Monday, September 22, 2014

Climate change march and muted response by mainstream media … by gimleteye

On Sunday, the largest climate change march in history took place in cities around the world. But in the United States, coverage by the mainstream media was tepid.

On NBC Nightly News, before the climate change story, viewers sat through the lead story and what followed: Ray Rice/NFL re-writing personnel conduct policies but very few are satisfied, where's Hannah?/police publicly name a person of interest/"every parents' nightmare", bus flips/40 injured, manhunt for cop killer, ISIS/ the US launched more airstrikes against Iraq. Only then, UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon's "There is no plan B, because there is no Planet B" on the climate change crisis.

In the past year, NBC Nightly News has featured climate change stories frequently -- more along the lines of "the climate change car crash" or "global climate bus flips". So why does the biggest march in history, featuring people not corporations, get buried in the nightly news? The question answers itself.

At 6PM, CNN was worse. The news reader, an attractive brunette not blond, lead off with "5 Questions In The Week Ahead". Climate change, to be featured at the United Nations this week, didn't even make the list. Here's what did: will the world unite against ISIS? Will Obama launch air strikes against ISIS in Syria? Could ISIS release more hostages? Is the Secret Service falling down on the job? Will Ferguson return to the national spotlight?

The media is attracted to random violence like filings to a magnet. The largest climate change march in history? Not so much.

Worst Environmentalist in Florida: Eric Draper of Audubon. By Geniusofdespair

According to the News-Press: "In the wake of Gov. Rick Scott's controversial hunting trip to a ranch in Texas, environmentalists are questioning the governor's appointment of two men associated with the ranch to the South Florida Water Management District's governing board. One of the state's leading environmental groups, however, defends the appointments. Scott's Feb. 15, 2013, hunting trip to King Ranch, which covers 825,000 acres in Texas, has generated publicity because it was partly paid for by the sugar industry — King Ranch owns 20,000 acres in South Florida, 12,500 acres of which is used for sugar cane."

Let Eric Draper  - Head of Audubon -  know what an idiot he is. Audubon, has become a pseudo environmental group, a shell of itself, since Eric became chief.  Why would he support these stupid pals of Scott, entrusting them with our water supply.
Eric Draper
As he did with DeLisi, Audubon's Draper defended Hutchcraft's appointment.
"I not only supported Mitch: I nominated him," Draper said. "The water district has always had somebody who represents the agriculture community on the governing board. When Joe Collins resigned, we wanted somebody we'd worked with and had confidence in. Mitch really fit that bill.
"We'd worked with him on panther habitat conservation and found him to be really approachable, informed and moderate, as agriculture people go. When I've gone to him as a board member to ask him to vote for something, he's typically voted our way."

Eric is such a loser.   Here is what another environmentalist said about him:

When I started coming to this conference 5 years ago, it was for the explicit purpose of confronting Eric Draper, the motherfucker who sold out the Loxahatchee Refuge to FPL and the rock mining mafia. At the time, Draper was the lobbyist for Florida Audubon Society. Today he’s the Executive Director and President of the group. (For shits and giggles, check out this article about Draper flying around in FPL’s private jets with other lobbyists and politicians.)
Over 100 names were blocked out.

Make an investment in the environment: Give to Sierra Club or Friends of the Everglades. I wouldn't give a penny to Audubon. Even before the ouster of Dr. Mark Kraus, they have been a shell of themselves with Draper at the helm, he hasn't helped one bit. All he does is alienate other environmentalists doing his wacky own agenda that no one else agrees with.

Mark Kraus, Ph.D

Note: Gimleteye may not agree with me on this post.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

President Obama's critics on foreign policy are way off-base … by gimleteye

It hasn't been an easy few months for President Obama, with each news cycle bearing new horrors in the Middle East. Some American voters criticize Obama for "lacking direction" in his foreign policy, in particular around the issue of addressing the rise of ISIS. But just hold on. Look at this diagram, showing the hairball of conflicting relationships in the Mid East, and you come up with a reason we should be marching back into war.
If you click on this interactive link, the diagram comes alive.

The limits of American power are blazingly clear. Since the early 20th century, our relationships in the Arab world have been designed to maintain our oasis of calm at home -- propping up dictators or despots as they fit into the needs of Western, developed nations for oil.

The 9/11 terrorists -- mostly from Saudi Arabia -- used box cutters to commandeer passenger jets and take down targets on US soil. Theirs was the most successful demonstration of asymmetrical warfare in modern times. ISIS, with its media-savvy beheadings, aims in the same direction.

From the Intercept: "There are many reasons the U.S. shouldn’t go to war with the Islamic State — and the best one may be because that is exactly what they want us to do. A growing number of people I consider experts in the field believe that the recent beheadings of two American journalists and a British aid worker were deliberate acts of provocation, and that ISIS is not just hoping for an American overreaction, but depending on it — perhaps even for its own survival…

Ali Soufan, the former FBI agent who was one of the few heroes of modern American counter-terrorism, tells Mehdi Hasan of the Huffington Post UK:

They are trying to suck the west into the war with them…. Then they’ll be not only the regional bad boy, but also the bad boy for the global jihadi movement. They can then claim they are in an international war – a modern day Crusade – against all the countries coming to fight them.

What good would that do? According to Soufan:

[The Islamic State is] fearful of Islamists within [their movement] turning against them…. They want to fight the British and the Americans… to unify the extremists within and diminish any kind of meaningful threat within their support base. They are not fearful of secular or moderate people."

The bottom line: in this global village, the best way to protect Americans is through energy independence from fossil fuels. If Arab leaders can't maintain control of their own populations and societies, some form of equilibrium -- without the U.S. -- will eventually re-establish in their place. ISIS, representing extremist, sectarian Islamic struggles, should be fought by Arabs and -- so long as criminal brutalities characterize their movement -- by whatever covert activities that can be organized under Western control.

In the meantime, critics on the Hill and on the Fox News idiot sets ought to cut President Obama some slack. Not Lindsay Graham, John McCain, John Boehner or Mitch McConnell could do any better. To the contrary, there is every reason to fear the results of a November election cycle that return Congress -- and especially the U.S. Senate -- to hard line, Republican extremists.

Urban Environment League Annual Meeting 9/30 - All Invited. By Geniusofdespair

I go to this function every year. The Urban Environment League is a very quiet group, founded by architects in the 1990's, that packs a wallop on City of Miami and Miami Dade County planning  -- supporting good projects and critical of the bad.  Go to the meeting of this good government group. It is always a great event. They need volunteers to help: Contact  Daniella Levine Cava is the featured speaker.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Miami Herald, Tom Fiedler, and Original Sin … by gimleteye

Matt Bai writes a terrific cover story for the New York Times Sunday Magazine, tracking back to the implosion of Democratic front-runner Gary Hart in 1987 ("How Gary Hart's Downfall Forever Changes American Politics, Sept. 18 2014"). Hart was undone by a Miami Herald 7,000 word expose by lead writer Tom Fiedler.

I recall the moment well. Bai brings some fuzzy memories into sharp and excruciating focus. Hart is no longer the virile, handsome candidate who couldn't keep his hands to himself, on the party boat "Monkey Business". We need reminding, too, from the perspective of history before the true record of what happened defaults to the last lines written.

For me, there was one piece of the Hart affair with Donna Rice that was integral to his downfall: his challenge to the media to "follow him around". Although the point is peripheral to the main story, Bai discloses new information that really jumps out.

Hart's pride-that-goes-before-the-fall is a key part of the 1987 Herald bombshell and of the role of Fiedler, a better political OPED writer than editor of the Herald. (Fielder lead the Herald campaign for a downtown baseball stadium that eventually materialized -- long after he left Miami -- as the worst decision in baseball history.)

It turns out that I -- along with countless other observers -- was mistaken by the Herald and Fiedler. Hart made his infamous dare, not to the Herald, but to E.J. Dionne Jr., then the chief political writer at the NY Times.
Soon enough, as The Herald would put it in their longer reconstruction a week later, Gary Hart would be seen as “the gifted hero who had taunted the press to ‘follow me around.’ ” Everyone would know that Hart had goaded the press into hiding outside his townhouse and tracking his movements. So what if The Herald reporters hadn’t even known about it when they put Hart under surveillance? Hart’s quote appeared to justify The Herald’s extraordinary investigation, and that’s all that mattered.

The difference here is far more than a technicality. Even when insiders and historians recall the Hart episode now, they recall it the same way: Hart issued his infamous challenge to reporters, telling them to follow him around if they didn’t believe him, and then The Herald took him up on it. Inexplicably, people believe, Hart set his own trap and then allowed himself to become ensnared in it. (When I spoke to Dana Weems, she repeatedly insisted to me that she had only called The Herald after reading Hart’s “follow me around” quote, which was obviously impossible.)

And this version of events conveniently enabled The Herald’s reporters and editors to completely sidestep some important and uncomfortable questions. As long as it was Hart, and not The Herald, who set the whole thing in motion, then it was he and not they who suddenly moved the boundaries between private and political lives. They never had to grapple with the complex issues of why Hart was subject to a kind of invasive, personal scrutiny no major candidate before him had endured, or to consider where that shift in the political culture had led us. Hart had, after all, given the media no choice in the matter.

I had a chance to talk to Fiedler about this over lunch one day in the spring of 2013. We ate at a French restaurant near the campus of Boston University, where Fiedler, who went on to run The Herald before his retirement, was now installed as dean of the College of Communication.

Fiedler explained to me that while he knew no political reporter had ever undertaken this kind of surveillance on a presidential candidate or written an article about a possible extramarital affair, he had never doubted that Hart’s liaison with Rice, if it could be proved, was a legitimate story. Fielder’s view — a view shared by a lot of his younger colleagues and informed, no doubt, by the lingering ghosts of Nixon — was that it wasn’t a reporter’s job to decide which aspects of a candidate’s character were germane to the campaign and which weren’t. It was the job of reporters to vet potential presidents by offering up as detailed a dossier about that person as they could assemble, and it was the voters’ job to rule on relevance, one way or the other.

Fiedler readily acknowledged that the order of events pertaining to the “follow me around” quote had since become jumbled in the public mind, and his expression was genuinely regretful. He mostly blamed the way the TV news programs that weekend juxtaposed The Herald’s reporting with the quote from The Times Magazine, as if one had led to the other. That had really been the beginning of the myth, he said, and from that time on, people were confused about which came first — “follow me around” or The Herald investigation. When I asked why he had never tried to correct the record, Fiedler shrugged sadly. “I don’t know what I would need to do,” he said.

If Nixon’s resignation created the character culture in American politics, then Hart’s undoing marked the moment when political reporters ceased to care about almost anything else.

Then I mentioned to Fiedler that I had done a web search on his name recently and been sent to his biographical page on the B.U. website. And this is what it said: “In 1987, after presidential hopeful Gary Hart told journalists asking about marital infidelity to follow him around, Fiedler and other Herald reporters took him up on the challenge and exposed Hart’s campaign-killing affair with a Miami model.” Why did his own web page explicitly repeat something he knew to be untrue?

Fiedler recoiled in his seat and winced. He looked mortified. “You know what?” he said. “I didn’t know that. Honestly. I’m serious.” He stared at me for another beat, stunned. “Wow.” I knew he meant it. I was surprised to find that for more than a year afterward — until just last month — Fiedler hadn’t changed a word.

Why isn't this a trifling detail?

A decade earlier, the Washington Post set the gold standard for investigating political malfeasance when its ace reporters, Berstein and Woodward, disclosed Watergate. The Hart saga, at the time, was a curious alteration of the meme.

Call it the commodification of the personal and political sphere.

The Fourth Estate has always sought the "gotcha moment" to frame stories and attract readers. In that sense, there is nothing new about the Herald accepting and delivering on the challenge to reveal the most enticing news about a man who would be president in the competitive spirit of besting the photo of Michael Dukakis wearing the bizarre pilot's helmut in a military tank or, later, Howard Dean's hee-haw moment. They brought it on themselves.

Allowing the mythology to persist that the Herald was only rising to bait that Hart had cast himself to the Herald, the newspaper fell into its own commodification trap. Bai doesn't go there, in his excellent New York Times report, but his disclosure about the Herald and Fiedler points us in the direction.

Miami Sea Level Rise Video. By Geniusofdespair

Friday, September 19, 2014

Keys Gate Has No Key...Guest Blog by Tired of Being Locked Out.

 This is the continuing SAGA of the DRI gone bad in Homestead.  Read the  earlier 2 posts.

I would like to share with you some key points that were discussed at the Keys Landings Meeting on September 18, 2014. The meeting started at 7:00 pm and ended at 8:10 pm.

The homeowners are being bullied by the Master Association into accepting Mr. Wayne Rosen's plans for the golf course and new amenities; which would be financed by an increase of dues of a minimum of $43.00 dollars a month based on what North Gate is paying for their Clubhouse and Pool.

There was nobody representing Mr. Rosen or the Master Association which is controlled by the Latterner family. The meeting was ran by our  ONLY Delegate.

The problem the homeowners have with Mr. Rosen's Plan is the following:

1. There are no plans being shared with the membership; No Artistic Drawings of Amenities and No plans of the new design of the golf course showing location and types of New Homes.
2. There are no defined amenities being discussed.
3. The membership is being threaten to agree in theory to the new amenities or Mr. Rosen will build up to 3,000 homes instead of 900 homes. In Theory -- due to the membership having no real say due to the fact that the POA has never been turned over to the residents.
4. The amenities as far as we know will not be on land that belongs to the POA which increases the cost to the membership.
5. The Keys Landing Membership voted No to the new amenities by a show of hands.
6. The Keys Landing Membership make it clear that any new amenities added should be an option to join; this is the current policy for Keys Gate Residents to pay up to $800.00 a year to use North Gate's Clubhouse and Pool.
7. The Golf Course is losing money due to poor management. There is no reinvestment and there is a total lack of  maintenance; poor greens and cow pasture fairways.

The main problem that The Keys Landing Membership has, is the Latterner family has never turned over the communities after build-out of that community; they have maintained control from my understanding for the past 25 years or longer since North Gate and Center Gate were built. 

A Keys Gate Aside:
The Securities and Exchange Commission filed an emergency action charging that a deceased Florida man who once served as President of the South Florida AARP had been running an offshore Ponzi scheme that took in at least $4.6 million from dozens of investors.  In a complaint filed last week, the Commission alleged that Joseph Laurer, a/k/a Dr. Josef V. Laurer, ran the scheme through a company he controlled in the Turks and Caicos until his death on May 15, 2014. 

Laurer was a resident of Homestead, Florida, where he was a member of the City of Homestead's General Employee Pension Board (appointed by Steve Bateman) and he ran Former Mayor Bateman's strong Mayor PAC. Keys Gate has a monthly newsletter. The financial expert chosen by Keys Gate to write investment advice was  - You Guessed It - Dr. Josef V. Laurer.

Genius said: A DRI is so big it is deemed to have impact on our 3 counties: Monroe, Miami Dade County and Broward County. Once they approve it the Regional Planning Council should see that it is working.  Someone needs to bring this DRI before the council of the 3 counties. It has to be fixed as it is impacting the quality of life of these residents. Promises have not been kept.  County Commissioners Jean Monestime,  Xavier Suarez and Juan Zapata are on the Council as are 16 others.

New Strange Magazine in South Forida: "Executive". By Geniusofdespair

Don't quite understand this new glossy magazine, who it is geared for? Is it just a vehicle for wishful thinking and ego building?

The cover type was: "Legends 2014".  Here are their picks for legends:
Ron Bergeron, Alicia Cervera Sr., Burton Landy, David Lawrence, Jr., Stanley Tate and Monty Trainer.
They had a 9 page pictorial article on Ron Bergeron...torture. We have a lot to say about him too. None of it good.

Ron Bergeron
 Monty Trainer?  Wasn't he in jail?  How did they pick these legends? With Cervera, she had ads, so that makes the choice of Alicia Cervera easy to figure out. I guess the criteria will never be clear to me on the choice of the others but I suspect money is involed . Stanley Tate was pictured with every Republican known to man including Ted Cruz.

Perry Ellis International said that they wish to congratulate these business legends "For their dedication to building a better community and entrepreneurial spirit." Barf.  Anyway, I won't be reading this magazine again. Ron Mann is the publisher. (Here is a file photo of Bergeron's Hummer.)

Another example why a vote for Gov. Rick Scott is a vote for disaster: the Florida Public Service Commission … by gimleteye

Yesterday Gov. Rick Scott appointed state representative Jimmy Patronis to the Public Service Commission, where he will receive a $131,036 salary despite having no qualifications for the work supervising Florida's massive electric utilities. Well actually Patronis does have one qualification: he took on the leadership of running anti-environmental bills through the legislature.

Patronis is also Florida chairman of ALEC: the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC has served has a shadow government, promoting bills that are devised in Washington DC conservative think tanks and cut and pasted into Republican led state legislatures across the country.

Here is just one example how screwed up the extremist conservative GOP is; using the example of Patronis. One of the key tenets of the Florida GOP -- and one that took flight when Jeb Bush became governor -- was strengthening local county and municipal government by eliminating government decision making at the state level. For example, land use planning was seen by the radicals as a "take-over" by the state of a function that properly belonged to local communities.

In Miami-Dade, county commissioners decided in the early 1990's -- in a very controversial vote -- to add the provision that changes to local land use maps could be subject to a supermajority vote and not a simple majority of the county commission. (I know, because I was a leader on the civic engagement side of that battle.)

The developers and their lobbyists -- including the Latin Builders Association -- hated the measure. (Javier Souto cast the deciding vote.) In fact and spirit, adding a higher level of protection against big zoning changes at the local level is consistent with conservative values.

Except … except that Representative Jimmy Patronis introduced a bill in the state legislature, during the last session, to prohibit local counties and municipalities from requiring super-majority votes. To understand how cynical this is, just take one further step to understand that GOP legislators supported the supermajority requirement to change the Florida constitution.

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board wrote today: "To make sure the game remains rigged against ratepayers, Scott appointed to the PSC Republican Rep. Jimmy Patronis of Panama City, who has no utility experience and has never seen a wetland that could not be drained and paved over by a developer. No current legislator is more hostile to environmental regulation and friendlier to industry and agricultural interests. His legislative record suggests he will be just as friendly to utilities as a PSC member."

Cronyism is not just alive and well in Florida Republican politics, it dominates. That's the message from Gov. Rick Scott who wants four more years to inflict his cronyism and insider-dealing on Florida voters and taxpayers. Enough, already. (For more on Patronis, type his name in the search bar on our blog.)

Gov. Rick Scott appoints lawmaker to Public Service Commission
09/18/2014 3:40 PM 09/18/2014 8:40 PM

Four years after the state Senate rejected two of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointees to the Public Service Commission because they had no industry experience, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed state Rep. Jimmy Patronis to the same board, even though he, too, has no industry experience.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

FPL in hot water … by gimleteye

Turkey Point's 168 Mile Cooling Canal System
When I am reincarnated, I want to be an electric utility in the United States. Say, Florida Power and Light.

This might seem quixotic, but hear me out. In the United States, corporations are people and that is the will of the land. Or the US Supreme Court. There is nothing anyone can do about it.

So if I am reincarnated, I would be a powerful person in the form of FPL.

I would fly on my private jets. I would surround myself with other corporations as people, or even people themselves so long as those people kept in cars and their miracle-gro suburbs. I would get whatever I wanted, because that is what FPL gets now.

I would write laws to enrich myself. As FPL does.

I would pay lip service to my ratepayers. As FPL does.

I would pay lobbyists and attorneys a lot of money, because a lot of money is what I earn from provisions in law and energy policies in Florida that I promoted and passed with the help of legislators who campaigns I supported.

For example: "early cost recovery" allowing me to make hundreds of millions on nuclear plants whether they are built or not.

I would stifle innovations in distributed solar power in Florida, my home state, because -- well -- I build wind farms in New Mexico. If I build wind turbines, I'm OK. You OK with that?

Down there in Homestead I have a thorny little problem with a couple of nuclear reactors. I built them in the early 1970s over the objection of those damn environmentalists who objected to cooling water being sucked from and returned to waters of the adjacent national park. Used to be pristine. Not so much any more.

I've been able to do whatever the fuck I want, mostly, on the 11,000 acres protected by barbed wire in the American tropics. I have a nice PR campaign built around my concern for the American crocodile that nests in those cooling canals I built to satisfy the enviros.

Cooling Canals: 104 Degrees
Only problem is that the cooling canals aren't cooling. The water temperature is soaring to 104 degrees which would be enough to put me and you in the hospital.

So I this week I went back to friends in Miami-Dade government who have given me everything I ever wanted. Zoning changes. Got 'em. Special use permits. Ditto.

And imagine what happened! One of them -- one of those county commissioners -- wagged his finger at me! Didn't object but dared to question me when I asked for 14 million gallons of fresh water a day that is promised to the Everglades for restoration. I need that water to get my temperature down.

It is not just the hot water I'm in. The water in my cooling canals is also twice the background salinity of everything that supports life in the national park and is percolating through the aquifer where everybody but me drinks water. Dead crocodiles.

And those wealthy residents on Key Largo are noticing that the bay bottom has turned to desert. All the cormorants in the Arsnecker Keys are gone. The place is a wasteland, but I've figured out how to minimize the number of monitoring wells in the bay so no one can really say what is happening.

I'm FPL. I do what I want.

I want your water. I'll take it if I have to, and there's nothing you can do to stop me.

Homestead Golf Course Meeting Tonight: Is It a DRI Run Amok That Is the Real Problem? By Geniusofdespair

What happened at Tonight's meeting?  Give us a report. What did Lynda Bell's Biggest Supporter Wayne Rosen do?

I think this is not about the golf course, our readers are on target in their comments on our 9/15 guest post:
Outofsight said: The story that has not been written as yet is how a developer's family and his friends can hold thousands of Homestead residents hostage using Florida laws and by the aid of the elected officials.

By not turning over the homeowner associations to independent status, the Latterner family collects money from each homeowner for services, however allows them no final input into the amount collected, the services provided and which companies provide the services. Any sane business would have fired their yard men when they were found to be doing break-ins. The community associations did not have that privilege.

The "Master Association" determines how each homeowner association budget is spent and holds private meetings to deliberate with the sole delegate representing their community. This association has "delegates" that basically get pushed around and then end-up going back to their individual communities to give them the latest bad news. The Master Association is NOT our friend.

Somewhere, there are personal rights being trampled on and there should be an investigation into the stranglehold on the Keys Gate Community.

It would interesting to know what happened to the Shores Clubhouse. The commitment made to homeowners certainly was a breech of contract.

I foresee the general Keys Gate population either losing its common areas (and the rate) or getting new ones that result in their cost-sharing at a higher rate the upkeep of Rosen's community center for his new homes.
The golf course is NOT the issue, people. Thats a diversion. the 19 million dollars in fee waivers and the permit to over build are the issues. No wonder he is able to do what he does. 
After each neighborhood is built the developer should relinquish control to the Condo association of homeowners. This is not happening.  The DRI (Development of Regional Impact) has a flaw that must be fixed. The State and County should fix it and enforce the promises made to the Homeowners about a beautiful golf course. If the Latterner's don't maintain it, they should hand it over to the homeowners. You don't hold on to a community forever developers!!

P.S. A DRI is so big it is deemed to have impact on our 3 counties: Monroe, Miami Dade County and Broward County. Once they approve it the Regional Planning Council should see that it is working.  Someone needs to bring this DRI before the council of the 3 counties. County Commissioners Jean Monestime,  Xavier Suarez and Juan Zapata are on the Council as are 16 others.