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Spin Machine Busts a Gasket in the Everglades

“A federal judge ruled . . . that the state and federal governments have violated the 1992 Everglades cleanup settlement by allowing repeated excessive discharges of phosphorus into the vast wetlands and failing to meet a key stormwater-treatment deadline.”–

Associated Press report last week

Hear ye, hear ye! Come gather ’round the federal district court in Miami.

Quick. Look, before it disappears. The Everglades spin machine is down, little sparks shooting out. Get your cameras. Point and click.

“Florida is today meeting its commitment to the environment and restoring America’s Everglades.”

— Gov. Jeb Bush, in literature broadcast by the South Florida Water Management District to taxpayers, May/June 2005.

But U.S. District Judge Federico Moreno ruled that the state continues to violate the law!

View the spin machine, its gears turning lazily around. We’re investing billions of dollars in the Everglades! Everything is well! Birds are up!

Quickly. This moment won’t last long.

In 2003, Florida Legislature passes the Everglades Whenever Act, but it is all good! Mathematical formulas! Mixing averages! Sugar’s pollution is only pollution-sort-of.

The spin machine invents its own reality! Makes bad-tempered governor happy!

“Florida is currently in full compliance with the federal Consent Order to reduce phosphorous by 85 percent in the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and the Everglades National Park.” –

– Letter from former Florida Department of Enviromental Protection Secretary David Struhs to Florida’s congressional delegation, April 10, 2003.

Dexter Lehtinen, former U.S. Attorney who sued the State of Florida, now representing the Miccosukees, disagrees. Solemnly backed up by environmentalists. Thank God for the Indians.

U.S. District Judge William Hoeveler calls the 2003 Jeb Bush law “clearly defective,” is “dismayed by process that led to its passage.” Notes 40 sugar lobbyists pushed it through Legislature. Bingo, Hoeveler’s history!

A new federal judge takes on the task, Judge Frederico Moreno. In the Moreno courtroom, isn’t that Republican Congressman Clay Shaw defying our bad-tempered governor in federal court? Bless you, Congressman, but the spin machine has no time to lose.

Time to Acceler8! It’s a new spin machine, with dubs and spinners. Pimp My Ride comes to the Everglades!

State tries to kick Miccosukees from federal court. No luck with stubborn Indians or bad environmentalists.

See federal agencies cower before a sibling relationship, bouncing down the middle of the Everglades in a low-rider on hydraulic lifters with ground effects! Scary Florida!

Everything is behind time! Everything is best effort! Watch the simple made complex, watch the complex made confused, watch the confused made happy!

“I have good news to report — the restoration of America’s Everglades is steaming ahead, with the state’s share of the massive $8 billion program still on schedule and on budget.”

— publication of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, Secretary Colleen M. Castille, May 27, 2005.

The spin machine is relentlessly on message. Except Judge Moreno rules against state! Yikes.

Federal Court Judge Moreno is appointed for life. What could it all mean? Change the judiciary? That will take too long! Busted!

District General Counsel Sheryl Wood said the ruling, “from a public relations standpoint, is not a good thing.” But she said, “As far as we’re concerned, this is not that bad.”

Oops. Stay on point. See, the spin machine blink.

“I don’t see how anybody could say that we’re violating the agreement,” Wood said. “We’re a bit perplexed by this order.”

Push the end of a paper clip and press the Everglades re-set button. Watch the spin machine struggle to its feet, Indians and environmentalists kicking dust in its exposed circuitry.

The state of Florida spin machine needs progress to feed on, and where it dwindles, makes more materialize at will.

“No other government in the world has invested as much time or money in improving the quality of one single water body or natural system,” said Castille.

It’s baa-ck. Just like Hollywood, if you could own shares in the production company and distributor.

Castille said after the ruling was released last week, “Florida remains steadfast in its commitment to clean up and restore America’s Everglades and will not deviate from the path of progress.”

Uh-huh. The Everglades, where everything politics touches turns to opportunity! Huzzah! The Everglades will be saved, federal law or not!

ALAN FARAGO, a writer on the environment and politics, can be reached at alanfarago@yahoo.com.

 

More articles by:

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

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