Space Coast Progressive Alliance

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Friday, 25 March 2016 17:10

Years of failed policy + press

Written by  Spence Guerin + Team SCPA

Posted May 21, 2016
Update: Indian River Lagoon Pollution, Florida Politics and Lack of Critical Press
SCPA Member Opinion*

Update: Florida Today's Lagoon Scorecard long overdue but welcome
By Spence Guerin

Florida Today Executive Editor Bob Gabordi wrote, on April 18, 2016, regarding the Indian River Lagoon: 'We said we were going to name names, and we are. We said we were going to hold our elected officials accountable, and we are….'

And on April 23, Florida Today published its first-ever Indian River Lagoon Scorecard. Legislators were graded on just 5 bills in the Florida legislature, apparently. County commissioners were graded on general performance regarding the lagoon. Nobody received a particularly good grade.

In the legislature, the best grade was a 'C' -- an 'average' grade at best -- awarded to Sen. Thad Altman. The rest of the legislators, Senator Andy Gardiner and Representatives Steve Crisafulli, Tom Goodson, Debbie Mayfield, John Tobia and Ritch Workman all received the same poor grade: 'F' for-- let's say it: utter Failure.

County Commissioners Robin Fisher, Jim Barfield and Curt Smith received 'B' grade. Trudie Infantini and Andy Anderson received 'F' for -- let's say it: utter Failure.

Not considered, apparently, was US Congress, which is unfortunate. Brevard's Rep. Bill Posey, for example, has a history of voting against the EPA enforcement of Clean Water Act -- which is instrumental in cleaning up Florida's badly polluted waters including the Indian River Lagoon. See Posey's miserable record at League of Conservation Voters.

Mr. Gabordi is to be congratulated for producing a long overdue reportcard. If followed with regularly issued and even more comprehensive reportcards, the newspaper can play an important role in forcing elected officials to heed the Greater Public Interest when casting votes -- instead of thinking it won't matter because the folks back home won't know -- which has been the case for years.

Most citizens would likely be jubilant and most appreciative to see our local newspaper regularly publish critical reportcards in the future. If such reports had been issued annually for the past thirty years during a recognized period of noticeable lagoon decline, recovery might be way ahead of where we are today.

But it is what it is. Let's keep those hardcore reportcards coming, Mr. Gabordi.



Florida Today's Indian River Lagoon Scorecard


Posted March 25, 2016, revised 6:45am March 26, 2016
Indian River Lagoon Pollution, Florida Politics and Lack of Critical Press

Opinion / Commentary*

Fish kills are a result of years of failed environmental policy -- and a lack of critical press coverageby Spence Guerin

Some months ago, when Rep. Steve Crisafulli was again undermining Amendment 1 funding, I asked Florida Today's editorial writer Matt Reed why he didn't hold Crisafulli accountable for what he was doing.

Matt Reed replied that he did not believe in 'shaming' legislators. Instead, he believed in providing good examples to help guide legislators' behaviour.

I responded, asking Mr. Reed how that was working for him. Mr. Reed did not reply.

Don't you wish Florida Today would have been -- all these years -- calling out Mr. Crisafulli and other legislators who voted against environmental protections for Florida's waters or weakened clean water standards? Or voted to block EPA (federal Environmental Protection Agency) from protecting Florida waterways? Don't you wish Florida Today had been holding elected public officials accountable for votes directly or indirectly affecting the Indian River Lagoon and other polluted waters?

Rep. Bill Posey has one of the worst environmental voting records in the US Congress. Sadly, Brevard County citizens are generally not aware of this, because -- for sure -- Florida Today is not going to report that dastardly information, you'll have to dig it up yourself.

Fortunately for us, the League of Conservation Voters compiles votes on legislators. In 2013, Posey voted for the environment only 4 percent of the time. That means 96 percent of the time he voted against the environment.

In 2015, Mr. Posey voted FOR the environment 6 percent of the time. That means, 94 percent of his votes were against the environment. Don't you think that's relevant to our situation?

Mr. Posey's lifetime environmental vote score is now 6 percent, according to League of Conservation Voters scorecard.

Some information about Posey's anti-environment votes has been compiled on the SCPA website -- click here.

Some friends down in Sebastian and Vero talk about how good TCPalm has been on lagoon coverage, really informing the citizens about lagoon issues. They ask what's the matter with Florida Today? Why the anemic, shallow coverage?

One of Florida Today's favorite sources for science info is employees of Rick Scott's St. Johns River Water Management District? What? Why would any serious journalist ask some science person at SJRWMD for science info -- especially on a controversial topic -- when nobody there can speak freely without fear of being fired? Is it because Florida Today knows nobody at SJRWMD is going to embarass business interests?

One editor after the other at Florida Today has pledged -- more or less -- to go all out hardcore journalism on the failing Indian River Lagoon in hopes that we might yet save it.

Mr. Stover, who made such a pledge, never fulfilled that pledge and he is long gone.

Mr. Gabordi, the present Exec. Editor at Florida Today, about a year ago -- April 13, 2015 -- invited us, dear readers, to 'come along as we take a closer look at the Indian River Lagoon and search for possible solutions.' Very nice, right? In that column there is this statement, actually written by one of Gabordi's reporters, but presumably Gabordi believed it: '...we'll raise a mirror to lagoon-side communities, holding public officials accountable...'

THAT got my attention! Florida Today will hold them accountable? I figured the guy was going to be another lightweight, but here he was -- boasting, kind of -- about how Florida Today is really really really going to do hardcore journalism on the lagoon. But he didn't say when! So -- when does this start?

Well, maybe in this Sunday's paper? Now that you can almost walk across the lagoon on the backs of dead fish, maybe now's when Florida Today will start holding public officials accountable for years of negligence.

Don'tcha wish?

Why is this relevant today? Because our legislators have been voting for years to undermine environmental protections, even knowing the tremendous Indian River Lagoon is in serious decline.

Time's up! We desperately need an INformed citizenry. We desperately need to know how our legislators vote. And if they have NOT been voting FOR the environment -- and most of them have NOT -- then it's way past time we voted them OUT of office.

Even AFTER the rotting fish carcasses are cleared so you won't have to smell them anymore, SOMETHING will still stink untill we vote 'em out of office. 

Hold them accountable, Mr. Gabordi.

Spence Guerin is a member of Space Coast Progressive Alliance, grew up in Melbourne and remembers a time when, under a lantern at night along the causeway, the waters were abundantly alive with fishes of many kinds, shrimp and crabs, and oysters were gathered at the mouth of Crane Creek.

*ED. NOTE: The views expressed here are solely those of the author. SCPA does not endorse candidates and welcomes commentary on a wide range of issues, including political campaigns, local, regional and national. If interested in contributing commentary, contact SCPA, please click here.



Bill Posey's shameful voting record on the environment

Are we furious yet? Our dying lagoon will be restored only if The People demand it.

Photo of dead fish in the Banana River is believed to be by Kyle Burton. Compiled by Team SCPA

Last modified on Monday, 30 May 2016 05:50
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