Friday, August 31, 2007

Manipulating the African American community block vote, by gimleteye

The Miami Herald reports on the "piling on" by African American leaders against the recommendation to expand the number of seats on the county commission, to include a number of at-large representatives.

It makes my heart sink to understand that all the talk about "setting back the clock" is meant to rile up minorities who vote virtually in a block. It is race baiting.

It is exactly what occurred during the strong mayor referendum, when mailers were anonymously sent out warning of dire consequences to poor blacks by shady, backroom dealing if a strong mayor was elected. It wasn't true then and it is not true, now.

The fact is that the shady backroom dealing is what African American county and city commissioners have been doing to their own, for decades, on the order of "what happens in Overtown, stays in Overtown." This penny-ante stuff (a pitiful fraction of what rainmakers in the power elite provide for their own) enforces a rigid political orthodoxy in African American communities.

There have been serial examples how poor African Americans have gotten pasted by their leaders SINCE the strong mayor referendum earlier this year: Poinciana Biotech Park, wrapping up the Meeks, the un-"affordable housing" ordinance from Barbara Jordan wrapping the housing boom in South Dade to family interests, the county housing agency and JESCA fraud, wrapping up Dorin Rolle, the Umoja Village and Scott Carver Housing, wrapping up Spence Jones, and last but not least, the vote on the multi-million dollar Related project in Coconut Grove, wrapping up Barbara Carey Shuler and Spence Jones.

Here is the lesson that eyeonmiami has repeatedly emphasized (read our archive on corruption, for more if you have the stomach for it):

The current single-member district system of Florida's largest county is anchored by campaign contributions of the development lobby, represented by such interests as the Latin Builders Association and lobbyists like Miguel de Grandy, guaranteeing a dysfunctional system of government in which an African American political elite trades the perks of incumbency for votes to zone and permit new development in outlying areas or (in the case of the Related project) where few black constituents live.

It is predictable as rain. Now the question is, of course, would anything change with the addition of at-large member seats?

It depends on whether candidates for the new seats could afford to run county-wide races on a good government platform, such as the one that elected Marc Sarnoff in the City of Miami to replace the growth-at-all-costs mentality that put so many condos in downtown Miami it will take decades and tax hikes to absorb them all.

If county-wide elected commissioners who ran on good government platforms were able to gain access to the chair of important county commission committees, that would be disaster for the status quo. Of course, that is not what we are hearing from the African American protesters at county hall.

Their subtext is different: protect our feudal fiefdoms.

Mayor Carlos Alvarez should not be playing defense when there is such a clear argument to make with the voting public who showed once that they support reform and will support reform, again, if the argument is clearly made to all constituencies, including the African American community.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Parcel B History: Urban Environment League was there first. By Geniusofdespair

The UEL (Urban Environment League) reminded me they had a history at this Parcel B site that they saved from a 20 story development in 2003. The UEL has been involved with the American Airlines Arena site (Both A & B) since the early 90's when the UEL group formed -- over this issue as a matter of fact.

This Parcel B (a portion of the Arena Site) is the same site that some want to put on a Bay of Pigs Museum and Library. It looks like the UEL needs to be at the table as they want open space. (Hit on the page below to enlarge).

That Old Man: Miami River Rocks. By Geniusofdespair

"Captain Beau Payne, owner of the river’s largest tugboat company, credited the Marine Group for bringing to the public’s attention the dangers the Miami River faces from indiscriminate development, and he lauded the attorney who “killed seven with one blow” – a reference to the team of Greenberg Traurig’s seven attorneys who were stood down by one Andrew Dickman, a modern day Jack the giant killer."

Who cares about the Miami River Marine Group winning 2 lawsuits? Really.

Should you care? Should I? Yes people: You should care. This is boring but it is big news!

These are landmark decisions that have implications all over the State of Florida.

To remind you, the State of Florida makes every City and County in Florida write a Comprehensive Master Plan to guide the growth of that entity. It includes everything, transportation, water dependent uses, public access. It is a very inclusive document and fat. These plans are massive -- at least an inch thick.

Many cities and counties change the plans to suit the needs of that next big developer to catch their fancy. Or, worse, cities trample on the objectives of the Comprehensive Master Plans (Comp Plans) without a care in wanton disregard for the future by granting land use changes. That is what Florida Hometown Democracy is trying to stop but that is not our story today.

Well, here on this working river, the judges said: STOP. In fact, they shouted STOP twice! Here is why. In the Comp Plan for the City of Miami one of the objectives the City included was that the Marine Industry needed to be protected on the River. The City, not paying any attention to its own plan, decided to grant land use changes and put condos on the river. Well, guess what, the State of Florida reviews land use changes.

You can’t have people banging on boats while people in condos try to sleep they don’t mix. The city of Miami just figured Condos were a better use I guess but condos would have killed the Marine Industry and the City didn't really care.

The judges sided with the Marine Industry twice which sued based on the plan. Landmark decisions....because now we know we can sue on other parts of the plan that cities/counties don't follow and maybe win!!!!!

Here is the press release which I am now too lazy to read, I am sure it is more accurate than I have been so take their word for it:

PRESS RELEASE (Thursday, August 30, 2007)

Miami River Marine Group and Neighbors Defeat “Coastal on the River” Development

For a second time in the month of August, the Miami River’s marine industry and Durham Park neighborhood claimed a victory in the struggle with the City of Miami’s condo revolution. In a detailed 40-page opinion, the Third District Court of Appeal yesterday reversed the City in its 2006 decision to allow a land use change in the Port of Miami River from Industrial to Restricted Commercial. The Court’s reversal kills prospects for a 633-dwelling unit called Coastal on the River, a development project at 22nd Avenue and the south bank of the Miami River.

The Miami River Marine Group, the Durham Park Neighborhood Association, and Captain Herbert “Beau” Payne filed their law suit against the City and developer (Riverside Investments, LLC) arguing that the land use amendment and development project is contrary to established plans mandating the protection of the Port of Miami River – Florida’s 4th largest port – from incompatible high density developments.

The District Court agreed and ruled that the administrative law judge from the Florida Division of Administrative Hearings “erred by refusing to apply this court’s definition of the Port of Miami River, failed to consider the Port of Miami River Sub-element and critical areas of the Coastal Management and Future Land Use sections of the Comprehensive Plan, failed to consider sections of the River Master Plan, and made findings that were unsupported by the evidence, we reverse.”

Since 2000, the City has approved numerous high rise developments on Industrial riverfront lands despite protests from the marine industry and neighborhoods on the River because that they are damaging the viability of commerce on the River.

The District Court agreed that “…these “small scale” amendments, when viewed together as a whole, are changing the character of the Miami River waterfront without proper long range planning or input from appropriate agencies, departments, and citizen groups.” Captain Beau Payne, owner of the river’s largest tugboat company, credited the Marine Group for bringing to the public’s attention the dangers the Miami River faces from indiscriminate development, and he lauded the attorney who “killed seven with one blow” – a reference to the team of Greenberg Traurig’s seven attorneys who were stood down by one Andrew Dickman, a modern day Jack the giant killer.

The opinion follows a similar opinion rendered by the court on August 8, 2007, just three weeks ago, reversing the City’s approval of the 1,073-dwelling unit Hurricane Cove development located at 18th Avenue on the Miami River.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Commissioner Spence-Jones are you in trouble? By Geniusofdespair

Michelle, ma Belle, These are words that go together well: payoff my Michelle!

According to sharp-as-a-tack reporter, Oscar Pedro Musibay, of the Daily Business Review: Related Group Project Subject of Inquiry.

It’s those three pesky Related Group towers at Mercy Hospital once again. They do keep themselves in the news don’t they? Apparently Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones is accused of receiving money for her yes vote on those 3 dumb, out of scale towers.

According to the article, State Attorney Rundle said her office has launched a review:

”...investigators are examining whether City Commissioner Michelle Spence-Jones received money from the developer, Related Group, through intermediaries to guarantee her support.”

The article states further:

“Prosecutors are looking into possible roles played by Spence-Jones; her political mentor, former County Commission chairwoman Barbara Carey-Schuler; and Spence-Jones campaign adviser Barbara Hardemon, according to sources familiar with the investigation.”

Type the rest of the post here

The housing crash, environmentalists, and the way forward ... by gimleteye

So far, environmentalists have been silent on economic and political calamities tied to the housing bust. One could not expect otherwise. Environmentalists may be natural conservatives, but they are not natural capitalists.

The way forward is first of all to understand the nature of the opposition, usually painted by special interests as "what the market wants".

What the implosion of credit markets reveals, in particular related to home mortgages, is that the development patterns that engaged environmentalists in futile struggles during the housing boom now in cinders was not what the market wanted so much as what could be financed.

Environmentalists don’t need to become financiers or economic experts to decode the way forward: what they do have to do is understand that the better way to provide for growth and economic development is to demand that the securitization of home mortgages should take into account all the costs to the environment.

Putting the sharp regulatory pen to America’s vast market for housing along the lines of what benefits the environment would be anathema to so-called conservatives who made fortunes during the housing boom by wringing maximum productivity from the mass marketing and efficiencies of production home building on cheap land.

On this point, though, environmentalists need to be very clear: suburban sprawl as represented by platted subdivisions far from places of work represented the biggest subsidy ever given to any industry by the federal and state government. It wraps up billion dollar bonuses to Wall Street financiers and the budgets of the US Department of Transportation. And it turns out to wrap up trillions of dollars worth of toxic debt to investors.

In recent days, the Federal Reserve has opened the spigots hoping to ease the credit crisis in the United States. But the fallout from the housing bubble and crash is not over by a long shot.

Environmentalists need to make the case to the American people that we, the taxpayers, are becoming the lenders of last resort to a failed scheme for developing the American landscape that put hundreds of thousands of communities at risk, not to mention ecosystems, species and habitats.

The scale of financial devastation is all over the news. But the devastation to the environment has scarcely been mentioned. That imbalance must be redressed.

Environmentalists--who have been shut out from Wall Street and its important business with government in creating unsustainable debt--should do exactly as foreign investors are trying to do, today, according to a New York Times report, “Calls grow for foreigners to have a say on U.S. market rules.”

“Politicians, regulators, and financial specialists outside the United States are seeking a role in the oversight of American markets, banks and rating agencies after recent problems related to subprime mortgages. Their argument is simple: The United States is exporting financial products, but losses to investors in other countries suggest that American regulators are not properly monitoring the products or alerting investors to the risks.”

The products in question, environmentalists need to understand, are trillions of dollars of mortgages pooled from a building boom defined to a large extent by subdivisions whose low prices and homogeneity are not just because they were allowed to be built in wetlands or farmland but also because they conformed to financial formulas that allowed them to be priced at a “reasonable risk” while offering higher returns, or yields, than conventional debt.

On the retail side of the mortgage equation, liar loans and mortgage fraud ruled the day. On the wholesale side, the return on investments to indifferent investors depended on deliberately omitting "external costs" like environmental impacts--or those related to civic concerns like overburdened infrastructure, traffic, schools, and water supply.

Understand that it is as much within the rights of environmentalists to demand that underlying financial instruments should be regulated and marked to risk of species and habitat loss or poor integration with surrounding infrastructure as it is for foreign investors to ask for accountability.

“Banks and investment funds from China to France suffered losses after buying mortgage-related securities and complex financial products based on them in the United States.”

It’s true. And it is also true that the US taxpayer, as the lender of last resort, has suffered massive losses to quality of life and the environment without really understanding the complaints of foreign investors is the same as theirs.

If “moralizing financial capitalism” is going to happen, as suggested by the President Nicolas Sarkozy of France—and should—then environmentalists should prepare themselves to be at the head of the line to testify to House and Senate banking committees.

It is perfectly reasonable, for instance, to ask that rating agencies be required to penalize securitized mortgage pools that include “assets”, ie. subdivisions, built on wetlands or in buffer areas for environmentally sensitive lands like the Everglades.

The French finance minister gets the last word in the New York Times article, “Once the dust has settled we will see where the different powers stand and what will be on the bargaining table.”

If environmentalists are smart, they won’t waste a minute getting to that bargaining table—and if not invited then forcing their way in, because the home building lobby will be standing with arms-crossed barring entrance the way it always has.

NAACP: Speak out but clean house first! By Geniusofdespair

The problem I have with the Women's Political Caucus is the same one I have with the NAACP. The support of women for political positions, just because they are women, and the support of inferior black politicians just because they are black -- both are just plain wrong.

The NAACP held a march yesterday: Black marchers call for resignation of Dade officials. Well, how about a resignation of that embarrassment, Commissioner Dorrin Rolle? And, many of the others are not much better. These Commissioners use the County as their feifdoms. There is is an absence of improvements or progress in places like Liberty City or Overtown and these black Commissioners have been governing there for years and years. Victor, Brad: Do you have to get hit over the head with a sledge hammer? As long as the NAACP remains silent on the crappy leaders that are in power in Miami Dade, the NAACP has no place criticizing the Mayor or others.

The NAACP becomes part of the problem when it looks the other way at the failings of the black leadership in government positions. Clean house!

I can embrace the NAACP request for proportional voting over at large voting but district voting (what we have now) has produced some of the worst candidates I have ever seen. It has got to go.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Let the prices fall, let markets find their equilibrium, by gimleteye

The subprime mortgage sector is cooked to a fare-thee-well. Across the globe, hedge funds and financial institutions are blowing up on long-delay fuses as combustible toxic mortgage waste is repriced to meet redemption calls by anxious investors.

Still, it's just a start to what began unfolding in Florida at the start of 2007: the implosion of the biggest housing boom in state history.

But as pilloried as the subprime sector has been, it makes just as much sense that home buyers deemed to be credit-worthy who bought jumbo loans and far too much home than their incomes could reasonably support are next in line for default rates in excess of bond insurance (for investors in the derivatives cobbled together from the asset bubble) and that these mortgage-holders represent a far bigger problem to markets for securitized debt assembled from large pools of the giddy, the unrealistic, and delusionary.

The question now arises as to the moral responsibility of governments and financial institutions to pick up the pieces of the massive asset bubble they created in the first place. So far, not so good.

It has been difficult for the financial press and for politicians to get a handle on the extent of the economic crisis triggered by the housing boom now in cinders.

The debate about what to do is ironic in the context of the debate about the nation’s moral responsibility to continue the war in Iraq.

Strange that the nation that elected a president based on values is now possessed by a government debating its moral responsibility to rescue voters and taxpayers from its own values.

The writer James Howard Kunstler calls America “clusterfuck nation”, , and he won't get any argument from me.

The mainstream media is finally catching on that the housing market crisis will be the major issue in the 2008 election cycle.

It has finally teased from the Goldman Sachs of the world that we are only beginning to see the waves of economic casualties from the implosion of the housing boom.

“This is really just the beginning… there’s a big wave of defaults coming over the next 12 to 18 months,” said Karen Weaver, global director of securitization research for Deutsche Bank to the New York Times (“In Washington, Measuring a Lifeline”, August 28th).

The Times article goes on to describe discussions in Congress, over what shape and form a government bail-out should take and the fundamental question, “should the government ride to the rescue”.

For a better review, the economist Nouriel Roubini blogs on the same topic.

In the Financial Times, Larry Summers – former secretary of the Treasury –writes: “what is the role for public authorities in supporting the flow of credit to the housing sector? The lesson learnt during the S&L debacle was that it was catastrophic to finance home ownership through insured banking institutions that borrowed short term and then offered long-term fixed-rate home mortgages. Now a system reliant on securitisation, adjustable rate mortgages and non-insured financial institutions has broken down.

It is undeniably true that the system of securitization, or financial derivatives as they are generically called, financed the asset bubble in housing in the United States. But Summers doesn't offer any prescription.

Warren Buffet called derivatives “weapons of mass financial destruction”: was he ever right.

The financial institutions that securitize mortgages are like the Department of Transportation for growth and development: immune from any measurable criticism.

Economists—far from the battleground in communities and civic activists who tried, over the past decade, to protect their neighborhoods from greedy local developers and bankers and consulting engineers and land use attorneys—are trying to fit a round peg in a square hole by recommending expanded authority for the government sponsored entities like Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.

If anything emerges from a regulatory response to the credit crisis, it should start with backing down those weapons of financial mass destruction. Does Congress have the guts to confront Wall Street: we'll see.

Coconut Grove: Help Mike Suarez Win Against Angel! Guest Blog by MikeSupporter

Grovers and Vizcayans: Are you still mad about the vote for the 3 Towers at Mercy Hospital? Well, you can get even and get rid of one of the Commissioners that voted for it. Angel Gonzalez has a challenger! There is an article about Mike Suarez, in the SunPost: Some Youthful Idealism .

Mike Suarez is a friend and I support him so I can tell you that he is working hard for this seat. He walks door-to-door everyday through the neighborhoods, and is getting a good reception. People are so happy to see his youthful, tanned and smiling face instead of the wizened countenance of the mean incumbent! Some might think he's a long shot, but I'm betting he's every bit the miracle candidate that Marc Sarnoff was (remember him? Overcoming odds that were four to one?) I say, let's help him. A simple check to the Mike Suarez Campaign could do the trick and turn the tide to better government. Send a contribution to: Mike Suarez. 5201 NW 7th Street, #410, Miami, FL 33126.

He looks good, he sounds good and best of all: He ain't Angel.

You might wake up to the Miami Herald: I wake up to much more by Geniusofdespair

I get news that impacts Florida delivered to my email from all over the State and the Country — I read articles by some really good reporters in Florida — Here is one:

For sale: One state, everything must go

Published August 19, 2007

Wipe out 2,000 acres of wetlands in the Florida Panhandle to build an airport?

Sure. We have to do it.

Otherwise, developers might miss a spot of the state. And we can't have that.

Here's what was striking about last week's approval of a $330-million airport northwest of Panama City:

It felt like the year was around 1965, and a bunch of guys in horned-rimmed glasses were bragging about how they were going to Put Florida on the Map.

Florida's governor, Charlie Crist, hailed the airport's approval because, he said, it will "attract new businesses and jobs to grow and diversify the local economy."

(Then Crist went out and appointed a couple more gator rasslers to the Florida Fish, Wildlife and Manatee-Eatin' Commission.)

Realtors predicted the airport would be just the thing for jump-starting the Panhandle's real estate market.

"Once they start turning dirt," one declared, "we'll see things really rapidly escalate."

The St. Joe Co., the Panhandle's biggest developer, wanted this airport and is donating the land for it.

As for Panama City's old, waterfront airport - well, there are big plans for that land, too. They're going to preserve that waterfront for future generations.

Ha, ha! Just kidding. They're selling it to a developer from Pittsburgh. "It's a phenomenal site ... 12,500 feet of waterfront," he told a Pittsburgh paper last week. "You just don't find that kind of acreage in that area available."

No, you don't.

Here's my favorite part of this deal, besides the fact that federal and state taxpayers are paying for it. In return for destroying 2,000 acres of wetlands, St. Joe graciously promises not to destroy another 9,000 acres that lie nearby.

As opposed, one might ask, to what? What were they gonna do otherwise, burn it down? But the company president bragged about this deal protecting some of Mother Nature's "best work."

No matter. It is a done deal. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers says so.

As for why the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has such a hatred for Florida and schemes for its destruction, I am not sure. Maybe it dates to the Civil War or something.

In darker hours, I fear that we are just kidding ourselves by worrying about the future of Florida at all. The future was decided a long time ago.

It consists of building something on every vacant piece of land in this state as long as there is a dollar to be made.

No government can stand in the way. In fact, the chief purpose of government in Florida is to help the process along, under the fake name of "planning."

It's true in Hillsborough County, where developers got the County Commission to weaken wetlands protection in a vote on Thursday.

It's true in Pinellas, where the government tries to interpret the words "nature preserve" in an ever more creative fashion.

It's true in Pasco, fast on its way to becoming the County of Shopping Malls.

This is why the Hometown Democracy movement, which seeks direct voter control of growth in Florida, really is such an important battle. The locals, see, voted against that Panhandle airport.

It also explains why the forces of development are so afraid of Hometown Democracy, and will do whatever it takes to stop it. They have not finished paving Florida yet.

Bay of Pigs Museum at American Airlines Arena is on Sept. 4th County Agenda by Geniusofdespair

Playing shamelessly to their power base, this resolution now is sponsored by two stupid Commissioners instead of one and is on the County Commission Agenda for September 4th. Both dim Bruno Barreiro and the ever cocky Joe Martinez are moving forward File No. 072049 which they are calling "Develop Bay of Pigs Museum & Library at Parcel B of FEC Property." This resolution directs the County Manager to prepare a conceptual study analyzing development of the Bay of Pigs Museum and Library for what we all fondly call Parcel B. The Recreation and Cultural Affairs Committee has already forwarded it 7/16 with a favorable recommendation. It was moved by Edmonson, seconded by Moss and Sorenson, Rolle and Souto voted to move it along.

The legislative text goes on to say:

"The County Manager shall include as part of the conceptual study a section which addresses the following: the feasibility of underground parking, the provision of public open space, the development of a baywalk and options to mitigate any material impact to operation of the Arena arising from development of Parcel B. The County Manager shall present the conceptual study to this Board within ninety (90) days from the effective date of this resolution."

Maybe we can incorporate a statue or building celebrating Castro's death as well at the site. It could be like the Mystic Seaport Gallery where you have a different exhibit building/area for each thing. Or, an even better idea, why couldn't this museum/library be incorporated into the Freedom Tower's ample exhibit space? It would make more sense there.

Park Activist Steve Hagen has threatened to stand in front of the bulldozer. You had better get ready Steve, this train is on the track and it is gaining steam! Steve and others are not against the museum and library. They are against the location. People are angry enough because of the two museums slated for Bicentennial Park, this one is just one too many. Think about another location Commissioners, Parcel B is not the right one.

Monday, August 27, 2007

County Paying $23,057,500 for Signage at Airport and $2.2 Billion for Toilet Water Treatment. by Geniusofdespair

According to resolution No. 072116, on the Sept. 4th Agenda, we will be paying for a maximum contract amount of $23,057,500 for signs at the Miami Money Pit (airport). Anyone besides me think that is a bit pricey for Airport signage?

Of course, even more expensive, we have the $2.2 billion dollars for getting rid of our toilet water abd reclaiming it for other uses -- According to the County Manager's background report for Resolution 072024:

"On July 22, 2003, the Board adopted Resolution R-811-03 approving and adopting the 2003 Wastewater Facilities Master Plan Including Interim Peak Flow Management Plan (2003 PLAN) with an estimated capital cost of $2.2 billion, to meet the wastewater demands to the year 2020. The 2003 PLAN was submitted to the FDEP for approval to qualify for SRF. The FDEP did not approve the 2003 PLAN because it did not include an evaluation of reuse as part of the wastewater disposal options, as such, MDWASD hired a consultant to conduct a reuse feasibility study, and in April 2007, an updated Reuse Feasibility Study was completed. The Reuse Feasibility Study’s recommended alternative has been incorporated into the 2007 PLAN which contains the necessary capital projects to meet the County’s wastewater demands to the year 2025. These capital projects include reclaimed water projects at the existing North, Central, and South District Wastewater Treatment Plants; and at a new West District Water Reclamation Plant. These projects are also part of the County’s alternative water supply plan and have been developed in order to obtain a 20-year consumptive use permit from the South Florida Water Management District. The proposed West District Water Reclamation Plant will be located in the vicinity of the Bird Drive Basin, which is consistent with the West Miami-Dade Reuse Project included in CERP. The 2007 PLAN also includes updated average and peak flow demand projections based on more recent population projections and actual peak flow conditions and extended the planning period to the year 2025.

An approved Wastewater Facilities Master Plan is the first step in obtaining approval for SRF low-interest loans from the FDEP. FDEP has verbally committed $100 million for the high level disinfection projects, which are included in the 2007 PLAN, to construct a 285 millions gallon per day facility at the South District Wastewater Treatment Plant. The 2007 PLAN has been prepared in accordance with the guidelines established by the State of Florida to qualify for the SRF Program."

And, people, an approved Wastewater Facilities Master Plan will also move development forward again, which has been stopped temporarily by the State of Florida because of our "shitty" wastewater policies! (You can take that both ways).

How things work in Florida, by gimleteye

Some of you will remember the controversial plan to turn over the Homestead Air Force Base to a group of politically connected insiders in Miami-Dade County, and the scrambling for political advantage that stretched all the way to the White House. There can be a lot of profit in turbulence, and that is especially true when it comes to siting big infrastructure projects in wetlands. Think Scripps, rock mining, zero lot line housing.

Well another version of an airport battle is unspooling, right now, on the order of promises made by former Governor Jeb Bush to friends and allies at the St. Joe Company--a publicly traded corporation that is one of the largest land owners in Florida with its own deep connections to Miami.

Diane Roberts captures the essence in a weekend editorial that appeared in the Tallahassee Democrat .

Curious that this appealing editorial tone of Ms. Roberts never appears on The Miami Herald editorial page, except through Carl Hiaasen's infrequent diatribes.

St. Joe's flight plan: Buckle up, there's turbulence ahead

By Diane Roberts

"Florida is like Lewis Carroll's Looking-Glass Land, a place where up
is down, where ignorance is strength, where we must destroy this
environment in order to save it. So when the Army Corps of Engineers,
whose job it is to protect America's wetlands, grants a permit for the
obliteration of thousands of acres of wetlands for an unnecessary and
unwanted new Panama City airport, I guess that's looking-glass logic.

Panama City already has an airport, conveniently located in Panama
City. The argument for replacing it - the public argument, that is -
rests on the claim that the runway is too short (thus unsafe); never
mind that, according to the FAA, 40 percent of the nation's airports
have this same problem. Yet they are not all rushing to build new
airports, especially in ecologically fragile areas.

The local captains of capitalism insist that the people of Bay County
are clamoring for a facility bigger than Tampa International. But
Panama City runs exactly 13 flights a day, down from a high of 22 in
2001. The new multimillion-dollar terminal is quiet as an Alabama
liquor store on Sunday, and the control tower shuts down at 10 p.m.

There's also the inconvenient fact that, when Bay County citizens had
a chance to vote in a nonbinding referendum in 2004, they rejected the
new airport. Curiouser and curiouser. What part of NO do the allegedly
democracy-loving Chamber of Commerce types not understand?

Now, a suspicious person might wonder what's really going down on the
other side of the mirror. If I tell you that the St. Joe Company
donated the 4,000 acres for the replacement airport - a parcel 30
miles away from the populace it purports to serve, but coincidentally
smack in the middle of land St. Joe wants to develop - does that bring
the thing into focus?

It gets weirder: The outfit overseeing the building of the airport (if
it gets past a slew of lawsuits) is Kellogg, Brown and Root, raiders
of the public purse. In Iraq, KBR was handed no-bid "rebuilding"
contracts the way guys at a frat party hand beers to girls. In the
Balkans, it charged $85.98 each for sheets of plywood that ought to go
for 14 bucks, according to the watchdog CorpWatch. It also agreed to
pay $2 million in a suit alleging that it improperly charged the
government for services.

So the Army Corps of Engineers, the people whose shoddy levee-building
brought you the Katrina floods, is enabling KBR to land us with a
behemoth of an airport to benefit St. Joe, the company that brought
you Disneyfied developments such as SouthWood. As for the old Panama
City airportÐwaterfront property, by the way - it's due to be sold to
a real estate developer from Pittsburgh.

I hear Jeb Bush laughing in the background.

The cream of the jest is that you, the citizens of Florida, will pay
for it: about $300 million at first, then much, much more as the St.
Joe Company turns its vast acreage in West Florida into ersatz
villages for rich folks dreaming of a bucolic existence with a freeway
and a megamall nearby.

St. Joe., its political minions and the Bay County Chamber
cheerleaders fall all over themselves insisting that, as the airport
referendum falsely claimed, this will magically happen "at no cost to
taxpayers." It's money from governmental agencies, they say.

But the FAA and the DOT don't get their appropriations from bake sales
and raffles. You will shell out for new roads, new water systems,
sewer and power services. You are the cash cow for this almighty

And what will Florida get in return for this lavish corporate welfare?
The new airport and surrounding development will kill more than 10,000
acres of springs, feeder creeks and deep swamps that keep West Bay a
vibrant estuarine ecosystem. The wetlands that act as a storm water
filtering system will be wiped out.

But hey, ever since the announcement of the Corps permit, St. Joe
share prices have gone up. Stockholders are happy. So everything's
fine. Big is good; concrete is beautiful. " 'The question is,' said
Humpty-Dumpty, 'which is to be master - that's all.' "

Diane Roberts is a Florida native and author of "Dream State." She
teaches creative writing at Florida State University. Contact her at

Proportional Representation as a Miami Dade County charter change? By Geniusofdespair

(Presdient of the Miami Dade Branch of the NAACP Bishop Victor T. Curry)

The NAACP is advocating for some form of proportional representation (instead of districts or at large seats). I like the idea but it is almost impossible to explain because it comes in many forms.

According to Rob Richie and Steve Hill of the Center for Voting and Democracy,

"National groups recently endorsing proportional representation include the Sierra Club, US PIRG, Alliance for Democracy, and NOW, while state affiliates of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters support IRV legislation. The League of Women Voters is conducting national studies of voting system reform, as are four state League chapters. The NAACP, the ACLU, and other civil rights groups are studying alternative voting systems as a means to preserve minority representation in the upcoming round of redistricting."

Richie and Hill say about our form, Districts: Contrary to their reputation, single-seat districts don't represent geographic interests very well.

In a nutshell with proportional voting:

1. You decide which candidates you would like to see elected.
2. You rank those candidates in order of preference -- knowing that a lower choice will never hurt the chances of a higher choice.

That's it! Your vote will be counted toward the highest candidate on your ranked list who can be helped by your vote. As many people as mathematically possible will elect one person -- most voters will help elect one of their top two choices.

This is what Brad Brown of the NAACP said about this subject at the Charter Review Meeting on August 15th:

"There are a plethora of issues related to possible revisions of the Miami-Dade Charter but none more important than achieving solid citizen representation on the Board of County Commissioners. Suggestions have been floated to add at large commissioners under the theory that districts representation is not effective in looking at county wide needs. (Think of how this logic would apply to our current Federal system with district and state representatives asked to vote on national wide issues like national security). At large elections have been seen to lead to a tyranny of the majority and thus have often lost in court under voting rights law challenges to district elections. District elections themselves have problems. While they may provide minority representation and ensure neglected areas can have a voice, demographics are not a constant. The appeal of members of the Haitian community for changes in the number of commissioners is a testament to this reality. Changing districts specifically to ensure minority representation can run into constitutional challenges.

There is however an alternative that has proven itself around the world. It is proportional voting. There are a number of forms that this can take and one or another form is used in 21 of the 28 countries in Europe. It is found throughout the world in numerous other countries such as Australia, Israel, South Africa, and Brazil. It has been credited with being a significant factor in stopping the violence and achieving peace between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland as it helped ensure that everyone felt represented. The possibilities for representation in proportional voting leads to much better voting turn outs in the 75 to 90% range in contrast to the U.S. where turnout is usually less than 50%.

In the United States an good example is the City of Cambridge Massachusetts which established a form of proportional voting in 1941 in order to create opportunities for Black representation on the city council and it has been successful for over 65 years. Proportional voting offers an opportunity for minority representation and allows members of such a group to feel represented no matter where they live but it is not focused on a criteria such as race or ethnicity as is often districting. In reality it is common interest groups that define themselves, the candidates they run and who they vote for. While race and ethnicity often are seen as shaping a common interest, persons concerned about an issue like affordable housing, water supply etc can coalesce throughout the voting area and have an excellent opportunity of gaining a voice on the governing body.

I urge the Taskforce to think out of the box and review voting alternatives that not only will provide for representation that would encourage larger turnouts, and fairer representation today but would continue to do that as the population changes and areas where people live shift and groups defined by common interests change."

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Who is getting ripped off in the County on their property taxes? By Geniusofdespair

It appears the people in Unincorporated Dade are getting ripped off on their taxes. Valentine (see below) got the best deal and she paid less taxes and got the most expensive house -- twice as expensive!! And Valentine's house is in North Miami, not known for low taxes.

The reason? Well, part of it is the new houses in Homestead have those tacked on developer fees for roads, sewers etc. They are called "Levying Authority: Non-Ad Valorem Assessments" and new homeowners usually get this added on their taxes for at least 10 years. But here is the surprise: the unincorporated areas also have levying authority taxes. Never knew this. They charge for Garbage, trash, recyling. I have a few examples that follow, so you can compare. I took out some of their tax expenses, I just left the major expenses. It is hard to compare apples to oranges but you can make some conclusions. Millage rates? I don't know but taxes sure are unfair (Hit read more to compare).

New House in Homestead

SERGIO with a homestead bought a new home in 3/2006 for $349,900
SCHOOL BOARD 7.69100 241,034 1853.79
COUNTY WIDE OPERATING 5.61500 241,034 1353.41
CITY OF HOMESTEAD OPERATING 6.25000 241,034 1506.46
Levying Authority Rate Footage/Units Amount
SOUTH DADE VENTURES 1.0000 1262.41 1262.41
Combined taxes and assessments (gross amount) for 2006 : $7179.74

MIRTA bought a new home with a homestead in 1/2006 for $325,000
SCHOOL BOARD 7.69100 210,125 1616.07
COUNTY WIDE OPERATING 5.61500 210,125 1179.85
CITY OF HOMESTEAD OPERATING 6.25000 210,125 1313.28
Non-Ad Valorem Assessments
Levying Authority Rate Footage/Units Amount
SOUTH DADE VENTURES 1.0000 1211.89 1211.89
Combined taxes and assessments (gross amount) for 2006 : $6370.42

Unincorporated area of Southwest Dade:

ALEJANDRO bought (a resale) with a homestead in 4/2006 for $543,000
SCHOOL BOARD 7.69100 434,268 3339.96
COUNTY WIDE OPERATING 5.61500 434,268 2438.41
UNINCORPORATED OPERATING 2.44700 434,268 1062.65
Non-Ad Valorem Assessments
Levying Authority Rate Footage/Units Amount
GARB,TRASH,TRC,RECYCLE 439.0000 1.00 439.00
Combined taxes and assessments (gross amount) for 2006 : $9448.68

Resales in North Dade (not new homes):

Unincorporated Areas:

FATEMEH bought in 4/2006 For $355,000
SCHOOL BOARD 7.69100 308,152 2370.00
COUNTY WIDE OPERATING 5.61500 308,152 1730.27
UNINCORPORATED OPERATING 2.44700 308,152 754.05
Levying Authority
GARB,TRASH,TRC,RECYCLE 439.0000 2.00 878.00
BISCAYNE .4291 134.00 57.50
Combined taxes and assessments (gross amount) for 2006 : $7328.66

FREDERICK with a homestead bought in 2/2006 for $344,000
SCHOOL BOARD 7.69100 332,716 2558.92
COUNTY WIDE OPERATING 5.61500 332,716 1868.20
UNINCORPORATED OPERATING 2.44700 332,716 814.16
Non-Ad Valorem Assessments
Levying Authority Rate Footage/Units Amount
GARB,TRASH,TRC,RECYCLE 439.0000 2.00 878.00
BISCAYNE .4291 70.00 30.04
Combined taxes and assessments (gross amount) for 2006 : $7810.83

City of North Miami:
(One might ask why assessments are so much lower in the North of the County, Valentines $725,000 home is being taxes on $241,308 and Dante's $720,000 home is being taxed on $312,602.)

VALENTINE with a homestead bought in 3/2006 for $725,000
Taxes: (It looks like they assessed her very low)
SCHOOL BOARD 7.69100 241,308 1855.90
COUNTY WIDE OPERATING 5.61500 241,308 1354.94
CITY OF NORTH MIAMI OPERATING 8.30000 241,308 2002.86
Combined taxes and assessments (gross amount) for 2006 : $6340.73

DANTE with a Homestead bought 10/2006 for $720,000
Taxes: (remember he pays $1,167 for a guard at this gated community)
SCHOOL BOARD 7.69100 312,602 2404.22
COUNTY WIDE OPERATING 5.61500 312,602 1755.26
CITY OF NORTH MIAMI OPERATING 8.30000 312,602 2594.60
Non-Ad Valorem Assessments
Levying Authority Rate Footage/Units Amount
SANS SOUCI SECURITY GUARD 1167.1400 1.00 1167.14
Combined taxes and assessments (gross amount) for 2006 : $9381.26

Neighbors in The Miami Herald: a critique, by gimleteye

When I pulled the blue wrapper off Sunday’s paper, my memory was jogged by the top of the fold, front page paean to the Neighbors Section, 30 years old, “For the past three decades, Neighbors has chronicled the tidal wave of change that has transformed Miami-Dade.”

Not exactly.

The Neighbors section addresses “local” concerns to its subscribers in different sections of the county. Many of these concerns, especially related to the costs of growth, deserved to be featured for the entire subscriber base of the newspaper.

To say that Neighbors has “chronicled the tidal wave of change” is inaccurate.

The most relevant feature of Neighbors is its letters to the editor section. That’s where important stories go to be buried while acting “as a tiny release valve” to let off community steam.

My thoughts ran back to a blog I wrote nearly a year ago, “To know which stories The Miami Herald editor and publisher know are important, but not important enough to warrant tough coverage that would threaten advertisers, just read the letters to the editor section closely.”

Today’s story offers a revisionist history of The Miami Herald: as though the pain and turmoil of the rampant overdevelopment of the county was adequately chronicled in the Neighbor’s section.

Any subscriber who reads Florida newspapers closely, over the years, knows that The Miami Herald is not even close to the top of the hardest hitting newspapers in the state when it comes to reporting on the costs of growth: the St. Pete Times, Palm Beach Post, Naples Daily News, and even the Stuart News have been more courageous.

To suggest that the Neighbors section “chronicled” these stories is mostly wrong. Where it is true, the stories belonged in the A section for the entire readership, not Neighbors (and certainly not buried as they often area in the B section of the paper.)

The flaw is not the reporting or the work of the journalists. The flaw is the editorial vision of the paper that is chronically five or ten steps behind the “costs of growth” curve.

Today, that curve is catching us all up in a great wave of an economic recession. (for new blog readers, read our archive on The Miami Herald and housing crash.)

The complaints of citizens about the costs of growth, that often appeared only in the Neighbors letters to the editor section, were rarely used as the basis for real stories. They told you so.

On this blog, nearly a year ago, I wrote regarding the executive leadership of The Miami Herald: “Take some ownership! Put your reporters to work with regular and lengthy investigative reports that cut to the quick, instead of sitting on your hands with the “Neighbors” section covering your butts.”

It was true then, and it is true now.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Every now and again something just jumps out, by gimleteye

Here's a new gallery show opening in Los Angeles, and a way of looking at the world with which I share a special affinity. Check it out.

Running the Numbers
An American Self-Portrait

This new series looks at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. Each image portrays a specific quantity of something: fifteen million sheets of office paper (five minutes of paper use); 106,000 aluminum cans (thirty seconds of can consumption) and so on. My hope is that images representing these quantities might have a different effect than the raw numbers alone, such as we find daily in articles and books. Statistics can feel abstract and anesthetizing, making it difficult to connect with and make meaning of 3.6 million SUV sales in one year, for example, or 2.3 million Americans in prison, or 426,000 cell phones retired every day. This project visually examines these vast and bizarre measures of our society, in large intricately detailed prints assembled from thousands of smaller photographs.

My only caveat about this series is that the prints must be seen in person to be experienced the way they are intended. As with any large artwork, their scale carries a vital part of their substance which is lost in these little web images. Hopefully the JPEGs displayed here might be enough to arouse your curiosity to attend an exhibition, or to arrange one if you are in a position to do so. The series is a work in progress, and new images will be posted as they are completed, so please stay tuned.

~chris jordan, Seattle, 2007

This series will be exhibited at the Paul Kopeikin Gallery in Los Angeles, opening Sep 8. More info at

Saturday Speakup No. 3 by Geniusofdespair

A reader wrote in and asked if I had any comments on this article today in the Miami Herald: State pushing for Miami to slash budget further.

I didn't really have an opinion but let's see. I looked up Irene who has a homestead exemption. She has owned her townhome on NW 6th Street since 1982, paying $41,000 for it and her taxes are $650.85. her home is assessed at $62,362 market value.

You can bet your boots that Irene is using more than $650.85 of services. She pays $92 to the school board. She pay $100.20 for City of Miami operating.

Then we have Sherry who bought her home in Coconut Grove for $190,000 in 1995. Sherry paid $5,064 in taxes (she takes a homestead exemption). She paid $1,469 in school taxes and $1,600 to run the City. She paid $1,072.80 to the county.

Sherry's neighbor Kimberly bought her house is 2005 for $915,000. She has a homestead exemption. Kimberley paid $21,951.79 in taxes. Kimberley paid $6,739 to school taxes and $7,338.57 to run the City of Miami. (Her county taxes were $4,920 by the way).

Property taxes are just unfair. Kimberley is carrying a pretty big burden in taxes. Almost $2,000 a month compared to Irene's $50 dollars a months. How do you make sense of this readers? They all use the same percent of services...but they pay differing amounts depending mostly on when they bought their houses, and the price paid.

The county's bloated budget is almost as high as the city budget-- and the City of Miami provides most of the services. The City has to run, it needs taxes but when Irene is paying $10 a can't run very smoothly.

Let's Not Sound the Violins for Production Home Builders Yet! By Geniusofdespair

Granted they are giving incentives, but those cookie cutter homes in Miami Dade County are still sellings. I did a comparison for 3 years.

Shoma Homes – Sales ( they also sell properties under other names (i.e. Shoma Development):

1/15/07 to 2/14/07 Sales: 89
2/15/07 to 3/14/07 Sales: 135
3/15/07 to 4/14/07 Sales: 72
4/15/07 to 5/14/07 Sales: 62
5/15/07 to 6/14/07 Sales: 17
6/15/07 to 7/14/07 Sales: 19
7/15/07 to 8/15/07 Sales: 16

1/15/06 to 2/14/06 Sales: 115
2/15/06 to 3/14/06 Sales: 126
3/15/06 to 4/14/06 Sales: 102
4/15/06 to 5/14/06 Sales: 62
5/15/06 to 6/14/06 Sales: 72
6/15/06 to 7/14/06 Sales: 45
7/15/06 to 8/15/06 Sales: 83

1/15/05 to 2/14/05 Sales: 17
2/15/05 to 3/14/05 Sales: 31
3/15/05 to 4/14/05 Sales: 56
4/15/05 to 5/14/05 Sales: 60
5/15/05 to 6/14/05 Sales: 40
6/15/05 to 7/14/05 Sales: 50
7/15/05 to 8/15/05 Sales: 77

Friday, August 24, 2007

I Fixed this Blog -- I hope! By Geniusofdespair

There was a bad link that was causing problems on Internet Explorer. I isolated the was in a Genius post. I believe it is fixed. If you continue to have problems write to and report it and I will probably commit suicide.

Violations at Turkey Point by Geniusofdespair

I am just going to post, periodically, some of these violations I found at Turkey Point, exactly as published by the NRC, just so you know:
Aug 18, 2006
Identified By: NRC
Item Type: VIO Violation
Failure to assess and manage maintenance risk during shutdown operations

A violation of 10 CFR Part 50.65(a)(4) was identified for failure to adequately assess and manage the increase in risk of performing maintenance on the A-train 480 volt 3C load center while Unit 3 was operating in decay heat removal mode with one operating A-train residual heat removal (RHR) pump. The licensee elected to move up restoration maintenance on the A-train 480 volt 3C load center and proceeded without implementation of procedurally required measures to reduce the risk during the activity. (Hit read more)

During the maintenance activity the licensee installed a breaker associated with 3C 480 volt load center that was later determined to be defective, which caused a loss of the operating A-train RHR pump. This resulted in a loss of all decay heat removal for seven minutes, which caused reactor coolant temperature to increase from 113 F to 140 F. The finding affected the cross cutting area of Human Performance, specifically the Work Control component because the licensee did not appropriately plan work activities using risk insights. The licensee entered this issue in the Corrective Action Program as condition report (CR) 2006-7036.

The finding was greater than minor because the risk assessment failed to account for the loss of decay heat removal during shutdown operations. The Mitigating Systems Cornerstone objective to ensure the availability, reliability, and capacity of systems that respond to initiating events to prevent undesirable consequences was affected by the finding. This finding was evaluated in accordance with NRC Inspection Manual Chapter 0609 Shutdown Appendix G Phase 1 and 2 Significance Determination Process (SDP) templates and determined to be greater than Green. Subsequently, a Phase 3 assessment was performed and determined that there were two dominant core damage sequences. One sequence involved failure of operators to start either RHR train A or B before boiling began. In this scenario, the operators were assumed to successfully initiate feed and bleed cooling but failed to maintain a long term inventory source to the refueling water storage tank (RWST) (recirculation requires the RHR pumps). The conditional core damage probability for this scenario was estimated as 3.5E-06. The other sequence involved failure of operators to start either RHR train A or B before boiling and the operators fail to initiate feed and bleed cooling before core damage, which was estimated to be 3E-6. Therefore, the risk significance of this finding was determined to be White. (IR 05000250, 251/2006015 dated August 24, 2006)

The Final Significance Determination for A White Finding and Notice of Violation letter was issued on November 22, 2006. For administrative purposes, this letter is issued as a separate NRC Inspection Report (No. 05000250/2006016) and the above violation is identified as VIO 05000250/2006016-01, White Finding - Failure to Assess and Manage Maintenance Risk During Shutdown Operations. Accordingly, Apparent Violation (AV) 05000250/2006015-01 is closed.
The Final Significance Determination for A White Finding and Notice of Violation letter was issued on November 22, 2006. For administrative purposes, this letter is issued as a separate NRC Inspection Report (No. 05000250/2006016) and the above violation is identified as VIO 05000250/2006016-01, White Finding - Failure to Assess and Manage Maintenance Risk During Shutdown Operations. Accordingly, Apparent Violation (AV) 05000250/2006015-01 is closed.

The climate that sustains mankind may disappear, but government will know where you are, by gimleteye

According to Miami Today, the “Miami Police Department will install a series of closed-circuit cameras in downtown Miami… ‘The primary benefit is it’s meant as an anti-terrorism initiative,’ said the Miami chief of police, John Timoney.”

Miami, of course, is not alone in installing video cameras to track the movement of citizens under one rubric or another that all boil down to using technology to enforce conformity with the law.

The New York Times reports (August 9th, 2007) “At least 20,000 police surveillance cameras are being installed along streets … in southern China and will soon be guided by sophisticated computer software from an American-financed company to recognize automatically the faces of police suspects and detect unusual activity.”

Well, you might say that the United States is not China, despite symbiotic economic relations.

The initiative has been promoted by a Chinese tycoon, Lin Jiang Huai, (August 12, 2007 ‘In China, a High-Tech Plan to Track People’), who “said the success of American technology during the invasion of Iraq inspired him… Bush helped me get my vision.”

Thanks, for that.

Miami experienced its own version, in November 2003 when the city hosted the Free Trade Area of the Americas Summit.

Nearly three years later, long enough for media attention of the controversy to recede, a City of Miami blue ribbon panel released its official conclusions. The second of fourteen findings noted that “although not quantifiable, repeated television images of violent protestors (at other locations where international economic conferences were held) no doubt contributed to an apprehension that similar chaos and violence would befall the City of Miami during the FTAA.”

In the war against terror, apprehension counts a lot.

Citizens in Miami were met by militarized police in full riot gear, including electric shields, tanks, automatic and semi-automatic weapons, tear gas, rubber bullets and gun-fired bean bags. An observer noted, “similar means have been used, of course, in response to global justice movement actions in the past… What makes Miami different, more frightening, is that all of these tactics were (now being) used in the absence of direct action by demonstrators.”

In other words, in Miami, American citizens exercising their constitutional right to freedom of expression were terrorized by police made "apprehensive" by television images.

Democracy turns out to be a fungible commodity, depending not on the law but on who is valuing it.

What the official narrative does not include is the fact that securing Miami as the permanent site for the FTAA secretariat was strongly valued by then-Governor Jeb Bush.

A Miami base for the FTAA would have been a maximal political statement, a career capstone, a mission accomplished that would have served him well whether he retired from office back to Coral Gables, or, decided to advance to national office—a realistic hope in 2003.

Apprehension serves many masters.

In China, the Times reports that coastal authorities will require citizens to carry identification cards encoded with a computer chip that contains information relating to security issues, as well as the capacity to be tracked by GIS devices.

It’s only a few strokes on the keyboard to add information onto the chip, in addition to “religion, ethnicity, police record, medical insurance status, reproductive history”, that you may have participated in a protest against your government, or written a letter to the editor, or posted a blog.

It would be bad enough, and hostile enough to American democracy, if we only had government behavior to worry about.

But when the power of profit is added to the combustible mixture of sycophancy, careerism, and the revolving door between public office and private industry, the balance shifts even further.

Contrast the willingness of government to be "apprehensive" and monitor the movement of people, but not of pollution.

Take drinking water quality, for example.

It is relatively easy for scientists to use dye markers to trace the flow of groundwater through aquifers. Really bad stuff, stuff that can kill you or change your hormonal system, attaches to water and travels through pipes right into your faucet.

Government is supposed to protect you from the worst of it, but regulators have only scratched the surface of measures that could adequately assure industrially processed water is safe to drink.

In Miami-Dade County, where 2 million residents get drinking water from an aquifer on the surface, you would think that establishing the connection between what happens above ground to water quality and how it affects water only a few feet below the surface would be as urgent a priority as monitoring the movement of undesirable people on streets.

Of course, it is not. The US government, with buy-in by state and local environmental bureaucrats, treats this kind of research like a state secret.

The reason is simple enough.

In the United States today, science can significantly adversely affect the zoning and permitting process, through which the profitability of a certain land parcel is apprehended.

Federal laws protect aquifers under the direct influence of surface water. Scientific monitoring that establishes the location and movement of pollution is antithetical to a government organized to do the business of development.

This is exactly the case near the drinking water wells supplying Miami, where powerful contributors associated with the political campaigns of former Governor Jeb Bush and President Bush are engaged in commercial activities that, in one case, involve the introduction of a cancer causing substance, benzene, into the drinking water aquifer.

This information wasn’t voluntarily disclosed to the public even though federal law also compels government to notify people when cancer-causing substances in drinking water supplies are moving toward their health and safety.

The toxic pollution was only revealed through a lawsuit by Sierra Club, its Miami group, and other environmental organizations. When a federal judge recently ruled that rock mining had to stop in a vast area abutting the Everglades, west of Miami, the miners--whose blasting is the likely source of benzene--ignored the judge until an appeals court denied industry's request for a stay.

So excuse me if news that “live video from the Florida Department of Transportation cameras will feed into (local) police headquarters” makes me apprehensive.

The official investigation report from the shameful 2003 episode in Miami notes blandly, “When orders to disperse were issued, law enforcement officers did not provide clearly defined dispersal routes which, in turn, lead to confusion and, in some cases, arrests and incarceration.” Some individuals who dispersed as ordered by advancing police officers were subsequently arrested by another agency for failure to disperse.

When democracy become a fungible commodity, the rights of individuals do get lost--whether by accident or on purpose, the baseline for measurement tends to become the prerogative of government, whether in China or the United States.

As to what happened to the political party that professed to protect the right of citizens against those tendencies hostile to freedom, it is all to be judged according to what you value.

No doubt, there are plenty of corporations willing to bet that such confusion over values could be cleared up simply if Americans would carry ID cards with readable and trackable chips--worn on your wrist, your ankle, or under your collar like a dog.

Thousands of Acres Await Development if only the UDB would move. By Geniusofdespair

In my post "UDB Line Movement Applications" yesterday, I never really explained what I meant about how one movement could cause a cascade of developments. Here is a more detailed analysis of who owns land around this particular 80 acres parcel (outlined in red) that is trying to move the UDB line.

This is why I call it a house of cards, look at just some of the landowners surrounding this piece, waiting in the wings -- people/companies (some of our biggest developers) owning thousands of acres:

1. is Panstar Investments (Netherland Antille, no officers)
2. is CMH Investmentment, Inc. (Jose Machado, Jorge Correa, Emiliano Herran, Augustin Herran)
3. D.R. Horton, Inc. (one of the biggest production Home Builders in the Country)
4. Neighborhood Planning, Co. LLC. (Armando Guerra, Agustin Herran, Carlos Garcia, Sergio Pino and Ramon Rasco)
5. Neighborhood Planning, Co. LLC.
6. Edward W. Easton, Trustee Krome Groves Land Trust (Easton is a Friend of The Bush Boys, -- Parkland DRI — Lennar)

They can't keep it pasture land/farm land forever, they are going to get desperate. You can see these are land investors and they did not buy Ag land to be gentlemen farmers. Nope, almost $15,000,000 for 80 acres...not a farmer! Horton didn't pay $25,000,000 to become cow herders.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The housing crash, dissent, and the next president of the US, by gimleteye

“Everybody just standing round ‘neath the tree shooting pigeons on the limb,
But when Quinn the Eskimo gets here, them pigeons will go to him.”

The Mighty Quinn, by Bob Dylan 1967

A thousand and one bearish pundits have thrown their lances at the staggering bull market. The bull rises to shake them off, nostrils flaring. The infusion of hundreds of billions by the world’s central banks lubricates its joints.

This is what taxpayers must want, for the world central banks to be commanding liquidity and the printing presses forward, faster, harder. It is a great bull that can summon such resources.

But is there a plan? Is there an end in sight? Is there a presidential candidate who can seize the moment and wring victory, not from the fate of the stock market but from home values that are bound to fall?

It is a seeming paradox: federal regulators are fanning across Wall Street like NIH teams sniffing for bird flu, while financial executives egg on the bull: “confidence is returning to credit markets”.

Still, losses in hedge funds and investment banks around the world dwarf the last great financial debacle, nearly a decade ago, when Wall Street and the Federal Reserve came to the multi-billion dollar rescue of one of their own, Long Term Capital Management.

Today, investment banks and mortgage firms are announcing big layoffs. What Wall Street knows, and the presidential candidates, too, is that it will months even quarters before the extent of damage is revealed. In other words, in the midst of the presidential campaign in 2008.

So far, candidates for president are reluctant to engage in addressing the deep stresses underlying the world’s largest economy, transformed by the force of globalization, and how these reflect in housing markets under sharp duress.

Here is the simple version: as jobs and manufacturing poured from the American heartland to low-labor cost nations like the tide ebbing at the Bay of Fundy. (click here, for a visual representation:, the US economy became increasingly reliant on growth generated by housing and construction: a stool built on two legs.

Keeping the two-legged stool balanced was the genius of Republican gains in Congress and control of the White House: the growth machine provided political contributions through the funnel of construction and development, primed by historic low interest rates and marginal, ineffective supervision of lending practices and financial derivatives.

That the two-legged stool has been sold as stable is no less remarkable than the conversion of an ordinary mortgage by Wall Street bankers and fresh-faced MBA graduates into structured financial derivatives worth ten or a hundred times the original value.

The deacons of Wall Street argue that derivatives like mortgage backed securities or CDO's are critical to the smooth functioning of the global economy, by dispersing risk. This is only true if risk is clearly priced. But today the pricing of risk in financial derivatives is the realm of computer geeks, tied to reality by the thinnest threads of trust.

What do presidential candidates know about financial derivatives, other than what their closest advisors and contributors from Wall Street tell them?

Forget about the two-legged stool, Wall Street argues. In the US economy, technology and productivity gains represent important fuel for economic growth: a sturdy third leg.

But it doesn't take a rocket scientist to observe that technology gains serve consumers whose purchases are determined, mostly, by preferences in housing and construction.

The epitome of these preferences, suburban sprawl, is described by advocates as “what the market wants”.

Patterns of construction and development in the US act in the same way as chutes for cattle: steering, herding, moving Americans into strip malls, platted cul de sacs, and cities serving the purposes of automobile executives and not ordinary people who haven’t been blessed by sales training programs, seminars, and other techniques to market features as benefits and wants as needs.

“An unstoppable force!” is how then WCI Communities, Inc. CEO Al Hoffman, described Florida's growth machine to the Washington Post in 2003.

Hoffman was campaign finance chair for both Bush brothers: Jeb, the former two-term governor, and President Bush. Only four years later, the engine of growth in Florida is sputtering.

While Al Hoffman is ensconced in a sinecure ambassadorship in Portugal, (recently, WCI Communities staggered into an ignominious agreement with corporate raider, Carl Icahn, even though another sinecure ambassador, from the era of George HW Bush, Charles E Cobb Jr., is vice-chairman at WCI) the era of easy financing in Florida turns out to have a hang-over as big as sniffing glue from a paper bag.

From the governor’s mansion to the state legislature, straight down to the scurrying and scratching of local city and county commissions, the thrall of the latest and greatest real estate bubble in Florida history has most people and media casting a wistful glance backwards in time.

Would it be any surprise if the presidential candidates surveyed the crashing housing markets through the lens of Florida--through the piles of stinking, red algae washed ashore, the anger of environmentalists, citizens, and people who just want common sense to prevail in land use decisions, and decide to sidle over to the Chamber of Commerce and its aw-shucks pleading; can’t we just get the machines, and the graders, and the nail guns going again?

It will take a very sharp economic contraction for a debate to emerge about the forms of economic growth that can sustain and nurture a democracy wobbling on its knees. We may be there, right now.

Wall Street is nervously shifting from one foot to the other: first the credit crisis was a problem of "subprime" borrowers, now it is a matter of lowering the key interest rate of the Federal Reserve in order to re-prime the pump of deflating housing markets.

But the presidential candidates know, in November 2008 who will count more than Wall Street billionaires are America’s paper millionaires, numbering according to Marketwatch in 2005, 8.9 million people.

Whether these paper millionaires value their wealth as real estate or stocks in Home Depot or Countrywide Financial or Thornburgh Mortgage: the pain is already running deep.

Today the reading public is only getting half the story as world-wide financial markets pulse with uncertainty. We know as much as the public knew about Jekyll Island in 1910 or Quinn the Eskimo in 1967.

True, no one became king, recently, by arguing as prince that something is rotten in the heart of Denmark.

But incipient anger is rising in America, and such a prince may yet become president.

They're Back: UDB Line Movement Applications by Geniusofdespair

This is only one of them...

Ferro Investment Group II, LLC/Miguel Diaz De La Portilla, Esq. & Crystal Conner-Lane, Esq. (Hey, wasn’t she Jimmy Morales’ Chief of Staff?) are requesting an Amendment to the Land Use Plan map (71.6 acres) From: Agriculture to Low Density Residential (2.5 to 6.0 DU/Ac.) and (10.0 acres) From: Agriculture to: Business and Office.

They want to expand the UDB to include the subject property which is now on the wrong side. We knew Miguel had gone to the dark side but now Connors? Et tu Crystal?

That "Hold the Line" group had better gear up. Even the Lowe's store is back for yet another go at it. Lowe's stores suck to do this.

The Ferro Group bought this property for $14,488,438 in June of 2006. Suckers! Hasn't anyone told them we are in the middle of a housing crash? Why would we need more housing when we have unsold properties everywhere? This application is just stupid. NO NEED!

Listed as Mgr. is Mario Ferro and Ris Ferro of Miami Lakes. Take a look at the property....what concerns me is all the open land around it. These UDB applications are a house of cards...once one gets through, others will soon follow. And as you can see by the aerial photo on the right....there is a lot of empty land waiting for the UDB line move.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

North Miami Beach Annexation: Guest Blog by Jay Homnick

(I don't know the issue and take no position, but I thought this was an interesting well thought out piece, and, besides I like Jay. Geniusofdespair)

Every so often life affords us a bird’s-eye view into the workings of local politics, and more often than not, the results are even more disheartening than watching Washington at work… if that can be imagined. My opportunity came this summer, as I observed a pathetic little municipality trying to annex my house. They are using every trick in the book, so let us count the ways.

Here is the background. My home is in an unincorporated portion of Miami-Dade County, right alongside the city of North Miami Beach. The city actually extends in a very thin band around our entire section, so nominally it qualifies as “enclosed.” When they originally voted to create the city, our area was not in the mix, for the simple reason they knew we were not interested in joining.

Now that we are in “the donut hole,” we are made to look arbitrary, stubborn and illogical. Of course, the real illogic was extending the city out into this thin cinching strip that does not really relate to its center. Here, the old debating trick applies to politics as well: get one small illogical thing accepted, thus laying the groundwork for a big illogical thing to seem a symmetrical move afterwards. (Hit Read More)

City residents are very unhappy living next door, because the county government serves us far better. The building codes are enforced in a very balanced and reasonable way. I expanded my home by 25% last year, entailing multiple permits from departments of construction, electricity, plumbing, gas, you name it. I dealt personally with a wide range of inspectors who were prompt, cooperative, reasonable and fair. When I failed some steps, they outlined in detail the exact remedies so I could get it right the next time. The process was rigorous in a reassuring way, and when my new Certificate of Occupancy arrived I felt the pride of a significant accomplishment.

My neighbors within the city limits sit around and share horror stories of abuse by peevish and arbitrary inspectors. The rules keep changing along the way, and if someone complains then things get even nastier. A Jewish communal building was finally finished after two years of hassles, and the electrical inspector showed up and said: “Nah, I want more lighting.” This, despite the plans having been fully approved by all departments. Stories like this are standard fare in these parts.

Naturally, the city government would like to snatch our territory. It gives them a huge increase in their tax base to add an upper-middle-class section. Their expenses will hardly go up because they are anyway providing the water and sanitation in a contract with the county. The county, for its part, will still get plenty of our tax money, while providing far less services. And the dirty little secret is that white people in local government are hoping that adding our mostly-white voting bloc will prevent Haitians from getting a majority of seats on the city council; they currently hold three of seven.

To facilitate this plan, they took the following steps:

1. A phony-baloney citizens’ petition of seven hundred people who putatively wish to be annexed. Neither I nor any of the tens of neighbors I know were ever approached to sign. The initiator of that petition is a public employee, albeit of a different government body. One hesitates to accuse one hand of washing the other, but neither hand looks real clean.

2. City lawyers then pick up the cudgel to promote this supposedly citizen-based plan. It is a fairly good bet none of them are working pro bono. The result is that at the County Planning Board hearing to consider the annexation, the ONLY people to appear in favor of the motion were the city manager, the city attorney and a city councilwoman.

3. The county commission tabled the motion in 2005 in the face of powerful opposition, until such time as the county Manager could study it and issue a report. Then the September 2006 election for county commissioner and the May 2007 election for city council passed. Voila! The report was completed in May 2007 and submitted to the planning board. The matter is referred to committee.

4. The planning board schedules a committee meeting at 4:30 p.m. of August 20, the first day of school. They schedule the board meeting at 5:30 p.m., back to back. Most of the neighborhood simply could not get downtown to the county government building at that time of that day. The ten of us work-at-home types who did were nine-to-one against the idea. We were allowed two minutes each at the committee meeting and then two minutes each at the board meeting.

You guessed it. The committee approved it forward to the board. An hour later, the board approved it forward to the county commission. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, we pleaded. But the fix was in, and when the tax bill comes we will be broke.

Jay Homnick, also writes for The American Spectator

Mortgage Foreclosure Filing Statistics in Miami Dade by Geniusofdespair

In 2005 We had 7,829 mortgage foreclosures filings. In 2006 we had 9,826. Curiously, in 2002 we had a surge of 14,567.

In 2007: January: 1,404, February: 1,563, March 1,759, April 1,749, May: 1,984 and June 2,060. If this trend keeps up we will have more than 20,000 by year's end.

Say goodbye to a story I thought had legs. By Geniusofdespair

And, just like that...the etiquette standoff is over.

The Chair, Dim Bruno, and Mayor Alvarez talked and that was it. Staff will be returning to budget hearings. I have to say I am disappointed.

Keeping an Eye on Miguel De Grandy on the Charter Review Board by Geniusofdespair

You gotta watch that Miguel he is by far the most troublesome member.

I went through the August 1st meeting and here are some of the Miguel De Grandy comments/votes. This is taken straight from the minutes:

Upon being put to a vote, the motion to add four workshops to the current meeting schedule passed by a vote of 13-1, (Mr. De Grandy voted “no”).

Mr. De Grandy said he felt the Task Force should decline the CRB’s request. He noted the CRB was welcome to hold workshops and report the outcome to the CRTF; however, he felt it would establish a precedent and this Task Force could potentially receive similar requests by many other organizations.

It was moved by Mr. De Grandy that the Task Force decline the CRB’s request to hold joint workshops (public hearing process). This motion was seconded by Ms. Illas. Mr. Holland noted he supported the CRB’s request, in that he felt this Task Force should welcome the CRB and any other organization wishing to serve as an outreach component to this Task Force and assist in efforts to encourage the public participation. He suggested Task Force members develop the pros and cons and clearly define the issues. Upon being put to a vote, the foregoing motion that the Task Force decline the CRB’s invitation to hold joint workshops, passed by a unanimous vote of those members Present.

It was moved by Mr. Holland that the Task Force study term limits for the Board of County Commissioners or other elected officials. This motion was seconded by Ms. Soler-McKinley, and upon being put to a vote, passed by a vote of 13-1, (Mr. De Grandy voted “no”) (Ms. Dannheiser, Mr. Diaz-Padron, Mr. Ferre, Mayor Gibson, Mr. Handfield, Mr. Martinez and Mr. Smith were absent). Hit more....

It was moved by Mr. Illas that the Task Force study the composition of the Board of County Commissioners. This motion was seconded by Mr. Kuper. Following discussion and upon being put to a vote, the foregoing motion passed by a vote
of 11-3, (Mr. Vazquez, Mr. De Grandy and Mr. Holland voted “no”) (Ms. Dannheiser, Mr. Diaz-Padron, Mr. Ferre, Mayor Gibson, Mr. Handfield, Mr. Martinez and Mr. Smith were absent).

In response to Mr. De Grandy’s inquiry regarding augmenting the Commission Auditor’s powers, Chairman Diaz ruled this request out of order.

It was moved by Mr. De Grandy that the Citizens’ Bill of Rights included within the Charter be clarified to reflect that public records of any governmental agency, with the exception of the Police Department, must comply with the Public Records Statutes and the Bill of Rights. This motion was seconded by Mr. Vazquez. Chairman Diaz said Mr. De Grandy was indicating there was a failure to follow the law versus the need to clarify the law.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Hot flash: housing crash to reverse in 64 years, by gimleteye

It’s a big project, replacing all the sand that is washing away from Miami beaches.

One way or another, taxpayers have spent more than $125 million, in just a couple of years, to put back what nature is taking away. Now, a new dilemma has cropped up; there’s not enough sand left in Florida for the job.

My suggestion is to start pumping the sand from between the ears of elected officials who presided over the housing boom, now in cinders here and everywhere.

The weekly Miami Today reports of Brickell Avenue, the downtown Miami corridor, where four developments planned for completion in late 2008 would increase the area’s total condo inventory from 5,348 to 12,299 units.

“Only nine condos closed from June 19 to July 18,” according to one professional. “If that pace continues, absorbing the entire projected inventory would take up to 64 years.”

64 years?

We are not aware of a single elected official, in Miami or in Washington, DC, who raised the question whether or not it was advisable to zone and permit a construction frenzy that has rapidly unspooled into a world-wide credit crisis involving hundreds of billions of dollars.

How did it happen?

You see, removing brain matter and replacing it with vast amounts of sand is the highly profitable business of American democracy.

The roots of the empty Miami condos soaring to the skyline are buried deep in the arterial system of Wall Street where inventive financiers, some still with baby fuzz on youthful faces, proliferated liquidity out of thin air with the encouraging support of the nation’s grey-haired financial overseers.

On either side of massive fees, commissions and bonuses are the suckers: individual investors, teams of investors, and the plain old folk who bought into the condo craze in Miami, or San Francisco, or Las Vegas, or Pheonix, or LA, or Manhattan.

Don't feel bad; the bigger suckers are on the other side of the deal. That would be distant investors persuaded by banks and financial institutions collaborating with rating agencies to purchase securitized debt instruments, like CDOs (collateral debt obligations) believing them to be credit-worthy investments.

An investment professional notes the scam as “the greatest bait and switch of ALL TIME”. In a letter to clients, he reports a conversation with a Wall Street insider. (Note: the following was also referenced in Baron’s financial weekly.)

“This individual proceeded to tell me how and why the Subprime Mezzanine CDO business existed. Subprime Mezzanine CDOs are 10X20X levered vehicles that contain only the BBB and BBB- tranches of Subprime debt. He told me that the ‘real money’ (US insurance companies, pension funds, etc.) accounts had stopped purchasing the mezzanine tranches of US Subprime debt in late 2003 and that they needed a mechanism that could enable them to ‘mark up’ these loans, package them opaquely, and EXPORT THE NEWLY PACKAGED RISK TO UNWITTING BUYERS IN ASIA AND CENTRAL EUROPE!!!! He told me with a straight face that these CDOs were the only way to get rid of the riskiest tranches of Subprime debt. Interestingly enough, these buyers (mainland Chinese banks, the Chinese Government, Taiwanese banks, Korean banks, German banks, French banks, UK banks) possess the ‘excess’ pools of liquidity around the globe. These pools are basically derived from two sources: 1) massive trade surpluses with the US in USD, 2) petrodollars.”

For non-financial readers, here is a primer: the housing boom, now in cinders, was not built on your desire for a new home, a bigger home, or any kind of home. It was manufactured by builders and developers and Wall Street.

After the internet bubble collapsed in 2001, the Federal Reserve initiated the series of interest rate cuts spurring the “ownership society” that manifested its last gasp in 2005, with an astonishing rate of mortgage fraud, liar loans, and collusion between bottom feeders and the wing-tipped crowd. Some 20 percent of subprime mortgages issued in that year alone are expected to collapse in foreclosures, ultimately affecting more than 1.7 million homeowners.

But to focus on the subprime sector--that is to say, buyers of lower priced homes--is a red herring. The bigger pools of blood are from buyers of credit-worthy financial instruments that are now essentially worthless on the secondary trading markets. The carnage is spreading to commercial financial derivatives, too.

If the quoted individual is to be believed then as early as 2003, the ‘real money’ on Wall Street knew that the only way to keep the Ponzi scheme going was to fob off the toxic mortgage waste on suppliers of cheap foreign imports and oil. Co-dependency is a bitch.

Which brings us back to Miami, where a rising sea laps the sand away and towering condos show the willingness of builders to build anything that can be financed and elected officials to allow the “free market” to have its way, so long as a spigot from the money flow is welded into their campaign accounts.

Miami Today reports that the local county commission chair, Bruno Barreiro, is asking for a resolution “urging the Army Corps of Engineers to expedite the authorization of foreign sand and for Congress to appropriate funds for county beach renourishment projects” since “no suitable domestic sand is available.”

Perhaps there is a solution, if the sand between the ears of elected officials is inadequate to the purpose of fighting off an indifferent sea.

Put the Army Corps of Engineers in charge of regulating financial derivatives sold on Wall Street, and put Wall Street financiers in charge of finding sand for the nation’s vanishing beaches.

I'm sure some public official can be found to serve that formula as "mission accomplished".

Miami Herald Editorial Staff on the County Etiquette Standoff/War by Geniusofdespair

Those spoil sports at the Miami Herald Editorial Board decided to weigh in what I have dubbed the Etiquette Standoff and Etiquette War (depending on the wind direction, what is it North East today?). The Editorial Board said: Enough with the insults and snubs - OUR OPINION: COUNTY COMMISSIONERS, MAYOR MUST TACKLE BUDGET ISSUE.

Well that’s no fun. They say:

"The mayor and the commission must come to terms on a county budget that has to be cut by $240 million. Mayor Alvarez has submitted his proposed 2008 budget with the recommended cuts to the commission. Not surprisingly, some commissioners have been carping about the mayor's recommendations."

The Herald claims it is the Mayor’s fault because he did away with the customary visit to each commissioner to see what they wanted. They say:

"The mayor brought this on himself. In past years, the budget was a negotiated document. The county manager consulted with each commissioner prior to its release. Mayor Alvarez skipped that step, and the commission, which has final say on the budget, felt shortchanged."

I say: Too bad.

The Herald also took the Commissioners to task:

"Now it is the commission's turn -- quit the browbeating. That may play well in the district, but it is destructive and demoralizing to the county work force."

Finally, the Editorial Staff sticks up for us, this part I like:

"There are times when some commissioners seem confused about their job description. They work for and represent the public, first of all. It is doubtful that residents will condone rude, insulting, intimidating behavior from commissioners, especially when so much is at stake. Second, commissioners should realize: they are policy makers, not administrators. They don't do the work; they decide how it should be done -- and the mayor takes it from there."

Mortgage Company Folds, but not before Claudia got credit. by Geniusofdespair

I was thinking about my post of August 17th, Claudia how the hell did you get so much credit? I decided to look up Flick, the Mortgage Company that gave her the second set of mortgages and here is what I found (Hit on it to make it larger):
Why am I not surprised? They were a Hud approved lender.

Monday, August 20, 2007

No, to expansion of nuclear reactor at Turkey Point by Gimleteye

Over the weekend AP reported the shut down of a nuclear reactor at Browns Ferry, in north Alabama. The vulnerability of nuclear power to an extended heat wave “could be a sign of trouble for nuclear energy in a warming climate.”

South Florida has a problem even more intractable than too hot cooling water: sea level rise.

With glacial ice melting at an even faster rate than computer models have predicted, it is not a question of “if” sea levels will start to rise: only a question of “when” and how rapidly.

Are we going to wait until the tide floods South Dade before questioning why a nuclear power plant was permitted at the edge of Biscayne Bay?

Scientists believe that rapid climate response to global warming is a significant risk.

Does FPL have a rapid response plan for Turkey Point, in the case of sea level rise as a significant event, over a period of a few years?

Even if the facility at Turkey Point could be hardened against sea-level rise, how will workers get to the plant if roadways are flooded? What are logistic issues need to be addressed, if sea level rise turns Turkey Point into an island at the mercy of an indifferent sea?

These questions are difficult to answer, because there is no precedent for this order of climate emergency. Common sense would dictate that in the face of climate change, the permit request for two new nuclear reactors should be denied.