If you are a regular reader of my blog, you may know that I prefer to write a “happy-Friday” St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon post…Sometimes though, the news of the day is too pressing, and it is more important to respond to the “question of the day.”
So here we go…
Early this morning, I get a call…
“Jacqui, did you sees the ad in the Stuart News? Who is “We”? Is the ad from the SFWMD?Did the South Florida Water Management District pay for this ad? That would be wrong!”
My husband had already placed the paper by my bedside; the ad’s headline read: WE DON”T NEED SUGAR’S LAND FOR EVERGLADES….With a foggy head, I recalled that there was a full-page ad in yesterday’s paper from US Sugar:
Getting up, pouring a cup of coffee, and perusing the ad, I noted the right bottom corner: “Brought to you by: Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.”
I am familiar with Farm Bureaus as my Grandfather Henderson, a soil scientist, UF teacher, Gainesville IFAS-Extension employee, and leader of the 1952-1969 “Agronomy Project,” was an active member throughout his lifetime. There are farm bureaus throughout Florida; they are key in education, and supporting the rights of farmers. They are powerful, historical entities.
Of course, the Western Palm Beach County Farm Bureau is the largest and most powerful of all… So going to the internet on my phone, I noted who was listed on their board.
I didn’t know anybody except Ms, Judy Sanchez, from US Sugar Corporation, Clewiston. I have met Ms Sanchez. She is really nice and an excellent PR lady; US Sugar is very lucky to have her. This is her job and she does it very well. I would imagine the others listed are also “in the business” of the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee too…
So why is this ad in today’s paper with the headline WE DON’T NEED SUGAR’S LAND FOR EVERGLADES “dangerous?” Well, I think it is dangerous because to the public it could appear that the ad comes from the SFWMD as it uses information from an Op-Ed written by SFWMD Board Chair Dan O’keefe that ran in the Miami Herald but not here on the Treasure Coast. WE is next to Dan Okeefe’s head. Dan chairs the SFWMD Governing Board. The way the ad reads, it almost appears as if the ad is from the SFWMD itself. WE should be clearly referring to the West Palm Beach County Farm Bureau.
Thus mostly the reason for the early morning call….
In case you don’t know, the SFWMD is a “special taxing district.” If you look at your tax bill you will see we all pay taxes to the District. This money is not to be spent on “ads” but rather on their mission “to manage water and related resources for the benefit of the public: the key elements of the Mission are environmental protection and enhancement, water supply, flood protection and water quality protection.” (Data Directory 1999) Maybe their mission has altered since 1999 but I don’t have time to look for the 2015 version. This should be close enough…
In information wars it is very important that players show no “questionable impropriety.” In my opinion, this ad does not achieve this goal.
WPB County Farm Bureau:(http://www.floridafarmbureau.org/county_farm_bureau/palm_beach_west)
Miami Herald June 6th, 2015 Op-Ed Dan O’Keefe, SFWMD: (http://www.miamiherald.com/opinion/op-ed/article23219004.html)