Saturday, April 25, 2015

SV Date on Politico: How Jeb Bush Schooled The Florida Press and Other Crimes of State ... by gimleteye

Having reported Jeb Bush's terms as governor and written an unauthorized biography, SV Date concludes for Politico that Jeb Bush doesn't like the press and gets things done his own way. It is a good and accurate report about the man who wants to be President and might have been if Lawton Chiles hadn't tripped him up in the 1994 contest for Florida governor. (I've written about that moment and will probably have to write it again to refresh memories. Search my archive at

Of mainstream reporters, SV Date has the deepest insight into Jeb, but to go deeper (press, are you listening?), talk to people on the other side of Jeb's predetermined outcomes. Like environmentalists.

In his Politico article Date does not mention the environment once, or for that matter, any other specific policy arena where Jeb's short-tempered "my way or the highway" bled through. He uses only one -- and that one was on full display to reporters and TV cameras -- the infamous occasion where national TV cameras picked up state leaders Kendrick Meek and Tony Snow staging a sit-in in the governor's office. (They were leading a protest against Jeb's offhand dismissal of equal opportunity.)

While Date's take on Jeb is accurate, it does not give full view of Jeb's operating style as governor.

Jeb was petty and mean-spirited to any who dissented with his policies. Instead of building consensus, he relished divide-and-conquer tactics. That is exactly how Florida's environmental communities experienced Jeb who mostly delegated the dirty work through loyalists like Department of Environmental Protection Secretary David Struhs or his appointees to the state's water management districts.

Journalists can dig into the disaster for the Everglades that Jeb unleashed in 2002, ripping up a water quality agreement by the state and the federal government signed into law in 1994, the Everglades Forever Act, that formed the foundation of Everglades restoration created only a few years earlier by Congress and President Clinton. Journalists have written extensively about the Rose Garden meeting when Jeb signed the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan as the state counterpart to the president because it was the very same day that the US Supreme Court was hearing the Bush v. Gore case. Symmetry works in readers' imaginations.

There has been no attention, so far, to the calamitous result of the Jeb Bush assault of that law scarcely two years later on behalf of Big Sugar allies who had decided they needed more wriggle room because cleaning up their pollution of the Everglades could not meet the 2005 deadline agreed to in 1994. Or, for that matter, how Jeb Bush started the process (finished by Gov. Rick Scott) of destroying growth management rules in Florida, meant to protect the environment from overdevelopment. Nor has attention been paid how Jeb's predetermined "market based environemntalism" was an abject failure.

In 2003, Jeb (with Marco Rubio's help greasing the wheels in the state legislature) cooked up a state law that environmentalists derided as "The Everglades Whenever Act". As an example of divide-and-conquer, he found a state-wide group that wouldn't criticize him in public -- Audubon of Florida -- to back the measure.

Audubon said, at the time: look, 'there is nothing else we can do' and like lambs went to sleep with the lion to come up with a new law that was eventually challenged by (other) environmental groups in federal court, groups amenable to stand in the way of Big Sugar's slash and burn strategy for the Everglades. (Friends of the Everglades, of which I am board president, was the only environmental group suing under the Clean Water Act to challenge this new Bush doctrine. Ten years later, Friends and the Miccosukee Tribe won that battle, resulting in a $980 million dollar settlement that Gov. Rick Scott now takes credit for.)

Compared to Date's observations, this may seem like inside baseball. But it is not.

To really understand Jeb, you have to trace the dictum that applies to all things political in the United States today: follow the money. The money was then and is now in the hands of Big Sugar and Big Agriculture in Florida. What Jeb did to the Everglades is largely getting a free pass by journalists. He is even, in a few cases, getting credit for being an Everglades governor. Journalists need to be more rigorous in their examination of how this policy area reflected the real Jeb Bush: a brittle manager who brooked no dissent. Notably, Jeb is conducting his current primary run for GOP candidate to be president as a new-made man; softer, conservative yet inclusive, careful and thoughtful. That is not who Jeb Bush is.

In other words, to understand what kind of president Jeb Bush would be, don't look at soft areas; schools, student testing criteria, or even race relations. To find Jeb Bush or any other candidate for the highest office in the land, look where the money is. That's not what SV Date does for Politico or even set out to do. For that, readers, and an accurate roadmap to the real Jeb Bush, one is better off starting with Craig Pittman and Matthew Waite's excellent, "Paving Paradise: Florida's Vanishing Wetlands and the Failure of No Net Loss". If you want to learn about the real Jeb Bush, start there. That's where the money is.


Anonymous said...

Gimleteye: Thank You for telling us about Jeb and Rubio and their real feelings regarding the beautiful and treasured Everglades. These two would pave over Yellowstone, Everglades and any other endangered land or national park for money.

geri said...

Don't totally dismiss the soft areas. When the people of Florida voted to limit class size, Jeb ignored the will of the people and did nothing.

It is symptomatic of his attitude about anything he doesn't favor--"screw it, I'll do what I want."

Alexandria said...

Funny how you brought up Audubon. Eric Draper was literally kneeling and doing Jeb the whole tome he was in office. When we were fighting the FPL power plant, 3800 megawatts,900 PSI gas pipeline with no shut off valves for 37 miles, 18.9 Million gallons of diesel stored on site,and Palm Beach Aggregates blasting daily within 200 feet of the plant sitting between and within 1000 feet of the Arthur Marshall (147,000 acres) and the J.W. Corbett (60,388 acres). Eric Draper went before the Cabinet members and stated " There are 100's of Power Plants in the Everglades." What a scumball.

Anonymous said...

Michael Schiavo's letter in the Herald:
Don’t trust Jeb Bush with the power of the presidency
02/09/2015 6:26 PM 02/09/2015 6:26 PM
I was disappointed by Michael Putney’s Feb. 6 Other Views column about the legacy of Jeb Bush (First round goes to Jeb, Feb. 4). Putney writes that it was “doctrinaire liberals” who opposed Bush’s involvement in the tragic case of Terri Schiavo — my then-wife. Who is Putney referring to as the “doctrinaire liberals” who were horrified by the former governor’s intervention in my family’s trauma? The Republican Attorney General Charlie Crist, who refused to take up the governor’s crusade? Republican Senate President Jim King, who fought Bush on passage of “Terri’s Law?” Pinellas County Judge George Greer, a Republican and Southern Baptist, who looked at the evidence of my wife’s case before having his rulings tossed aside by a governor who never met her? Does he mean me, a registered Republican? The truth about Jeb Bush is that he used my wife for his own personal political gain. You don’t have to be a doctrinaire liberal to be angry about that. In fact many conservatives were also horrified by Bush’s zealous intervention. What Bush did was disgraceful and hurtful. He abused the power of government to impose his personal religious beliefs on me and my family. He made life miserable for my family, the doctors and staff at the nursing home, the police — all because he wanted to involve himself in something that both the law and common human decency told him that no government official should have gotten involved in. And every time he should have stopped, he went further: signing unconstitutional laws; sending state law enforcement to seize my wife; using his brother, the president, to get Congress involved; and making me out to be a monster. When his own family came under scrutiny, when his daughter was charged with illegally purchasing Xanax, he pleaded for privacy for his family — privacy that he never considered my family to be worthy of. Jeb Bush had no right to do what he did, and voters should consider what someone who used the power of government to hurt so many would do with the power of the presidency. Not trusting an elected leader who behaved like Jeb Bush doesn’t make you a conservative or a “doctrinaire liberal.” It makes you a compassionate human being.