Stealing Florida: how lawmakers and their lobbyist bosses are turning the sunshine state into the Congo

Florida's natural environment: enjoy it while you still can.


Genius of Despair over at Eye on Miami has written a wonkish, but thorough, account of how lobbyists from Associated Industries, Big Sugar and developer interests are stealing Florida’s birthright, and paving the way for a more polluted, uglier, nastier state that’s more like the third world every day.

A clip — or “Jesus wept…”

An Idiot Wind is blowing through the state capitol. Kind of like the Roman Senate chattering what a good idea it would be to crucify Christians. In the final days of the legislative session– the worst in 50 years– horrible bills are finding their way to a grand finale. I am growing old and weary from the annual rite of spring; special interests wreaking havoc on laws we fought hard to build into Florida’s future. Although I have become accustomed to lobbyists chasing the civic interest down rabbit holes where the worst bills disappear and the least of the worst emerge to dilute our quality of life and even access to our own government– nothing this awful has ever occurred as a result of radical extremists in the GOP legislature and a barely legal governor, Rick Scott.

My area of expertise is the environment. Scott brought a host of top appointees to Tallahassee who have no clue about either the natural resources they are bound to protect or the laws, policies and histories that need to be understood before they are hacked to pieces. The Jim Morin cartoon in The Miami Herald shows special interests driving us off the cliff– again. But the truth is closer to crucifiction, with good Christians doing the crucifying. The truth is closer to the Congo, with legislative machetes and not crude iron blades, and the Hutu setting on the environmental Tutsi. (click, ‘read more’)

Today a few environmental lobbyists in Tallahassee have the grim job of going from GOP legislator to GOP legislator to explain why Florida’s natural heritage should not be thrown to the wolves, embodied as Associated Industries, the Chamber of Commerce, electric utilities, Big Sugar and land speculators using the economic crisis to hollow out government so that what is left will look like a rotting lantern on a Halloween door step.

Senate Bill 1842 requires review and approval of water management district budgets by the Governor and requires funds to be withheld if districts don’t comply. Its purpose? To set up a battle between the state and federal government over whether Florida will ever be held accountable for allowing the state’s precious water resources to be polluted as a right of industry. The bill also provides that districts review its lands every five years to determine if property is still needed for water management or conservation, and make the land available for surplus if it isn’t needed. All wetlands ever mitigated, all Florida Florida public trusts ever established would now become the pinata in fact: a Final Solution for the haters and the cannibals.

House Bill 239 is headed to the House Special Order Calendar tomorrow. This is a creation of the Frank Matthews Brigade to Destroy Florida, perhaps in memory of the late Wade Hopping, the go-to Tallahassee lobbyist for Big Sugar and land speculators around the state. The bill not only proposes to make it more difficult for the federal EPA to impose pollution standards where Florida fails to, it also would sweep a whole new set of changes to Everglades water quality standards that would instantly be litigated and found illegal in federal court. Why am I certain of this? Because the organization I represent, Friends of the Everglades, is ALREADY in the midst of seven years of lawsuit on exactly this point and have won against a more subtle assault by Jeb! in 2003, backed by Big Sugar. HB 239 alters statutory language defining pollution in the Everglades and other Class III Florida waters. …

There’s much, much more, which you can read in the full post here.

On the specific issue of EPA regulation of water quality, Nancy Smith of the Associated Industries, Big Sugar and other mega-corporations’ pet “news” outlet, Sunshine State News, recently pitched a fit when it appeared that Rick Scott of all people — who isn’t a Floridian and clearly could care less about its natural, political or any other kind of history — wasn’t sufficiently gung-ho to throw open Florida waterways to Congo-like pollution, you know, for the benefit of business. The state’s Republican leaders including our newly minted Agricultural commissioner even sued the EPA to stop them from setting higher standards for how much phosphorous and god knows what else the state’s agribusinesses can pump into the water Floridians drink.

This only gets worse from here. As Genius of Despair points out, Tallahassee is in the service of the rock miners and the developers and Big Sugar and the chamber of commerce now. Ordinary Floridians, and the natural birthright they thought they had, don’t stand a chance.

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One Response to Stealing Florida: how lawmakers and their lobbyist bosses are turning the sunshine state into the Congo

  1. F. Martin says:

    I haven’t used ‘big sugar’s’ sugar for several years. Local honey and fair trade sugar work just fine. Want to join me?

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