EOM Note: the following guest blog is by Michael Connor, of Bullsugar.org The two political enemies of clean water in Florida — specifically opposing the public acquisition of Big Sugar lands south of Lake Okeechobee in order to eventually stop the destruction of fresh water resources in Florida — are Marco Rubio and the state representative from Lee County, Matt Caldwell. Both have legitimate challengers in November who have signed to support the science-based Now or Neverglades Declaration:
Congressman Patrick Murphy and in Lee County, John Scott.
Clean water activists played a major role in Marco Rubio’s harsh defeat in the March GOP presidential primary in Florida. Rubio barely carried 15% of the GOP primary vote. It is critical to remove Rubio — whose main support is from the sugar industry — from the US Senate.
Caldwell’s role is less known because it is less publicly visible in the mainstream press. Every session of the legislature there are one or two compliant politicians who are pushed forward by Big Sugar to carry its agenda: shift the costs of pollution onto the backs of taxpayers to the maximum extent possible. That is Caldwell’s role for an industry that would not survive so profitably in Florida but for corporate subsidies in the federal Farm Bill, called by GOP tax activist Grover Norquist: “Cronyism in its undiluted, inexcusable majesty.” Florida is depending on Lee County voters to replace Caldwell with John Scott, a first-time candidate for public office whose credentials include being a Sierra Club leader.
On his webpage, Scott writes “The Caloosahatchee River and our coastal ocean waters are being ruined. Jobs, real estate values, fishing and our tourism industry are all at risk because of terrible environmental policies spearheaded by Matt Caldwell and signed into law by Governor Rick Scott. Florida’s water and environment should not be partisan issues. I will fight with every ounce of my being to protect the water and natural beauty that makes Florida “paradise”. The people of District 79, and all of Florida, deserve better. We all want fairness in our society. Our government should be powered by the people and add value to our lives without over-reaching. I respectfully ask for your vote so I can represent YOU in Tallahassee and NOT special interests who focus on their own agenda while destroying our way of life. Thank you for your support.”
We at Bullsugar.org
, and our close allies, Everglades Trust, Everglades Foundation, Bonefish Tarpon Trust, Sierra Club, Captains For Clean Water, and others have been circulating the Now or NeverGlades Declaration far and wide since mid July.
We have had great success, thus far getting signatures from over 27,000 citizens, over 100 legislators and challengers to political office, and 200 corporations, all of whom have a vested interest in healthy, safe Florida waterways, a stop to toxic Lake O discharges, and a restored Everglades and Florida Bay.
The Army Corps is even on board to immediately plan for water storage and conveyance in the Everglades Agricultural Area as a vital part of CERP and an overall water storage strategy. There are scattered “holdouts” among Florida lawmakers, with Gov. Scott, Sen. Marco Rubio, and Rep. Matt Caldwell leading that pack.
Legislators such as Sen. Joe Negron and Congressman Patrick Murphy have signed the Declaration, yet Gov. appointed SFWMD officials such as Kevin Powers, pictured here at this week’s Dancing in the Streets in Stuart, who represents Martin County on the SFWMD governing board, are refusing to come on board as non-federal partners with the Corps to make EAA storage and water conveyance a reality.
It is a major frustration for citizens who are repeatedly subject to toxic waterways, health threats, diminished property values and quality of life, and lost income.
At the Bullsugar.org
booth, we had over 550 people enthusiastically sign the Declaration, and many report that they are sharing it with others. Did have one outright refusal however, from Kevin Powers — on the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District appointed by Gov. Rick Scott. Quite disappointing to all of us. His response when asked to consider signing by our volunteer was “absolutely not!”
But we do want to give everyone the opportunity to either show support or not. And that is exactly what we will continue to do.
Speaking of accountability, please visit http://www. Bullsugar.org/vote
to see which legislators and office challengers did and did not sign the Declaration. Or, failed to respond.