Monday, June 09, 2014

Lynda Bell stonewalls efforts to keep school children safe from arsenic. By Geniusofdespair

In 2007, then Homestead Mayor Lynda Bell sent a clear message to parents of public school children - the safety of their kids is not her priority. In fact, Lynda Bell balked at efforts to fully cleanup the school site where arsenic was found as required by state law.

Why Lynda Bell would do anything less than speak up in favor of 100-percent clean up efforts is outrageous and offensive to parents. Worse, the school system was paying for the arsenic decontamination through a dedicated fund that had already collected the fees. To add insult to injury, two years later, Lynda Bell doubled-down on her position regarding arsenic saying that “it was no big deal and that anyone can put a spoon in their backyard and dig out arsenic.” And she even says that arsenic is natural.

 Mar. 2007: EFBD Tried to Clean Up Elevated Arsenic Levels on the Cheap.  In 2007, a planned K-8 school in Homestead faced delays after the group in charge of cleaning up the school site failed to fully remove arsenic-contaminated soil and groundwater. The Miami-Dade school system insisted the only way to clean the land was to completely decontaminate the site first, something the Educational Facilities Benefits District board, of which Lynda Bell was a member, balked at. The Miami-Dade school system had agreed to build and pay for the school, with site clean-up to be paid for by the EFBD, a unique special-taxing district funded from developers' impact fees. The Miami-Dade school system collected  the money, which it intended to distribute to nonprofit EFBD board to build schools in Homestead. However, the EFBD board’s cleanup plan only included de-mucking about 10 feet of soil from 80 percent of the property and replacing it with new fill.  As a result, the Miami-Dade school system refused to release the collected funds to pay for a $7 million cleanup after slightly elevated levels of arsenic were detected in the soil and groundwater.  Bell tried to blame the school system, saying the EFBD was never informed about state law requiring a full cleanup.  (Miami Herald, Mar. 29, 2007)

“For schools, there is only one way to clean land, and that is to completely decontaminate the site,” [Miami-Dade Schools planning director Ana Rijo-Conde] said. That position does not sit well with the EFBD board. It said the environmental concerns are nothing new and that a plan had been in place to turn over the land in phases as each portion was decontaminated.

Somewhere along the way, the rules changed, it said.

“We thought we were pretty much on track. And then they came back and said they couldn't accept the land by state law,'' said Bell, the council appointee to the EFBD board. 'We said, ‘Since when? Why haven't we known about this? Why weren't we informed?’”  (Miami Herald, Mar. 29, 2007)

2009: School Opens after Cleanup, Bell still Insists Arsenic is “Natural.”  In May 2009, the much troubled K-8 school from the Homestead Educational Facilities Benefits District was finally set to open in just in time for the 2009-10 school year, making it one of the first new schools to open in the Homestead area in more than three decades.  Then-Homestead Mayor Lynda Bell, also an EFBD member who pushed the interlocal agreement in 2005, said the school’s theme would be the environment, because of the long, expensive cleanup of the contaminated land.  Bell still insisted that arsenic occurred “naturally” due to the use of fertilizers.  (Miami Herald, Mar. 22, 2009)

The environmental theme was arrived at through the necessary cleanup of the land where the school sits, Bell said.

''There was arsenic in the ground, which occurs naturally around here with a lot of the fertilizers used,'' she said. ``But we got it cleaned up.'' (Miami Herald, Mar. 22, 2009)

Last Saturday's Miami Herald did a story on the elevated Arsenic Level at Chapman Field, arsenic contamination is now a giant problem in the county with many City of Miami parks closed.  Source of toxic soil at Chapman Field a mystery, Miami-Dade officials say. We need our Commissioners to be leaders in addressing this Arsenic problem that puts our children at risk. We don't need people like Lynda Bell who fights against the safety of children by trying to downplay the problem. Arsenic is not a  subject for cavalier behavior. It is one thing to be cavalier about pink slime (as Lynda Bell is) which is disgusting but not life threatening but quite another to downplay Arsenic contamination and argue about its removal for a school.  The funny thing about Lynda Bell, if you watch  the pink slime video and the Arsenic video, her reaction is pretty similar: It is not about the people.

In this video from 2012 Lynda Bell is downplaying the Arsenic Contamination around the Homestead airport when Donald Trump's lawyer brought it up as a reason the Trump Group was hesitant of the deal for a movie studio near the Homestead airport.  As you can see, Lynda Bell considers arsenic clean-up as no big deal for a mega developer, but argued for arsenic removal on the cheap for citizens and a school for children. 

Miami Dade County: Arsenic Soil Contamination is a bigger problem than anyone is acknowledging.

Whether arsenic is ingested from water or from soil, it can be absorbed into the body. Once in the body, the arsenic (regardless of where it came from) poses an increased risk for arsenic-related health effects. Many different factors (for example, the form and amount of arsenic, the characteristics of the soil, the presence of other contaminants, the age of the person ingesting the soil, and whether or not their stomach contains food) can influence how much arsenic is absorbed into the body when soil is ingested. How these factors influence arsenic absorption is difficult to quantify. In light of these uncertainties, the agencies consider the absorption of arsenic from soil to be the same as that from water. AND:

"According to a 1999 study by the National Academy of Sciences, arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung and skin cancer, and may cause kidney and liver cancer. The study also found that arsenic harms the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as heart and blood vessels, and causes serious skin problems. It also may cause birth defects and reproductive problems."

If you consume 2 liters of water a day with Arsenic levels of 20 parts per billion you have a 1 in 250 total cancer risk.


Anonymous said...

This sounds like her tirade against Audubon when they were naming the school (she wanted it named after herself). She holds up a paper and waves it as she talks. No one ever knows what is on the paper except her. Audubon blasted her for her statement.

Out of sight said...

That is the school that had the arsenic... audubon.

Homestead has a problem with radon. City hall next to md library (same parcel) on US is closed. Has anyone checked the library ?

The arnesic can occur naturally, but the area of east homestead was built on potato fields which helped mother nature along. There are numerous charter schools just built in the area, I wonder if they have problems that were swept under the corporate dirt.

Anonymous said...

Jean Monestime's district on arsenic

Anonymous said...

Lynda Bell cares about HER family, not yours. She makes decisions based on what her kids are finding as if it were the norm. The problem is one of her daughters is a problem. After 10 years as a bartender and a year in the police department she pulled a gun on her boyfriend for not babysitting. Not the norm.

Youbetcha' said...

Looking at the map, the heavy farm lands mid-state does have the arnesic levels our county does. Why?

The Audobon school was built on the site of an old packing house. You can expect heavier concentrations from where the potatoes were washed and the water discharged to the ground. Silly thing is that the Walgreens that is on the same piece of land, probably still is loaded unless they did a clean up. That's where the kids go before and after school.

Also right north of the school, is a piece of land that has been used as storage for vehicles and if I remember correctly, it is not grass covered , so when the wind blows south, the dust from that soil lands 3 feet away on the "cleaned up" school yard. I am just sayin'.

Youbetcha' said...

Correction: mid state DOES NOT have similar levels of arnesic.

Anonymous said...

So Homestead's police station and city hall are contaminated with radon. That did not stop Homestead's troglodytes who just passed bonds for renovating a baseball stadium that was in an arsenic potato field to a police station and opening the Seminole Theater which is next to the radon police station. Has anyone done radon inspections on those properties? Will they, how can you have a bond without all costs outlined in advance? If those facilities are contaminated will they have another bond vote?
out of sight has it right, then there are parks built on landfills all over Miami Dade County which is a feel good operation to say look what we did to the contaminated land, go play kids. Now the results are coming in. The thing of it is who is accountable? The government we elect for lack of oversight or contractors who do these things because they can when they are signing checks to the elected. It's a lot cheaper to pay an official than do things right.

Out of sight said...

Homesteads Roscoe warren park IS a land fill complete with gas letting pipes.

Anonymous said...

Off to Alabama with all that contaminated dirt.

Anonymous said...

The school land topsoil was scraped and deposited northwest of the school and yes it blows all over when dry conditions exist.
When its wet the arsenic leeches into the groundwater so its a lose-lose.
The school land has some kind of piping with a turbine on top all over the property.
A nearby park on Palm Drive has the same tubes.
Methane monitoring just like many landfills have is what it looks like.

Anonymous said...

Cover the parks with soccer stadiums and lots of concrete pavers.

outofsight said...

The school has a nature preserve that has a wetland feature, which I am guessing is the hole from which they dug the fill out-of to cover the school grounds. I have not seen the school doing anything over there in the past year, of course, I don't hang out watching the "preserve".

I wonder if the preserve & water in it is now contaminated with run off from the parcels around it.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately we get the democracy we deserve. Will district 8 voters awake?

Anonymous said...

The preserve was cut out from the public school property because it had a population of Indigo snakes, have not heard anything about that in years.

That area had a few Florida Panthers as well between Card Sound and the 18 mile stretch all the way up to Palm and SW 328. Loss of habitat and cars took care of the rest.

Anonymous said...

Hang in there, y'all, Housekeeper Bell's reign of incompetence is almost over.

Anonymous said...

Indifferent to this problem isn't she?

Anonymous said...

Developers Latterner and Rosen deeded the polluted land to the school district. They could not build homes on it without cleaning it up. So they formed a special taxing district called an EFBD.
They took loans to clean it, the result was to move the scraped material across the street. Then in came the Erik Fresen related charter school company who tried to get the land from Latterner and Rosen but the school district under Rudy Crew wanted the site and the EFBD cash that is being collected for 30 years. Funny thing is Fresen was on the EFBD board along with Steve Shiver, Linda Bell and Latterner's daughter, conflict city okay?
The Homestead City Council voted against the Fresen group and the first public school in 40 years was built in Homestead. As always it was about money and politics, the school district will get millions over time.
If anyone knows please reveal who paid the loans used for the cleanup, was it the Latterner or the school district? That issue was a non-starter for the district. The people of Homestead probably paid it off for Latterner and Rosen under the premise of education for the children.

Anonymous said...

@ Youbetcha:

The school is on property that was never farmed. I know - I grew up less than a mile from the site. The "packing house" that you refer to was the machinery shed for James Sottile's South Dade Farms and there were never any agricultural operations conducted there. I don't know where the arsenic came from but it wasn't from processing potatoes. The nearest potato processing facility was in the farmer's market complex in Florida City, northwest of Krome and Palm Drive.

Anonymous said...

Henceforth and forever, Homestead shall be known as Rubestead.

youbetcha' said...

Funny thing. I was told it was a processing facility by someone whose family raised potatoes among other things. I never said anyone farmed there.

I never heard the snake story either.

But the high school (remember?) slated for the eastern-most parcel was never built (between the Audubon wetlands and the large wet lands by Keys Gate), why?

There is an abundance of wild life along that jungle parcel. I have watched hawks or the like, and of course there probably is some other kind of wild life going on there when you see the cars pulled up into the weeds on the east side.

Anonymous said...

The #1 problem with all these Bell posts - the election is in August! Voter turn out will be low. The #2 problem - unless Daniella is going to have only her first name on the ballot, it may be wise to print up Cava bumper stickers. We know the majority of voters won't read more then what they see first. A perfect example is all the crappy bonds & stupid referendums they've passed we are paying for! The #3 (which may be #1) who has the better AB campaign?

I'm not sure a ground game in August is going to work because a lot of people will be out of town. It will in November so maybe the Dem's may want to consider soliciting a third candidate, if there is time, so this race ends up on the November ballot, which will probably have very high turn out. I believe Daniella can win in November without question. August may be a problem though and not necessarily due to apathy.

Anonymous said...

School starts the 18th no? Not a lot of people in district 8 will still be summering at their home in the Hampton's.

BTW the only naturally occurring toxin Bell worries about is the lead in her daughter's service revolver.

Anonymous said...