Tag Archives: charlie crist

A Surprise Visit by Gubernatorial Candidate, Charlie Crist, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Charlie Crist visits the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon October 3, 2014. Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)
Charlie Crist visits the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon October 3, 2014. (Photo by Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch.)

As you probably saw in the paper, Charlie Crist, Democratic gubernatorial candidate for Florida, visited Stuart on Wednesday, October 3, 2014. Very exciting! I have been waiting for the governor’s race to crank up and for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon to be in the spotlight as it should be.

In my dream of dreams Governor Scott and Charlie Crist would come to Stuart debate. For now, I will be satisfied that this year both have visited and spoken and are aware of health issues facing the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon.

I had seen Charlie Crist speak before at the Florida League of Cites, in Hollywood, but it was fun to see “the man, the myth,” our former governor, up close, face to face, along with his beautiful wife Carol.

I shall tell you of my short experience…

As I did not learn of the visit until the day before, I already had commitments and thus was one hour and a half late to Mr Crist’s planned arrival to tour the lagoon at the invitation of Marty Baum, Indian Riverkeeper.

This was inconsequential as the Crist team was late itself, so when I arrived at Sandsprit Park, Mr Crist and his team had just gone out in the boat with Marty Baum, Mark Perry of Florida Oceanographic, and others.

Coming in off the boat
Coming in off the boat.
Marty Baum, Indian Riverkeeper, Kevin Stinnet, and
Marty Baum and friends.

As Mr Crist came off the boat I moved to greet him and grabbed his hand to help him onto the dock.  I thanked him for his visit. His wife, Carol was at his side holding a sign that read,  A FAIR CHANCE FOR FLORIDA.  I knew that the couple had married in 2008 and that she was a very successful business woman who ran the  family business, Franco American Novelty Co . and was most well-known for  inventing  the slogan: “Where Fashion Meets Halloween,” and  creating  sexy Halloween costumes that were big sellers. She is a talented marketer.

I wondered what she thought so far of Stuart. She smiled, stepping off the boat in high heels.

Charlie Christ's wife, Carol, was at his side on the boat ride. (Public photo)
Charlie Christ’s wife, Carol, was at his side on the boat ride. (Public photo)

Once off the boat they got their sea legs as apparently a big wave had hit…the small crowd loved him and gathered around.

Mr Crist composed himself, a calm and confident speaker. This was obviously a man used to being in the public eye.

The questions from the reporters about the lagoon were many, and Mr Crist did a good job answering. Nonetheless there was an awkward moment that must be noted.

Tyler Treadway from the Stuart News asked Mr Crist about how he would stop the discharges from Lake Okeechobee and Mr Crist answered that “he would put the right people on the South Florida Water Management Board and the discharges would stop; like they did before, when he was governor…”

There was silence. Tyler’s lips quivered; he said something like …”Sir I don’t know how you can say that? …That you stopped the discharges….”

Charlie Crist repeated again that he had.

I watched this crowd who adored and appreciated Mr Crist but they were too educated and too far into this not to know that stopping the discharges is a lot more complicated that that….and that they have NEVER stopped for long.

The was the pregnant pause….Silence….Tyler looked at his writing pad….the crowd stared into space.

As usual I could not stop myself and I finally blurted out: “Temporarily…..”

Charlie Crist looked straight at me; I respectfully held my gaze, head slightly down.

We all looked at each other….and stared. It was time to go.

We all thanked him. It was a great visit.

I believe Mr Crist’s intentions are good, I just don’t think, he like all politicians, is  used to speaking to such an educated public.

We know the truth, we need a third outlet from the lake and other water holding areas, there are no saviors, no boards that will fix our terrible St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon/Lake Okeechobee problem.

“Why didn’t he speak about his US Sugar buyout plan from 2008?” Said someone as we were all walking away?

“He didn’t know who he was taking to,” I answered. “The most educated public in the state. Politicians are not used to that…”

We waved goodbye. And Charlie flashed us that winning smile. We hope he’ll come again.

Pam Joy hold a sign SAVE OUR RIVER.
Pam Joy hold a sign SAVE OUR RIVER.
SAVE US
SAVE US
St Lucie River Kidz were there to meet Charlie Crist. Their mission is to speak out, get involved and raise awareness....
St Lucie River Kidz were there to meet Charlie Crist. Their mission is to speak out, get involved and raise awareness….

 

 

Sugar Hill Sector Plan/Airglades Airport’s Location and How it Affects the Indian River Lagoon

Sugar Hill Sector Plan and Airglades Airport's location in reference to Lake Okeechobee, (Maps, iPhone, 2014.)
Sugar Hill Sector Plan and Airglades Airport’s location in reference to Lake Okeechobee, (Maps, iPhone, 2014.)

Since last week, you may have seen press on “Sugar Hill and Airglades Airport,” a land use change proposal located in Hendry County southwest of Lake Okeechobee. This is a highly controversial, approximately 67 square miles, of present “farmland” that could change to residential, (up to 18,000 homes), and commercial lands, built around an airport that is already in place with the potential to expand.

Just for comparison, the Airglades Airport runway is 5900 feet long while Witham Airport’s in Stuart is 5800 according to my husband Ed. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airglades_Airport)

Anyway, this morning I do not have time to debate this issue in detail, but I will say of course that it is a true “game changer.” I wanted to SHOW where these lands are located in reference to lands that are still available for purchase by the state of Florida due to an option you may have heard of as well.

If purchased, these “option” lands would be key in Everglades restoration from Lake Okeechobee to the Everglades and restoring some pathetic remnant of its historic flow.

Presently, the state does not want to buy these lands because politicians claim there is no money to maintain them and if they were bought the lands will just end up “sitting there,” at great expense until a possible time they could be utilized in the future, like 2060.

This argument may sound “reasonable” but in order to save the Everglades and the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon, purchasing these lands is critical and should be done “now” because if these lands are not purchased “now,” as the Sugar Hill Sector Plan shows, their land use could be changed  and then the lands will be too expensive for the state to ever purchase. Market value for agricultural lands is less than residential. Sometimes life demands you spend money now to save in the future.

So, just so we know where we are talking about, where are these Sugar Hill and Airglades lands located? See map below.

Airglades Airport and the Sugar Hill Sector plan are located south west of Clewiston by about five miles on the west side of Lake O along Hwy. 27.
Airglades Airport and the Sugar Hill Sector plan are located south west of Clewiston by about five miles on the west side of Lake O along Hwy. 27.

They are located on Highway 27 west of Clewiston. Highway 27 runs through the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee connecting both coasts. The Airglades Airport and Sugar Hill Sector Proposal are located right before the highway shoots north. See red dots above and below. The 67 square miles of Sugar Hill Proposed Sector lands are “around” the airport. I do not know exactly where, but I would think mostly south.

At closer view, one can see the Airglades Airport  amongst the sugar fields.
At closer view, one can see the Airglades Airport amongst the sugar fields.

Now if we look at a partial map of the option lands we can see that the Airglades Airport and Sugar Hill Sector Proposal are located in lands that were designated for purchase to one day benefit Everglades restoration for posterity. (Dark green is of “most importance” and yellow is of “importance,” both are option lands…)

Map showing option lands close to Clewiston.
Map showing option lands close to Clewiston.

Overall EAA option lands:

Option Lands marked for purchase for Everglades restoration under former gov. Charlie Crist. The deal fell apart due to politics and the financial crisis of  2008--a much smaller land purchase ensued.
Option Lands marked for purchase for Everglades restoration under former Gov. Charlie Crist. The deal fell apart due to politics and the financial crisis of 2008–a much smaller land purchase ensued.

OK…so how would this fit into the Plan 6, River of Grass restoration? Please keep in mind Plan 6 and all “plans” are fluid as they have not happened yet…The amount of water we are talking about it almost beyond comprehension and requires great areas of land beyond lines on a sheet of paper. So even though this Plan 6 chart concentrates flow between the Miami and New River Canals the lands west of this area where Sugar Hill would be located are part of the overall restoration plan for this area as we can tell from the option lands maps above.

Plan 6.
Plan 6.
Plan 6, River of Grass.
Plan 6 flow, River of Grass.

In conclusion, and to repeat myself:  all the lands marked as option lands are important for the overall Everglades/Northern Estuaries restoration project. The Sugar Hill Sector Plan, if successful, is setting a precedent for changes in agricultural land use in Florida. There may be no turning back on this at this point as the Scott Administration gutted the Department of Community Affairs  that used to keep such land use changes in check.  As usual the state of Florida has put development  before restoration of natural lands and water’s protection.

When Florida’s future waters are  just one big toxic algae bloom, and people do not want to live here, I wonder if some of our politicians will wish they had voted another way? Oh but they will be dead like me, so I guess it doesn’t matter….

It does matter. It matters almost more than anything in the world. Please make your voice known and let’s leave something to the children of the future other than cookie cutter homes.

_________________________

Tampa Bay Times Article, Sugar Hill: (http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/us-sugar-plans-development-on-land-florida-wanted-for-everglades/2196332)

Not Only Have We Become a Political Force for the Indian River Lagoon; We are in the Driver’s Seat, So Drive!

Gubitorial candidates wrote directly to the residents of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon area on May 8th, 2014.
Gubitorial candidates wrote directly to the residents of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon area on May 8th, 2014 in the Stuart News.

I didn’t pick up Sunday’s Stuart News until Monday, as I had been out of town. Sipping my coffee and holding the old fashioned paper, I love so much, my lips curled in a broad smile. The opinion page juxtaposed articles by two candidates running for Florida governor: Nan Rich and Rick Scott.

These letters were not just broad sweeping letters; they were thoughtful and personal, they mentioned the River Warriors and direct stories of inspiration from local residents. Don’t get me wrong, I know it is an election year, but nonetheless, it is simply amazing. In one year, since the discharges from Lake Okeechobee and our local canals turned our world upside down, and news of such “went viral,” the people have accomplished the most impressive of our forefathers’ American expectations. Expectations that years of  social conformity and  acceptance of over-development and  pollution had overridden. The people of the Indian River Lagoon have stood up to their government.

The rebellion of the southern lagoon corresponded to the northern lagoon’s massive deaths of manatees, dolphins, pelicans and loss of almost 100% of its seagrasses. These die-offs and toxic algae blooms in the north, actually began happening in 2011 but did not come out publicly until the uprising in the southern lagoon blended the two tragedies.

I know for many of my friends the politics of the River Movement is hypocritical, frustrating and painful. I feel the same way. In fact lately I have been a bit depressed over the whole thing. But I am getting out of it. Boy is it a pleasure to see that paper, to be in the drivers seat, to have “them” writing letters, visiting, and actually thinking that there is no longer a “golden ticket” to pollute. I have been in Martin County many years, and on “this level,” “this” has never happened before.

Finally, even Senator Rubio is getting heat in the press; long standing Senator Nelson is happy he’s been around, but also nervous he is part of the lagoon “establishment;” Charlie Crist is taking out his old notes about US Sugar; Senator Negron is promising more for the lagoon in 2015; Congressman Murphy is regrouping and studying the Farm Bill after the ACOE refused CEPP on his watch; and the future speakers of the Florida house and senate are making their cases for the future of “water.”

Many times the lagoon has been defiled by our government, in fact 2013 was not the worst its ever been. But  I am telling you, this time it is different because of “us.”  This time we have exposed them. This time we are asking truly for government to do what it is supposed to: “protect the health; safety and welfare” of its people. This time we are united in a brotherhood and sisterhood of diverse backgrounds and interests. This time we have reached a tipping point, as has the lagoon.

And most important for change, this time, “they” are watching and listening to us.

Please take advantage of this opportunity. Don’t turn your back because the politics are so repulsive to watch. Look to the sky—look to the river ——write a letter or make a call and say : ‘thank you; we are happy you are taking an interest in the lagoon; I will be weighing who to vote for based on who really has the desire, passion and an honest heart.”

These politicians may never be able to reach perfection, their world is pretty insane,  but be grateful they are paying attention, and know you are a force for change in a way never before. Drive your points home!