Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Florida voters to Legislators: NO, you can't do that! Legislators to Florida voters: pound dirt! ... by gimleteye


Florida legislators owe a debt of gratitude to the least capable president in U.S. history. Trump has proven; when nothing means anything, alternate facts rule and anything can be accomplished. Consider the Trump plan to reduce corporate income taxes to 15%. Meaningless.

Trump exploited the federal tax code, and for years voters support of Congress -- the ultimate arbiter of tax rates -- allowed Trump to effectively pay no taxes at all when his many businesses failed in the 1990's and early 2000's. Sure, Democrats bear a fair share of blame for a tax code as filled with holes as a piece of Swiss cheese.

This session of the legislature is turning into the ultimate pinata for special interests.

Take, for one example, Florida's largest regulated utility: Florida Power and Light. State Republicans race to praise FPL as a "good corporate citizen". Take a closer look.

FPL has a state-mandated, guaranteed rate of return of 10%. Who wouldn't want a business with a guaranteed return of ten percent? You thought the guarantee was an honest return in exchange for reliable, cheap electricity? Think again.

Florida legislators bend over routinely, as they are doing in this session of the state legislature, to give FPL even more, a lot more than ten percent. Without getting into detail: FPL lobbyists have "persuaded" the legislature to work around two court decisions against its interests. The first, a new bill approving a guaranteed rate of return for fracking in Oklahoma, putting Florida ratepayers on the line to pay for its risk. The second, also to evade another decision that ratepayers and citizens mistakenly believed had been settled by Florida courts: the right to go around local home rule and install massive high-intensity power poles down the length of Miammi's US Route 1, in one of the most heavily trafficked areas of Florida's most populous county.

But there is more: FPL, through its parent company NextEra Energy, pays NO FEDERAL INCOME TAX at all. The corporation received, instead, over a 7 year period a credit equal to the cost of replacing the failed cooling canals at its Turkey Point nuclear units. A solution that FPL refuses to undertake because "it is too costly".

Put another way: FPL executives and top shareholders -- through the state legislature and lax environmental enforcement the legislature implicitly OK's -- are both being funded by ratepayers and also being REFUNDED by taxpayers hundreds of millions for defying taxpayers, for defying the courts, for spending tens of millions to defy the will of voters, for destroying drinking water aquifers, and "taking" by subversive eminent domain the natural resources of one of the nation's most threatened national parks.

NextEra Energy (FPL's corporate "parent") had corporate profits of $21.5 billion from 2008 to 2015. The company paid no federal income taxes on this amount but instead received a net credit of $313 million due to government subsidies. … The analysis of NextEra Energy’s corporate profits and taxes was done by the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a center-left nonprofit. It was published in a March 2017 report, “The 35 Percent Corporate Tax Myth; Corporate Tax Avoidance by Fortune 500 Companies, 2008 to 2015.”

So Donald Trump can yammer all he wants about what a great and terrific tax plan to reduce corporate taxes and stimulate jobs!, but actually corporations like NextEra and other regulated entities are paying zero percent and getting money back from taxpayers in order to lay down the tracks for future profits (cf. Big Sugar and a new bill allowing it to harvest rainfall, make taxpayers engineer it clean enough to sell back to the public).

Their schemes are so great! and so successful that state legislators feel no doubt, no uncertainty, no hesitation to lie, to cheat the public, and yet wear pins on the lapels professing their love of God and Constitution.

FPL, along with its other regulated utilities, are top campaign contributors in Tallahassee, particularly to those incumbents with aspirations to advance: Gov. Rick Scott, to the Senate seat held by Bill Nelson, and Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, who aims to replace Scott as Governor. It is money-ball, full time in Florida's distant capitol.

Congratulations, Florida voters: we did this to ourselves.

The Latest on the Coconut Grove Playhouse, two Very Strong Women hire a Lawyer. By Geniusofdespair

The players in the Playhouse Preservation fight:

Katrina Morris
Barbara Lange - only photo I could find from the Coconut Grove Grapevine.

The county wants to demolish the Court House downtown, now they want to demolish the Playhouse in Coconut Grove -- Demolition Derby in Miami Dade County.

Two of my long time friends, Barbara Lange and Katrina Morris have hired attorney Lowell Kuvin to fight their case for preservation based on historic inferior interior. Better to have the playhouse than a parking lot (County loves parking lots). See the article in the Miami Herald today.
 

I have seen Barbara Lange fight with a room full of Rock Miners. I went with her and was sort of in shock and a little scared. She is pretty tough.  Arthur Teele was a good friend of hers. Every time I see her she forgets who I am -- even though I have known her since 1995 and I have been to her home, drove with her for a few hours and have been at an endless amount of meetings with her.  I swear I even worked for her for a time. A very brief time. Just not on her radar.

Katrina, on the other hand, I went to her wedding and I have know her almost the same amount of time. She remembers me well.  She is a relocated California girl.

Both women know how to battle. Watch out.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

New York Times Editorial on Florida Citizens Getting the Shaft on Solar, Environment, Land and Conservation, Voting, and More! By Geniusofdespair

HOW ON EARTH CAN I GET YOU TO READ THIS? PLEASE DO IT. This is what happens when your State legislature is over-loaded with one party:



THE TEXT:

An Everglades Dirge ... by gimleteye

Everglades National Park, after a fire
A former director of Friends of the Everglades once said, "The Everglades is a test. If we pass, we may get to keep the planet." Joe Podgor was prescient.

What he meant was that by the early 1990's all the parties, including dozens of governmental agencies and special interests and environmentalists had coalesced around the opportunity to protect the Everglades, America's treasured wetland wilderness. There were critical lessons to be learned. For instance, that science and fact matter more than politics. This was a moment to shine. Instead, public policies headed deep, deep into the weeds.

The template of "cooperation" that formed around Everglades restoration -- fixing the water plumbing of what originally encompassed the entire southern half of the state, from the Kissimmee River north of Lake Okeechobee to Florida Bay -- was a drill for humantiy's most complex problem: how to protect the planet that sustains us. Back in the 1990's, we didn't have time to lose, either in the Everglades or with global warming.

On the latter front, we lost a lot of time. Today, President Trump and a Congress represent fossil fuel polluters while the Trump administration falls even further backwards on climate change. Small consolation that former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg recently urged world leaders "to ignore" Trump on climate change.

On the former -- Everglades restoration -- a similar circumstance is unfolding. Florida is controlled by Big Sugar and its bottomless campaign contributions to the executive branch and state legislature. Sugar's proxies are laced throughout. They include Gov. Rick Scott, Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, who plans to run for governor, and US Senator Marco Rubio.

What they are saying is, in effect, "I accept that Big Sugar will dictate any regulation or governmental initiative on the Everglades that involves in any way its profit models."

There are a few dissenters. Notably State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, from Miami, put science and reason on the front burner where it belongs.

Bullsugar.org -- one of the most forward leaning of the state's environmental groups and a founder of the Now Or Neverglades Movement -- yesterday issued this statement:
"It appears likely the legislation (Negron's SB 10) will go directly to the House floor without committee review as session enters its final days. Whatever process gets us there, Floridians deserve to see a plan that will actually work – and a plan that is put into action immediately. The compromise on this bill already occurred in the Senate, and it was a big one. The reservoir capacity was shrunk by 1/3, from 360,000 acre feet to 240,000. If the reservoir is too small, or there is not enough treatment marsh to filter pollutants out quickly enough to allow water to be sent south 52 weeks a year, it won't work. Think of all we stand to lose ... Everglades National Park, the drinking water supply for eight million Floridians, the estuaries and economies on both coasts. It is not an exaggeration to say South Florida's future depends on not shortchanging this project."
For the thirty years I've been involved as a close observer and participant in Everglades restoration, the number that has always been fixed as necessity is an additional 1,000,000 acre feet of water storage. Not 360,000 acre feet and certainly not 240,000. That's the number of acre feet of water needed to store water adequate to the purpose of rehydrating the Everglades and protecting Florida's estuaries. Not so long ago, the number equated to 100,000 acres. The point of the arithmetic is simple: if you have a hundred thousand acres, and put one foot of water on them, you get a million acre feet. Less land then you have to stack water much, much deeper.

In this session of the legislature and the current bill for the Everglades? The acreage has dropped from from an aspirational purchase from Big Sugar of 100,000 to 60,000 to the current version, more or less 14,000 additional acres.

Senate President Negron is trying to fix the only deal he could make with Big Sugar. For its part, Big Sugar launched a deep, multi-pronged public relations campaign against the bill until it got what it wanted. The deal takes eminent domain off the table in the Everglades Agricultural Area (eminent domain is prominently being used for Trump's wall against Mexico), opens a massive change in Florida water law that will lead to privatization -- ie. farmers selling rainfall to the public and making the public pay for engineering to make sure the water is cleaned up after being rinsed in Big Sugar's pollution -- and puts any hard and fast reckoning so far into the future that if it doesn't work, there will be no recourse but go back to Big Sugar for another round of "negotiation".

The physical science: to get 240,000 acre feet of water under the Negron plan will require building a pond with walls over thirty five feet high to meet US Army Corps of Engineers flood criteria, with a circumference of more than 20 miles, at a cost of $2 to $4 billion.

And if the Big Sugar plan doesn't work? That's the reason for a dirge. We will have the same result as waiting for sea levels to rise ten feet in Florida then going back to ExxonMobil and asking what is the company going to do about it.

The problem is a political system that is overwhelmed by campaign money from insiders, burying science and every piece of common sense. As true with climate change as it is with the Everglades. Especially the part about funding disinformation campaigns and outright lies. Yes, the problem is also a lobbyist culture, a complacent media and political gatekeepers who channel taxpayer dollars into a perpetual motion machine that damages the promise of democracy and liberty.

But if blame is to be assigned, the buck stops with voters and taxpayers. Truly we did this to ourselves.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Our Wacky Tweeter in Chief: Monday. By Geniusofdespair

38% of those polled believe he is honest and trustworthy. That is a lot of dopey people.
Totally obsessed with polls...

I always read through the tweets in reply, I like these two best today:



ABC - Washington Post  Full Poll Here

Something super obscene: the failure of regulation in Florida under Gov. Rick Scott ... by gimleteye

Martin County, winter 2015/2016
Every day Gov. Rick Scott is governor of Florida, the unthinkable is routinely occurring.

Science, fact, and government regulation are being buried by an executive branch that puts the public health at severe risk. At a recent meeting of the Florida Senate Appropriations Committee, a physician from Martin County testified that hospital admissions for cardiac events went up 50% after the diseased water from Lake Okeechobee spewed all over Florida's estuaries in the winter of 2015/2016.

Watch the video, below. Another example -- even more blatant -- of Florida politicians failing to protect people from special interests.

"Florida is the Wild West of pediatric cardiac surgery right now."

"This is about a corrupt system where politicians put special interests above the well being of families."

What about the issue rare pediatric cancer clusters in Florida, including Miami? Silence. Silence from the county and silence from the state.

Gov. Rick Scott believes Floridians will deliver him to the US Senate in 2018. And why shouldn't Floridians reward failure with success? We re-elected Marco Rubio despite evidence of Rubio's failure to fix diseased waterways and the tremendous public health costs his politics have inflicted on Florida.

Voters, only, can redress these injustices.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Science March Miami April 23rd: Viruses remain in male reproductive organs for years. By Geniusofdespair

This presentation at the Science March yesterday scared the hell out of me for reproduction on earth (watch the damn video):


link to video of this andrologist speaking
(Andrology - is the medical specialty that deals with male health, particularly relating to the problems of the male reproductive system and urological problems that are unique to men.)

I feel like the media is desensitized to protests. Thousands of people show up-- not the usual suspects --and hardly a word about it in the papers. I was floored by the number of people and I go to dozens of these. The media come for 10 minutes, if they come at all and then poof, they are gone.





#MarchforScience Miami #sciencemarch ... by @gimleteyemiami

A surprising turnout of thousands at Museum Park for a march to County Hall yesterday. The crowd, congenial, excited and unafraid to turn up and speak their minds about the decline of science in Florida and in the United States.

Science isn't political, but yesterday's marches around the world were very political.

Although they focused on the existential threats of climate change, galvanized against President Trump's Swamp, in a broader sense the marches were standing up for fact against myth, for reason against fancy, and for intelligence against stupidity.

The question remains: do enough voters care enough to reverse the tide of fear and reactionism against science?

For instance, Gov. Rick Scott was returned by voters to the executive office, despite his careless disregard for science. Moreover, the mainstream media scarcely brushed the issue of Florida science-related issues in Scott's campaigns.

One of Scott's first acts as governor was to axe the science capacity of the state's Everglades agency. He put the agency -- the water management district -- , then, under management by political hacks where it remains today. President Trump, his new friend, is doing the same at the federal level.

Scott intends to run against US Senator Bill Nelson, a Democrat. It is up to every person who marched in Florida yesterday to get involved -- especially in the red counties of this purple state -- to make Scott's campaign a referendum on Trump and Scott's policies that put science in the broom closet.

Yesterday, the crowd listened attentively to some local heroes: Caroline Lewis, founder of the climate change action group, the CLEO Institute. (We've written a lot about Ms. Lewis. Never forget!) South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, a scientist himself and leader on climate change related issues. State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez, virtually a lone Democratic voice in Tallahassee pushing for common sense, science-based solutions to Florida's water crisis.

More, later, but for the time being a few favorite images from yesterday's march.






Saturday, April 22, 2017

March For Science Miami ... by gimleteye #marchforscience

Follow me on Twitter: @gimleteyemiami


Today's March For Science joins Miami to cities around the world and people planting their feet, signs, and spirit "for" science. The Miami event starts at Museum Park downtown at 11AM and will end at the Stephen Clark Government Center a short distance away.

Yesterday, a Twitter post reflected my feelings:

I can't believe we have to march for FREAKING SCIENCE, either, but such is the effect of a state government under Rick Scott and a federal government under his buddy, Donald Trump. Both are driving science into the shadows and deep into the weeds.


This isn't an academic issue. It is a matter of life and death. For example, there is evidence -- we have documented on our blog -- that the state of Florida is withholding data on rare pediatric cancer clusters in Florida. It is infuriating. Outrageous. Despite the corporate runs for cancer, the people wearing pink or yellow wrist bands, politics continues to conspire against science.

Moreover, it is appropriate for the March Against Science in Miami to end at County Hall. County commissioners and the executive mayors of Miami-Dade, Florida's most populous county, routinely use science as cannon fodder in service of big campaign donors and powerful special interests.

Exhibit #1: Florida Power and Light's failed cooling canal system at Turkey Point in Homestead. For DECADES, FPL dodged the manifest evidence that its cooling canals were leaking hyper saline water underground in all directions: toward population centers, drinking water wells, and into Biscayne National Park. Politics allowed FPL to avoid its legal obligations.

Exhibit #2: The Miami-Dade West Wellfield. This wellfield supplies 2.2 million Floridians with most of their drinking water. Not only did Miami-Dade County Commissioners -- many current commissioners included -- shovel science to the side, allowing development and rock miners to encroach on the wellfield protection zone, they subverted science showing the danger for many years.

Exhibit #3: The South Dade Watershed Plan. A decade ago the nation's most expensive and intensive science-based effort mapped a plan for future development in the remaining open areas of farmland in West and South Dad. When the plan -- costing about $15 million -- was finished, county commission took the science and put it on a shelf due to opposition from large political donors in farming, rock mining and development. This is particularly relevant today, because the study considered low lying, flood prone areas in South Florida that will be impacted by sea level rise and climate change.

The county commissioners who have been invited to join the march today can and will no doubt make the case that they support science.

County Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava, for instance, promoted and supported a science-based resolution calling for land acquisition in the Everglades Agricultural Area in 2015, that her fellow commissioners supported. Once the sugar industry got wind, however, in 2016 a more specific science-based appeal to the state legislature did not pass the county commission and withered instead.

In the current session of the Florida legislature, science has been further shoved into the background as Big Sugar wages a battle with more than 100 lobbyists to thwart the will of the people. Based on science.

I've been an observer how politics wrecks science-based decision making for close to three decades. It is and time for younger generations to become involved because the ultimate collision of science and politics is the one over climate change. Gov. Rick Scott and US Senator Marco Rubio, and most of the GOP in Florida, are climate change deniers. So is President Trump.

I marched in the Vietnam War. I've marched for women's rights. I marched for the 2000 recount of the presidential election. I marched for the Homestead Air Force Base and for the national parks and for the environment. I can't believe in 2017 we have to march for FREAKING SCIENCE. But more than march, people who believe that democracy depends on fact and science have to vote.

PS. If you miss today's march, there is another next Saturday 1PM, April 29 on Earth Day at Jose Marti Park.

Eye on Miami Saturday Editorial Page. By Geniusofdespair


State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez
I look at State Senator Frank Artiles with disgust and I am so glad he is gone. What a piece of shit. I am so very proud of my State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez. There is some sanity left in this world. However, my State Representative is a big disappointment. Don't even remember his name. I guess that makes him lucky. He is like fellow Democrat DINO Daphne Campbell 2. Duran, that is it.

Nick Duran a big fat NO
Listen up Democrats: I know it is important to increase the number of Democrats in the State House BUT I WILL NOT VOTE FOR THIS GUY AGAIN. I might write my own name in.

PALMETTO BAY:

I dub Palmetto Bay worse than Hudstead and that is saying a lot. The voters there are clueless since they continue voting for the toxic John Dubois.  I think the Village Council's recent 3 to 2 vote to repeal a former vote allowing a development might end up getting the Village sued. John Dubois appears to love lawsuits. The Ethics Commissioner had advised John Dubois not to vote and that opinion still stands according to Joe Centorino the Ethics Commissioner. John Dubois voted anyway.  John Dubois' suit against the Ethics Commission was dropped.

ME:

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...except when I was young and I would read superman comic books.

Poor Superboy
Lastly, I read Facebook and I know most of you are lost in some really unrealistic optimism: I call it the cute puppy, cute kitten syndrome. Get real.


This is our life, don't look away, face it:

This is how we all eat breakfast isn't it? What is with the mannequin on the right?
Don't look away this what Americans elected. Doomed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Big Sugar's Connection To Alzheimer's ... by gimleteye

Follow me on Twitter: @gimleteyemiami
Martin County, December 2016: toxic blue-green algae flooding out of Lake Okeechobee, FL

As the state legislature twists into pretzels to accommodate Big Sugar in Tallahassee, recall that sugar -- the commodity that the legislature is salivating to defend -- poisons people, poisons democracy, poisons the Everglades and --- last but not least --- turns precious coastal real estate into its sacrifice zone. Indeed, the public health -- yours and mine -- are also Big Sugar's sacrifice zone. Would any other industry go so far to invest in corrupting political influence to advance an agenda so patently against taxpayer interests? (Big Tobacco, Big Oil, Big Coal come to mind.)
Big Sugar is in a class of its own. The entire state government of Florida has been deformed to tip the scales of justice in its direction. Here is an example: in the current Everglades Bill before the legislature (the centerpiece of Senate President Joe Negron's agenda), Big Sugar has forced a prohibition against eminent domain, enlisting minority communities in its support, despite the fact that public health costs of excess sugar consumption weigh most heavily on the same minority communities.

In other words, Big Sugar wants support so that their lands are never "taken" for a public purpose, but there is no similar balance when the public health is "taken" by Big Sugar with trillion dollar per year health costs. Time Magazine on "How Much Your Sugar Habit Is Costing You"::
About 30% to 40% of the healthcare expenditures in the U.S. are paid toward "issues that are closely tied to the excess consumption of sugar," such as obesity and diabetes, according to a 2013 report from Credit Suisse. Assuming total healthcare expenses of at least $3 trillion, that would mean Americans collectively spent $1 trillion, or about $3,136 per person, on treatment for sugar-related conditions.
How could Florida voters be so gullible that we return to elected office, repetitively, politicians who are in Big Sugar's back pocket? To name a few: Gov. Rick Scott, US Senator Marco Rubio, Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, Senator Minority Leader Oscar Braynon, Representative Matt Caldwell, and the laundry-list of wanna-bees and political aspirants. Here's a clue, from yesterday's news:
In the study cited in Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the researchers found that higher consumption of sugary beverages was associated with a pattern consistent with preclinical Alzheimer’s, including smaller total brain volume and poorer episodic memory. The authors called the findings “striking” because they were found in a middle-aged sample and withstood statistical adjustment for such factors as physical activity and total caloric intake. The results align with earlier research done with smaller samples, including one with 737 middle-aged participants in the Boston Puerto Rican Health Study, which found that higher sugar intake was cross-sectionally associated with Alzheimer’s-like behavioral patterns.
The answer is simple, yet very difficult to do: stop eating processed, refined sugar in your food, stop electing politicians who lean on Big Sugar donations -- from both political parties! -- and make the connection: what is good for your health is ultimately good for your wallet.

Say "NO" to Big Sugar now. Yesterday's report in Bloomberg concludes:
Hartley also recommends the association’s 10 Ways to Love Your Brain for proactive steps towards brain health, including exercise, a healthy diet, and keeping up education, and he advises everyone to speak with physicians about their specific health conditions. Still, when it comes to soda—diet or regular—the safest course is to skip it. “I think they’re both bad,” he said. “Pure water is always a very good thing.”
That Big Sugar is wrecking Florida's pure water future will come as no shock to longtime Eye On Miami readers.