FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Jeb Bush and the Environment

by ALAN FARAGO

At a recent meeting in Tallahassee, the governor of Florida boasted of his “devious plan” to thwart the class size amendment. What kind of governor boasts about being devious? One who has gotten away with it before.

Take the governor’s policies on suburban sprawl; linking environmental issues like habitat destruction, loss of wetlands, with traffic congestion, inadequate infrastructure, and overcrowded schools.

In 1998 Jeb campaigned on a promise to reform policies that influence the sensible growth of our communities and protections for our environment. From the governor’s mansion, he promoted an internet survey on public attitudes on sprawl. But the results were not what the governor wanted to hear. A strong majority of those who completed the survey asked for more state involvement in controlling sprawl, not less.

Governor Bush junked the survey claiming it represented the views of only a small fraction of Floridians. He then appointed a blue ribbon panel to recommend “real” reforms. But his appointments were stacked with special interests, and its recommendations withered in the legislature under pressure from lobbyists.

Today, the wagon wheels on Florida’s effort to control sprawl, wobbly under Jeb’s predecessor, have fallen off. Jeb continues to maintain that state regulatory authority should be diminished in favor of local government, and that local officials can protect the interests of people better than state agencies in Tallahassee. It is strange, because Jeb continues to reverse his principles in practice.

The most controversial legislation of the 2002 session was a bill that galvanized the protest of one of the largest citizen coalitions in Florida history. The bill provided funding for a portion of Everglades restoration, a worthy goal, but was poisoned by an amendment making it even harder for citizens to challenge bad permitting decisions by state agencies and local officials.

Jeb could have asked the legislature to deliver a clean Everglades bill, but he didn’t. By signing the bill, Jeb made it more difficult for citizens to challenge their own local government. He reversed himself again when he signed into law a measure in favor of billboard owners even when billboards had been constructed in violation of local zoning codes.

In the 2002 redistricting of Congressional and state district boundaries, Jeb had a keen eye for two legislators in particular; Mark Weissman and Cindy Lerner. These were the only two state representatives cut from districts in which they lived.

In successive years, both legislators had ranked first out of 120 members of the Florida House by the Florida League of Conservation Voters Legislative Scorecard. The League tracks voting record and bill/amendment sponsorship of state legislators on the environment. A low rating correlates with bad votes. A high rating correlates with leadership on environmental issues.

Cindy Lerner earned her number #1 ranking by speaking out in defense of Florida’s drinking water quality and against Jeb’s plans to weaken federal rules protecting drinking water quality from risky well drilling.

In forming a new Congressional district in south Florida, Jeb cut the Everglades from its staunchest Congressional defender, Congressman Peter Deutsch. In 2002, Deutsch, a Democrat whose district boundaries used to take in the Everglades and the Florida Keys, had a 100% rating from the national League of Conservation Voters.

The Republican contender for the new district is Mario Diaz Balart. As state representative, Diaz Balart received a rating of 18% by the Florida LCV. His brother, Lincoln, a Congressman from Miami Dade County scarcely rated 14% from the national LCV.

It would be one thing if Jeb’s leadership on redistricting were simply a case of “winners” thrashing political “losers”, but the “losers” in the Bush term are mostly ordinary citizens.

In 2001, Jeb wrote to his brother, the president, urging the relaxation of federal drinking water standards by the EPA. While citizens mounted a grass roots campaign and stopped the governor’s plan to pass new legislation that would have legalized pollution of Florida’s drinking water aquifers, the corporate giant Enron was greasing the skids for a bid to privatize Florida’s water resources, a scheme supported by Jeb’s key environmental aide, David Struhs. Only later, after fraud brought the corporation down-taking hundreds of millions from state pension funds-did the public learn that Enron’s opening night party in Tallahassee, in 1998, was called “Liquid Assets”.

Either Jeb means what he says, or he doesn’t. In Orlando, Jeb said that his remarks about his “devious plan” were sarcastic. Sarcasm is when you say one thing, and mean another. Devious is when you do something completely different from what you said you were going to do.

Environmentalists know the difference, which is a compelling reason to believe it is time for new leadership in Florida.

ALAN FARAGO lives in Coral Gables, Florida. He can be reached at: afarago@bellsouth.net

 

Alan Farago is president of Friends of the Everglades and can be reached at afarago@bellsouth.net

May 05, 2016
David L. Glotzer
Welcome to Fortified Europe: the Militarization of Europe’s Borders
Adam Szetela
Beyoncé’s “Formation” and the Boutique Activism of the Left
Bruce Lerro
Lost at Sea: Left Liberals Have No Party
Paul Cochrane
Hot Air in the Saudi Desert: a Kingdom in Descent?
Brian Terrell
My Visit to a Las Vegas Jail
Judith Deutsch
The Military’s “Securitization” of Climate Change
Phyllis Bennis
Kunduz Bombing: Proof the Pentagon Should Not Be Allowed to Investigate Itself for War Crimes
Chad Nelson
When Compassion is Terrorism: Animal Rights in a Post-911 World
Dan Arel
Making Sanders’ Dream a Reality Through Political Activism
Kent Paterson
Ten Years Later: Reflections on the Legacies of Immigrant Spring
Serge Halimi
Why Firefighters are Against Free Trade
Andrew Stewart
Green Bernie or Green Party Machine?
Binoy Kampmark
Yuri Gagarin in Space: the Politics of Cosmic Discovery
Hayes Rowan
This Naming of Things
May 04, 2016
Kshama Sawant
It’s Not About Bernie: Why We Can’t Let Our Revolution Die in Philadelphia
Conn Hallinan
Baiting the Bear: Russia and NATO
Joshua Frank
Hanford’s Leaky Nuke Tanks and Sick Workers, A Never-Ending Saga
Paul Craig Roberts
TIPP: Advancing American Imperialism
Ted Rall
Hillary to Bernie Supporters: Don’t Vote for Me!
Eric Draitser
Hillary Clinton and Wall Street’s Neoliberal War on Latin America
Leslie Scott
The Story of Jill Stein: Putting People, Peace and the Planet Before Profits
Ann Garrison
Building the Greens Into a Mass Party: Interview with Bruce Dixon
Tom Clifford
Crying Rape: Trump’s China-Bashing
Lawrence Davidson
Getting Rid of Bad Examples: Andrew Jackson & Woodrow Wilson
Ellen Brown
Bank of North Dakota Soars Despite Oil Bust: A Blueprint for California?
Nelson Valdes
Is Fidel Castro Outside or Part of Mainstream Thinking? A Selection of Quotes
Jesse Jackson
Don’t Send Flint Down the Drain: Fix It!
Nathan Riley
Help Bernie Keep His Halo
Rivera Sun
Remembering Nonviolent History: Freedom Rides
Clancy Sigal
Rachel and the Isolationists: How Maddow Blew It
Laura Finley
Changing the Conversation About “The Woman Card”
CJ Hopkins
Coming this Summer … Revenge of the Bride of Sophie’s Choice
May 03, 2016
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Foreign Policy Resumé: What the Record Shows
Michèle Brand – Arun Gupta
What is the “Nuit Debout”?
Chuck Churchill
The Failures of Capitalism, Donald Trump and Right Wing Terror
Dave Marsh
Bernie and the Greens
John Wight
Zionism Should be on Trial, Not Ken Livingstone
Rev. John Dear
A Dweller in Peace: the Life and Times of Daniel Berrigan
Patrick Cockburn
Saudi Arabia’s Great Leap Forward: What Would Mao Think?
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Electoral Votes Matter: Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders vs Donald Trump
Chris Gilbert
Venezuela Today: This Must Be Progress
Pepe Escobar
The Calm Before the Coming Global Storm
Ruth Fowler
Intersecting with the Identity Police (Or Why I Stopped Writing Op-Eds)
Victor Lasa
The Battle Rages on in Spain: the Country Prepares for Repeat Elections in June
Jack Rasmus
Is the US Economy Heading for Recession?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail