Yesterday we talked about the importance of maps and how they allow us to have a vision for the future. For today’s lesson we are going to visually compare Senator Joe Negron’s land proposal map with a map of land ownership. This ownership map was recently created by the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council (TCRPC) and I shared these maps with Senator Negron prior to the choice of land ownership possibilities.
Learning about lands south of Lake Okeechobee can be dizzying. The first thing you have to do, not to lose your sense of direction, is to familiarize yourself with the canals. Your landmarks.
From left to right, the largest canals visible running north/south under Lake Okeechobee are the Miami, New River, Hillsborough, and West Palm Beach. You will also notice the Bolles Canal, (L-21), that runs east/west intersecting. When flying over this area with my husband these canals are the only landmarks that guide me in knowing where I am. Otherwise, it is just miles and miles of sugarcane.
I love the TCRPC map below with the list of land owners in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA). It really makes it easy to “see.” Notice the color coded BLUE: Public (the state or federal government); YELLOW: Private Ownership; and RED: Major Private Ownership.
When I asked the council the difference between private ownership and major private ownership, they said bigger corporations quality as “major private ownership.” One can see by all the red that most of the land under Lake Okeechobee is in major private ownership!
In regard to landownership inside the circles, Isadora Rangel of TC Palm stated in her August 10th article as follows:
“Sugar giant Florida Crystals owns 60 percent of each of those two parcels, Negron said. U.S. Sugar Corp. owns 30 percent of one, and sugar grower King Ranch owns 30 percent of the other. The state and others own the rest of the land. A U.S. Sugar spokesman declined to comment on whether the company will sell. Florida Crystals said it was reviewing Negron’s plan, according to media reports. Negron said he’s “optimistic” the companies will sell and said if the state allocates the money, then negotiations will be easier…”
Well, as we learn about this area (so we can speak in an educated manner to those involved who win on November 8th) let’s look at ALL of the owners on the map.
1.United Stats Sugar Corporation
2. Okeelanta Corp.
3. New Hope Sugar Co.
4. King Ranch Inc.
5. Wedgeworth Farms Inc.
6. SBG Sugar Farms
7. Stofan Co. Inc.
8. Closter Farms Inc.
9. Sugar Cane Growers
10. New Farm Inc.
We know something about one or two but what about the rest?
In the coming days, we will learn about history of these land owners and the history of what was once the “river of grass.” It will benefit us to review the story of the this area, because it our story too, the story of the slow demise of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
If we are trying to go somewhere; if we are trying to achieve a goal; if we are tying to win a war; maps are critical for success. They give direction. They give confidence. They provide vision…
The map above is the proposed land purchase of Senator Joe Negron, and before we dive into this map we need to consider the map of the Florida Senate, how its representation will change November 8th, and why this is important to us along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.
Last year the Senate maps were redistricted due to a law suit, but its effect will play even more out “now.”
According to TC Palm reporter, Isabella Rangel, the redistricting resulted in two things:
new boundaries for state Senate districts that required all 40 seats be on the ballot in 2016; and the renumbering of those districts that determined the fate of many senators.
People elected in odd-numbered districts will have a four-year term. Those in even-numbered districts will have a two-year term, followed by a four-year term if they haven’t reached their term limit.
What a shift! Every seat is up for reelection and the districts and timing has changed…And who is going to be keeping hold of the reigns on this wild stallion should he win his district?
President Elect Senator Joe Negron of course…
For us, advocates for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, we must think beyond ourselves. When maps change, power shifts. We should be watching this statewide election very closely. Look at the maps now and think of who you know in any of the districts ….because it will take more than Joe Negron to win this war. It will take all of us.
I am lucky to know a lot of people who are smarter than me. And one of them is my brother. Ever since we were kids Todd read meteorological books or the Guinness Book of World Records. He likes data. Today, over forty years later, he is helping me apply his knowledge of data to the St Luce River/Indian River Lagoon.
If you are a regular blog reader, you know that this past summer Todd helped publicly identify what became a 240 square mile algae bloom in Lake Okeechobee that was being released into the C-44 causing our river to become toxic. Today, I will share his ideas on avoiding the perfect toxic algae storm.
Here is a photo of Todd and I when we were young in the 70s, when the river was in better shape and we were having fun fishing on Ronnie Nelson’s dock on Hutchinson Island.
Here is a photo of Todd and me today. As you can see we have changed a lot and the river has changed too…
After studying these satellite aerials for a while, I can tell that the blooms are definitely related to sunlight and wind..Our scientists friends would sarcastically say, “no kidding?!”
High pressure system -> a lot of sunlight + no wind = bloom. Clouds + wind = less algae.
The fresh water, phosphorus and nitrogen are always in the lake, but not necessarily the river. Luckily, cloudless days are also the perfect time to spot the algae by satellite.
Maybe the ACOE should add to their discharge schedule that they will hold back the releases when it is forecast to be calm and sunny for several days to prevent the risk of and bloom in the estuaries? Then they can pulse the releases again when the clouds and wind pick up and the algae blows away in the lake – kind of like mother nature.
Jacqui: “Always better if we go with Mother Nature so we don’t end up with such ecological disasters…”
Todd: ” I think Gary Goforth, Mark Perry and others would tell us that the disaster timeline sets up like this:
– A low pressure weather system moves into Florida and dumps a bunch of rain, local runoff begins and the lake starts to rise
– They keep S-308 at Mayaca an other lakeside gates closed and open S-80 because the priority is always to transport the “local” runnoff first and not add to flooding problems by sending lake water through the coastal canals
– The local basins start to drain out and a high pressure weather system moves in. It gets sunny, hot, and the wind dies down to zero.
– With a lot of sun and no wind, the lake starts to bloom. With local runoff subsiding, the tides help flush all to local runoff out to sea but not completely.
– Just when conditions in the lake are “the perfect storm”, the estuaries would otherwise be recovering from the local runoff, the lake is in full bloom and rising, S-308 is now opened to drop the lake at the worst time. All the algae that just exploded in the lake is transported down C-44 through S-80 and into to estuaries. Salinity in the estuaries stays low instead of naturally recovering. With the sunny conditions and unnatural discharges, the estuaries explode with algae blooms.
If they would just delay opening S-308 for just a few days, maybe a week, allowing clouds and wind to return, could the perfect storm be avoided?”
You can access more of Todd’s shared data here under FIRM FAVORITES: http://www.thurlowpa.com
Thank you Todd! Hope the ACOE thinks on this. We don’t want to get in the Guinness Book of World Records 2016 for the estuary with the most toxic algae blooms!
JTL vs the Political Machine, A Retrospective, Part #5
When I saw my mother yesterday, she said, “Jacqui, I think you need to stop writing about those PACs…I get it now…” One of my Grassroots Team members implied that I may ruin my reputation for running a clean campaign, and compromise my chances to run again, with all the harsh comments coming in on my recent posts….My husband looked at me wide-eyed over a glass of wine: “I thought you tried to keep your campaign out of the blog…?” Joe Catrambone, CEO of the Stuart Chamber, who I like very much, sent out a group email saying: “Jacqui isn’t accepting defeat very well! Speaks volumes doesn’t it!!!”
For those of you who are uncomfortable, or think I am a sore loser, please don’t fret. Today will be my final day investigating those who spent time and money to affect my loss for Martin County Commission District 1.
I do apologize to the Stuart Chamber as they really don’t belong in the category of reptiles as they chose not to send out a negative post card against me, just for Doug Smith; I was simply trying to make the point that the influence of Tallahassee affects home.
Early on, in my own head, I knew that whether I lost or won, I would be reporting on the outcome dynamics of the campaign in my blog. Writing on this issue is all part of my river journey. I know what I am doing, and it will be shared. These insights in time will help us get closer to saving our dying river…
Mom, “don’t worry,” I will stop taunting the alligators very soon!🙂 But first we must try to see the truth behind the scenes.
Here we go:
Our last PAC to add to the previous three days of postings: Write in Candidate Chase Lurgio; Martin County Firefighters Union’s “Citizens for Public Safety;” C-Pac; and “Committee to Elect Real Conservatives;” (all ridiculous names) and today’s”Committee to Protect Florida.”
So when we look at the third negative post card that came out against the JTL campaign, we see on the bottom it reads: “Paid electioneering Communication for by Committee to Protect Florida, PO Box 102005 Tallahassee, FL 32302.” It is yet another ad full of lies, but I do appreciate that they used two of my favorite pictures of myself, my younger looking real estate head shot from 2007 and the hysterical “piranha photo” Ed took of me in Peru along the Amazon River.
This PAC’s chairperson is Mr Roger “Rockie” Pennington. Mr Pennington is a very well-known in Tallahassee politics. I first heard about Mr Pennington, when I was told in the last campaign cycle that he ran Doug Smith’s campaigns. At the time I wondered why Doug would use someone from Tallahassee….
Rockie Pennington owns Southern Campaign Resources, and according to his website “has been a fixture in Republican politics for nearly four decades.” You can read more here: http://www.southerncampaigns.com
Let’s look up who contributed to his PAC: ironically the Florida Chamber of Commerce at over $100,000 dollars, Florida Jobs Pac, $50,000. These are the same PACs that gave money to C-PAC and Committee to Elect Real Conservatives from yesterday with sprinkles of the sugar industry.
But what is even weirder is when you look up “Nature Coast Conservatives” that gave the lion’s share of the donations, $100,000s of dollars. This PAC is run by Roger Pennington’s partner in Southern Campaign Resources, Mr Mark Zubaly who is listed along with Rocky Pennington on the bio page of Southern Campaign Resources.
As the bio states “(Mark) is a partner in two Tallahassee-based companies that count at least one-fourth of the Florida Legislature among their clients: Southern Campaign Resources, a political consulting and lobbying firm, and Summit Communications, a media production firm. He also serves as the campaign consultant to a number of Florida’s city, county and judicial elected officials.”
And yes…Mark Zubaly was also Rockie Pennington’s PACs treasurer…
Of course as you dig deeper the money keeps going and going and going….
So The Doug Smith Campaign had its own campaign manager with his own PAC with his own partner funding the PAC from his own PAC that uses many of the same questionable donors that were linked to, C-PAC, and the # 2 post card of Josh Cooper who ran opposition research for the Governor. On top of this there was the Firefighters Union PAC, Citizens for Public Safety, sending out positive post cards for Doug Smith, sending out negative post cards against JTL all the while building signs, placing signs, making negative phone calls against JTL, pulling up opposition JTL signs, and waving….
I’d say we did pretty well considering our opponents! What an alligator pit!
I feel like we’re in a Carl Hiaasen book! We don’t even need to go to Miami!
In conclusion, The Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch Grassroots Campaign lost to this Political Machine by 2.9% or 677 votes…raised considerably more money and had considerably more diverse support. Supported a clean river and land purchase south of lake…in any case, did not support the status quo…
Wow! What a race!
It was exciting!
And now that we know who we’re in the pit with, maybe next time we’ll get them on their backs and Protect Florida For Real.
Today is part four in a series examining the loss of the “JTL Campaign for Martin County Commissioner,” a campaign that focused on the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. The goal of this series is to learn, understand, and educate the public at large as to the “local” political process.
The past two blogs reviewed the Write in Candidate, Chase Lurgio; the Firefighters Union and their PAC, Citizens for Public Safety, and C-PAC, the PAC for the Stuart Chamber. Today we will look at a Tallahassee based Political Action Committee, (PAC), that calls itself “Committee to Elect Real Conservatives.” This PAC put out a negative ad and a negative video to promote my loss and the win of sixteen year incumbant, Doug Smith.
Committee to Elect Real Conservatives:
Because it is a Tallahassee registered PAC, we must go to the Florida Department of State, Division of Elections. You may recall we also went here yesterday when following what entities gave money to the Stuart Chamber’s C-PAC. As we learned yesterday after clicking on this link, one goes to COMMITTEES to type in the name to find the wanted: http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/campaign-finance/contributions/
What is bizarre is that when you pull up this PAC its largest contributor at $25,000 on 8/2/16 is FLORIDA JOBS. The same PAC that gave $25,000 to C-PAC. So when one follows the paper trail and looks up Florida Jobs it leads to the same thing as yesterday… Among many, but most recognizable to me, again, Duda and Sons Inc., Florida Crystals, FPL, and United States Sugar Corporation. I must note there are others as you can see yourself, like Pubix Supermarkets and Disney.
The Chairperson is Josh Cooper. So who is he? Well oddly enough the only information I found about Josh Cooper is that he owns a company named Strategic Information Consultants, a of division of Next Generation Strategies. This company is most well-known for doing opposition research for Governor Rick Scott when the governor was first elected.
Wow! How could this be? Why would such high rolling people be interested enough in Martin County to start a PAC just a month before the election and spend thousands of dollars to influence the outcome? Who got them to do it?
So now for the negative ad that arrived on August 10th, less than a month after the PAC filed with the Division of Elections on 7/16/16 and less than a week after Florida Jobs donated $25,000. There is a video too. I laugh every time I see it.
So in closing, here is something to think about…
The only way we will ever have clean water in Florida, and a healthy St Lucie River Indian River Lagoon is when the powers that be stop tying to heard us like sheep with their lies. Even little lambs know that lies are “baaaaaad!”🙂
Today along the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, I continue my series “JTL vs the Political Machine,” a retrospective for my county commission district 1 campaign loss. I find that hindsight is always 20/20, reviewing everything is helpful, and certainly understanding how things work will make me a better candidate in the future. As a teacher it is an oportunity for me to share the electoral process so others can learn too.
Yesterday we reviewed Write in Candidates, and the Firefighters Union. Today we begin with one of multiple PACs, or Political Action Committees. On the simplest level, a PAC is an organization that raises money privately to influence elections or legislation. PACs must report monies raised to election offices, and the tiers of giving are often multilayered and not easy to trace.
I am going to start with the PAC closest to home, C-PAC. C-PAC is the political action committee for the Stuart Chamber. https://www.stuartmartinchamber.org
I have a lot of acquaintances in the Stuart Chamber, but due to long-standing relationships and other factors the chamber supported my opponent Doug Smith. Thus we study his post card today.
The Stuart Chamber supported Mr Smith by sending out a post card for him. The average political postcard mailing for design, printing, and mailing runs around $15,000, so it is very helpful if a PAC sends out a postcard for you if you are a candidate because then you don’t have to raise the money yourself!
Below is the postcard C-PAC sent out for Doug Smith. Look closely on the back side bottom, it reads: “Paid Electioneering Communication paid for by C-PAC, 1650 S. Kanner, Highway, FL 34994” if Mr. Smith’s campaign had paid for this, it would say that…
For the busy and hardworking public, it is hard to take the time to find out where PACs get their money and thus who is really supporting a candidate so let’s look a bit deeper and see what we find out. It’s fun. Like being a detective!
First of all as C-PACs address is in Martin County, you have to go to the Martin County Supervisor of Election’s website and click on the COMMITTEE INFO, COMMITTEES, C-PAC, and then “Non Election Specific Reporting:”
Once clicking around one can see that in 2015 and 2016, C-PAC accepted PAC money from the following :
I know most of the donors in 2015, but who is Florida Jobs Pac in 2016 who gave $25,000 to C- PAC on 7/14/16? According to the StPetersburgBlog: Florida Jobs PAC is a political arm of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. That makes sense–but let’s look at the donations. As Florida Jobs Pac’s address is Tallahassee we must go to the Florida Division of Election’s website and type in Florida Jobs under “Committees:” http://dos.elections.myflorida.com/campaign-finance/contributions/
This is what comes up. There are many donors but some stand out like Duda and Sons Inc., Florida Crystals, FPL with so many, and United States Sugar Corporation.
So although the postcard says C-PAC. There is more to it than that. Good to know! We’ll study some more of the Tallahasse PACs in the coming days. They are very interesting too.
Now that the dust is settling, it is important to study and document the loss dynamics of “Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch for Martin County Commission District 1.” In retrospect, it was a voice for the river grassroots campaign versus a sophisticated political machine. The narrow loss to 16 year incumbent Doug Smith, by only 677 votes or 2.9% makes the retrospective even more interesting!
As there is such a plethora of material, today we will research only parts #1 and #2: The Write in Candidate (WIC), and the Martin County Firefighters Union. In follow-up posts, we will breakdown the influence and monies of the political action committees and their cohorts better known as PACs.
#1 WRITE IN CANDIDATE (WIC)
One very effective way the political machine affects a race is by putting in a “write in candidate.” Because of a constitutional amendment brought forward by the voters in 1998, Florida is a “universal primary state,” meaning in a primary election that determines the General Election, voters of all parties are allowed to vote. But there is one “opinion” loophole that came later: “if a write in candidate (opposition) enters the race, the race becomes closed.”
Write in candidates could be real candidates who at the last minute decide to run, or they can be fake candidates who are put up by the “powers that be” to close the primary race to one party, or for the “benefit” a certain candidate.
This is what happened in the JTL District 1 race. Chase Lurgio, an 18 year old teenager at Jensen Beach High School, who is certainly a not in a position to be a county commissioner, was put up for the benefit of Mr Smith the last days of June. The race had been going on since September the year before.
Who put up this candidate and was he awarded for service? This we may never know, but as we study the players in the arena we begin to get an idea….
If you are interested, all of Chase Largo’s WIC information can be found on the Martin County Supervisor of Elections’ website; also, one can call and request his qualification papers. There is not much to learn as a write in candidate pays no fee, (“real” county commission candidates are required to pay almost 4,000$ or get 1100 petitions signed to quality); WIC do not have to fundraise, participate in forums, etc.., can be of the same party they close, (as is the case of Chase Lurgio who is a Republican himself like me and Doug Smith); they do not have to put forth a biography…nothing is really required to be a WIC, you just have to be willing to sign up.–they don’t even have to live in the county!
To repeat, the JTL Campaign, a loud independent voice for the health of the St Lucie River, a bipartisan issue with broad appeal to all parties was threatening to the political machine and to Doug Smith. So the race was closed by a WIC, disenfranchising over half the voting population of Martin County (Democrats and Independents.) Considering the will of the people 1998 constitutional amendment made Florida a universal primary state, this does not seem correct.
Numbers of Martin County Registered Voters: |Republican: 55,015 | Democrat: 27,501 | Other: 26,591 | Total: 109,107
People can change parties but this is a lot to ask, and only a very small population even figure out what is going on. Many voters are furious when they get to the polls and names they expected to vote for are not on the ballot.
Mind you, I have no problem with true write in candidates or closed primaries. However the tactics of Florida’s present system are fraudulent and encourage foul play. The only way to change this is to work against the corruption of WIC fraud and in time get the state constitution changed for either straight closed primaries or open primaries.
In conclusion, as time goes on more and more law suits have arisen regarding WIC and in fact there is a case in the Florida Supreme Court Case pending although one was just determined and the opinion on WICs was upheld. It is the people who must overturn this fraudulent part of our system.
Another factor affecting the JTL race was the Martin County Firefighters Union. The MC Firefighters Union has been at an impasse with the Martin County Commission for raises etc… To overcome this situation, they have regrouped and developed a ruthless union that has raised dues to back candidates that promote their interests.
It is kind of “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch your back” approach. As was quite obvious during the race, where I used my grassroots team, Doug Smith used the firefighters. They put his signs together in the union parking lot and waved signs along with their families on the side of the road in sweltering heat.
They also raised extra money with their union dues to send out a negative post card against me and later made direct phone calls to citizens in my hometown of Sewall’s Point stating untruths.
Their Political Action Committee, Citizens for Public Safety, (PAC) sent out the ad below and by clicking on the link one can see they raised over 100,000 dollars in their PAC to run negative ads against candidates. On average it cost about 15,000$ to send out one postcard.
If you go to the link from the Florida Department of State Division of Elections and enter their PAC “Citizens for Public Safety” into COMMITTEES you will see reporting.
The misleading ad they sent out against the JTL Campaign is below. Look closely and you will see “Paid electioneering communication paid for by Citizens for Public Safety”
As I said many times during the course of my campaign, I am forever grateful to the firefighters for saving my life when I broke my neck in 2001, but I find their campaigning for any candidate a total conflict of interest. It will be interesting to see if Mr. Smith supports their raises in the coming budget cycles. I am also surprised the “Republican” candidate would have such a close relationship with unions.
Hindsight is always 20/20. Hope you learned something today. I certainly have! See you for part 3, Stuart Chamber’s C-PAC in the coming days.