Monday, April 23, 2012

More, on Growth Management and John DeGrove ... by gimleteye

In response to one of my recent posts, "Gov. Rick Scott and John DeGrove: Gone", an anonymous reader wrote: "Gimleteye, John DeGrove... visionary, diligent defender of quality, value, and the relationship of good planning to higher quality of life. He will be missed. Unfortunately, I can't see your railing against our current governor, anyone with money and an interest, or against general free enterprise having a positive impact on adopting policies of good growth..." As a general matter I don't respond to invective, but in this case:

The reader continues, "... I choose to be part of the solution, not just a "muckraker" and in that way, respect DeGrove's legacy." Muckraking does have an historic role in American culture and journalism. During this period of turmoil, with print newspaper and television increasingly straying from the purposes of investigative journalism, blogs can help reveal how the machinery of politics, works.

But we, at Eyeonmiami, are not just muckrakers. That term describes writers who find stories of importance in the "muck" where readers and even editors often fear to tread. Both of the bloggers at Eyeonmiami have years of experience being part of the solution: participating in local civic groups, organizations, education and outreach and efforts to hold local government accountable to standards of the law governing growth; at least until Gov. Scott and the Republican led legislature destroyed those standards.

We write daily on this blog and continue to be involved with civic groups we value as activists and sometimes plaintiffs pursuing justice under the law. For our reader to suggest we are not contributing to solutions, well enough said.

We write from well-established positions in favor of growth management and direct experience how, for example, what John DeGrove fought to protect was first undermined then eliminated by growth-at-any-cost policies and -- yes-- sometimes the corruption of local politics.

"Where was the sting of your forked tongue," the anonymous reader admonishes, "... when Water Management was flooding out Potato Farms, the Feds were subsidizing unfair agricultural competition in Imokalee and Homestead was going broke... prior to development creating a sustainable financial landscape there." Um.

John DeGrove recently passed away. DeGrove was the father of land use planning in Florida. That is what I am writing about. The agency he founded, the Florida Department of Community Affairs, was eliminated by Gov. Rick Scott in 2010. Since 2007 Eyeonmiami has been tracking growth management issues -- and especially the way local politics has been deformed by the Great Destroyers to make it harder and harder for citizens to have an impact on community growth and development.

Yes we do rail against our current governor Rick Scott and the Florida legislature. Both have proven poor stewards of the DeGrove legacy. (I'm not even sure Rick Scott heard of growth management before deciding to run for office and apparently once he heard of it, he disliked it instantly without bothering to educate himself.)

To write, as our anonymous reader does, "Your post makes me think of an old Seminole saying "Even a good mans death feeds the ravens." What John DeGrove's death does provide is an opportunity for an independent assessment of growth management in Florida. So far as I am aware, not a single newspaper in Florida has taken that opportunity. To suggest that what I write disrespects John DeGrove's legacy is just plain dumb.

We do not rail against "anyone with money" of against "general free enterprise". What the record shows, clear as day, is that the deformation of growth management under the pressure of the Great Destroyers is anything but "general free enterprise".

Suburban sprawl was sold as "what the market wants". It was not. It was what Wall Street could finance and what shed the highest compensation for developers and the supply chain of speculators in fast growing regions of Florida. Those places-- we know them well in Miami-Dade--  are littered with ghost suburbs and home buyers whose mortgages are under water. Is it too much of an exaggeration to point out that the banks who lent money to the biggest of the speculators have failed to mark-to-market the big whale loans and concentrate instead on wringing the last drop from individual homebuyers? Whose "forked tongue" allows speculators to stop paying interest on their mortgages but foreclose on individual homeowners instead?

The writer wonders where we were, when "Water Management flooded out Potato Farms, the Feds were subsidizing unfair agricultural competition in Imokalee and Homestead was going broke ... prior to development creating a sustainable financial landscape there." Wow. Where to start?

Time and again, we have pointed out that Homestead and governance related to growth has been a disaster. It is the city with one of the highest -- if not the highest -- foreclosure rates in the nation. Firm financial footing? Surely the reader jokes.

Homestead, Florida is the stunning example of a place whose potential was spurned and burned by speculators, including local bankers and farmers who despised growth management and DeGrove's hope for Florida. The bitter complaints against "Water Management" have fueled other disasters including the growth of farming and housing at the margin of the Everglades. We note the "forked tongue" with which this session of the legislature Governor Scott restored many budget cuts at the District, because Big Sugar realized that unless taxpayers were made to pay up for remedies sought by federal court judgments that they would then be tagged with the bill.

Those who grinned and slapped each other's backs when the Florida of Department of Community Affairs was closed down are apparently now trying to re-write history. And so history will repeat itself. It remains to be seen whether the addled brains of the legislature will some day seek to control the worst impulses of "free enterprise" in the growth of Florida communities and resurrect the legacy of John DeGrove.


Geniusofdespair said...

Well said!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Gimleteye for being there defending the future of the common land, whatever portion we are left with!