Tuesday, June 30, 2015

A Sulfurous Smell from Tallahassee ... by gimleteye

The sulfurous smell from Tallahassee is not the stink of dying Everglades. It is the scent of a corrupted democracy. After this recent session of the legislature, no one should sit on their hands. The theft of Amendment 1 funding demands a response. In a recent OPED, former Martin County commissioner and longtime Miami-Dade observer, Maggie Hurchalla, writes in the Treasure Coast Palm:
A Senate committee invited residents to tell them how to spend the more than $700 million that Amendment 1 required them to put back into the trust fund — and 1,800 people said “Buy land!” Only 26 people said “Don’t buy land!” The Legislature paid no attention. They put $200 million into existing commitments — the old Lottery switcheroo. They put $10 million into “historic preservation.” I’m still trying to figure out how renovating the house where Ma Barker was shot protects our water and land legacy. They put just $17 million into Florida Forever. They got more than $700 million this year. When they were through, they had spent less on the environment than they did the year before.

Can they get away with it? Yes, if we let them. The only certain remedy is to hold our elected representatives accountable. We are still a democracy. There are more of us than there are of them. You don’t have to vote against every politician who served in this dysfunctional Legislature. You don’t have to threaten to leave them in an alligator-infested swamp if they don’t do right by the alligators. You do have to talk to them and see if they are salvageable."
"Talk and see"? The power of voters to change outcomes in Florida needs to be mobilized.

Maggy Hurchalla: Lawmakers ignored will of voters when spending Amendment 1 funds
3:11 AM, Jun 28, 2015
Treasure Coast Palm




In 2009, the Florida legislature responded to the recession by raiding the Florida Forever Trust Fund. Lawmakers said they had to do it because they had based their financial planning on the assumption the housing bubble would go on forever. They were caught with their financial pants down when the bubble burst.

Florida Forever was the best conservation land acquisition program in the country. Former Gov. Reuben Askew started it in 1972 with the Environmentally Endangered Lands Program. It changed names over the years, but continued to have bipartisan support. From 1999 to 2009, we spent $300 million a year buying beautiful wilderness.

If you’ve used Florida’s state parks, you’ve appreciated the awe and wonder of what we acquired for ourselves and our grandchildren. If
you’ve paid taxes in Florida, you’ve reaped dividends from buying lands that shouldn’t be developed and using it for recreation. If you
believe strongly in private property rights, you can be proud that we have paid willing sellers fair market value so we can all benefit from what wet, wild places provide.

In Martin County, the Savannas, beach access, Seabranch, Atlantic
Ridge, Halpatiokee, Allapattah and large parts of Palmar were
purchased under Florida’s land buying programs. We went through the
exercise a few years ago of seeing if we didn’t need any of it. The
public reaction to selling off those public lands was a resounding
“No!”

Try to imagine how sick the river would be if all those places had
been drained and developed. The Legislature didn’t put money back in
the trust fund when the economy improved. In Martin County, we are
acutely aware that we do need to acquire more public land. If we don’t
buy the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan lands that are
needed to clean up our watershed, if we don’t buy land south of Lake
Okeechobee, we lose our river and the world loses Everglades National
Park.

All around Florida, folks realized that without public land
acquisition we would lose our springs, rivers and beaches. Florida’s
Water and Land Legacy amendment was created to put the Florida Forever
Trust in our constitution so they couldn’t steal it again.

Seventy-five percent of Florida voters voted for Amendment 1.
Legislative leaders opposed the amendment. The Florida Chamber of
Commerce advertised: “VOTE NO!” They said it would force the
government to take control of more land.

A Senate committee invited residents to tell them how to spend the
more than $700 million that Amendment 1 required them to put back into
the trust fund — and 1,800 people said “Buy land!” Only 26 people said
“Don’t buy land!”

The Legislature paid no attention. They put $200 million into existing
commitments — the old Lottery switcheroo. They put $10 million into
“historic preservation.” I’m still trying to figure out how renovating
the house where Ma Barker was shot protects our water and land legacy.

They put just $17 million into Florida Forever.

They got more than $700 million this year. When they were through,
they had spent less on the environment than they did the year before.

Can they get away with it? Yes, if we let them.

The only certain remedy is to hold our elected representatives
accountable. We are still a democracy. There are more of us than there
are of them.

You don’t have to vote against every politician who served in this
dysfunctional Legislature. You don’t have to threaten to leave them in
an alligator-infested swamp if they don’t do right by the alligators.
You do have to talk to them and see if they are salvageable.

Don’t listen to excuses. Ask what they are going to do to make it
right next year. If they don’t know what’s right, find someone decent,
honest and intelligent to run against them.

Maggy Hurchalla is a former Martin County commissioner and resident of
Rocky Point.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

March 12, 2015
Dr. Thomas Van Lent
Everglades Foundation
18001 Old Cutler Road, Suite 625 Palmetto Bay, Florida 33157

Daniel O’Keefe
Chair, Governing Board
South Florida Water Management District 3301 Gun Club Road
West Palm Beach, Florida 33406

Mr. O’Keefe,

As elected leaders and water managers deliberate the importance of Everglades restoration projects that store and treat water, we as members of the Everglades scientific community write to you today to share with you the enclosed petition from Everglades scientists
This petition, which is signed by 207 well-respected members of the Everglades scientific community, seeks to affirm that increased storage and treatment of fresh water south of Lake Okeechobee, and additional flow from the lake southward, are essential to restoration.
The signers of the petition agree that this additional storage and treatment south of Lake Okeechobee is essential to mending the current condition of the Everglades, Florida Bay, and the Caloosahatchee and St. Lucie estuaries.
This matter is of the utmost importance this Legislative Session, and we hope that this petition is helpful in lending a scientific opinion in support of more storage and treatment south of the lake.

Respectfully,
Dr. Thomas Van Lent, hydrologist with the Everglades Foundation
Dr. Thomas Lodge, ecologist and author of "The Everglades Handbook"
Dr. Christopher McVoy, soil scientist and lead author of "Landscapes and Hydrology of the Predrainage Everglades"

Malagodi said...

"You don’t have to threaten to leave them in
an alligator-infested swamp if they don’t do right by the alligators."

Well, actually, you do. And you have to mean it.

Why? Because there is no real downside to losing an election. There is always an industry job waiting for those who know which buttons to push; where the levers of the economy are.

If elections have consequences for the poor and working class, then losing an election should also have consequences for the ousted.

Anonymous said...

Amen. Throw the fuckers back into the private sector.

Anonymous said...

207 scientists ignored..Sooooooooo sad!!!!