Friday, March 06, 2015

Help send a message to the state legislature: support the buyout of FECI properties and create Ludlam Trail the way residents want … by gimleteye

If you have time and interest this weekend, check out efforts by citizens, civic activists and land use planners to create a unique linear park in one of the most under-served areas of the county. Their plan depends on cooperation by one of America's biggest hedge funds, Fortress Capital whose top shareholders will never fume, stuck in rush hour traffic on Bird Road, or Coral Way, or Kendall Drive.

Fortress is the owner of FECI (Florida East Coast Industries, Inc.) with plans to turn long-dormant properties into the same sprawl quagmire that defines the ring suburbs of Miami-Dade.

Note the family picnic this weekend at AD Barnes Park and the Monday, March 9th charrette meeting at South Miami High School at 6PM.

Residents -- taxpayers, too -- are hoping that the state legislature will understand the importance of investing for citizens by buying out the entire Ludlam Trail property. E-N-T-I-R-E. Message to state legislators? Do something good for a change.

The Iranians and Chinese Interpret THE AMERICAN DREAM for Miami and it is The Largest Shopping Center in the U.S. with a Theme Park. By Geniusofdespair


Site of the American Dream Project in Red - Not Far From the Everglades
It was recently put inside the UDB line. I am pretty sure Julio Robaina owns some of this land.

Now the Chinese is from the Chairman of Triple 5. It says "You dummies in Miami will buy into anything." The Miami Herald says the company is owned by Iranians but there is plenty of Chinese on their site. Chinese funding?

Triple Five Worldwide Ventures wants to build the world's largest shopping center in North West Dade County. It will even have a ski slope. They are going to call it the American Dream. They already had planned an American Dream (in 2003) for the New York area. I guess that didn't work out so well. It started out as Xanadu and morphed into American Dream.

Get out of here China, and stay out. You don't know what we want and don't try to disguise that you are not a Chinese Company by using a Canadian address. Or Iranian take your pick. I think the Chinese are well invested in this conglomerate of companies.

It looks like this project has Mayor Gimenez's eyes popping out of his head:
Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez on Thursday called the planned theme park the largest economic-development project in the county’s history.

Read more here:

New York Area American Dream project seems mighty like the Miami Project (recycle?).

They even used some of the same photos.  This one was on the New York and Miami brochure:

We have something so much more -- Creepy People from Triple 5 -- The Everglades, our white sandy beaches, our boating and swimming 365 days a year in our blue-green water. Why do we need all this other crap and the biggest Mall in the Nation? There is winter for the current holder of the largest mall, Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. They NEED A SHITTY BIG MALL. They don't have our environment and we already have the 5th largest mall in the USA, Aventura Mall (sans waterpark).

I guess Moss's Miami Wilds will be moot if this stupid venture goes through.  I hate to tell you 'shopping theme park developers' that Amazon will do you in shortly and Miami folks can't afford your ski slope and tourists don't come here to ski.
 Xanadu/American Dream in NY Area:

Love the Christie quote.
 Note to Mayor Gimenez: SLOW DOWN. TAKE A BREATH. If you can't attract businesses with real jobs, do nothing for the next year and you might get reelected.

In 2005 it was known as:
Triple Five China Venture Limited

Chinese version of the page above this.

I think this is a Chinese funded Company that doesn't want the anger of all the 'PATRIOTS' in Florida so they say they are Canadians and their headquarters are in New Jersey. It is the same as the Malaysian Company, Genting, that has headquarters in NYC. Patriots: are you going to let China take over all the U.S. malls? How un-American can you get?

See The Traveling Tuskegee Exhibit this Weekend

Tuskegee Airman, Leo Gray is expected at the museum Saturday afternoon and for a while on Sunday.

Thursday, March 05, 2015

Michael Grunwald on Jeb Bush and the Everglades … by gimleteye

As an environmental leader when Jeb Bush was governor, my observation is that Mike Grunwald's key point about Jeb Bush is diluted in his analysis: that Jeb Bush does not tolerate dissent, that his decisions on the environment while governor were based on pre-determined conclusions and -- whether he was fully informed by experts or not -- the net result is that the Everglades are still dying.

The notion that Jeb has "evolved" from the orthodox, conservative GOP beacon needs to be filtered through what Jeb actually did and didn't do during his two terms as Florida governor. For example, although Jeb has said he would govern "like LBJ" if elected president, there is nothing in his record on the environment and the Everglades to indicate that Jeb is inclined to bridging differences of opinion.

For example, in the Politico article, one of Jeb's top lieutenants, water management district chief Henry Dean is quoted, "“There was so much nitpicking and distrust, when all Jeb wanted was to restore the Everglades as quickly as possible,” says Henry Dean, a top water management official under Bush. “You know, we gave it our best shot.”

Let me recount some relevant history. At a meeting with Dean and environmental leaders in 2001, the agenda included additional water storage for water cleansing marshes in the Everglades Agricultural Area. Those marshes could, if sized adequately, prevent the destruction of rivers flowing to both Florida coasts through excess pollution by Big Sugar.

The reason for highlighting this issue, now, is that it is at the center of a boiling controversy as the Florida legislature begins its 2015 session in Tallahassee: whether or not to proceed with the option to purchase significant acreage offered to the state by US Sugar in 2010.

What attendees of the meeting asked for, in 2001, was for Jeb Bush's top lieutenant to give a timetable for providing an alternative to the pie-in-the-sky technology called aquifer storage and recovery (ASR). ASR has been and continues to be a very expensive work-around of taking land from sugarcane in order to "store" fresh water in massive quantities for later use in irrigation or, it is hoped, for environmental purposes.

Dean assured meeting participants that the District would perform the alternative analysis, and he never did. He never did, because his boss -- Jeb Bush -- took his signal from Big Sugar. Period. Later, Dean would take a consulting job with the most prominent of the politically influential sugar billionaires, the Fanjuls of Coral Gables and Palm Beach. End of story.

So when Henry Dean says, "we gave it our best shot"; really? "All Jeb wanted to do was restore the Everglades as quickly as possible"; really? And "there was so much nitpicking and distrust"? The entire original $6.8 billion dollar federal/state plan to restore the Everglades, where Mike Grunwald begins his report, depended on aquifer storage and recovery. How is that, "nitpicking"?

Mr. Dean is flat out covering for the laws of intended consequences.

The bottom line. With Jeb, it is "my way or the highway". It never varied on the Everglades or other environmental issues while he was governor. Florida is buckling under the weight of the Jeb Bush legacy; the domination of public policies by special interests like Big Sugar, every single day.

For supportive data, click 'read more'.

1000 Friends of Florida urges citizens to contact legislators on the latest awful ideas from the Great Destroyers … by gimleteye

This is an important announcement from 1000 FoF. If you have time today, please call your state legislator.

The House of Representatives is expected to vote tomorrow (Thursday, March 5) on House Bill 7003, a massive 94-page water resources bill which has drawn concerns from 1000 Friends and its conservation allies. Although there are some good provisions, HB 7003 does not go far enough to protect Florida's waters.

1000 Friends of Florida, conservation allies and like-minded legislators have been working hard to add language to strengthen springs protections, speed up Lake Okeechobee restoration and promote water conservation. These revisions have not been accepted by House leadership.  While we realize this is short notice we now feel it is necessary to call for a no vote on HB 7003.   

Please call your State House Representative and ask him or her to VOTE NO ON HB 7003 because it falls short on springs protection, conservation and Lake Okeechobee cleanup. More detail  is provided below.

It Falls Short on Springs Protection, Conservation and Lake Okeechobee Cleanup

Springs Protection and Restoration
Many of Florida's world class springs are suffering from reduced water flows and excess nutrients. Significant and expeditious action is necessary to restore and protect Florida's springs. However, HB 7003:
  • Lacks deadlines for the adoption of minimum flows and levels (MFLs) for Priority Florida Springs and may delay MFL adoption by requiring that recovery or prevention strategies are adopted simultaneously.
  • Lacks deadlines for achieving water quality goals for impaired springs and restoring spring flows for springs which have fallen below MFLs.
  • Allows pollution to continue to be introduced in springsheds from sewage sludge, hazardous wastes, new septic systems and wastewater disposal facilities which only treat effluent to minimum standards and animal feedlots.
Lake Okeechobee Cleanup
Florida's largest lake suffers from decades of neglect leading to the discharge of polluted water to the Everglades, Indian River Lagoon and Caloosahatchee River and Estuary. Florida agreed to clean up the Lake Okeechobee by 2015 but has done little to meet water quality goals. HB 7003 will only delay Lake Okeechobee cleanup and exacerbate these problems. HB 7003:
  • Deletes the existing 2015 deadline for meeting water quality standards and offers no alternative deadline.
  • Sets aside an existing rule that allows state agencies to require that discharges meet water quality standards.
  • Adopts a phosphorous pollution control program that relies on best management practices that have not been shown to meet water quality standards.
  • Undermines federal efforts to protect communities from a breach in the dike around Lake Okeechobee and conservation efforts to protect fish and wildlife during droughts.
Water Conservation
Water conservation is the most environmentally protective and cost-effective means of meeting Florida's future water needs. HB 7003 allows public money to fund private water supply projects but does nothing to require or promote water conservation and more efficient uses of water to stretch Florida's already limited water supply.   

Again, your calls are urgently needed.  Please call your State House Representative and ask him or her toVOTE NO ON HB 7003.  

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Comments Regarding University of Florida Water Institute Report on Water Storage to protect Florida taxpayers … by gimleteye

Comment by Richard Grosso, long-time attorney for the public interest: "Those willing to put profits or campaign contributions over restoring south florida's drinking water, flood protection and ecological needs have been claiming that they will only act on "science". The day before session begins and the Fla. Senate's own commissioned study - done by the Univ. of Florida - has handed them the science. This can no longer be denied. The state has the money this year. The clock is ticking. it is time to see who really understands and is committed to Everglades restoration. Contact the Governor's office and your legislators."

Please vote YES in this Palm Beach Post poll: "Should the state buy U.S. Sugar land?"

What's it all about? View this video:

Its happening again Final 2-12-15 from Future View on Vimeo.

Everglades Foundation CEO Erik Eikenberg:

“The report, commissioned by the Florida Legislature, confirms much of what the Everglades Foundation has been saying for years – more storage is needed south of Lake Okeechobee, storage south of the lake is more effective, and the state has before it the significant opportunity to purchase 46,800 acres of land in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA).

“The report further validates the Foundation’s concerns with CS/HB 7003, which attempts to adopt the current version of the Lake Okeechobee Basin Management Action Plan (BMAP), as the only clean up plan for the lake is ill conceived. As the report notes, the BMAPs will not achieve the total maximum daily loads (TMDLs) and new, verifiable best management practices (BMPs) are needed.

“We believe this report shows the need and value of the EAA reservoir project and is a glaring call to action. Florida House and Senate members have been waiting for this report and have been deferring action on the EAA land purchase option until this report was completed.

“Notably, the report states ‘Currently, the state of Florida has an option to purchase approximately 46,000 acres in the EAA. The option is set to expire in October 2015. Thus, the state has a limited window of opportunity to purchase this land at market prices. Given the limited opportunity and the uncertainty of any future similar opportunities to purchase large acreages of lands in the EAA, the state should consider this time-limited option. The particular 46,000 acres at issue may be useful for additional storage and treatment or may serve as lands that the state could trade with other agricultural interests in the area if land in different locations are needed.’

“This reinforces the position the Foundation has been advocating, and the Foundation encourages the legislature and the governor to act on the land purchase option now.

“As U.S. Sugar CEO Robert H. Buker, Jr. pointed out in 2010 in a Tampa Bay Times commentary, ‘Florida has a rare opportunity to reacquire a large swath of historic Everglades from a willing seller at a fair, independently appraised price. Don’t allow that opportunity to slip away.’ We couldn’t agree more.”

POINT OF VIEW: Put water needs before political interests
Posted: 5:00 a.m. Tuesday, March 3, 2015
Richard Grosso

I disagree with Rep. Katie Edwards’ Feb. 21 Point of View, “Stay the course on Everglades projects,” and her opposition to exercise the state’s contractual option to buy 46,000 acres of U.S. Sugar land.

Decades of science have shown that storing large volumes of water south of Lake Okeechobee — in and around the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) — is the only way to re-create the natural water-storage role this area played before we drained and decimated the Everglades. Her call to “stay the course,” with just the currently planned restoration projects, ignores the fact that the current lack of a major water-storage project has, for years, been the single greatest flaw in the existing restoration plan.

That flaw exists because of the power of U.S. Sugar and others in the industrial agricultural industry that have opposed restoring the water-storage function in the EAA in favor of the current approach — under which the public subsidizes the artificial drainage of their land and the cleanup of their pollution.

Edwards’ argument against buying this land for this critical water-storage need overstates the progress that has been made on pollution cleanup by existing projects; ignores the remaining, and massive, water-quantity needs; and fails to acknowledge that land — previously bought by the public — plays a dominant role in pollution cleanup.

It takes land to do these projects, and you usually need to buy that land to use it. The existing projects cited by Edwards will have only minimal impact on the crisis in the St. Lucie and Caloosahatchee estuaries. Anything that is done — other than taking the water we now dump into the estuaries, storing it south of Lake O, and replenishing the Everglades with it — is window dressing.

That water must go somewhere other than the estuaries. It needs to go south — to become the water source for the Modified Water Deliveries Project that Edwards discussed.

As long as Florida politicians continue to put the desires of a small number of politically powerful interests over the future water-supply, flood-protection and ecosystem-restoration needs of South Floridians, the plan to restore the Everglades will be dangerously inadequate.


Editor’s note: Richard Grosso is a professor of law — and director of the Environmental and Land Use Law Clinic — at the Shepard Broad Law Center of Nova Southeastern University.

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Rumor and Truth Factory: Miami Dade County. By Geniusofdespair

Yes I do report rumors and truth...

Codina Partners in February hired a shitload of lobbyists. Now what is he up to?

Lennar's Mega-Development Parkland, (on the wrong side of the Urban Development Boundary) a DRI from 11/2005 -- according to the South Florida Regional Planning Council is still alive. Jeff Bercow is no longer lobbying for them according to the lobbyist list. Bercow is lobbying for Panattoni Development Company's approval for Westview Property. According to the, Westview is seeking $9.5 Million in taxpayer funds. That is OUR funds.

Parkland might be coming back during the May CDMP cycle although I don't see a lobbyist for it yet. It is time. Lennar has been itching to get it going according to a Lennar insider. Yes, I know developers.

Rebeca Sosa said she is NOT running for County Mayor. Raquel Regalado is stuck on the fence on the Mayoral run.

Lynda Bell gets some retribution -- after her chain link fence fiasco, that partly did her in -- from Javier Souto, who hates chain link fences. He says they cheapen neighborhoods. This is on the Agenda today:
4F 150330 Ordinance Sen. Javier D. Souto, Prime Sponsor ORDINANCE RELATING TO ZONING; MODIFYING REGULATIONS REGARDING CHAIN LINK FENCES; AMENDING SECTIONS 33-11 AND 33-311 OF THE CODE OF MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, FLORIDA; PROVIDING SEVERABILITY, INCLUSION IN THE CODE, AND AN EFFECTIVE DATE Commissioner Souto is seeks to ban the installation of new chain link fences around the County. Under the changes proposed in this item, chain link fences will only be allowed in areas zoned IU districts, AU districts and GU districts trended agricultural.

Rally to save endangered land

Pine Rockland: This is on the Agenda today -- I heard 40 people are there to speak but it is getting deferred for a second time (wear the people down, that is what they do, make everyone go all the way downtown...for nothing). I heard he wasn't even at the Commission, will have to turn on the TV to see if this is a rumor:

142509 Resolution Dennis C. Moss, Prime Sponsor
On another note...
My eyes are so itchy I could scream.  Should I change our logo to this? I think so, to keep an Eye on Miami it is pretty painful.  I can see again and everything is fine except for the damn itching. Thank you all for your good wishes.  I am very cranky.

Fine Herald OPED by Dan Gelber ...

I would have added something about climate change denial and the awful state of Florida's Water Wars, the fate of Amendment 1 and Fair Districts, but Dan Gelber makes a clear and convincing argument that Florida could be so much more …

The state of the state is strong, but . . .
03/01/2015 2:00 PM 03/01/2015 7:00 PM

SPEECH: Gov. Rick Scott will address the opening day of the Florida legislative session today.

Here is the State of the State that Gov. Rick Scott ought to deliver on Tuesday and, more important, that Floridians deserve to hear:

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

It is traditional for the governor to begin this speech with an unequivocal declaration that the state of our state is strong.

The state of our state is strong, but mostly for a select few:

▪ For the one in four Florida children living in poverty today, the state of our state is fragile. And it isn’t strong for the 3.2 million Florida households that, according to a recent United Way report, struggle every month to stretch paychecks to cover the basic necessities of housing, childcare, food, healthcare and transportation.

▪ It’s hard to be considered strong when you lead the nation in foreclosures.

▪ And strong states do not shortchange the basic care provided their most vulnerable citizens — seniors, children and the disabled — which is exactly what two different judges recently found Florida to be doing.

These challenges are emblematic of the troubling trend lines of our state, trends that cannot be ignored and must be addressed.

My fellow Floridians, many of us celebrated the recent news …

Florida Water Wars turned to high boil … at stake: Miami-Dade water prices, the estuaries and the Everglades … by gimleteye

Where do Miami-Dade state legislators fall, on the boiling Water Wars in Florida? Here, we seem curious immune to either the controversy or the political logjam to fix multi-billion dollar problems. Roughly speaking, that logjam is caused by Big Sugar's insistence that its profits in the Everglades Agricultural Area will never, ever be touched by policies that could take enough land out of sugarcane production to threaten their domination of land use and politics in Florida.

Here is what Maggie Hurchalla, born and raised in Miami and former Martin County commissioner, had to say yesterday at a protest demonstration held by the Rivers Coalition. (If you didn't read out two part "Achiever" profile on Hurchalla, read it here.)

Maggy Hurchalla

This year, this month, is fish or cut bait time for our River and for all the rest of South Florida.

We need to buy the land we need to send water south from Lake Okeechobee.

As long as we use Lake Okeechobee to irrigate sugar cane fields south of the Lake, we will need a place to store that irrigation water. Right now we are storing it in the Lake. When there is water left over at the end of the dry season, it gets dumped on the coastal estuaries.

If there is not storage south of the Lake in the sugar cane fields to irrigate those fields., discharges will keep killing the coastal estuaries. As long as there is no reservioir south of the Lake to recycle and reuse the water from the cane fields, there will be no capacity in the stormwater treatment areas to send clean water south to the Everglades.

Storage for 360,000 acre feet of water south of the Lake has been part of the comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan since 2000. Without it, CERP won't work. Everglades National Park will die. Miami will lose it's fresh water supply. Or estuary will die. So will the Calloosahatchee's.

There is NO alternative Plan that will keep Florida's water management system from killing our estuary. There is no alternative that will send clean water south where it is needed. Storage east, west and north of the Lake won't do it.

So why not just flood the sugarcane fields and solve the problem? Because they are bigger than we are.

We need to be legal and constitutional and respect their property rights. We're offerring to pay fair market value. We have a signed contract they agreed to.

We have a plan. We have a contract. We have the money.

Sugar doesn't want to sell, so we are hearing a long list of reasons as to why we should not exercise the option and buy the land. There is NO plausible reason for not buying the land now. The reasons being given are so lame they are embarrassing.

I was driving up from Miami last night and thinking of the old 60's song: How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see?

Our leaders are turning their heads and pretending they just don't see. It's time for us to prove that Florida is not a hopelessly stupid state that is going to destroy itself from cowardice and willful ignorance. Every single person in this County and in this region and in this state needs to take the time to educate our politicians and demand action.

We need to tell our very own legislative delegation that we are depending on them - not just to vote right, but to educate their colleagues and make the purchase happen.

Check your Stuart News. Go to Go to All of them have the contact information to make your voice heard. Email your friends. Put it on Facebook. Shout it from the rooftops.

The state government needs to start the process of closing on the US Sugar option and they need to do it NOW.

I was told last week by a Tallahassee insider that "It ain't gonna happen." They say we have a snowball's chance in Hell of making the state to buy the land.

That doesn't mean we should give up. It means that NOW and for the next two months we've got to move Heaven and Earth to get that snowball safely out of Hell. There is just too much to lose if we don't.

This weekend I watched a movie I hadn't seen in more than fifty years: To Kill a Mockingbird. It's about doing the right thing. One of our legislators told the Stuart News he couldn't commit to the purchase because we have to make decisions based on science rather than emotion.
We've got the science that says we need 360,000 acre feet of storage south of the Lake. There is no science that says we don't need it there. We've got the opportunity. Clearly that opportunity won't come again.

We are not asking them to make a decision based on emotion. We are asking them:


It's a sin to kill a mockingbird.

It's a sin to kill our river and our Everglades.

It's time for us to do our part and have everyone who can pick up a phone or send an email, or buttonhole a politician tell them:

Monday, March 02, 2015

More on Big Sugar's Big Squeeze, The Estuaries, the Everglades and Florida taxpayers … by gimleteye

Recently an anonymous reader commented on land ownership in the Everglades Agricultural Area and the deal to acquire US Sugar lands. The best chance for the taxpayer investment in the Everglades, to save what is left of the rivers and estuaries and billions in property values, is being snuffed out by the silence of the state legislature and Gov. Rick Scott.

The anonymous echoes Big Sugar's talking points -- dont buy more land, "stay the course". The course we are on serves the scavengers and reef wreckers just time.

At issue: the Legislature and Gov. Scott's refusal to take up the purchase of lands owned by US Sugar Corporation in the Everglades Agricultural Area. (Read our earlier post, here.)  GOP party leaders -- facing little to no opposition from a Democratic Party in Florida -- are going for the jugular now that the full impact of an election cycle after Citizens United is visible. They (Adam Putnam, Ag Secretary is leading the way) are rewriting water pollution laws to guarantee the further degradation of Florida waters and real estate values on the coast, all the while trumpeting that they are doing God's work.

Moreover, they are hard at work to subvert the will of 78 percent of Florida voters who approved Amendment 1 in the last election cycle; a guaranteed source of funding for exactly the land acquisition that is needed to protect the Everglades and the estuaries on both coasts.

Big Sugar is on its own jihad to the press, distributing talking points to news organizations that are unable to parse the difference between propaganda and reality, calling to mind exactly what Karl Rove predicted in his triumphant boast to the New York Times more than a decade ago: "We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality -- judiciously, as you will -- we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''

So here are my responses to anonymous; his/her in quotes and mine, below.

"It should be acknowledged that none of the scientists working on Everglades "restoration" wanted this deal - not one of them."

Why should (it) be acknowledged, when the assumption is false?

For the most part, Everglades scientists are uniformly in agreement about the need for significant additional fresh water storage and treatment marshes, beyond lands already in various public ownership entities like the water conservation areas or lands purchased for future engineered water management components.

The writer continues, "The SFWMD knew this would be a death knell for the projects already planned and ongoing."

Again, that is a false narrative. Here is the fact: beginning with the Jeb Bush terms in Tallahassee as governor in 1998, a Kremlin Winter descended on discussions about the Everglades by District or state scientists.

Taking land out of sugarcane production was a "no-fly zone" for Florida politicians, enforced by an orthodoxy that hardened into cement thanks to Citizens United and the tsunami of campaign money by insiders and special interests tying Big Ag to land speculators.

When Gov. Rick Scott took office, one of his first acts was to immediately slash the science capacity of the District to the bone. Scientists employed by the state will not speak for the record, outside of talking points approved by government PR staff, for fear of a career-ending catastrophe by political hacks.

The net effect of compulsory silence has been for District and state science to follow policies determined not just at the District level but also at the state legislature, where committee agendas and legislative outcomes are controlled by Big Sugar lobbyists.

The "death knell", according to the anonymous writer, should be acknowledged to be a failure of political will -- vindictiveness by politicians and campaign contributors against citizens and environmentalists who demand that BOTH additional lands be acquired and existing projects be funded.

The writer continues, "SWFMD staff tried to warn the environmental groups not to support this deal, but no one would listen..."

If there is proof environmentalists were "warned" by water management district staff not to support the deal to acquire US Sugar by the state, let those environmentalists step forward.

Were environmentalists threatened by elected officials and lobbyists that their support for prescriptions beyond predetermined outcomes could jeopardize funding for the Everglades by Congress? Absolutely.

The threat of withdrawal of funding is the single, constant tactics by Big Sugar, seeking to steer environmental groups away from advancing policies that could undermine policies and regulations that accrue to their own net worth statements.

"... and then to their (enviros) amazement and derision (but to no surprise of SFWMD employees) after the scaled-down deal was approved the SFWMD announced that they no longer could afford to work on several efforts including the EAA reservoir and the second phase of the Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands."

False. The EAA reservoir was entangled in federal litigation by environmental groups. In fact, the District itself argued in court that the reservoir was in the wrong place and should be built in lands acquired by the state from US Sugar, while the location for the reservoir was best used as a vast treatment marsh; ie. that additional storage lands are needed.

The Biscayne Bay Coastal Wetlands was undone by state politics and by the surging cost of land during the 2000's housing boom in Miami-Dade.

If anonymous should "acknowledge" anything, it is that state budgets are first and foremost, political choices. The choice to turn Amendment 1 into a real-life Ocean's Eleven, where the thieves walk into the casino and take all the house money, is unfolding right now in the Florida legislature where -- instead of fulfilling the wish of the people to use Amendment 1 money to fulfill the option to purchase US Sugar lands, Big Sugar is aiming to loot the treasury for its own purposes.

The scaled-down deal for US Sugar the writer refers to, occurred nearly as soon as Gov. Rick Scott was elected in 2010. Sadly, when he helicoptered into Tallahassee, Gov. Scott had little to no understanding of state water management history or of the importance of supporting the deal for the full acquisition of US Sugar lands in the EAA.

The anonymous writer echoes arguments by Big Sugar lobbyists and political allies in the state legislature at the time, that even in its scaled-down version, it was an "either/or" with existing, critical Everglades storage and treatment projects.

Let's be clear: the "either / or" argument as applied to the proposed purchase of US Sugar lands was a political choice by elected officials hostile to citizens and environmentalists who have worked for decades to promote common sense, science-based decisions to restoration of the Everglades, protection of the estuaries, and Florida's future.

The writer continues: "The fact is this was, and still is, a bad deal and not helpful to anyone except US Sugar, who was on its way to bankruptcy when Gov. Crist stepped in to save them. The Fanjuls laughed at this deal all along because the secret no one wants to acknowledge is that these lands aren't tradeable. They were and still are marginal ag lands and there is very little chance they would be ripe for a successful development beyond rockmining. So why would the Fanjuls give up better quality ag parcels for these lands which they could have had long ago?

The US Sugar deal was a needed, important and indeed critical expense for the reason I cited in my previous blog: that critical land-swapping deals -- either through willing sellers or through eminent domain -- would provide the land accumulation necessary to the purpose or require state negotiators to tell the public the truth: the Fanjuls obstruct progress at every turn.

Mysteries around the US Sugar agreement to sell to the state of Florida linger because none of the parties directly involved, US Sugar or former Gov. Charlie Crist, have been willing to speak on the record.

Nor have the Fanjuls, except through political donations and the periodic forays in its media campaigns. So far as the Fanjuls are concerned -- whether they are "laughing" or whether the Charlie Crist deal caused Pepe and Alfie to blow their stacks -- they already traded at a 2-1 ratio to their land acreage for properties that had been owned by US Sugar in order for the state to expand one of the existing stormwater treatment areas. So don't shed any property-rights tears for the Fanjuls.

Here is what is true: Big Sugar has dominated all state politics related to land acquisition in the EAA and blocked every effort by environmentalists to speed restoration beyond its ineffectual "work-arounds". There is not a major parcel of former sugar lands acquired for restoration that does not have an identified project either built, under construction or authorized and soon to be under construction.

The writer concludes, "I shudder to think what would have happened to the current Everglades enhancement effort if the original $1.2 Billion deal had gone through instead of the scaled-down version. As staff tried to tell the environmental groups at that time, and I will reiterate today, save you political capital for an effort that will matter - this isn't it."

Don't shudder. Be calm.

The false choices supported by special interests are exactly what drove citizens to support the amendment to the Florida Constitution to remove the argument "we don't have the money to do the right thing." Now, with Amendment 1 -- approved by 78 percent of Floridians -- the money is available.

Big Sugar says, "stay the course". So did the captain of the Titanic as subordinates warned him against steaming through an iceberg field.

So if the public has the money -- through Amendment 1 -- and the elected officials will not use it to buy additional lands necessary to protect Florida's environment, quality of life, and property values of residents and users of estuaries, then what? The pity is that there are plenty of Republican voters who are property owners, who love their rivers and estuaries and Everglades. They voted for Rick Scott and legislators like Joe Negron. What has that gotten them? Less than zero.

Sunday, March 01, 2015

City of Miami Ballot: How was this legal? By Geniusofdespair

We forget so quickly so here is the EXACT August 26, 2014 ballot question in the City of Miami from the Elections website:

Proposed Amendment to Existing Leases of City
Owned Waterfront Land at Bayside Marketplace
Should the City extend the existing leases from 46 to 99 years with Bayside Marketplace LLC on the 16.85 acres of waterfront land (Bayside Marketplace) conditioned on the City receiving: upfront payment of $10,000,000; minimum guaranteed yearly rent of approximately $3,516,002 (which escalates); percentage rent; minimum $27,000,000 improvements to Bayside Marketplace including additional parking; increased contribution to Miami Bayside Foundation; and development of a $400,000,000 privately funded 1,000 foot observation and entertainment tower (Skyrise Miami)?
Now, how was this legal? There is more than one topic, I see 4 topics in one question. And the Skyrise question has nothing on earth to do with the title of the question.

I heard Carlos Gimenez say on the Jim DeFede show that the people of the City of Miami were told City dollars wouldn't be used. He said CITY.  That is not what it says here, it says "privately funded".  This is what the people voted on: Privately Funded. It doesn't say County Funded to the tune of $9,000,000.  Carlos Gimenez did a bad job as a wordsmith. Jim DeFede did call him on it, I think DeFede said Carlos was splitting hairs.

So the people of the City of Miami did vote on the Skyrise (a.k.a. Nail Clipper) because it said PRIVATELY FUNDED and because it was bundled in a mass of projects, not fair for little minds (most voters). I would sue too on this one.

(Oh, by the way -- NO MORE  ITO'S LIKE "CARLITO" AND "RAQUELITO" -- I just don't like that since it is only done to Hispanics. Doesn't feel right so please don't use those ITO'S anymore in your comments to belittle the candidates or people you don't like. Douche bag etc. okay).