Guest Author - 2/16 - SaintPetersBlog

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Travis Hutson, Mike La Rosa: Florida needs 5G now

What do smart cities, driverless vehicles, autonomous drones, and instantaneous 3D downloads all have in common? The need for 5G wireless technology.

Under Senate Bill 596 and House Bill 687, which creates the Advanced Wireless Infrastructure Deployment Act, Floridians have the opportunity to bring ultra-fast speeds – speeds that were previously only available through a wired connection – to your wireless devices.

With the deployment of 5G across Florida, we are looking at the future of machines talking to machines and wireless network speeds that are 10 times faster than today. This advancement to 5G will dramatically impact our everyday lives, allowing for the next innovation in communications.

So, what is 5G technology, why do we need it and how do you get it?  Simply put, 5G is the next generation of wireless networks that will allow users to move data at much faster speeds. As technology advances, just as it did from 3G (which brought texting and photos) and 4G (which provided for the capability to have social connections like FaceTime and video), our state will need to be prepared to give its consumers the tools needed to be able to participate in the technology revolution.

Which leads us to how we get this technology and why we are pushing for this legislation this session. In order for Florida to be a part of this technological revolution that is beginning to happen in other states, wireless communication providers, like Verizon and AT&T, need to be able to put in place the proper infrastructure needed to support 5G technology from the Panhandle to the Keys.

To help clear the path for this vital innovation, we introduced SB 596 and HB 687, which lays the framework and guidelines for the installation, placement, maintenance and replacement of micro-wireless facilities across the state.

As we begin to reach capacity levels with our current 4G technology, it is time now for Florida to be forward-thinking and not allow for there to be a gap in our wireless coverage. Florida is known for being a protagonist state. Let’s not lose our lead now. Let’s bring 5G to Florida and make our communities smarter, healthier, safer and more efficient. Let’s support SB 596 and HB 687 this session.

___

Palm Coast Republican Travis Hutson represents Senate District 7.

Saint Cloud Republican Mike La Rosa represents House District 42.

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tourism

Carol Dover: Florida’s future depends on tourism

Marketing is a contest for people’s attention, and state tourism marketing is no different. However, the detrimental impacts of removing a powerful marketing mechanism mean a world of difference when your state budget revenue depends on your share of the market.

The proposed bill spearheaded by the House Careers & Competition Subcommittee that eliminates VISIT FLORIDA will have severe and irreversible impacts on the state’s hospitality industry. We must protect the tourism industry, Florida’s top employer and chief economic driver, not only for the industry’s 1.4 million employees, but for the local communities whose livelihood is contingent on bringing tourists to the Sunshine State. In 2015, more than 106 million visitors came to Florida, spending $108.8 billion and generating $11.3 billion in state and local tax revenue.

Unfortunately, some lawmakers would put Florida’s economy at risk based on a philosophy financed by Americans for Prosperity. Other states have already suffered from this failed, free-market experiment. In 1993, Colorado cut their state tourism marketing budget from $12 million to zero dollars. Within one year, Colorado lost $1.4 billion in traveler spending. Tax receipts declined by $134 million from 1993 to 1997. Eighteen years later, Colorado still hasn’t recovered market share.

We must build on the successes of Florida’s hospitality and tourism industry by committing the necessary dollars to VISIT FLORIDA that will create jobs and generate revenue for the state. With a 2 percent reduction in travel, Florida would lose $2.2 billion in traveler spending, $225 million in tax revenue and 28,000 jobs.

Florida’s future depends on our lawmakers’ investment in the state’s destination marketing efforts that continue to bring record visitation numbers. VISIT FLORIDA funding isn’t about “corporate welfare” for Fortune 500 companies; it’s about sustaining hospitality employment, and the myriad related local businesses that depend on tourism. For every 76 visitors to the state, one tourism job is supported.

I urge our lawmakers to build on the successes of Florida’s hospitality and tourism industry by committing the necessary dollars to VISIT FLORIDA. It is critical that our lawmakers rally behind the Governor’s recommendation to continue to invest $76 million in VISIT FLORIDA’s marketing efforts. For every $1 the state invests in VISIT FLORIDA, $3.20 in tax revenue is generated.

The Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) is vehemently opposed to any legislation that removes VISIT FLORIDA’s ability to operate as a separate entity and inhibits their efforts to market the state as a global destination successfully. The success of our hotels, restaurants, and attractions contributes to a stronger state economy and creates more opportunities for Florida’s families.

I look forward to working closely with our lawmakers, leadership, and agencies to develop meaningful reforms that preserve the overall integrity of our world-class tourism industry and reputation for providing premier hospitality services.

___

Carol Dover is President and CEO of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association.

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Blake Dowling: Drones, drones everywhere — Super Bowl to Prison

Yay sports!

Or “yay ball,” as one of my techie staff members used to say (she had zero interest in football, etc.)

Yay sports, indeed. This weekend was awesome for sports, with the most thrilling Super Bowl ever. And I also attended the Kentucky-Florida basketball game; what a battle in the brand-new Gville arena.

If you love hoops, watching 6 of the top 10 teams get knocked out Saturday was exciting; for Gator fans, a 20-point whipping of Kentucky (doesn’t happen often) so we get to enjoy that one for a while.

Fast forward to Sunday; seeing Lady Gaga bring the thunder in her Super Bowl halftime performance, then wondering how she got on the roof.

And HOW IN THE WORLD IS THAT AMERICAN FLAG FLOATING IN THE SKY?

Also, on another subject, a huge shoutout to LG for her message of unity and being pro-America. So many haters out there nowadays. Best country ever, 42 years as a resident. No plans to leave — regardless of Carter, Reagan, Clinton, Bush, Obama, Trump or whoever is in the White House.

I would stay even if Lady Gaga was president. Cool outfit she was rocking; very presidential.

Anyway…

There is no need to comment on a flying drone pug, is there?

So, how are there lights in the sky above the game?

My dad lives in Houston and the only flights he says are allowed around the Dome game weekend are Military Black Hawk choppers. So, what are those lights again?

Drones, my friend.

Each dot is actually a flying drone, part of Intel’s Shooting Star Drone squad. Each one is about a foot long and covered in LED lights. The drones are all programmed from a central location that runs a dance routine.

Talk about a big stage, taking account the fact that security was as tight as any game in history, the stadium is in Houston Hobby Airport’s flight path, as well as the aforementioned aircraft ban around the stadium.

How about this, it really didn’t happen during the Super Bowl. The drone show was taped the week earlier and overlaid into the live broadcast for the TV audience.

That is the world we live in. Princess Leia is in Rouge One looking 19 and drones are on the television, but not live. POW!

In years to come, drones change the way we do a lot of things: weaponized drones, real-estate drones and cargo drones.

What’s next? How about reconnaissance drones for missing persons lost in the woods? Drones for agriculture, police, elections (dropping pamphlets) and firefighting.

Cartels down south are early adapters of this kind of tech for drug smuggling at borders and in prisons.

Think about it, a drone operator a mile away from a prison packs up a drone with Oxycodone, weed and the like, flies it over the walls of the prison, dropping the package into the common area. Pickups are smooth and no one gets shanked.

Same with drugs at the border: fly it, drop it, head back to base for another. Drones fly low and are small, making radar useless.

Prisons are beginning to use low-tech countermeasures, with nets over a facility’s yard. Meanwhile, high-tech options like DroneShield are rolling out, and others — like the DroneGun — can disable a drone by jamming it.

Although as done tech moves forward, I am sure some Polk County residents will take them out with a high-powered rifle.

With any new tech, it is very interesting and cool to see where the journey goes, but also scary to see how bad guys will take advantage.

Enjoy the day when a drone brings you a pizza. And if you ever see something like that heading your way, duck and cover, brother.

(By then, though, it’s most likely too late.)

 ___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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Blake Dowling: The Russian (hackers) are coming

We hear about the Russian mob and Russian hackers all the time, especially in politics and technology.

The Russian mob is all over the dark web selling ransomware toolkits and fake credit cards. The Russians created ransomware, a threat that continues to wreak havoc all over the world in various forms.

We can’t all be comedian Bert Kreischer and be friends with the Russian mob. Nice work, Machine.

See the Showtime special about Bert in Russia if you dare. I knew Bert when he was a young Florida State frat boy (ATO) and was always up for a rowdy evening.

You can see the clip here; be warned, it contains adult language.

Moving on …

In recent years, talk has moved from the Russian mob and hackers to the Russian government.

We all know the stories about the Democratic National Committee emails and stories of our new POTUS (An acronym I hate, by the way. So annoying. I used it just to bother myself).

So, what is really going on? Is the Russian state backing hackers to cause chaos around the globe, interfering with our elections, communications and media? It would certainly appear so.

Let’s be real, their president does not mess around; their Olympic Athletes are more juiced up than an Orange Grove, and their attempts at hacking appear to be legit, but the Kremlin has always denied involvement.

Bulgaria, Germany, France, Britain and the U.S. – all targets of various types of cyber-attacks.

Last month, a joint report by the National Security Agency, CIA, and FBI concluded that the Russian intelligence services did, in fact, target U.S. organizations involved with our most recent presidential election.

Their goal? To create chaos, steer public opinion and disrupt our democratic processes.

This type of warfare has been going on for years, but in the past year, it has really taken a more public spin. A few years ago, China, for example, might be trying to hack into Boeing to steal plans for the latest Boeing-Saab TX jet. Or they may hack the energy grid, which I think they did.

The public usually doesn’t hear about it.

Now with resources like WikiLeaks, Twitter and so many others and the people are in the know, and it is nerve-wracking to hear regularly that foreign entities are knocking on our door, looking to do us harm.

Steven Adair, of the security company Volexity, said in an interview with ZDNet: “We assess Moscow will apply lessons learned from its campaign aimed at the U.S. presidential election to future influence efforts in the United States and worldwide, including against US allies and their election processes. We assess the Russian intelligence services would have seen their election influence campaign as at least a qualified success because of their perceived ability to impact public discussion.”

We are just now seeing the beginning of this type of war, so set your firewall to block all IP addresses outside of the U.S., support whatever funds are needed for state, local and federal cyber task forces, and keep that password complicated.

Don’t be like Bert; he took Russian 1,2 and 3 at FSU, and never learned a word.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. You can reach him here: dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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Carl Domino: Bridging the justice gap pays off for Floridians in multiple ways

Carl Domino

When I was a member of the Florida Legislature, I always supported efforts to expand access to justice. It’s a right that’s enshrined in the Pledge of Allegiance, the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution: “The courts shall be open to every person for redress of any injury, and justice shall be administered without sale, denial or delay.”

But let’s be honest. Our legal system can be complex and difficult to navigate without an attorney, and many people cannot afford one. Faced with problems like foreclosure proceedings, evictions, divorces, probate or consumer disputes, they try to manage on their own. That’s costly, not just for them, but for all of us.

Investing in civil legal aid makes sense not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because that investment pays off for all of us, with a return of more than $7 for every $1 spent, according to a newly released study commissioned by The Florida Bar Foundation. From the $83 million spent on civil legal assistance in Florida in 2015, businesses experienced $274.8 million in increased revenue, and this, in turn, helped generate 2,243 new jobs, according to the study’s calculations.

The overall $600 million return on investment also comes from savings to the court system as it runs more efficiently and avoids cases that shouldn’t be there. It comes from fewer domestic violence calls to police; from less demand for welfare and housing assistance; from more stable communities and home values; and from payments of past-due child support. And it comes from legal help in capturing the veterans’ benefits due to those Floridians who served their country, as well as reimbursements from federal Medicare and Medicaid programs, and more.

I’m a lifelong Republican who, after a long and rewarding career in finance and politics, decided to seize the challenge of studying law in my late 60s. Since passing the Florida Bar exam, I’ve taken quite a few pro-bono cases, because the need is so great.

These are real people with real problems. They may not be getting alimony payments; their condo association may not be responding to them. Sometimes all I need to do is write a letter, and a situation can be resolved, keeping it out of the courts. Having a lawyer on your side in meritorious cases can really make a difference.

Community-based legal aid agencies have long served as that safety net for low-income Floridians in need of legal support. But due to in large part to the interest-rate sensitivity of one of Florida’s primary legal aid funding mechanisms, funding for civil legal aid in Florida has fallen to its lowest level in 10 years.

According to the new study, “Economic Impacts of Civil Legal Aid Organizations in Florida,” every additional $100,000 of funding enables legal aid organizations to generate an additional $719,000 in economic benefits.

That’s why bridging the justice gap will benefit us all.

So what’s the answer? More volunteering by lawyers would help. Broader philanthropic support of civil legal aid as part of the spectrum of human services would also help. Contributions from businesses, including in-kind support for civil legal aid organizations, would help. The Florida Bar Foundation’s study, conducted by The Resource for Great Programs, offers solid evidence that foundations, donors and businesses can make a real positive impact by supporting civil legal services.

Access to the justice system is a basic right, so let’s make sure that that access continues, for the good of all.

___

Carl Domino served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2002 to 2010. He serves on the board of The Florida Bar Foundation. An investment manager who founded Northern Trust Value Investors, in 2014 he earned a law degree from Nova Southeastern University at the age of 70.

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Blake Dowling: Tech, politics & the Simpsons

The marriage of technology and politics is like the pairing of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise – a big mess (minus the Scientology shenanigans of course).

Hillary emails, Trump tweets, Ashley Madison’s hack … there’s always something to keep your eye on. Always will be.

With breaches and exposure around every corner, certain key figures inside our government use apps for communication that disappear after a certain amount of time. If any of you readers in Florida Politics-land have teenagers, I’m sure you’ve seen Snapchat on their phone.

Unlike texts, where you can read what they are up to, Snapchat messages vanish.

Well, now there is a Snapchat for adults, and one of those messaging apps is called Signal.

Signal uses end-to-end encrypted messaging; providers keep no record of private communications.

That’s all good to keep national security concerns (and illicit affairs) on the down low? Not so fast.

There’s a little thing called the “Presidential Records Act.” It requires elected officials to keep track of all communications.

For those who care about this sort of thing, it’s driving them crazy – Kitty-Dukakis-guzzling-rubbing-alcohol sort of crazy.

Experts say these officials are breaking retention laws and hiding from public scrutiny. The whole deal is a recipe for corruption, they warn.

Here’s some advice for all involved. If you don’t want anyone to see it, don’t put it in writing, don’t say it on the phone. Ane when you talk in person and cover your mouth like an NFL coach on the sidelines. Capish?

Get on Predict It, and take your best guess on how long before an official charge is made. A month? A week? Place your bets.

If you aren’t familiar with Predict It, you’re really missing the boat. Think Vegas + politics.

Forget sports betting, try making a bet on how many tweets Trump will spit out in a week.

The app is advertised as a “real-money political prediction market.” If you think you know politics, log on — before Predict It becomes illegal too, that is.

There is a lot to take in here. Let’s close with America’s favorite animated family — The Simpsons.

Did you know that in an episode aired 2000 (“Bart to the Future”), guess who was president? That’s right, Donald Trump.

It’s all real folks, and it’s coming at you like a warm can of Budweiser shaken for about five minutes. You just can’t make this stuff up, it’s called 2017.

Who knows? Maybe I will run for office. Let’s do this!

 ___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies and writes for several organizations. He can be reached at dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com

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Blake Dowling: Star Wars: Rogue One brings hope, inspiration with CGI movie magic

I saw the new Star Wars flick last week. Loved it. Like really loved it, as much as Luke loved shooting Womp Rats on Tatooine.

I figured I would wait until the crowds thinned a little bit and not see the film in the first few weeks after release. I remember, as a kid, standing in line on the opening night of “Return of the Jedi” at Porter Square Mall in Dothan, Alabama; with what seemed like tens of thousands of people.

In Dothan, you didn’t get crowds like that, unless it was the Peanut Festival. Yes, that is a real thing and, yes, it was a rager. Think concert-rodeo-fair super-sized combo kind of event, ‘Bama style.

You know, Dothan is the peanut capital of the world, but … moving on.

If you haven’t seen “Star Wars: Rogue One,” go ahead and stop reading HERE.

I had read the prequel to Rouge One, called “Catalyst,” so I was very familiar with the scientific work of Dr. Erso, the fall of the Republic and turning into the Empire. Also, Rogue One is a prequel to a New Hope. So, it would appear they dig prequels. Bouncing around from planet to planet was cool.

Rogue One was a very in-depth look at a behind-the-scenes look at the Empire and the power structure. The same with the Rebellion, you got to see several layers deep in what was really going on a long time ago in that famed galaxy far, far away.

As the film progressed, in walks Grand Moff Tarkin — looking straight outta 1979.

All the Botox in the world can’t pull that off, not to mention that actor Peter Cushing is dead. So how did Lucas Film/Disney bring back the only bad guy that could tell Vader to pipe down?

The technology is known as computer generated imagery (CGI). The type of tech compiles computer graphics to build 3-D images that are both static and dynamic. In this case, a compilation of images leads to the resurrection of the No. 3 Imperial baddie.

But before Rogue One, we must go back to 1968 to a group of Russians. The same Russians that laughed at Nasa’s multimillion-dollar space pen that could write in zero gravity. The Ruskies had a 10-cent alternative: “we take pencil to space.”

So, in ‘68 a team of scientists, led by N. Konstantinov, developed high-level math in which they could move a digital cat across a computer screen. Winning.

By 1976, the tech had made its way to the big screen in the film future world, and by this point, the ball was really rolling.

“Superman,” “Aliens,” “Black Hole” really pushed the boundaries of its use and set the bar for what is possible, which, essentially, is anything. The slow-mo bullet effect in the “Matrix” films. That’s CGI tech, too.

This type of special effect changed movies then — and is 100 percent changing the game now. The ability to bring back imagery from our childhoods even cooler than it was then is awe-inspiring.

When I saw the end of Rogue One, I was 100 percent choked up to see the return of our beloved Princess. The world was certainly a better place with her in it.

As we played Star Wars on the playground in Dothan in 1980 — or as my wife and I enjoyed last weekend — the franchise always brought entertainment, hope and inspiration, as good versus evil waged war.

In loving memory of Carrie Fisher: may The Force be with us all.

___

Blake Dowling is CEO of Aegis Business Technologies. He writes for several organizations. You may reach him here: dowlingb@aegisbiztech.com.

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Christian Ulvert: A presidency remembered for tearing down walls of injustice

As I traveled back from Thailand to the United States earlier this month, I watched “Southside With You” and was once again in awe on the deep-rooted bond between our now former President, Barack Obama and first lady, Michelle Obama. The movie also depicts the devoted love President Obama has for his community and his sense of urgency to move strategically on solving problems.

The movie was as a reminder of why so many of us feel a deep connection to this president. I never worked on his campaigns, but was moved to volunteer often. Every one has a personal story on how President Obama has marked their life in a positive way. In Miami-Dade, you hear stories of families reunited with their Cuban relatives, residents who have insurance because of the Affordable Care Act, Dreamers who feel their government is on their side and couples like Carlos and I who were able to marry because this President believed in us.

You see, this President looked to his heart every day to find ways to make this country better and stronger. President Obama governed with a bold agenda that was guided by his belief that government should tear down the injustices in our country that held back so many from achieving their full potential.

In many ways, my ability to live by our nation’s credo, “in the pursuit of happiness,” was fully realized when President Obama declared that marriage equality was going to be his fight and one that he was not going to back down from, regardless of who stood in his way. I am able to live a life full of love, joy and complete happiness because our government didn’t stop me from marrying the person I love.

Like so many, I have watched the final days of President Obama’s presidency with hope and sadness. He encourages us to remain hopeful while our hearts weep because we know he accomplished so much and stayed true to his campaign motto of Hope and Change. We don’t know what President Donald Trump’s administration will bring to our nation, but I have to believe in President Obama’s words that our nation will be OK.

For me, one thing is certain, President Obama has shifted my view on how to stay engaged. On this Jan. 20, I will reflect on President Obama’s legacy and use it as a call to action. Let us live by the hope to fight injustices, the will to change them and the freedom to marry the one you love.

 ___

Christian Ulvert is a Florida Democratic political and public affairs consultant based in Miami.

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Steve McFarlin: St. Pete Beach pays, but ‘rampant litigation’ far from over

Steve McFarlin

The City of St. Pete Beach recently paid nearly $500,000 to settle one of many lawsuits brought by Ken Weiss and Tim Weber in their quest to halt development on the barrier island. City officials believed the payout would finally help put an end to the rampant litigation that has plagued St. Pete Beach for nearly a decade.

There’s one problem – even after the payment, the lawsuit is far from settled.

The city’s attorney did not obtain a judge’s final settlement order, creating a loophole that Weiss and Weber are now exploiting to continue their costly crusade. This is the latest volley in a battle that has involved more than a dozen lawsuits; consumed more than $2 million in taxpayer money, and has prevented the city from implementing its voter-approved comprehensive land use plan.

Empowered and, ironically, financed by St. Pete Beach taxpayers, Weiss and Weber have taken their anti-growth battle to Treasure Island and Madeira Beach, mounting similar legal attacks against those cities’ comprehensive plans in more attempts to stop development.

The recent victory in Madeira Beach exemplifies the approach needed to prevail against these unending attacks. Judge Thomas Minkoff found that the city properly passed ordinances that paved the way for the multimillion Town Center project. The city of Madeira Beach now has won two of four lawsuits brought by Weiss and his group.

I’ve been proud to call St. Pete Beach home for more than two decades and was honored to serve as Mayor from 2011-2014.

Amid the legal maneuvering spread over the tenures of five St. Pete Beach mayors and more than a dozen commissioners, the underlying problem is simple: St. Pete Beach is built out. Allowing business owners, most of them locals, to redevelop their properties would bring much-needed revenue to city coffers and sustain our position as a tourist destination.

As city leaders, we came up with a comprehensive land use plan that was a compromise for both sides, limiting new development to 12 stories of height in an area already occupied by large hotels.

Weiss and his group failed to convince voters to reject the plan in 2008. Soon after it was approved, their legal challenges began. The city stood its ground, and we eventually prevailed in 2011 and reapproved the plan. But the litigation didn’t stop.

The lawsuit related to the $500,000 settlement was undertaken in another effort to disrupt the city’s land use planning. The lawsuit alleged that the city violated the Sunshine Law by discussing Weiss’ ongoing legal challenges to the comprehensive plan in closed-door meetings. The city, and its attorney at the time, Bryant Miller Olive, believed the city was correct in doing so because case law at the time supported holding “shade” meetings that involved strategic discussions with counsel about legal issues.

In 2012, a trial judge agreed and ruled in the city’s favor, but Weiss and Weber appealed and won at the appellate level. In a case that more narrowly defined how a strategy session held under the Sunshine Law is interpreted, an appellate court in 2014 said the city should have had parts of its discussions in a public forum.

The city decided not to appeal – and has been approaching other battles with Weiss with the same reluctance. Commissioners and the city attorney believed they could reason with Weiss, a tack that they hopefully now realize was a mistake given he has continued a lawsuit he was paid to “settle.”

Meanwhile, the city is suing its former attorneys at Bryant Miller Olive over advice provided in the case about the Sunshine Law – advice based on case law at the time. The shade meetings were needed in order for us to develop a cost-effective strategy with our counsel to deal with the wide-ranging legal attacks on the city’s comprehensive planning process.

The frustrating thing for me is that this legal harassment is undermining the democratic process and holding up implementation of a comprehensive plan that establishes reasonable parameters for growth. Instead of moving forward, the city is being held hostage by lawyers using the courtroom to accomplish their own personal objectives.

With city elections coming in March, voters need to elect candidates who will stand up to this small but disruptive anti-growth contingent.

Well-intended negotiations have proven to be a failed strategy. The leaders of our beach cities must have the fortitude to fight this form of legal harassment, as demonstrated by Madeira Beach.

___

Steve McFarlin, a local businessman, is a longtime resident of St. Pete Beach and served as its mayor from 2011-2014.

 

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J.P. Sasser: Environmental activists rewriting history, fraudulently manipulating data to sell land plan

J.P. Sasser

It’s incredible how foggy some people’s memories are when it comes to past efforts to restore the Everglades, buy farmland and build a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee.

Time and again, environmental extremists are quick to blame the sugar industry for every ill in the region, past, present and future, without any regard to science or the truth.

And speaking of the truth and science, recently, they were caught by the South Florida Water Management District manipulating data to show a reservoir south of Lake Okeechobee is preferable to one to the north. The real science shows it is not.

For starters, no one is arguing that the discharges do not create problems for coastal communities due to the infusion of fresh water (up to 80 percent of which is later filled with nutrients in the local basins) to the estuaries.

The simplest way to capture and clean this excess water is to put it in a reservoir where it originates: north of the lake. This is the thinking behind the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan (CERP) that — combined with the Central Everglades Planning Project (CEPP) — is scientifically designed to reduce the discharges plaguing the area.

No part of CERP or CEPP calls for buying additional land. The land for a southern reservoir was already purchased before both plans were developed.

Would-be land grabbers label the sugar industry as an opponent of storage south of Lake Okeechobee, but it was the sugar industry that gave up 120,000 acres of farmland over the last 20 years for Stormwater Treatement Areas (STAs), flow equalization basins (FEBs) and other projects.

The first of two reservoirs, the A1, has already been constructed. Additional reservoir construction was halted not by the sugar industry, but by environmental special interests, including the Everglades Trust. Following a ruling in 2010 by U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno forcing the completion of the reservoir, Everglades Foundation attorney Thom Rumberger wrote this in his opposition to the reservoir: “The reservoir is unnecessary and expensive … It is our opinion and that of the scientists … that it’s more advantageous to have the property.”

The gamesmanship involved in the construction of this reservoir shows that the motives of the groups funded by Paul Tudor Jones II, including the Everglades Foundation, Sierra Club and Audubon Florida, are less about fixing water quality problems and more about taking land from sugar farmers. Because buying land is their answer to everything.

Want to solve local water quality problems in communities 60 miles north of the Glades? Buy the land. Want to stop red tide? Buy the land. Want to fix Florida Bay? Buy the land.

All of these claims are made without science or any regard for the people living in these communities.

Clearly, the people of the Glades communities have done their part. In addition to cleaning water every year by an average of 55 percent, they gave up 60,000 acres of the Talisman sugar-cane property in 1999, which shut down at least one sugar cane processing mill. They’ve also spent more than $250 million through an agricultural privilege tax and another $200 million or so that is a combination of the $5 per acre to fund research on BMPs and restoration efforts and the estimated cost of performing on-farm BMP. All of this despite the fact that the communities north of Lake Okeechobee are contributing more than 95 percent of the nutrient load and water flows to the lake. What have these communities given us other than dirty water and the headache of calling for the purchase of our land?

The Glades communities are more united against current proposals in the Legislature to buy their land than at any point in recent memory. Predictably, environmental groups such as the Everglades Trust are rallying behind this plan as if it’s Custer’s Last Stand at the Battle of Little Bighorn.

Floridians should be skeptical of this plan for a variety of reasons. Why is more land needed when plenty of land has already been taken? Recent revelations about the Everglades Foundation’s fraudulent manipulation of the modeling used to calculate their reservoir is another cause for concern.

The Everglades Foundation’s fraud was called into question by a South Florida Water Management District scientist in a recent journal article where they were peddling more lies.

The sales job involved in pushing this misguided policy tells you everything you need to know: It stinks to high hell. When the history of Everglades restoration and Lake Okeechobee has to be rewritten, and numbers have to be made up to sell it, it’s clear those pushing for it are becoming more and more desperate by the day.

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J.P. Sasser is the former mayor of Pahokee, Florida.

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