In the early 1990s, I came to Pensacola from UF in Gainesville, to teach German and English at Pensacola High School in both the traditional and International Baccalaureate Program.
I learned perhaps as much as my students. It was hard and rewarding work. I matured here one could say.
Maturing didn’t just involve the discipline of being a teacher, but also the responsibility of my first dog. “Dash,” as he was named for his ability to sprint. Dash was a stray I found in Downtown’s Seville Square. He was as beautiful and white as Pensacola Beach with black spots over his eyes. Even my parents visited to meet him!
Every evening he sat by my side for hours as I graded papers long into night. I would leave at 6 am for the first bell at 7:01. When I got home from a day of teaching, Dash and I would swim at Pensacola Beach or take long walks to Fort Pickens and then of course, grade papers,
These were wonderful times! The powerful simplicity of the blue sky, the green waves, the white sands, and my white and black best friend, forever left an impression on me.
This photo of a panther in Sebring was recently shared by a friend. I do hope this magnificent creature has visited western Martin County. Since late October, it has certainly made the rounds. Males roam hundreds of miles, a female less, but easily could cover ground between almost neighboring Martin and Highlands counties.
Can you imagine trying to navigate today’s world? Freeways, subdivisions, fences, shopping malls, the great forests gone…Canals cutting the lands and watersheds apart?
Over 34 panthers were killed on Florida highways in 2016, and at least 23 in 2017. With an estimated 230 in the total population, those are terrible numbers. We must work harder to complete wildlife corridors across the state to allow these animals to breed and travel into north Florida and Georgia. Being stuck in South Florida is a radio-collared death wish.
If this panther does visit Martin County, we’ll probably never know it; though large they are smart to be very, very, shy.
I must say, lately I’ve been hearing rumors of panthers (yes, a pair) in Martin County near Highway 96 out by South Fork, but no photos yet…
Thank God there is something left to run wild in the world; 😊 it gives me something to dream about.
Growing up in Stuart in the 1970s, my mother and father gave me full reign to explore the undeveloped lands in the area of St Lucie Estates. I remember endless summers, wandering around in “the woods” and of course my eyes were drawn to the vine of the widely dispersed, perfectly shaped, red and black seeds known as rosary peas.
I would collect them tightly in my little, sweaty hands, pushing them far down into my pockets. I recall the first time I brought them home, my mother said, “Yes, they are very pretty, but don’t eat them, they are poisonous.”
“Hmmm,”I thought. “How can something beautiful be poisonous?”
I continued to collect the seeds, and over the years filled up many clear glass bottles that sat in my window sill; the sun never fading their brilliant color.
Later in life, I learned that bright color patterns, especially red, black, and yellow, as with some caterpillars, or the famous, shy, and deadly coral snake, are “warnings” in nature and actually provide the animal with protection from being eaten.
As I walk through Hawk’s Bluff today, I am thankful to my parents who allowed me to explore the natural world and grow confident, unafraid, even with all of its toxic beauty.
I was appointed to the Constitution Revision Commission, that meets only once every 20 years, last February, by Senate President Joe Negron (https://www.flcrc.gov). After a dizzying time, I’d say, I feel like I am finally catching my stride. The entire experience has been a lot like when I moved to Berlin, Germany in 1989. It was cold and I did not speak the language, but after many months of study and applying myself, it started to feel natural.
I have learned the CRC history; mastered the insane elevator system at the Capitol; gotten insight into the complexities of power and politics; met people from all over the state with their own serious issues; recognized the incredible importance of staff and of journalists; have learned how to run an effective legislative-style meeting; and how to stand my ground on a vote.
I have tried to apply the “5-Cs” that an army general taught me years ago…. Communication, Collaboration, Compromise, Cooperation, and Consensus…
As you may know, I sponsored 5 CRC environmental proposals. These came from the public’s submittals on-line, or from a public hearing earlier last year. One was a former citizen’s initiative. Today I will review where I am and where I think things are going.
The proposal that has gotten the most attention as well as the most push back–with 4 AIF hired Gunster lawyers, one a former Supreme Court Justice, fighting tooth and nail—has been P23, “A Right to Clean and Healthful Environment.” It was workshopped and heard by the Judicial Committee and I expect it to be voted on Friday, January 12, 2018. Due to the controversy, the prognosis does not look good, but it has raised environmental awareness for all of the proposals, and in my opinion made the business and government community look desperate to hold on to Florida’s “standard environmental operating procedure” that puts corporations and development before people. This power will not last forever, and we are all dependent on Florida’s good nature for our “riches.” —A search will pull up a multitude of editorials, news articles, and opinions, on this subject.
Two others will also be heard this coming week. P24 “Commissioner Environmental Protection”and P48 “FWC/Wildlife Corridors.” Both of these will be discussed and voted on by the Executive Committee of which I happen to sit on. P48 would allow FWC to protect habitat not just species. This seems a no brainer as how can you have species without protecting their habitat; but private property and development rights play into the equation so it will be a fight. I look forward to the discussion and for all of us to realize that one way or another, the only way to approach Florida’s growth filled future is with the pragmatic goal of statewide living wildlife corridors, connected and protected lands.
P24 would establish a Commissioner of Environmental Protection. A cabinet position. Just like Agriculture. Since the environment is linked to our number one state income generator–tourism it seems the time has come….challenging power structures is always a wrestling match, but this is one we can win.
The following week, on January 18, I expect to go before the Legislative Committee for P46, “Clarifying Language in Amendment 1 2014, or Land Acquisition Trust Fund.” It was heard once already but “temporarily postponed” to requests by committee and myself to work on the language. Sue Mullins and Clay Henderson are backbone of this proposal, know the background, etc., and I am fortunate to have their expertise.
I expect on January 19 to go before the Declaration of Rights Committee for P91,”No gas and oil drilling in Florida’s territorial waters.”
P91 is the only one of the five proposals to have “passed committee” in December. What is so amazing to me about this proposal is its timeliness. When I took it on, I actually first thought to myself, “You know, isn’t this kind of pase’? The River Kidz were protesting oil drilling with Surfrider Foundation in 2012. This won’t happen here…” But because it was past citizens’ initiative, and the language had already been reviewed, and because Manley Fuller who is a legend in the environmental community and the president of the Florida Wildlife Federation brought it to my attention, recommending I support it, I submitted the proposal three minutes before the deadline.
Now many months have passed and things have quickly changed. As headlines explode with oil drilling and federal opening of submerged lands including Floirda’s…it seems serendipitous that this proposal is lined up for the CRC, every Florida politician — regardless of party affiliation, and the diverse citizens of the state of Florida to support.
Some people would call it a “God-wink;” I like to think so. I will fight for every proposal, but it sure is nice to feel the wind at my back.
Tallahassee is a beautiful place. Having spent more time there recently, I have grown to appreciate it. Sometimes, in the early morning, as the sun is rising over the hills, I envision Apalachee warriors and families approaching “Anhaica,” their capital. There is a lot of sacred ground here…
Today, I will summarize week 12-11-17. For me, there were battles won, and cease-fires. And the war for Florida’s environment will continue. Thank you to all who wrote members of committees in support in the previous weeks!
On Tuesday, December 12th, I presented proposal P23, ” A Right to a Clean and Healthful Environment,” to the Judicial Committee (https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/JU/). I am proud to say P23 has caused a stir, is making people think, and generating tremendous resistance from the “entrenched-status-quo-power” of the government and business communities as it would give every-day Floridians more standing in court for a clean environment. Power would shift to the judicial, rather than the executive and legislative branches of government, and some agencies would be no longer be “puppets.”
The presentation went well, however, based on comments from many members of the committee, and feedback, I felt the vote would not pass. I was offered a “TP” or “temporary postponement” in order to work on the language as I had not been successful at this —with the opposition —-who refused to do so the previous two weeks. They want “no part of P23 in the constitution.”
Unlike local government, where a commission or council can adjust the language of an ordinance during the meeting, this cannot occur during a CRC committee meeting, so the only way to achieve such is to “postpone” and “work on” prior to the next meeting— and try again. (Very inefficient)…
So, I look forward to working on the language, but I am concerned that ameliorating the language to an acceptable point for the opposition will be so far away from the spirit of the original proposal it may not be recognizable or effective. This would not be good.
In the end, it will be the students of Stetson and Barry Universities and their professors who created P23, a totally public proposal, who will give me final direction.
P23 will go before the Judicial Committee again when called. Chances are this will be in January 2018. It could pass; it could die; it could be withdrawn. Should it pass, it will have to go also to the General Provisions committee, and then to the full CRC for a final vote to go to ballot.
The greatest aspect of P23 is working with young people who are our future generation of leaders because as the proposal states: “the natural resources of the state are the legacy of present and future generations…”
On Wednesday, 12-13-17, I presented P46, to the Legislative Committee (https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/LE/) to “Clarity Language in Article X, Section 28, of the Florida Constitution, Land Acquisition Trust Fund.” Ms. Sue Mullins, who came to my attention through Stuart’s Joan Bausch and the Native Plant Society, was very helpful and knowledgeable and assisted during the presentation. Again, the proposal was “TP-ed” as Chair Pepe Diaz and others such as former Senate President, Tom Lee said they could not support P46 as written and recommended working together on the language. I am confident they meant this, and we shall try between now and when the committee meets again in January. Their concerns are funding requirements, appropriations, of the state legislature; and our concern is the Legislature ignoring a 2014 citizen initiative that passed by 75% for land conservation. P46 too must go to General Provisions should it pass, and then to the whole CRC for a vote to possibly go on ballot.
On Thursday, 12-14-17, I presented P91 “No Oil or Gas Drilling in Florida’s Territorial Waters.” This was an interesting experience as I was presenting to the committee I chair, General Provisions. (https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/GP/)
As a presenter, I am just like anybody else.
Mr David R. Mica, Executive Director of the Florida Petroleum Council, AIF, and other business interests spoke against, but fortunately, Mr Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club, and citizens spoke “for,” and were quite convincing. There were even two young children in the audience rooting me on! I was very pleased when the committee voted 5 to 2 in favor of P91! P91 will now go to the Declaration of Rights Committee (https://www.flcrc.gov/Committees/DR/) in January, and then if passes, again, to the full commission to possibly go on 2018 ballot.
12-4-17, ca. 2:45 pm, photos: Ed Lippisch & Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch
The Army Corp of Engineers has lessened but not stopped Lake O discharges that started September 20th, 2017 just prior to Hurricane Irma. Perhaps as the discharges have gone on at such a high rate for a comparatively long time, the plume has had a chance to extend its territory. In yesterday’s photos, the dark, filthy plume is reaching clearly south beyond the exclusive Town of Jupiter Island.
Yesterday was a beautiful day, but the river and ocean waters of our entire region were ugly, possibly contaminated. How are we to enjoy our property and lives here?
When viewing the aerials below, please note the blue, sapphire-colored water just on the edge of the discharge plume. Yes, of course all estuaries put forth darkened fresh water after a rain event, and Ed and I could see this occurring just south at Jupiter Inlet. Nonetheless, the black, gigantic plume that we repeatedly endure for the St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon due to discharges from Lake Okeechobee is an aberration.
Please let’s all support Joe Negron and the public’s work to build the EAA Reservoir; clean & send the water south!