Reader's Comment: What it says to residents and especially activists and volunteers trying to make this a better place for all - whether you are fighting for restoring the Everglades, preserving libraries or the arts or better medical care- is YOU DON'T HAVE A CHANCE. All these guys care about is power and the money. They have ruined democracy for everyone.
It is no revelation that the GOP in Congress has blocked campaign finance reform or that the permanent incumbency benefits both political parties or that the Bush Supreme Court's Citizens United decision officially sanctioned massive PAC activity masking as independent expenditures when really supporting candidates.
The appearance of propriety, of upstanding, moral superiority by these thieves of democracy created a more toxic atmosphere in today's politics than at any time in history. It is fed by special interest baiting by highly paid commentators on advertising-driven television "news". If there is any daylight or hope, I don't know where it is.
A mayor of Miami Lakes -- Michael Pizzi had been the number one ranked student at the University of Miami Law School -- is nabbed in a corruption sting; allegedly making recorded statements to the FBI expressing concern for the public interest while taking cash under the table. Pizzi wasn't hooked in the major corruption involving ports and airports or land use zoning. The FBI was trolling at the margins -- a fake AmeriCorps governmental grant process. It is subtle but important point.
Pizzi was an outsider in the "club" of well known politicians -- many long-time incumbents -- who do business the old fashioned way. Pizzi wasn't like the Sweetwater mayor Morono, who is charged with taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes. He only, allegedly, took down $6000.
Sweetwater is one of those areas in Miami-Dade where former Everglades wetlands are prime targets for developers. Where Miami Lakes has largely been picked over, through moving the Urban Development Boundary in the late 2000's by the Graham Companies, Sweetwater is a profit center for the Growth Machine and its enablers, the Great Destroyers. Its lower middle class demographics are fit to connect-the-dots, cookie-cutter production housing.
The lobbyists for the Miami Lakes urban development boundary move (Sergio Pino, Raul Martinez, and Armando Codina sat in the front row of the county commission zoning hearing) never had much use for Michael Pizzi. At the time, Pizzi represented neighbors of rock mines against the disruption of lives and property values by routine blasting of lime rock near their homes.
Pizzi was a populist and, in office, a pragmatist "outsider".
An unintended consequence of the FBI sting is the lesson to the "insiders": it doesn't pay to be in politics at the edges. Swim in the middle of the stream: it is safer there.
The backdrop of this political corruption tale is what is simultaneously happening Lake Okeechobee, the diseased, liquid heart of Florida. After a season of extreme rainfall (itself a consequence of the awful politics of global warming), Florida's largest lake is gushing geysers of polluted water into fresh water estuaries on both coasts. This has been going on since the 1930's, when the dike around Okeechobee was built to protect cities and agriculture. But it is the campaign contributions of one of the most highly subsidized commodities in the U.S., Big Sugar, that is chiefly responsible for the water management system including using the Lake as its cesspool that has put billions in economic value at risk.
Thousands of Floridians are protesting in Martin and Palm Beach counties. We need more help. Much more help. Where is that help going to come from?