Tag Archives: educated public

“Playing Dead” Like an Opossum–SFWMD, St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon

Opossum plays dead to ward off attackers. As soon as attackers leave the area, the opossum will walk safely away. (Public photo)
Opossum plays dead to ward off attackers. This is where the expression “to play opossum” comes from. As soon as attackers leave the area, the opossum will walk safely away. Most animals will not pursue carrion. This seemed to be the strategy of the SFWMD Governing Board at yesterday’s meeting in West Palm Beach. (Public photo.)
2015 board of the SFWMD. The board did not respond to the public's request for the purchase of US Sugar option lands south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 3-12-15.)
2015 board of the SFWMD. The board did not respond to the public’s request for the purchase of US Sugar option lands south of Lake Okeechobee. (Photo JTL, 3-12-15.)
Governing Board, SFWMD, 2015.
Governing Board, SFWMD, 2015.

There are really just a couple of things you can do when you are “attacked” or “think you are  being attacked.” You can fight back, or you can “play opossum–play dead.”

Sometimes, the game is over faster if you “play opossum,” and simply don’t respond.

This happens in my yard a lot with my dogs and opossums here in the Town of Sewall’s Point, and it in my opinion, it happened yesterday at the South Florida Water Management District’s Governing Board Meeting in West Palm Beach.

Opossum in a tree in my mother's yard. (Photo Sandy Thurlow.)
Opossum in a tree in my parents’ yard. (Photo Sandy Thurlow.)
Opossum pretending it is dead in our ferns. (Photo JTL, 2011.)
Opossum pretending it is dead in our ferns. (Photo JTL, 2011.)
Opossum feigning death...(Public photo)
Opossum feigning death…(Public photo)

Although the front page of the SFWMD’s agenda read:

“The Governing Board may take official action at the is meeting on any item appearing on the agenda and on any item that is added to this agenda as a result of a change to the agenda approved by the presiding officer of the meeting pursuant to Section 120.525, Florida Statutes.”

—no action, not even a comment in response to the 80 public speakers was given at the end of “public comment.” The board remained quiet and simply “moved on…”.

Yes, approximately one hundred members of the public: housewives, grandmothers, activists, veterans, a River Kid, scientists, “River Warriors,” government employees, and politicians from many different counties, (but mostly from Martin and St Lucie Counties), made the long drive to come before the District, a board appointed by our governor…to speak, to exercise their right to speak, and to plead for the life of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and Calooshatchee by asking the board to exercise the right to purchase US Sugar option lands south of Lake Okeechobee, or at least to “allow discussion of this item on the agenda.”

This was not achieved….

Thankfully though, Board Chairman, Dan O’Keefe, did allow the public to speak, however, they were told if they clapped, or were disruptive they would be “removed by a deputy….” The public, for the most part, followed the rules, and was “allowed to” raise their hands to show support for each other….Mr O’Keefe empathetically noting hands raised….

It was excruciating…

As a public official myself, who has led and sat through many meetings with an angry public, my eyes actually teared up at one point. Watching the American process in action as the foot of authority stood on their neck…

The underdog in this scenario is certainly “Team David,” of the Indian River Lagoon whose river, the St Lucie, flows with the gushing putrid water of altered area canals and the redirected waters of Lake Okeechobee….

Perhaps the board felt the people weren’t “thankful enough” for all that has been done recently…

It is hard to be thankful when you’re dying….C-44 Reservoir monies and Senator Joe Negron’s Senate Hearing on the Indian River Lagoon and Lake Okeechobee Basin, yes, these state “wins” have been bonanzas of cash in one small area, our county…

We are thankful…

….unfortunately, so much water comes into the SLR/IRL system, the public is educated and knows that more land for storage is needed for all that water or “death is immanent.”

Yesterday, the river movement of the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon chose not to play opossum, giving it their best fight…the government on the other hand, simply rolled over….

Even baby opossums "play opossum," it is genetically wired...(Public photo/real experience.)
Even baby opossums “play opossum,” it is genetically wired…(Public photo/real experience.)
In front of the SFWMD 3-12-15. (Photo JTL.)
In front of the SFWMD 3-12-15. (Photo JTL.)
SFWMD 3-12-15. (Photo JTL.)
SFWMD 3-12-15. (Photo JTL.)
Skeleton mermaid of the  SLR/IRL, Linda Curtis. (Photo 3-12-15.)
Skeleton mermaid of the SLR/IRL, Linda Curtiss. (Photo 3-12-15.)
80 members of the public signed up to speak before the governing board. (Photo 3-12-15.)
80 members of the public signed up to speak before the governing board. (Photo 3-12-15.)
People held signs before the SFWMD. (3-12-15, JTL)
People held homemade signs before the SFWMD. (3-12-15, JTL)
Hannah, a River Kid, from St Lucie County, read her "speech" to the Governing Board." She did receive positive reinforcement for her efforts from board Chair, Dan O'keefe. (Photo JTL)
Hannah, a River Kid, from St Lucie County, read her “speech” to the Governing Board.” She did receive positive reinforcement for her efforts from board Chair, Dan O’keefe. (Photo JTL)
Hannah's speech.
Hannah’s speech.
Sign
Sign: BUY THE LAND.
Sign
Sign, WATER IS LIFE.

BBC Special on how animals “play dead” to survive:(http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00z2mcb

Governor appointed, Governing Board SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/governing%20board)

SFWMD: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/sfwmdmain/home%20page)

Go here to watch the video of the SFWMD Governing Board meeting; it should be posted within 48 hours of 3-12-15: (http://www.sfwmd.gov/portal/page/portal/xweb%20about%20us/gb%20application)

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….