Monday, February 21, 2022

Maggy Hurchalla: She Understood The Assignment! … by gimleteye

Maggy Hurchalla, an environmental hero in Florida, died last weekend unexpectedly. We featured Maggy on our blog over the years. We wished the mainstream press and media had, too. 

To read our work on Maggy, click here: 

Maggy Hurchalla and Eye On Miami.

Her passing is a great loss. Below you'll find a blog post from January 2015. I hope Gov. Ron DeSantis takes time read it. He is in the Governor's Mansion in no small part because Florida environmentalists loudly returned his competitor, Adam Putnam, to the private sector. 

Putnam is a wealthy farmer who owed his political life to Big Sugar. Environmentalists did not hesitate to let Florida voters know.

The reason Ron DeSantis should take the time to read about Maggy Hurchalla? 

Because the Florida legislature is in the midst of another horrible legislative effort to give Big Sugar what it wants, when it wants. That's the battle Maggy Hurchalla fought. DeSantis should think a little bit about what she stood for.

Maggy understood what scientists claimed as loudly as they could afford to (and still be employed): that the only way to fix Florida's water woes and the Everglades was to purchase lands currently used to farm sugar, the most heavily subsidized crop in the United States.

Big Sugar had other plans. It felt the pressure and reacted. In 2017, the sugar industry used legislation proposed by Senate President Joe Negron to pass a horrible bill into law. A Trojan Horse. Classic.

The Negron legislation started out as a way to address the wicked toxic algae blooms exploding on both Florida coasts because Lake Okeechobee is managed within an inch of its life to accommodate Big Sugar.

The bill that eventually passed in 2017 included other horribles; for example, stripping state agencies from using eminent domain on sugar lands. 

Maggy never gave up. She was as determined and smart and sharp and vigorous as they come. She knew the Everglades because she had lived them. She knew the Everglades because she loved them.

Maggy Hurchalla understood the assignment! God speed.


The following is the original blogpost from January 2015: "The attached OPED is by Maggy Hurchalla, Miami native and former Martin County commissioner, whose interview featured here; our first 'Achiever' of 2015. Read Maggie's OPED, next to my broadside earlier this week on Adam Putnam, Florida Secretary of Agriculture, and Big Sugar, the Great Destroyers of Florida.

Miami is as affected as any other part of the state by water policies favoring the Great Destroyers, but Miamians need to look up from their shoelaces, sandals, and Guccis and see that the water policies dramatically impacting the rest of the state also are central issues, right here.

When all the Everglades were good for, was draining
The bottom line: Big Sugar has to let go of central land holdings in order to protect the water supply affecting millions of Floridians and the dying Everglades. They will do this either as willing sellers or through eminent domain. They are strenuously resisting either.

Read my OPED on Putnam, to understand how Big Sugar is gaming the media, the system, and taxpayers, pointing in the direction of endless delay.

The Miami-Dade County Commission has been deathly silent on "sending the water south". Lots of money was made in Miami, representing Big Sugar in legal proceedings and selling farm equipment to the Everglades Agricultural Area.

The stakes are so high that continued silence by Mayor Gimenez and the county commission is no longer tolerable. The weight of the county and the Dade delegation to the legislature is considerable. It is decades beyond the time for clamoring by our elected officials in Miami, send the water south. Instead, we've had mouthpieces for the Great Destroyers like Pepe Diaz acting like experts about the need for more drainage of the Everglades. What is missing is leadership.


That's the war cry of the folks where dumping Lake Okeechobee to the east and to the west coasts is literally killing their estuaries. Comprehensive Everglades Restoration has to send the water south.

It's not hysteria. Even the Corps of Engineers agrees that without a change in water management, the St. Lucie Estuary will be irrevocably destroyed. Irrevocable is forever.

The irony is that the people who need to be shouting loudest are the residents of Miami-Dade County. They have been strangely silent.

A recent Herald editorial pointed out…

Tuesday, August 04, 2020

Born to Lead! Guest blog by Connie Goodman Milone


       I live in District 8 in Miami-Dade and fully support Cindy Lerner as a candidate for County Commission in District 7. Lerner will be an engaged and supportive commissioner who will fight for you. She is a child advocate who served as lead attorney for the Florida Guardian Ad Litem program. She was a state representative in Florida who fought to protect our drinking water. Lerner served as a state representative until her district lines were redrawn.

      Lerner is a former mayor of Pinecrest who transformed the village with a Climate Action Plan and the glorious Pinecrest Gardens. She created the Youth Advisory Council that provides leadership and civic engagement for high school students. 

      Mayor Lerner also created the Education Advisory Council to facilitate communication between the Village of Pinecrest and its five public schools. The council brought the Anti-Defamation League’s “No Place for Hate” program to the schools in Pinecrest.

      Cindy Lerner served as president of the Miami-Dade League of Cities. She organized local city leaders to address the threats from sea level rise, flooding, and extreme weather patterns in Miami-Dade County. Through time, Cindy has worked closely with state legislators to address critical issues we encounter at the state and local levels such as sea level rise.

      With her breadth of experience, Lerner understands what it takes to run a local government and to oversee a budgetShe knows where to innovate and recognizes the value of collaboration. Her priorities as county commissioner will be traffic gridlock, Metrorail expansion, climate change, and sea level rise.

       Cindy Lerner has key endorsements from Sierra Club, AFSCME Florida, Teamsters Local 769, SAVE, Florida Conservation Voters, Vote Water, Miami-Dade Democrats, and Ruth's List. She is endorsed by all four state legislators representing voters in District 7. Honoring the legacy of John Lewis, she will make good trouble where needed on the County Commission. Vote by 

mail, vote early, or vote on August 18 for Cindy Lerner for County Commission, District 7.



Friday, December 06, 2019

My latest column in Biscayne Times. By Geniusofdespair
Money, Money, Money PDFPrintE-mail
Written By Nancy Lee, BT Contributor   


Lobbyist Ron Book’s businesses and family have given about $8000 to Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert. Courtesy of
o term limits curb lobbyist influence? We’ll soon find out. This stinking system of influence-peddling on the one hand and raising money for candidates on the other is rotten. Lobbyists even write scripts for the dumber county commissioners like Pepe Diaz.
Term limits are a teeny, tiny step in the right direction, because sitting commissioners could never lose an election under the old system -- the lobbyists just were too efficient at raising money for them.
In Miami-Dade County, citizens changed the charter, voting in term limits for commissioners. It passed years ago. Regrettably, it wasn’t retroactive. Political wonks have been patiently waiting for eight years to pass. Some county commissioners have been in office forever; Dennis Moss has been there since 1993.
I say halleluiah for term limits. We’re seeing the end of long-held county fiefdoms, and it feels so good. Five county commissioners from odd-numbered districts will officially be out of office, leaving open seats for the elections in August 2020.
Five open seats to vote on. Damn, I’m ecstatic.
Audrey Edmonson gave a truly moronic quote to the Miami Herald about being kicked to the curb after 14 years on the county commission. The quote infuriated me. It’s why I’m writing about this subject. “If you don’t have an experienced commission,” she said, “you won’t be able to see through what the lobbyists are telling you.”
Audrey: “You needed 14 years of experience to figure out when you were being conned?”
• • •
Who will admit they like lobbyists? Maybe their children and the spouse who is accustomed to the finer things. Politicians will say they’re a necessary evil, but they actually like most of them.
In Miami Beach, lobbyists disclose their fees, which comes in handy. Some get flat fees, such as $12,500 for Alexander Heckler to represent Terra Group. Alexander Tachmes gets $650 per hour to represent Aiyara LLC, a restaurant company. Of course, they all have lots and lots of clients, so they are making “finer things” kind of bucks. Ron Book and his two-person staff made almost $5 million in 2013, according to Sunshine State News, and his firm had 81 clients that year.
Unfortunately, even the very best of the county commissioners will see a lobbyist ten times faster than they’ll see you. Your $100 is chump change next to a lobbyist who can raise $10,000 for that commissioner.
Ron Book’s businesses and family have given about $8000 to Miami Gardens Mayor Oliver Gilbert, who is running for the commission from District 1 next year. Of course, that doesn’t include what Book raised from others, and it’s still early.
I would say, by the obscene $366,685 that Gilbert has raised so far, he should win. He appears to be the choice of the mega donors. Except… Sybrina Denise Fulton, mother of murdered Trayvon Martin (I call it the Skittles murder), is running against him. Hillary Clinton and Cory Booker have endorsed Fulton, who has hardly raised any money ($41,467), but she does have the community behind her. Plus, voters in that part of the county might not care so much about ads, and Gilbert must tread lightly with negative ads against the much-loved Fulton.
I find City of Miami Commissioner Keon Hardemon’s run for county commissioner particularly awful. He comes from a lobbyist family. With his connections, he should win Edmonson’s District 3. He’s already raised $97,325. Almost every donation was $1000, from about 100 people. Those contributors will get the royal treatment, while his constituents will have no clout.
When City of Miami Commissioner Johnny Winton was first elected, he wouldn’t even see lobbyists. When they slithered in, he’d instruct them to send their boss. That didn’t last long.
More awful than lobbyists raising money for candidates, though, are lobbyists put into positions of power. According to ProPublica, President Trump has had 281 lobbyists in his administration. Trump’s swamp contains “one lobbyist for every 14 political appointments.” Worse, he puts them in positions overseeing industries where they worked on the dark side.
According to Open Secrets, $3.46 billion was spent on lobbyists in 2018. Woof! That would go a long way toward subsidizing unaffordable prescriptions.
I got in touch with Sylvia Farina, who for 20 years was a chief of staff to three Miami-Dade County commissioners. Sylvia ended her career working for Katy Sorenson. I sent her Audrey Edmonson’s stupid quote. Sylvia said, “If you hire experienced people for your staff, then lobbyist issues will be fine.”
Another former chief of staff inspired me with hope: “If new commissioners hire professional staff to give them objective, independent advice, this powerful local governing board could become the most respected legislative body in Florida.”
Wow! If we start to respect commissioners, that would put most of us lunatic Miami-Dade writers out of business.