Friday, March 29, 2013

Florida: The Sinkhole State ... by gimleteye

In "Lousy water, lousy press for business," (Tampa Bay Times, March 26, 2013), Writer Jack Davis appeals to the Chamber of Commerce and business leaders with the argument that bad environmental stories from Florida undermine their self interest. Good luck with that. There is no helping the stewards of Florida, the sinkhole state.

The golden age of common sense is not around the corner: its promise has disappeared down the swirling drain of radical GOP politics that possess Tallahassee like a captured fort. Take the environment, for example, where business leaders fiercely resist the federal effort to compel Florida to clean up its pollution. Not even federal courts can put a dent in their radical, reactionary zeal. They have taken Florida backwards, not to the 90's, or 80's, or 70's or 60's. They have taken Florida, back to the dark ages.

Florida's natural resources -- our beaches, rivers, bays and estuaries -- are still desirable and valuable real estate plays, but not even the most innovative public relations campaign can hide the carnage from water pollution or the damage to the state's reputation.

Call it; a self-imposed "scarcity". As a good quality of life in Florida becomes more attached to lowest cost denominators (as in, "we can't afford to clean up our own messes"), the effort to suppress the facts is more and more urgent. This isn't a new phenomenon, of course.

Scarcity is at the root of the latent and not-so-latent fear of the political class; at every turn we are confronted with a Florida less appealing for the way that natural resources have been squandered.

It's not just Florida, either.

The national economy continues to sputter through a "new" paradigm that dares not speak its name: less is more.

Consider for a moment how the conservative idea -- called "the precautionary principle" -- has been spurned by successive generations of Florida leaders and business interests.

The idea of doing no harm to the patient is the root of the Hippocratic oath, but it has no traction with business leaders and political class Mr. Davis invokes.

The business leaders in Florida do not obey anything ressembling a conservative approach to preserving value. Think of the US Century Bank model: too politically influential to ignore, too wormed into the operations of local government through favorable loans to insiders and everyone "connected" in Miami-Dade, too rich and profitable from skimming TARP money from taxpayers and promoting land use policies that wrecked Miami-Dade County. Take that model and scale it to the size of Florida.

Florida's business community and leadership is grappling with how to make do, with less as more, while finding new ways to protect pay packages and profits. It works for a few, but this is not about creating equity. It is about draining equity.

Hear that great sucking sound? It's the new song of Florida: the sinkhole state.

From the Brandon Patch
By Linda Chion Kenney
3rd Seffner Sinkhole Increases Community Concerns

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and code enforcement officials were on the scene this weekend in Seffner for the opening of another sinkhole, which has, as expected, led to a another round of comments from Brandon Patch readers.

The latest sinkhole to open in Seffner has heightened the concern of residents in Greater Brandon and beyond, as evidenced by their concerns posted in comments to a recent Brandon Patch post.

"Someone needs to figure out why these sinkholes are happening and we all need to keep a lookout no matter where you are," wrote Brandon Patch reader Stacie Jones. "And we need to find a way to prevent these sinkholes because they are are scary."

Hillsborough County Fire Rescue and code enforcement officials were on the scene this weekend at the sinkhole between 1425 and 1427 Lake Shore Ranch Drive in Seffner.

It was the third reported sinkhole in Seffner since Feb. 28, when Jeffrey Bush 36, died after the bedroom he was sleeping in was consumed by a catastrophic sinkhole at 240 Faithway Drive.

That sinkhole, described as "unprecedented," caused the home to be demolished and the two neighboring homes to be evacuated, leaving many families, including the Wicker and Jaudon families, displaced.

A second sinkhole opened up in Seffner days later, between two homes, at 1204 and 1206 Cedar Tree Lane. That sinkhole is 3.4 miles from the Lake Shore Ranch Drive sinkhole, which reportedly opened March 23, at around 7 p.m.

It was described as "approximately 8 feet in diameter and 10 feet deep."

"Most likely it's due to our use of underground water sources, such as aquifers and springs," answered a reader named Gale, in answer to the reader's concern about what what causes sinkholes. "This depletes the water, lowering the water table, and causing the ground above to collapse."

Her conclusion, though, gives more cause for concern: "The whole state of Florida is going to be swallowed by a giant sinkhole."

That doomsday alert notwithstanding, one reader expressed concern that sinkholes are reported in the first place.

"It this happened to me I'd just try to conceal it and keep quiet about it," wrote a reader identified as CJ. "I'm sure even the neighbors would keep it a secret, because often it gets them kicked off their property."

"Surprised?" answered a reader named Sarah. "Would you want to go back in your home if you thought the sinkhole would swallow your house up along with your family and/or animals? I woudl be very upset if you invited me to your home knowing there was even a remote possibility [of a sinkhole opening up]."

Bruce raised the concern level even higher.

"If they are going to report every sinkhole that opens up in Florida, they might as well start a newspaper dedicated to it," he said. "I've lived in Pinellas County for 42 years and cannot even come close to remembering all that I have seen."

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