Friday, April 18, 2014

Commentaries: Gov. Rick Scott running for election, courts his critics in GOP territory … by gimleteye

It is finally dawning on American voters that the United States has turned into a nation controlled by oligarchs. In Florida? Not so much awakening yet.

Depending on the state where you live, the names of the oligarchs change but their motives remain pure to the multi decade efforts to brand themselves as freedom loving citizens whose business interests and profit motives coincide with the people's.

Of egregious examples, Florida Gov. Rick Scott is in a class of his own. With no experience in government or public policy beyond the health care system where his significant personal wealth derived -- Scott bought his way to the Governor's Mansion in Tallahassee four years ago. To rank and file Tea Party enthusiasts -- his core supporters --, Scott seemed the epitome of the principle that the less qualified one is for public office, the more one belongs there.

Even GOP stalwarts were shocked at first by the emergence of a neophyte they had never blessed. Although he side-stepped most of them -- arriving in Tallahassee with scarcely a single advisor with any experience in government -- he found a helping hand from those who need government's help most: the community of Florida oligarchs.

In particular, Scott found favor with Big Sugar billionaires. They -- without explaining or even bothering to inform the new governor -- set about to eliminate environmental rules and regulations and land use planning measures that were the result of decades of hard, brass knuckles dealmaking; a process that had always tilted to their favor. It was not enough. They wanted more. For the legion of lawyers, engineers, and lobbyists whose salaries depend on the oligarchs, doing more is their principle motivation.

With Scott -- the most clueless governor in Florida's modern history -- Big Sugar finally got what it wanted: a governor who would do exactly what they wanted, when they wanted. In nearly thirty years I have tracked public policies relating to environmental protection, the political atmosphere in Tallahassee has never been more poisonous to the public interest than it is today.

The irony in terms of water management -- the key factor in Big Sugar's stream of taxpayer subsidized profits -- is that Gov. Scott was informed everything was fine at exactly the moment everything turned to shit.

The problem had been obvious to anyone paying attention. Water management practices favoring Big Sugar had been wrecking marine life and spreading devastating algae blooms for years through gorgeous estuaries and along the coasts.

The destruction began to accelerate thanks to a season of extraordinarily heavy rainfall in 2012/2013. More to the political point, environmental carnage began to energize GOP voters who had been silent on the sidelines as successive terms (Jeb! Bush) of leadership had piled into Big Sugar's corner.

It is an odd fact of human nature that when it comes to the environment, people don't stomp their feet and pound their fists until the rafters shake until they are literally on the receiving end of nature's fury.

So, at last, with a hotly contested election in sight, Gov. Rick Scott took the unprecedented step (for him) of reaching out to environmental critics who have been elevated in the public esteem for the simple reason: they were right.

So Scott went to visit some of his most prominent critics to hear what he had ignored for three years, rolling the dice that he could salvage support among a core group of GOP constituents whose interest sharply diverge from the Big Sugar oligarchy.

For more, read the OPED in the Treasure Coast Palm and comments by an Everglades scientist, Larry Fink, who has emerged as one of the strongest critics of the anti-environmental agenda of state regulators and the Great Destroyers.

Eve Samples: Gov. Scott pays an unusual house call in Martin County | Video

By Eve Samples

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The guest was unexpected, but Maggy Hurchalla played it cool.

She welcomed the man onto the weathered porch of her Rocky Point home.

She poured him a glass of green tea.

Then Hurchalla, Martin County’s most influential Democrat, gave our Republican governor a talking-to about the Indian River Lagoon like he’s never heard before.

She told Gov. Rick Scott three things during the surprise house call Friday:

• First, water must move south from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades — and locals won’t scream at you if it’s not a River of Grass-style flow way. We just want it done.

“Contrary to popular belief, we don’t care how you send the water south,” said Hurchalla, a former Martin County commissioner and longtime environmental advocate.

• Second, she told the governor, Martin County is not out to destroy Big Sugar.

“It’s not that we are not interested,” Hurchalla said, joking (OK, maybe half joking).

“It’s that they are bigger than we are,” she continued. “We are interested in coexisting — and saving the Everglades at the same time.”

• And third, Hurchalla told Scott, preserving natural land is vital to saving the Indian River Lagoon. We can’t expect engineered solutions to fix everything.

She reminded the governor Martin County residents have taxed themselves to buy huge swaths of land for the Indian River Lagoon South plan — but the state hasn’t lived up to its end of the deal by buying more.

“He was attentive and listened,” Hurchalla told me Wednesday.

There’s one more thing she mentioned, too.

It was about the Scott’s re-election campaign.

“I did tell the governor I’m a Democrat, and I won’t be supporting him,” Hurchalla, the sister of former U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, said.

That didn’t stop her from thanking Scott for his role in killing an abusive environmental bill filed by state Rep. Jimmy Patronis, a Republican from Panama City.

The governor’s response: “It was the right thing to do.”

And it didn’t stop Hurchalla from applauding the new effort he’s making to support our local waterways. She was particularly glad to hear Scott supports a $250,000 study by University of Florida’s Water Institute that would find the best plan for moving water south — thereby stopping the releases from Lake O to the St. Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon.

“The important thing for me is he’s doing real things,” Hurchalla said.

That’s remarkable praise from a fierce critic.

And it’s a stunning shift from last year, when Scott first ignored the crisis in the Indian River Lagoon — then deflected responsibility by claiming it was the federal government’s problem to fix.

In case anyone forgot: This is the same Gov. Scott who was booed during a feel-good visit to Bass Pro Shops in Port St. Lucie six months ago; the same Gov. Scott who refused to face hundreds of sign-waving locals during a stop at the St. Lucie Lock and Dam last year.

Now he’s paying house calls to Martin County’s most respected environmentalists.

The governor also met Friday with Sewall’s Point Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.

His handsome and charismatic new lieutenant governor, Carlos Lopez-Cantera, joined him. So did Herschel Vinyard, secretary of the state Department of Environmental Protection.

Hurchalla had only been expecting Vinyard for a visit. It was the first time she had personally spoken with Scott.

Despite their political differences, she was willing to see past his transgressions of last summer.

After all, every state politician was ignorant and inadequate on the topic of the Indian River Lagoon then.

“Nobody came up with good solutions,” Hurchalla said. “Everybody blamed somebody else.”

Now, as Gov. Scott’s new house-crashing hobby shows, the most powerful politicians in the state have heard us.

Listening alone won’t save the Indian River Lagoon — but it sure beats being ignored.

By: Larry Fink
Waterwise Consulting, LLC
reprinted from Sierra Club Everglades list serve

We can all agree that we need to dedicate public resources to the paramount public interest in the public health, safety, and welfare, including public works projects that will protect life, limb, and property, consumers, workers, and the public trust, including threatened and endangered species, natural resources and their inherent and aesthetic values, the natural services they provide, and their renewable, sustainable recreational and commercial uses. We have no obligation to support unsustainable commercial uses of the public trust, especially those that are only profitable because of explicit subsidies, including crop price supports and trade barriers, and implicit subsidies, including allowing polluted untreated or inadequately treated stormwater runoff to be discharged to Lake Okeechobee,
the Everglades, or our East and West Coast estuaries.

As presently practiced, sugar cane farming involves the irreversible consumptive use of peat soil and the irrigation water that is not recaptured by the tertiary, secondary, and primary canal networks and localvrainfall. The lost water could be made up with wastewater reuse water,
including the reuse water now being used as a cooling water supply for
FPL's gas-fired power plant that is immediately west of the L-8 Reservoir
Project, which, because of its high chloride and sulfate concentrations,
should be used instead for cooling water supply and thermal equlibration
prior to deep well injection, rather than flushed out with EAA stormwater
runoff for reservoir-assisted STA loading-leveling. The lost peat soil
could be made up by using fallow parcels to dewater hydraulically dredged
Lake Okeechobee sediments. This would also relieve the pressure on the
Herbert Hoover Dike and the IRL, because > 90% of the hydraulically dredged
slurry is water. The shortfall in drinking water for human consumption could be made up with
desalination water obtained using a solar-powered steam distillation.

These are workable proposals with a not unreasonable relationship between cost and benefits that would demonstrate the interest of Big Sugar to coexist with a sustainable Florida future based on sustainable recreational and commercial uses of our fresh and salt water resources. Coexistence
requires symbiosis, not parasitism. Florida's future in general and the Everglades and East and West Coast Estuaries cannot be bought for a few thousand jobs or the free speech and the growing number of politicians bought with those taxpayer-subsidized profits.

Of political necessity, we may have to coexist with sugar cane farming as
presently practiced at great taxpayer-supported profit for the short term
to move an additional 200,000 acre-ft of treated stormwater runoff to the
Everglades sometime in the distant future, but, since the peat soil is a
finite resource, not for the long term. However, I see no evidence that
Big Sugar has any interest in coexisting with the environment and the
people of Florida who depend on it by switching from unsustainable to
sustainable farming practices and internalizing rather than externalizing
its wastes at loading rates in excess of of the solar-powered capacities of
our natural resources to safely assimilate. Instead, they are pushing to
socialize more risk in order to privatize more profit, aided and abetted by
Governor Scott, who shares their philosophy of unregulated access to and
exploitation of our human, physical, and fiscal resources for substantial,
taxpayer-subsidized profit.

That being the case, this is our Neville Chamberlain or Winston Churchill
moment, when we go along to get along and accept the environmental
restoration scraps from the master's table or fight for permanently
breaching the Herbert Hoover Dike with a spillway/flowway acquired through
eminent domain that will save lives and our natural resources, albeit at
the expense of the taxpayer-supported profits from unsustainable
agricultural practices and the few thousand jobs directly related to sugar
cane farming that these now highly mechanized farming practices still

So who speaks for a sustainable Florida future that restores and protects
all of our human, infrastructure, and natural resources from unsustainable,
consumptive commercial exploitation and irreversible damages, which is
increasingly the fate of the IRL?

Larry E. Fink, M.S.
Waterwise Consulting, LLC


Anonymous said...

Love the Maggie story I think this is two blogs not one. I wasn't going to read it because it was so long but I'm glad I did.

Anonymous said...

Rick Scott has a huge problem-himself

Fat Bastardo said...

There are slimes much worse than Rick Scott and those slimes who votes for him.