Sunday, August 04, 2013

Big Sugar Billionaires slammed again ... by gimleteye

Irony fails to describe the effect and coincidence of the latest Big Sugar charm offensive claiming environmentalists' support. Still, one wonders if God means to joke gullible taxpayers and voters by the timing of Big Rainfall this year with Big Sugar's mass mailers and green-washing. Joke or vengeful: Florida's water management system designed to protect Big Sugar's prerogatives and wealth, blessed by politicians of every stripe, is wreaking havoc on downstream coastal communities. And it's not for the first time. Far from it.

Dining off gold plates, the Big Sugar Billionaires grace us with, "we are all in this together." And under their breaths, swearing at the impudence of protesters, "Let them eat cake".

Just to the north of Miami-Dade County, the disgusting water pouring out of the St. Lucie estuary has every politician who has taken money from Big Sugar scurrying for a rock to hide under. (Do Miami-Dade voters pay attention to what's happening outside the county? The argument can be made, voters don't even care what happens inside the county, unless it is a national election.) No one and no agency -- not the US Army Corps of Engineers, the South Florida Water Management District -- wants to take responsibility for what is happening with pollution flooding out of the Lake. In other words, it has as it always been: people pay, Big Sugar profits.

Big Sugar destroys the Everglades, destroys democracy and destroys public health. That's a simple message for the thousands of people who are rallying in protest over the filthy water rushing out of Lake Okeechobee.

Understand that Big Sugar's strategy is not to fix what's wrong. They are free to do with their property what they want, even when it means driving down the value of everyone else's that is exposed to their run-off, and in particular what they want is to make acquisition of their property more expensive -- as expensive as they possibly can -- until their time on earth runs out and the plan defaults to the next line of shareholders.

A recent Stuart News editorial doesn't go that far, but given the heavy-handed influence of Big Sugar in the Florida media, it is always refreshing to read the plain case:

"Wanted: New generation of politicians untethered, financially, from Big Sugar

The seeming hypocrisy is infuriating.

Big Sugar has been one of the biggest impediments to the creation of the best viable, long-term solution to the discharges of polluted water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon. That solution? A flow-way south of the lake to carry water into and through the Everglades to Florida Bay.

That solution would be as close to the way Mother Nature had it plumbed before people messed it up.

Not only does Big Sugar own and control huge tracts of land in the Everglades Agriculture Area south of Lake O — land necessary to create a flow-way — it also receives federal price supports, quota and tariffs that artificially prop up sugar prices.

Big Sugar greases the skids of this process by actively contributing to the election campaigns of political candidates and incumbents in Congress. Then, when price supports, quotas and tariffs come up for a vote, our elected officials are more than willing to do the bidding for Big Sugar.

Recently, when an effort was made in the U.S. House to limit the sugar program, only three of
Florida’s 27 House members voted to enact the limitations. The amendment died, 206-221. Both U.S. Sens. Marco Rubio, a Republican, and Bill Nelson, a Democrat, helped kill a comparable amendment in the Senate.

Not surprisingly, all but two members of the state’s U.S. House delegation have taken sugar campaign money since 2007. (Freshman Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Jupiter, is a member of this small minority, yet he has not ruled out taking donations in the future.) Both Nelson and Rubio have accepted political donations from Big Sugar.

Coincidence? Hardly.

The relationship between Big Sugar and politicians gives the appearance of a quid pro quo — you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.

At the state legislative level, many political candidates and incumbents are more than willing to accept donations from the sugar industry.

At least $57,750 of the millions of dollars donated last year by U.S. Sugar, Florida Crystals Corp. and their subsidiaries went directly to the campaigns of legislative candidates from Martin, St. Lucie and Indian River counties, according to a report by Scripps Treasure Coast Newspapers. Additionally, the sugar industry gave $728,500 to political committees associated with Sens. Joe Negron, R-Stuart, and Denise Grimsley, R-Sebring, who represent parts of the Treasure Coast.

WANTED: a new generation of state and federal lawmakers willing to reject political contributions from the sugar industry.

We ask again: Who will be the first politician in our region to hold a press conference and announce he/she is rejecting any and all contributions from Big Sugar? We’ll be watching. We hope readers will, too.

It’s worth noting Martin County’s Democratic Executive Committee announced recently it will no longer support or endorse state legislative, county commission or other local candidates who have accepted campaign donations from the sugar industry. The committee’s view is welcome, yet it rarely .elds a full slate of candidates.

Ultimately, we — the voters — bear the responsibility for charting a new course. As long as we continue returning elected officials to office who accept political contributions from Big Sugar, we will continue getting what we always have gotten: Huge volumes on polluted water in our river, estuary and lagoon."


Anonymous said...

I really want to puke every time I get one of Big Sugar's direct mail pieces. Each piece is full of lies.

100panthers said...

Last paragraph is 'spot on'. We get what we deserve.

"Ultimately, we — the voters — bear the responsibility for charting a new course. As long as we continue returning elected officials to office who accept political contributions from Big Sugar, we will continue getting what we always have gotten: Huge volumes on polluted water in our river, estuary and lagoon."

"Never have so few destroyed so much for so many."