Tag Archives: 2015 legislative session

River Kidz’ Feedback–“Clean Water/Amd. 1 Rally,” SLR/IRL

 

Katy Lewey of St Lucie River Kidz leads way at the "Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally," Tallahassee, Florida 2015. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)
Katy Lewey and her daughter Hannah of St Lucie River Kidz lead the way at the “Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally,” Tallahassee, Florida 2015. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

River Kidz member, Keile Mader, 10, speaks at the Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally, Tallahassee, 2-18-15: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvE3-dJjp0Q)

Naia Mader and Olivia Siegel give feedback on rally experience: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MG_t_uG9Zko)

 

Question posed to River Kid: “So do you think you’ll become a politician?”

“Ummm..no…but I think I’ll be a better public speaker….:)”

 

This blog post is a follow-up to yesterday’s: “Tallahassee or Bust! River Kidz and the Clean Water Rally, Tallahassee, 2015.”

Yesterday, River Mom, Nic Mader, dropped off Naia, Olivia, Keile and I in front of the state capitol building for the Clean Water/Amendment 1 Rally…The sounds of speakers and music filled the air; the bright colors and black skeletons of Janeen Mason’s Solidarity Fish project  could be seen in the distance….(http://www.solidarityarts.com); various members of the RIVER WARRIORS, and others, came up to say “hello;” it was a cool, bright, sunny day and a sense of history exuded from every giant oak tree draped with spanish moss….

“Girls stop.” I said.

Naia, 14, Olivia, 13,  and Keile, 10 turned around and looked at me inquisitively.

“River Kidz, I want you to look around you for a minute. I want to share something with you that you may not think too much about… “THIS is part of the First Amendment, of the United States of America: “the right of the people to peaceably assemble, and to petition their government”…not all countries of the world allow this. My friend Aletha Jones teaching in China in 1989 when their government brought tanks into Tiananmen Square opening fire. Our country and our form of government, have many failures…but our “right to assemble” is key to what is “good” in our democracy….Participate today and know, you too, are a part of this great history of our country ….”

The girls nodded their heads in partial understanding, used to my occasional rants,  and we walked to the steps of the Florida capitol to be a part of the “Clean Water and Amendment 1 Rally” for the State of Florida’s historic 75% passage of the “Water and Land Conservation Initiative, Amendment 1, 2014.” (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29)

The rally was a message to the governor and the legislature to spend those monies as is intended within the language of the bill. For those of us coming from the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon Region, this means spending some of this money to purchase option lands south of Lake Okeechobee to store, clean and convey water south to the Everglades, in time, saving the dying estuaries of St Lucie/IRL and Caloosahatchee rivers.

Springs.
Springs sign-Katy Lewey overseeing the SL and Martin River Kidz.

Before the capitol and on its stairs, were people from all over the state;  we even saw Dr Bob Knight, a legend in the springs movement. Most of Florida’s springs have been equally deviated by poor “water” decisions by state, federal and local governments.

River Kidz speaking before the Senatae committee. Watch here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLFWWEtiwig)
River Kidz speaking before the Senatae committee. Watch here: (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iLFWWEtiwig)

It was a whirlwind of a day. The River Kidz were able speak at the rally; write short speeches, and to present them before Representative Larry Lee, Senator Joe Negron, and then, again, at the Senate Natural Resources Committee. They passed out their new River Kidz Second Edition Workbook, “Marty the Manatee” inspired by Mr Marty Baum, the Treasure Coast Indian Riverkeeper.

It was a good day.

Did we feel “warm and fuzzy feedback” regarding our request for option land purchase in the Everglades Agriculture Area (EAA) south of Lake Okeechobee?

“No.”

Did I hear such things as “Steve Crisafulli, the House Speaker may want  to be the Commissioner of Agriculture, and Adam Putnam does want to be governor.”….”agriculture/sugar does not want to sell the land now”—“and believe you me they are 20 years ahead the rest of you investing millions, if not billions of dollars, on a state and national level—–to influence politicians”…..”but its not all doom and gloom—things are moving”—–“and the subsiding EAA lands”—-“oh yes, and the future of Cuba,” “you never know—- maybe”…..”it’s changing so fast…”the advocacy along the Treasure Coast is noticed and making a difference…”

YES. I did hear such things….

🙂 (I will never reveal my sources but I can tell you I have good ones and spoke to many people…..)

Did we, the River Kidz: did I Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, and River Mom , Nichole Mader find “this” discouraging?

“Yes, and No.”

Yes, because coming up against any wall is never fun when one is looking to go forward…

Nonetheless, I also know, and have been told, all this pushing IS having effect. I also know it may push the “powers that be” faster into what-ever-it-is that breaks this wall of historical government/agriculture “self-interest,” because water and the flood gates of the people will in time bring it down.

Of that I am certain.

Thank you River Kidz! Thank you all! For securing a better water future!

Maggy Hurchalla...
Maggy Hurchalla…
Mark Perry before the Senate Natural Resources Committee. (JTL)
Mark Perry before the Senate Natural Resources Committee.
Cris Costello, Sierra Club.
Cris Costello, Sierra Club.
Kidz with aide in Senator Simmon's Office, delivering their workbook.
Kidz with aide in Senator Simmon’s Office, delivering their workbook.
Senator Dean's office, chair of the Nat'l Resouces Senate Committee.
Senator Dean’s office, chair of the Nat’l Resources Senate Committee.
Bill McCullum and others in background during Senate meeting.
Former Attorney General, and House of Representatives, Bill McCollum and others in background during Senate meeting.
Senator Negron's office.
Senator Negron’s office.
Representative Lee's office.
Representative Lee’s office.
Senate schedule.
Senate schedule.
Olivia Siegle's speech.
Olivia Siegle’s speech.
Keile Mader's speech.
Keile Mader’s speech.
Naia Mader's speech.
Naia Mader’s speech.
River Kidz before the capitol building.
River Kidz before the capitol building.

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River Kidz is a division of the Rivers Coalition: (http://riverscoalition.org)

River Kidz Martin County: (https://www.facebook.com/pages/River-Kidz/237123116309196)

River Kidz St Lucie County: (https://www.facebook.com/riverkidzslc)

Why Restoring the Kissimmee River is not Enough to Fix Lake Okeechobee and Save the Estuaries, SLR/IRL

Lake Okeechobee is tremendous in size. One cannot see across to the other side. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, S.Engebretsen pilot, 2014.)
Lake Okeechobee is tremendous in size. One cannot see across to the other side. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, S. Engebretsen pilot, 2014.)

The first time I ever saw Lake Okeechobee, I was fourteen years old. I was visiting River Ranch, at Yeehaw Junction, with my friend Vicki Whipkey, and her family. Jay Brock, who was by far the smartest of any of us kids there that summer vacation, and my first real “crush,” recommended we go see sunset on the lake. I don’t remember how we got there, but we did.

Once we arrived, the sun was starting to fall. The horizon was miles away, and the water went as far as the eye could see in all directions.

“It looks like the ocean, not a lake.” I said, taken aback.

Jay, spouted off some statistics saying something like: “The lake is about 730 square miles; 35 miles long; and up to 25 miles wide. It is the largest lake entirely within a state in the United States of America; it is half the size of Rhode Island.”

I wondered how he know all this stuff, and we sat there watching the sunset.

I wondered if I would have my first kiss at this beautiful, but almost eerie, “ocean of a lake.” It never happened…

I never really forgot Jay Brock, and we remained friends throughout our lives.

I never, never, ever, forgot Lake Okeechobee.

Years later,  an adult, I started going back to Lake Okeechobee in my forties when I started to become concerned about the releases from the lake into the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. I wanted and needed to see it through “adult eyes.”

—-I have flown over the lake with my husband and his friends many times;  I have entered the lake by boat; and I have driven 30 miles west with my niece Evie, on Highway 76, until arriving at Port Mayaca.  No matter how I have gotten there, every time I see the lake, I have the same experience I had at fourteen years old, I am completely “overcome by its size.”

 

At the edge of Lake Okeechobee, 2015. (Photo by Ed Lippisch.)
At the edge of Lake Okeechobee, 2015. (Photo by Ed Lippisch.)
Lake Okeechobee by plane. (Photo JTL.)
Lake Okeechobee by plane 2014. (Photo JTL.)
Lake Okeechobee by boat. (Photo Ed Lippisch 2009.)
Lake Okeechobee by boat. (Photo Ed Lippisch 2009.)

Yesterday, Governor Rick Scott pledged Amendment 1 monies to the Everglades, but not for buying the US Sugar option 1 lands south of Lake Okeechobee,

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010.)

stressing the completion of projects C-44, C-43 and the Kissimmee River. (http://www.flgov.com/2015/01/27/gov-scott-announces-5-billion-over-20-years-to-restore-the-everglades/)

Aerial photo of positron of restored Kissimmee River. Note discolored filled in C-38 canal juxtaposed to winding restored oxbows. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014).
Aerial photo of portion of restored Kissimmee River. Note discolored filled in C-38 canal juxtaposed to winding restored oxbows. The  Kissimmee is long but in its altered state, cannot hold all the extra water now stored in Lake Okeechobee and then released into the SLR/IRL and Caloosahatchee Estuaries. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, 2014).

I am thankful for this, but disappointed; I am thankful Governor Scott has the Everglades and local projects in his budget recommendation for the 2015 Legislative Session. Nonetheless, I recognize that our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon problems will never be fixed until there is land and eventually a reservoir south of the lake to store, clean, and convey water south— a flow way of sorts to move that water south….

Simply put, the Kissimmee cannot hold all the water; and the C-44 STA/Reservoir will not hold lake water, but rather local runoff. (http://www.tmba.tv/broadcastanimation/everglades-restoration/everglades-restoration/)

THERE IS TOO MUCH WATER. SOME MUST GO SOUTH. WE NEED A COMBINATION AND THE OPTION 1 LANDS EXPIRE THIS OCTOBER, 2015.

Let’s think a minute. Let’s review, and contemplate about what we can still do to politely convince our governor and legislature. There is still time.

Florida Oceanographic Society quotes 1.5 or so million acres feet coming out the Kissimmee River into Lake Okeechobee in 2013, (not our worst of years), with approximately 300,000 acre feet being released to the St Lucie/IRL and 660,000 acre feet being releases to the Caloosahatchee. The rest going to sustain the Everglades Agriculture Area south of the lake, and a smaller portion yet trickling to the dying Everglades.

So even if the Kissimmee holds more water, it won’t hold enough water. The water is meant to go south….

I wonder if the governor or Adam Putnam have any grandchildren who might be able to explain this? 🙂

Remember that the Governor’s recommendation is just that. It must be approved by the legislature. We still have time to make our voices heard and to ask for one thing to be added. ——one thing that would really help hold the tremendous and over-pouring waters of Lake Okeechobee, —-a lands purchase and a reservoir south of the lake. Then the senate, the house and the governor can duke it out….it’s not over yet!

What did Winston Churchill say? “Never, never, never, —-never give up!” 🙂

Senate Site for Comments on Amd. 1 monies: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc)

 

EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
EAA below Lake Okeechobee. (Public map.)
Historic flow from lake Okeechobee. (Map Everglades Foundation.)
Historic flow from lake Okeechobee. (Map Everglades Foundation.)
Today's flow from Lake Okeechobee. (Image Everglades Foundation.)
Today’s flow from Lake Okeechobee east and west through the estuaries.  (Image Everglades Foundation.)
My niece Evie stands at the manicured edge of the east side of Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013)
My niece Evie stands at the manicured edge of the east side of Lake Okeechobee at Port Mayaca. (Photo Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 2013)
Lake O. 730 square miles and was once 1000 square miles....
Lake O. 730 square miles and was once 1000 square miles….

 

Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. (SFWMD map, 2010)
Option Lands Map SFWMD River of Grass, Option 1 is 46,800 acres and shown in brown. These option lands could store some of the water now stored in Lake Okeechobee and released to the estuaries. (SFWMD map, 2010)

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Lake Okeechobee: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lake_Okeechobee)

 

 

 

 

Understanding Our State Legislature, and How to Make it Work for the Indian River Lagoon

Understanding our state legislature and how to make it work for the Indian River Lagoon.
Understanding our Florida state legislature and how to make it work for the Indian River Lagoon.

As usual, I  will be talking today about something I certainly don’t totally understand, but have gotten glimpses into, and therefore want to share…

The state legislature and how it works is very confusing. It  is a much larger, shrouded, party-oriented, moodier animal– to say the least, and meetings are not as easy to attend as local county or city commission meetings here at home.

So, how can we begin to approach and understand the legislature and all of its moving parts, in order to get what we want for our ailing St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon?

Let’s start out with the very simple…

First, even though the formal legislative session does not start until March 3rd, the state legislature is holding committee meetings now. We must communicate with the legislature now, while they are in committee meetings, and not wait until “session.” Waiting until session is too late. The whole process is fast and furious and during session there is no time to “talk.”

The dates I  have from my Florida League of Cities information packet for the 2015 Florida Legislative Committee (and they are subject to change, ) are  as follows:

Legislative Interim Committees: January 5-9; 20-23.

Legislative Interim Committees: February 2-5; 9-13; and 16-20.

March 3rd Legislative Session Convenes (begins)

May 1st is the last day of Regular Session.

So politicians are in meetings this week, right now! In order to find out what committees are meeting and where, you have to visit their webistes….we will talk about this in a minute.

Second, who is on what committees, and who are “our” state legislators?

There are many committees and figuring out what bill will be in what committee during session or when they are meeting is not easy, but basically for the “Indian River Lagoon” I try to keep track of two committees: 1. the “Senate’s Natural Resources and Conservation Committee” and 2. the “House’s Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.” (Gulp, don’t ask me why natural resources is together with agriculture as it seems sometimes the two have competing interest.)

The website for the Senate is: (http://www.flsenate.gov)

And the website for the House of Representatives is: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov)

It is important to know that the president of the Senate this year is Andy Gardiner and the speaker of the house is Steve Crisafulli. Both of these gentlemen represent parts of Brevard County which is on the INDIAN RIVER LAGOON! Maybe you could write them a note….? 

Now, go to both sites and look up “committees,” finding the two I mentioned above. Next, go to “calendar” and determine the dates and what rooms in which the committees will be meeting.

From what I understand, you can fill out a form on-line to speak in one of these meetings; the problem is you could drive all the way to Tallahassee and then the committee chair may decide to cancel the meeting  or not allow you much time to talk. Committee chairs are very powerful positions and are determined at the beginning of each legislative session. Nonetheless, look up the chairs of the two Natural Resource Committees. Do you know them? Do you know somebody who knows them? 

OK, now, third, is a good time to talk about “our legislators” also called our “legislative delegation.” Let’s find out what committees our legislators are on this year. Then let’s write and congratulate them! This is a good way to start a relationship. To get anything at all, you have to build a relationship. This can be done! They want to hear from you!

Also, don’t just contact them when you want something. Stay in touch regularly. Tell them what you are doing, send them a summary of what you as an activist or your organization is doing. Start by looking up the assistant of the legislator and contacting this person. Over time, try to get an appointment with the legislator. Be diligent; be positive; be polite; keep going back….Don’t give up! Invite them places; invite them to your rallies!

From my recollection, our Martin/St Lucie/Indian River area legislators are:

Senators: Joe Negron and Denise Grimsley:  To learn about them go to (http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators) and search by last name  to see their committee appointments and if they are chairing a committee.

Representatives: Gayle Harrell; MaryLynn Magar; Larry Lee; and Debbie Mayfield. Look them up alphabetically and find out what committees they are on: (http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Representatives/representatives.aspx)

This is a lot of work, but if you don’t know anything about your legislators how can you ask anything from them or make a good impression?

Interestingly, you will note many of them, do not serve on the Natural Resource or Agriculture and Natural Resource Committees. (I believe Larry Lee and Debbie Mayfield are the only ones I have seen over the past years….) Nonetheless, as bills move through committees our delegation can give input…if you communicate with them that is. If you don’t, don’t expect your voice to be heard.

The biggest thing that will be affecting the Indian River Lagoon this session besides Senator Negron following through on his Senate Select Committee on the IRL and Lake Okeechobee commitments will be how the legislature decides to deal with the passing of Amendment 1. for lands acquisition.

Just last night, Ted Guy, of the Rivers Coalition, sent out an email stating the Senate was now taking comments on their website from the public on how to utilize Amendment 1, the Water and Land Legacy Amendment, and that a new committee had been formed on its behalf.

Amd. 1. (http://ballotpedia.org/Florida_Water_and_Land_Conservation_Initiative,_Amendment_1_%282014%29Go here to make a comment: (http://www.flsenate.gov/media/topics/wlc)

St Petersburg article on this website: (http://www.saintpetersblog.com/archives/173843)

So, this is just the tip of the iceberg, but go ahead, stick your feet in the cold, cold water; let’s warm things up, and be the voice of the Indian River Lagoon!

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I must thank Mrs Kathy Till of the Florida League of Cities for her advocacy training and insights: (http://www.floridaleagueofcities.com)