The King Ranch, US Sugar flew its GOP guests on private jets there (free from TSA inspectors), is filled with native and exotic species for big game hunters. FPL in South Dade boasts endangered species -- or did before a deadly toxic algae outbreak clogged its cooling canals.
The one is a piece of the old American West. The other is coated with such high levels of salt that its native plant life has disappeared. If you are an ordinary taxpayer and voter, you can't visit either unless by special invitation. Both are emblematic of apex, crony capitalism.
FPL and US Sugar are in different businesses but share this goal: to make as much money as possible for themselves while shifting costs of pollution to the public. In the case of Florida sugar producers, the business model involves insuring government regulation nominally addresses pollution control measures. The same applies to FPL executives at Turkey Point. In the first case it is excess fertilizer that kills the downstream Everglades and sulfate run-off that contributes to form the most toxic form of mercury known to mankind. In the case of FPL it is hyper saline water flowing from underneath its failed cooling canal system.
US Sugar and its chief competitor, Florida Crystals, excel at the various forms of crony capitalism that require secrecy -- like shipping out successive generations of GOP leadership to exclusive hunting retreats, spas, or foreign getaways on Gulfstream IVs. FPL requires secrecy, too.
FPL's new plan to shift the costs of pollution by changing the way the state of Florida reviews and supervises Turkey Point nuclear was conceived in secrecy, despite scientists and agency staff who have met regularly for years in a technical working group concerned with water quality and Biscayne National Park. The same secrecy applies for its environmental review for two new nuclear plants, that could make Turkey Point the largest nuclear generator of electricity in the US in a region that is most vulnerable to climate change and sea level rise.
One way to measure the powerlessness of voters in the face of crony capitalism is to consider how FPL and Turkey Point have scarcely risen as issues in the hotly contested campaign for county commissioner in the area of South Dade most affected by FPL's pollution fiasco. The Homestead business community -- the same way it did for the plan to make the former air force base a major commercial airport -- has lined up in support of the new nuclear reactors while completely ignoring the salt water front moving underground toward population centers and drinking water wells.
District 8 county commissioner Lynda Bell doesn't believe in regulation of the environment. She actually said that people shouldn't worry about arsenic in drinking water because it is everywhere. She is the candidate of crony capitalists, but the same could be said of all the incumbents routinely returned to office by voters.
This election cycle could be different, but only if voters pay attention.