Saturday, April 25, 2015

Eye on Miami Saturday Editorial: Lynda Bell Voted National Right to Life Chairman of the Board. By Geniusofdespair

The Miami Herald Gave Up Saturday Editorials So Eye on Miami Stepped Up to the Plate!
It this appointment keeps Lynda Bell out of our hair, I congratulate Lynda Bell. I know many of you may disagree on the congratulations but it looks like Geline, the former Chairman of the Board of National Right to Life, needs a rest and Lynda certainly needs something to do. Geline was also the Mayor of Richmond Virginia for 2 years.  I would think that Lynda will have to travel a lot now. She will get to meet my candidate Ted Cruz. It will be fun for her. I wish her well...if she stays out of Florida and doesn't change Roe vs. Wade.

Maybe that is why John Dubois, Palmetto Bay Vice Mayor,  took Lynda and Mark Bell out to dinner earlier in the week? Maybe they were celebrating The National Right to Life Chairmanship post? Dubois does like celebrating with her. When she won the election to the County Commission, years and years ago (4 but it seems like more)...he had the victory party at his home.


OUR TAX DOLLARS AT WORK
A bit of Erosion on the Rickenbacker Causeway - County Planted Tree 

Hobie Beach 2007
You might ask, why did the County plant the trees so close to the water's edge and that would be a good question..

Hobie Beach 2015-  Palm Trees soon to be on their way out to sea.



BAD IDEA OF THE WEEK
Mayor Carlos Gimenez as head of the MDX to make it more transparent. Just ask Herald Columnist Fabiola Santiago what she thinks....
Of all the things Gimenez has brought to county governance, transparency isn’t one of them, vetting projects publicly isn’t one of them, and listening to ordinary people before making high-impact decisions that affect them isn’t one of them.

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 alanfarago.wordpress.com)

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.

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Third District Court of Appeal Decided on Michael Pizzi: Mayor or Not. By Geniusofdespair


Michael Pizzi When He Was Mayor - During the Natacha Seijas Recall

Michael Pizzi is the Mayor of Miami Lakes, according to a decision of the Third District Court of Appeal.  See Oral Arguments below.

President Obama, South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, and FPL Nuclear ... by gimleteye

In great environmental battles -- like the one to determine whether FPL will be the first utility in decades with the permit to build two new nuclear reactors -- there is always a turning point. That turning point may have occurred the other day when a camera caught South Miami Philip Stoddard informing President Obama: if you are really concerned about climate change and protecting Americans, then you can't allow new nuclear reactors -- costing $24 billion -- to be built by FPL in the region of the nation most vulnerable to sea level rise.
South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard with President Obama on Earth Day with a Nuclear Message.
What this photo says is that presidential candidates for 2016 are going to have to take a position on new nuclear at Turkey Point by FPL.

In the late 1990's, when the battle was raging over the fate of the Homestead Air Force Base -- whether Miami-Dade insiders would hijack a military base for private profit -- we never had an iconic image like this, but then we didn't have ubiquitous camera phones, either. Good for Mayor Stoddard and the team fighting FPL both on the new reactors, the high voltage power lines up the US 1 corridor, and the horrendous pollution of FPL's failed cooling canals in its two ancient reactors.

The battle is set between civic activists, environmentalists, and community leaders and one of the nation's leading electric utilities.

Don't forget how FPL -- in the last mayoral campaign in South Miami -- funded a reprehensible personal attack against Mayor Stoddard. Its lobbyists and at-arms-length subcontractors tried to accuse Mayor Stoddard of pedophilia. Gutter politics claims all one must do is allege to cast doubt. It didn't work with voters. FPL tried to walk away from its ugly fruit, but it lost big time and also incurred lasting enmity. Corporations are people, too.

What threatens FPL about Mayor Philip Stoddard is not only that he has a command of science and fact, but he is also a very effective communicator. Between now and 2016, opponents of FPL nuclear power at Turkey Point need to make every single presidential candidate -- in the primaries and in the general election -- take a position on Turkey Point.

No one, though, should shed a tear for FPL if its armor is pierced. The pay of top executives is profit-based, and it will continue to accumulate in private bank accounts to the tune of tens of millions of dollars at ratepayers' expense -- thanks to early cost recovery of the new nuclear it is planning, Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP state legislature. FPL execs will make millions right up to the final annual report after its plans for Turkey Point are cancelled when they'll wash their hands and smile, "That was a profitable fight."

President Obama's Visit. By Geniusofdespair

Let's not forget Pinecrest Mayor Cindy Lerner who was also there. She said: "Glad to see the President in Everglades National Park, to see and hear for himself about the risks we are currently facing from climate change, from potential risks of expanding Turkey Point, and  critical importance of funding Restoration."

Miami Lakes: Oral Arguments for Town Appeal Against Judge Cardonne Ely's Opinion that Michael Pizzi Should Be Mayor. By Geniusofdespair



Watch it on YouTube

It is long but you can move it back and forth. It is very interesting to see what the 3rd District Court of Appeal heard and their comments.

Michael Pizzi said:

My vindication in a court of law automatically requires my return to public service. I look forward to the court’s ruling declaring that the Town must follow the rule of law by allowing me to resume my responsibilities as the rightful Mayor of Miami Lakes.”

Circuit Court Judge Cardonne Ely ruled Michael Pizzi was the rightful mayor of Miami Lakes but gave the Town 30 days to appeal. That 30 days expires April 30th, this video is the oral argument of the appeal (there are also reams of supporting documents to accompany the oral arguments).

Thursday, April 23, 2015

FPL and NRC hearings today … and don't forget: you are paying for this folly because Gov. Rick Scott and the GOP legislature is making you pay … by gimleteye

Yesterday in Everglades National Park, President Obama seemed out of sorts. He had the script and the right points, including the one about the chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, James Inhofe (R-OK), walking to the podium with a snowball from DC Capitol Steps to prove there is no global warming. In the president's defense, it's not as though he doesn't have a hundred distractions even as he mounts the bully pulpit. He has shown his willingness to fight from there -- that's exactly what Theodore Roosevelt did, who the president cited as an example of a Republican leader who embraced the environment. Roosevelt coined the damn term. It was President Obama's to use in the Everglades, but he didn't yesterday in his only trip to the Everglades.

If you think we are too harsh and partisan on this blog, please read this post that shows why we are not.

Bruce Ritchie writes on Florida Politics:
The Florida House on Tuesday voted down bill amendments that would have repealed or scaled back a 2006 state law that allows utilities to charge in advance for nuclear power plants that may never be built.

HB 7109 is a bill that establishes term limits for Public Service Commission members and provides for Duke Energy Florida to issue bonds to cover the $1.4 billion cost for shutting down its Crystal River nuclear plant.

Democrats offered 16 amendments but half were voted down on voice votes or mostly along party lines. Seven amendments were withdrawn and one was ruled out of order.

Since the advanced nuclear cost recovery fee was approved by the Legislature in 2006, the Public Service Commission has approved nearly $1 billion in fees for Duke Energy Florida and more than $700 million for Florida Power & Light Co.

Plus, with sea level rise these nuclear plants approved by Gov. Rick Scott and Ag Secretary Adam Putnam and the GOP led legislature will all be decommissioned nearly as soon as they are built, if they are built.

Please read FIU scientist Pete Harlem's response to Sierra Club representative Jon Ullman's letter, printed recently in The Miami Herald. The response is printed with permission from the writer, who created a map of Florida showing what happens to the state with only 2 degrees centigrade rise in emissions.

Harlem writes, "It's just a question of when, not if, we are going under." The question to ask yourself: once it becomes clear that sea levels are rising rapidly -- we are beginning to see that now at the mangrove fringe in South Florida -- at what point do our elected officials have the guts to say to FPL: stop!

I am not anti-nuclear. I am pro-solar for Florida, pro-distributed energy production to the consumer, and anti-nuclear unless both the facility and the service region for the reactor/s are more than thirty feet elevation from sea level. Let's get moving, indeed.


Well said Jon! (Response to letter to editor below)

As you know the temperature increase caused by emissions is the driver for ocean expansion and ice melt from the poles. Levermann et al. in 2012 set the relationship of 1 degree C equals 2.3m (7.5 ft) of sea level rise commitment. As it is the current goal in the US to keep the temperature anomaly to just plus 2 deg. C, I plotted what that commits us to regarding the ocean rise. See the attached map.

It is imperative that we find radical solutions to the emissions problem as we cannot adapt out of this if we let the temperature rise more than it already has. This will be excessively hard for a country addicted to rampant capitalism to solve. But on the trend we are on South Florida and the Everglades are finite. Its just a question of when, not if, we are going under.

I wish it were not so.
Peter W. Harlem, MS
Geologist--GIS Coordinator
FIU GIS-RS Center and
Southeast Environmental Research Center
----------------------------
On 4/21/2015 9:06 PM, Jonathan Ullman wrote:

South Florida needs to heed the ocean’s rise

President Obama is coming to Everglades National Park on Earth Day to talk about climate change.

His trip couldn’t come at a more critical time. The glaciers are melting faster than anyone could have predicted, and the Everglades and South Florida, just feet above sea level, cannot escape the ocean’s rise. He gets it and is willing to do something about it.

Miami, however, is in denial, as are many of our leaders in this state.

Miami is in the midst of a development frenzy fueled by international speculation and runaway growth policies. Massive condo towers sprout along the coast like weeds.

The Miami-Dade County Commission just passed resolutions about sea-level rise, but banned discussion of what causes it — carbon, because it was too political. In the western Everglades, oil and gas frackers are poised to drill, baby, drill.

Our state, under Gov. Rick Scott, banned the use of the phrase climate change, and our new Secretary of Environmental Protection recently said it’s not clear what impact humans have on it.

The best thing our state could do to slow down the Everglades demise — buying sugar land — is being held up because leaders in Tallahassee have been too busy on Texas hunting trips sponsored by Big Sugar.

Miami’s native son and climate-change skeptic Sen. Marco Rubio said, “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it.”

Those he referred to as “these scientists” represent the 97 percent of climate scientists, who say cutting carbon is the only way to slow down the rate of sea-level rise for the Everglades, Miami, and the hundreds of millions of coastal residents worldwide.

Scott and Rubio should end the denial and support Obama’s efforts to lower carbon.

Can Obama save South Florida?

I don’t know. But when his grandchildren ask him what he did to stop climate change, he will have an answer. And all the Florida officials who say the science isn’t settled and rely on walls and pumps to hold back the world’s oceans, well, they’ll just have to look away in silence.

JONATHAN ULLMAN, SOUTH FLORIDA/EVERGLADES SENIOR ORGANIZING REPRESENTATIVE, SIERRA CLUB, MIAMI

All Aboard Florida and It's Owners: Fortress Hedge Funds. By Geniusofdespair



Watch on YouTube

K.C. Ingram Traylor on All Aboard Florida.  I wrote about the Hedge Fund -- Fortress -- that owns All Aboard Florida in relation to their plans to convert Natural Gas to LNG in Medley.

Not one but two FRACKING bills are going forward tomorrow in the Florida House. By Geniusofdespair

CS/CS/HB 1205 Regulation of Oil and Gas Resources          
CS/CS/HB 1209 Pub. Rec./High-Pressure Well Stimulation Chemical Disclosure Registry

The full House will consider both Fracking bills on Friday with the aim of rolling them over to a third and final reading early next week.  Keep those calls and emails coming!  Calls are best as they’re harder to delete.  Be friendly and brief, but make it clear you are a Florida voter and you don’t want fracking.  When you call your Representative make sure whoever answers the phone knows you live in their District.  Give them your zip code or a landmark they’ll recognize. Get their name.

These bills delay or prevent disclosure of toxic chemicals until after the damage is done.  DEP and FracFocus are not allowed to tell the public what’s being used if the well operator has claimed the ingredients are “proprietary business information” - trade secrets.
 

If a citizen wants to know what chemicals are being used they have to ask DEP.  Then they have to wait while DEP gives the well owner 30 days to file an action in circuit court seeking an order barring disclosure.  Then they have to wait for the well owner to get a court date, and for any continuances, and for any appeals.  The information cannot be released until the legal process is finished.  This means a family cannot find out what chemicals may threaten them until after the chemicals may already be in their water.  If they’re lucky(?) they’ll find out a long while afterwards.

Local governments are preempted from acting to protect the citizens by regulating fracking in their jurisdictions.

The definition of “high pressure well stimulation” excludes activities like the ones at the Collier-Hogan well in 2013-14.  Any time chemicals are injected into the ground that might get into the water supply people in the community have a right to know what they are.

While the bill contains a study (which is a tacit acknowledgment that the State does not have enough information about fracking) there is no provision for a moratorium on the practice until the study is completed.


You can look up your Representative by entering your address at this link for Florida House or better yet, contact them all.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Obama Visits the Everglades for Earth Day Today. By Geniusofdespair

I wasn't invited.


Are Community Redevelopment Agencies a Big Fat Scam? By Geniusofdespair

Also read the Crespogram (Al video-taped the preseentations)
County Commissioner Xavier Suarez made the Keynote Address. Seen here with a member of his staff, Sarah Odio.

The way I see it the County Commission --on occasion --sends Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava back to the drawing board with her proposed legislation ---they didn't send Linda back with her famous FENCE ordinance they just passed it. I think it is a stalling tactic to put off the good work of our new Commissioner who is so polite they are trying not to offend her.  She brought up, at the Economic Prosperity Committee, proposed CRA legislation for future CRA's to prevent their abuse: Namely to focus their mission and make sure the investments go to the communities they are done in and to benefit the residents. I think they sort of...put her off on that one. I was NOT there and I am just offering an opinion. But the money is so often diverted to developers, it is a joke. The community never prospers, they just gentrify the community and hope the disadvantaged move out. They do.

I noticed Mary Cagle, our Inspector General, who has yet to prove herself, was at the Miami Center for Architecture And Design Meeting last night (Sponsored by the Center for Urban and Environmental Solutions (CUES), FAU School of Urban and Regional Planning (SURP), Co-Sponsored by the Urban Environment League of Greater Miami (UEL),“Miami After Dark” Radio Program, WZAB 880AM, and Grand Central).

Cagle was listening as students from CUES outlined CRA mismanagement and the diversion of funds to other projects in the CRA zone, besides the blight they were meant to address. Perhaps Cagle can find some way to sunset CRA's that are running the wrong way like the one in Homestead. When a devastating audit comes in on the CRA, like the one in Homestead, something should be done about it you can't wait for the damn thing to sunset. As Frank Nero said, CRA's were meant for blighted areas, taking money out of General Funds to fix them. The last thing the money is going to is blighted areas. Too much money is coming from general funds for these boondoggles. I think Mary should formulate ideas for stopping this. The commissioners are not going to stop it. I think they are just stalling Daniella Levine Cava. Cagle you have subpoena power: Use it here. Get all these CRA's audited too. As Blogger Al Crespo says: "For those who care about all of this, the revelation that all of these CRA's in the County have a debt commitment of over ONE BILLION DOLLARS before they sunset should ring alarm bells."

Daniella Levine Cava, a speaker at the meeting.
There needs to be a penalty for mismanaged CRA's like....to get rid of them. I spoke to a student on the side,  boy they dont like CRA's very much after their research projects. Maybe now they can help write the fix???

Graduate Students from CLUES
 The Homestead Audit I wrote about in February 2010.

Read the Crespogram report --- same topic. He was there last night video taping.