Transportation in Miami Dade, My View. Guest Blog

This is a follow-up to yesterday's post on Monday's Transit March that Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava attended:

County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava

We have been starving our public transit system for decades, allowing our buses and trains to deteriorate without adequate maintenance and basically running them into the ground. 

The County has recently used a decline in ridership as an excuse for yet even more service cuts. But reduced ridership comes when patrons vote with their feet. They have been abandoning a deteriorating, unreliable, uncomfortable system when other options are more likely to get them to places on time. That is, for those who can make such a choice.  We cannot blame the customer for not buying our product.

This chronic disinvestment in our transit system has to stop.  And with this last budget debate, it looks like the community made a pretty solid case for transit.  Millennials came and spoke passionately about how they want to live in a place where they don’t have to own a car. Urban professionals spoke about how they’re perceived by their colleagues as less reliable because they ride transit, and the transit dependent came out to plead for the resources needed to keep their lifeline going.

I was grateful for the public’s support to restore Transit funding during this last budget debate.  I believe this community outpouring was critical to the Commission’s attempt to reverse the service reductions in the original budget.  We weren’t entirely successful – the department still faces significant cuts this year unfortunately, but some service was restored and planned privatization of a number of routes was curtailed.  So our work has just begun. 

We have at least another year to go before we really see the new Metrorail cars make it into service, and about that long before we replace a portion of our overburdened bus fleet with new natural gas and electric buses.  So in this next year we will need that public support even more to bridge that gap.

We have three kinds of riders: those who have no choice (“transit dependent”), those who have a choice (“choice riders”), and those future riders who will ride when we have “premium” transit that is more reliable, efficient, comfortable and desirable than sitting in their cars wasting hours in traffic.

The SMART plan will bring premium transit, but to secure the bulk of the funding we must get through the multi-year process laid out by the Federal and State government to justify their investment in our plan. A major factor in that decision-making process is showing that there’s demand, and the potential to grow that demand, for transit service.  So I have focused my attention for the past three years on building up that ridership in the communities I represent by seeking immediate improvements to the transit system serving South Dade.  I believe that we must demonstrate our ability to effectively respond to our community’s transportation needs in order to earn back some of that lost public trust.  After all, how can we be trusted to effectively manage a major expansion without first showing that we can run the system we already have?

Here are some of the things, big and small, that I’ve been working on to make a dent in this enormous challenge:

·         I pressed for many months for the purchase of dozens of new hybrid-electric bending buses to replace the old and breakdown-prone fleet of buses that are the real “workhorse” of our Transit system.  Those new buses have made great improvements to the reliability of the routes they serve.  We need to keep that momentum.

·         Working with the Cities in South Dade, we identified an opportunity to create a new express route by splitting an existing route in half.  Transit worked with us to set up the “34 Express A & B” which has proved to be a tremendous success.  This is the only route to show consistently growing ridership (up by 30% at one point) in a time when nearly all other routes are suffering declines.
·         With the support of the Cities in South Dade, we also renamed the Busway to the Transitway to forecast its evolution to something more.

·         I’ve worked to make simple changes, like allowing city circulators to operate on the Transitway, and working with School Board Chairman Larry Feldman to study the potential for allowing school buses to operate on the Transitway as a way to reduce traffic on US1 and get kids to school on time.
·         The County is installing new adaptive traffic signals on the Transitway that will make it possible for transit patrons to get to their destination faster and help provide some relief for traffic on US1.  We should see improvements from this new technology by year’s end.

·         I’ve been advocating for circulators to serve unincorporated Miami-Dade since they’ve been so effective in many of our cities.  I am working to add this issue into current studies.

·         We’ve been working to build on the successful express model developed for I-95 where the tolls pay for Transit.  I’ve been advocating for the Turnpike Enterprise to replicate that system for their expressway for years. Recently Chairman Bovo renewed that effort to seek Turnpike toll revenue support for the planned express system connecting Homestead, Kendall, Doral and Northwest Dade that is also part of the SMART Plan.
We must insist that the County invest in the transit system we have today, not just the system we hope to have in the future.  We need to focus, stay hopeful, and continue to remain engaged. We were able to blunt some of the damage this time, but we need to keep building upon that to ensure that Transit remains a priority. So keep it coming!
(Daniella: I have been using public transit regularly because the traffic is mind-numbing, gridlock. I fall into your number 2 category. I go shopping at Dadeland or to Kendall restaurants by train from Coconut Grove. At least I don't lose my mind on the train ride and at rush hour it is faster than driving. I also don't have to transfer to a bus [I wouldn't]. I go directly to my destination.
I was just on 95 and the traffic was at a standstill in both directions. It was 12:30 pm. If I could have taken a train that could get me to my location I would have.  - Genius)
Traffic Jammed at Noon on 95 From the Broward Line South...

On another note: I found a video I liked...I shortened it so you could see Daniella Levine Cava, this one is about the Everglades and our water supply.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Transit March Yesterday: We can all agree transit is a hot mess. By Geniusofdespair

Mayor Carlos Gimenez and Alice Bravo, head of transit, were called out about the problems the community is having with the South Dade Transportation System under their leadership. Bus routes have been reduced and rail is a passing blip on the Mayor's radar screen, if it is still there at all, I think South Dade Rail is dead to him.

A march was called by State Rep. Kionne McGhee and others joined in including the Chair of the County Commission Steve Bovo and the NAACP.

Traffic is the biggest problem plaguing South Florida. I take the metro rail all the time to get to Dadeland and restaurants South of me.  The drive at rush hour is too slow. To get to this Transit march yesterday was torture.

State Rep. Kionne McGhee

Don't make me name them all...Daniella Levine Cava was there but she is not in this photo. They  are all calling for better Transit to end the gridlock.
Liked this demonstrators shirt....and smile.

We took a break inside when it started to rain.

Protesters not sending any love to Alice Bravo, Mayor Gimenez's Transit Czar.
County Commission Chair Steve Bovo

Transit Union was there.
Our Future U.S. Congresswoman in District 26 Debbie Mucarsel-Powell (get a new name, too hard, Pronounce: Moo-Car-Sell) with our New State Senator Annette Taddeo
You really have to vote for Debbie MP. DEMS NEED SEAT 26, Homestead, Florida City, Redland.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Richard Wilbur ... by gimleteye

Richard Wilbur was a towering, extraordinarily quiet and humble giant of 20th century poetry and literature. We met Dick during our Key West years in the late 1980s. He and Charlotte lived in a walled compound off Solares Hill they shared with life-long friends, Barbara and John Hersey. My introduction was through John and the late Frank Taylor, a wonderful friend, writer and publisher who met John on assignment in the hills of Yunan in the late 1930's, tracking Mao Tse Tung for their respective newspapers. I was recruited, a “B” team player, in the famed, weekly Key West anagram game. As I recall, the golden age included the poet James Merrill, John Hersey (Trump would do well to read Hersey's "Hiroshima"), John Malcolm Brinnin — the poet, literary critic and scholar who discovered Dylan Thomas —, and Rust Hills, the long-time fiction editor of Esquire. Dick Wilbur was formal and quiet to outside appearances, but when the “A” team played — a player advances by stealing the word of another, through re-arranging and changing the root through the addition of one new letter (played without a board with tiles from a modified Scrabble set), Dick was fierce. The "A" team played words from the Oxford English Dictionary. The discussion around "challenges" was like watching sublime disagreements between knights of the Round Table. Those afternoons, time seemed to stop as collective imaginations burned like phosphorous around the wooden tiles. Key West friendships were durable and Dick Wilbur outlasted them all, but he too is gone now at age 96.

Republicans Just Love Donald Trump. By Geniusofdespair

I often think: Would Mom have liked Donald Trump? And the answer is yes. My mother never finished high school. She was a sweet woman but racist. She didn't even like Italians that came from areas further South than where her relatives came from. Although an immigrant's child she wasn't much on anyone except if they were of Italian descent. I could just imagine her watching Fox News. She wouldn't have liked Obama, but she would have liked Trump. Did I mention she read the National Enquirer. My father, on the other hand, was very intelligent but a cruel and vindictive person, much like Donald Trump. He was a Democrat who gave me money to go march on Washington to protest the Vietnam war. He wouldn't have liked Donald Trump one bit even though his erratic behavior was just like Trump's.

Gallup Polling:

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Christians: Hate to Burst Your Bubble About Your Belief of How Jesus Looked. By Geniusofdespair

This is NOT how Jesus looked.

Jesus did not have blonde hair and blue eyes or long hair, he probably looked more like the guy at top. Jesus wasn't from Scandinavia.  Hot climates - darker people.

According to the Bible History Daily this is the earliest depiction of Jesus below:

According to Joan Taylor a professor of Christian Origins and Second Temple Judaism at King's College London and the author of The Essenes, the Scrolls and the Dead Sea:
And what about Jesus's facial features? They were Jewish. That Jesus was a Jew (or Judaean) is certain in that it is found repeated in diverse literature, including in the letters of Paul. And, as the Letter to the Hebrews states: "It is clear that our Lord was descended from Judah." So how do we imagine a Jew at this time, a man "about 30 years of age when he began," according to Luke chapter 3?

In 2001 forensic anthropologist Richard Neave created a model of a Galilean man for a BBC documentary, Son of God, working on the basis of an actual skull found in the region. (Picture at top) He did not claim it was Jesus's face. It was simply meant to prompt people to consider Jesus as being a man of his time and place, since we are never told he looked distinctive.
It is suggested that Jesus looked more like this depiction of Moses on a 3rd century synagogue.

Joan Taylor suggests that as far as what Jesus looked like "this image (of Moses) is far more correct as a basis for imagining the historical Jesus than the adaptations of the Byzantine Jesus that have become standard: he's short-haired and with a slight beard, and he's wearing a short tunic, with short sleeves, and a himation (cloak)."

So what is it going to take to stop hating people different looking from you?

Maybe we Christians shouldn't be so afraid of Middle Eastern looking people as we worship one.

Lin-Manuel Miranda, if you haven't heard his song on Puerto Rico, here it is. By Geniusofdespair

Rueben Blades, Mark Anthony, Gloria Estefan, Rita Moreno, Jennifer Lopez....etc.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Horrible Truth Emerging On The Stolen 2016 Election ... by gimleteye

The head of the DOJ investigation on Trump, Robert Mueller, must be facing a dilemma: the best case against Trump -- obstruction of justice in the firing of James Comey, former FBI director -- is not the most important case against Trump: collusion with Russia to steal the 2016 election.

What is now clear is that in its disinformation war against American democratic elections in 2016, Russia was light-years ahead of us, its enemy. Whether there is hard evidence the Trump campaign, through its social media efforts coordinated by Brad Parscale, actively coordinated with Russia on political messaging -- including suppressing the vote -- on Facebook, Twitter, and Google, there is enough in the public domain to initiate House impeachment hearings against Trump now. That's not going to happen because the same House leaders who strongly objected to Obama's warnings and pleadings for Congress to act against Russian interference in 2016 are still House leaders. In Moscow, ever since the 2016 November election, they have been toasting: "Make America Great Again."

That leaves patriots in a fix. As bad as Trump is as president -- and he is the chaos president Jeb Bush warned he would be -- the lasting impact to democracy is the crushing use of Facebook Twitter Google for patently political goals outside the lines of campaign finance law.

For a pittance, these corporations gave Russia free political access to demographic specific audiences, in effect herding voters already stunned by Trump attacks on mainstream media. The wolves lead the lambs to slaughter.

That's the story of Trump/Russia collusion but it may never get out because the case before Mueller may not be strong enough and because Facebook Twitter Google are refusing to disclose the data they surely possess.

The point here is that disclosure laws are incredibly weak in the US, thanks to Citizens United -- the Bush Supreme Court decision that made corporations more powerful than people in matters of campaign finance law. Elections are highly vulnerable in the US, too, thanks to voter suppression tactics embraced by the GOP.

In a just world, Facebook Twitter Google would be compelled by Congress to produce specific data and information, showing American taxpayers and voters exactly what happened on social media in 2016, providing the 77,000, three state margin for Trump's victory.

The election was stolen, and the evidence is being hidden from the American public.

Facebook scrubbed potentially damning Russia data before researchers could analyze it further
Business Insider
Natasha Bertrand

Facebook scrubbed thousands of posts shared during the 2016 campaign by accounts linked to Russia.

The removals came as a Columbia University researcher was examining their reach.

Facebook says the posts were removed to fix a glitch.

Facebook removed thousands of posts shared during the 2016 election by accounts linked to Russia after a Columbia University social-media researcher, Jonathan Albright, used the company's data-analytics tool to examine the reach of the Russian accounts.

Mayor Gimenez and Chair Bovo Blurring the Lines of Miami Dade County Government. By Geniusofdespair

Commission Chair Steve Bovo, Auditor Kathy jackson and Mayor Gimenez

The love-fest is in full bloom under the ever UNWATCHFUL eyes of the County Commission.

The Mayor has an auditor that reports to him. Kathy Jackson is her name. She has been doing not much since her Wackenhut Audit in 2008. I wrote at the time:

Kick your Manager Burgess in the butt on this one and ask Cathy Jackson for the final INDEPENDENT audit now almost a year and 9 months over-due. Let's put an end to this scandal and get our hard-earned tax dollars back from Wackenhut.

Except, now she will be doing nothing much for the County Commission because she has also been appointed -- thanks to Chair Steve Bovo -- to be the Commission's auditor.

This is ridiculous. You can't have the same auditor report to the Commissioners and to the Mayor. The motivation is not there to do anything that would hurt either side. Where does her loyalty lie? To the Mayor of course.Cathy Jackson, the county's chief auditor, is a department head under Gimenez, so what the hell are the Commissioners doing giving up their independent watchdog? The Commissioners did have their own independent auditor before this. Are they just stupid or now also part of the Bovo and Gimenez love-fest.