We, the public, don't have the full story on 'who knew, what' about the US Sugar buyout offer that Governor Crist proposed. One thing is for certain: Governor Crist took an intractable problem-- an Everglades restoration plan that cannot work-- and proposed a big step in the one direction that has the chance, at some point in the future, of helping the Everglades.
That big step can be described simply: the top priority and purpose of the Everglades Agricultural Area should to be restoring the Everglades. My own sense is that US Sugar made a terrific deal for its shareholders.
But the terms of the deal and the money for the purchase are proving difficult to resolve. Under discussion, now, is whether or not the State can afford or should buy the entire piece-- or, flip a big part of it back to Florida Crystals, owned by the infamous Fanjul family or cut some other deal in return for land owned by the Fanjuls that is needed to connect US Sugar lands to the Everglades..
If I had a chance to talk to Governor Crist directly, this is what I would say:
Governor Crist, have courage. Big Sugar is only confident so long as it controls the politics. What you have done is scramble the politics run by Sugar, for the first time.
Lately, the press has been filled with the Fanjul's "charm offensive"; its 'green' credentials, its 'concern' for local working conditions, its 'willingness' to be a full partner in Everglades restoration.
But Time Magazine called Florida "the sunset state" for good reasons: one is the waste of time for the Everglades by politicians who have been too frightened to confront Big Sugar and its monied buzz-saw.
There is no way to counter Big Sugar unless Governor Crist follows through with a tough and determined stand and explains to the public: that the Everglades must be restored for Florida's economic future.
I'm not going to belabor whether or not Big Sugar is driven purely by greed, or, whether their well-paid advisors are motivated by how much money they can make themselves by dragging out processes interminably. I'm all in favor of helping the local economy to get on its feet, but right now the interests of ten million Floridians in South Florida hangs in the balance.
Do the right thing, Governor Crist: buy the whole of US Sugar lands and don't give the Fanjuls an inch, until the billionaire barons come to terms.