Tag Archives: organizational charts

A Commissioner of Environmental Protection; A New Day, Voting Florida’s Environment a Seat at the Table

Sunrise St. Lucie River 1-29-16, John Whiticar.

A new day could dawn for Florida, should Constitution Revision Commission proposal #24 go on the 2018 ballot. This ballot initiative would allow the electorate to vote for  a “Commissioner of Environmental Protection.”

I sponsored this idea, an idea brought to the CRC’s attention by two speakers during the public hearing process, as well as by public proposal #700012, submitted by Mr. Gamez.

Formally expressed Proposal #24 reads:

“A proposal to amend Sections 3 and 4 of Article IV and create a new section in Article XII of the State Constitution to establish the office of Commissioner of Environmental Protection as a statewide elected officer, to provide duties of the commissioner, and to include the commissioner as a member of the Cabinet.”

Full Proposal #24: (http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024/ProposalText/Filed/HTML)

Why do I support this idea? Because it is my job as a commissioner to get some of the thousands of public ideas before the CRC, and because I believe the “time is now” for the Environment to have a seat at the table with other cabinet positions.

Yes, environmental protection of natural resources must rise to the top of state priorities just as the state’s oldest and number two economic driver, agriculture, has.  Our Natural Resources must be represented in the Florida Cabinet. This year, the Florida Chamber reports that Florida’s population, now at 20,000,000 will reach 26,000,000 by 2030, in just twelve years! It is tourism that is Florida’s number one economic driver. Much of this success  is  based on the beauty and quality of our beaches, rivers, and springs, and natural lands. We all know, growing incidences of algae blooms in lakes, springs, and rivers, some in areas of natural lands,  is not good for tourism.

For best image: http://www.oppaga.state.fl.us/government/storgchart.aspx

Let’s look at Florida government’s present hierarchy having to do with natural resources and discuss why it should be changed. The state’s present organizational chart shows a Commissioner of Agriculture as a cabinet position just under and to the right the Governor; a Fish and Wildlife Commission, and a  Department of Environmental Protection, as executive agencies under the executive branch of the Governor;  and the Water Management Districts in the lowest tier as  local government. Interestingly, the Water Management Districts are attached by a dotted line to the Department of Environmental Protection noting at “unique relationship.” This is qualified by the following sentence: “Water management districts have individual governing boards but the Department of Environmental Protection may exercise general supervisory authority over water management districts (s. 373.026(7), Florida Statutes).”

The Fish and Wildlife Commission much more independent, but the Water Management Districts are not. Because Water Management Districts levy taxes from citizens as a special district one must be cognizant  so that they not become “arm of the state.” But what would be even worse would be if the Water Management Districts were not answering to the people they tax…

Hmmmm?

It is time to have a “lead agency.” An agency that can answer to the people.

Let’s discuss leadership. Right now there is no clear environmental protection leader. For instance, in my opinion, for a citizen trying to get answers about why our environment is falling apart the Water Management Districts are pointing in one direction; the Department of Water Quality for the Commissioner of Agriculture’s Best Management Practices is pointing in another; and because the present Department of Environmental Protection is at the whim of politics of every new administration; they are weak, and afraid to lead. With every new governor the pendulum swings. The DEP is unable to fulfill its mission as the state’s lead agency of environmental protection.

And all the while our environment keeps falling apart…

On a personal note, for years, here in South Florida, I complained about the demise of our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon and surrounding environment and pushed for more action on behalf of the South Florida Water Management District.  After years of head nods, I was finally told by a Governing Board member that the District’s number one priority is not water quality, but flood control and that I should be speaking to DEP.

“Why didn’t you tell me that earlier,” I exclaimed.

When I contacted Department of Environmental Protection their response was lackadaisical noting that many entities of the state oversee water quality and environmental issues. For instance, Best Management Practices for Agriculture, and the complicated DEP Basin Management Action Plans/Total Maximal Daily Loads in coordination with the Water Management Districts, and all local governments including cities, counties, villages…

“But who is in charge?” I asked? “The St Lucie River has been labeled “impaired” by your agency since 2002. Why was it allowed to get that bad in the first place and why is it continuing to get worse?”

Again I asked, ” Who is in charge?”

There was silence…

I thought to myself,  “No wonder the Department of Environmental Protection is sometimes  referred to as the agency of “Don’t Expect Protection.” No wonder every year more of the state’s waters are reported as “impaired.” No wonder D.E.P., Agriculture, and the Water Districts collude to extend the Basin Management Action Plan deadlines instead of getting more serious about the detrimental ramifications of non-point pollution for the people.

Enough is enough. The time is now to give voters the opportunity to vote for a  Commissioner of Environmental  Protection and finally have a seat at the table.

This homemade chart shows a Commissioner of Environmental Protection being created from the present Dept. of En. Pro.

Proposal #24

The commissioner of environmental protection shall have
   63  supervision of matters pertaining to environmental protection
   64  that the Department of Environmental Protection or its successor
   65  agency and water management districts are required or authorized
   66  by law to implement and administer.

Full text:  (http://www.flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024/ProposalText/Filed/HTML)

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Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch is a commissioner on the 2017/18 Constitution Revision Commissioner; *this proposal will go before the Executive Committee sometime in December or January. If it gets through that committee it will have to make it through both General Provisions and Ethics and Elections.  You can support or voice concerns about this proposal by first writing the Executive here: https://flcrc.gov/Committees/EX/

Follow here: http://flcrc.gov/Proposals/Commissioner/2017/0024 

Find all committees here:http://flcrc.gov/Committees

Jacqui can be reached here: https://www.flcrc.gov/Commissioners/Thurlow-Lippisch

Learn about the CRC here:http://www.flcrc.gov

Links:

Commissioner of Agriculture/Dept of WQ: Best Management Practices: http://www.freshfromflorida.com/Business-Services/Water/Agricultural-Best-Management-Practices

Department of Environmental Protection: https://floridadep.gov

Florida’s Water Management Districts: https://floridadep.gov/water-policy/water-policy/content/water-management-district

Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission: http://myfwc.com

Florida Chamber Water: (http://www.flchamber.com/advocacy/issues/water-solutions/)

Florida Chamber Tourism: (Tourism:http://www.flchamber.com/advocacy/issues/tourism/)

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Recent pictures of our Florida environment  that are NOT  good for tourist!

Alan Youngblood, Florida Springs, -when too much water is taken from the aquifer by permitted users it affects the health of Florida’s springs, 2013.
St Lucie River, toxic algae bloom brought into river from discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Best Management Practices and Basin Management Action Plans are not working fast enough. Tourism suffered in Martin County by millions of dollars in lost revenue and health issues for local citizens. 2016, JTL
Algae pouring in from Lake Okeechobee to St Lucie River at S-80—this water comes mostly  from polluted Central Florida waters; obviously DEP’s environmental protection is not working. 2016.

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screenshot 2.png

Learn about:

THE FLORIDA CABINET

http://cabinet.myflorida.com

In 1998 the Constitutional Revision Commission proposed a rewrite of Article IV, Section IV of the Florida Constitution that reduced the Florida Cabinet from six elected officials to three. Effective January 7, 2003, the Florida Cabinet consists of the Attorney General, the Chief Financial Officer and the Commissioner of Agriculture. The Cabinet offices of Secretary of State and Commissioner of Education became appointed offices and their respective agencies became the responsibility of the Governor. The revised constitution also created a new State Board of Education with seven members appointed by the Governor to oversee the Department of Education. The Cabinet offices of Treasurer and Comptroller were merged into the new position of Chief Financial Officer who serves as agency head for the newly created Department of Financial Services.

 

No Bears to Hunt along the Indian River Lagoon, All Killed by 1930s, SLR/IRL

Mr Reginald Waters with black bears killed on Hutchinson Island, around 1930. (Photo credit Sandra Thurlow, Sewall’s Point,” A History of a Peninsular Community on Florida’s Treasure Coast”/Reginald Waters Rice)
Mr Reginald Waters with black bears killed on Hutchinson Island, around 1930. (Photo credit Sandra Thurlow, Sewall’s Point,” A History of a Peninsular Community on Florida’s Treasure Coast”/Reginald Waters Rice)
Photo from my mother: Bill Pitchford’s “last bear.”

A friend of mine, Mrs Mary Chapman, once described Stuart News reporter, Ed Killer, as “the only reporter in America who got her to read the sports page.” I feel the same way. Ed Killer’s past Sunday article entitled: “Bearing Down for the Bear Hunt,” was quite the read, and I have been thinking about it the past few days.

Bears….to think that they used to live right here in along the waters of the St Lucie River and Indian River Lagoon, and now there are none.

Today I thought I’d share a photo I have shared before, but it is certainly worth dusting off and bringing out of the archives again.

The above photos are from my mother’s book, “Sewall’s Point,” and shows Mr Reginald Waters with multiple black bears he killed on Hutchinson Island, a mother and two cubs,  around 1918.  The other is the “last bear shot on Hutchinson Island, 1926.” Historian, Alice Luckhardt, wrote a comprehensive piece on these black bears that once roamed our region. Here is an excerpt from a recent vignette:

“At one time, Florida black bears existed in fairly large numbers along the ocean coast between Jupiter and Fort Pierce, living in and among the mangroves and feeding on palmetto fruits and turtle eggs buried in the beach sand. However, as more people began settling the area, bears became unwelcome guests, and many were hunted and killed by early pioneers.

By the 1920s and early ’30s there were still a few wild black bears in the area. They found a tasty delight in honey and bee larvae from the numerous beehives in operation on Hutchinson Island at that time.

Jensen resident William Pitchford felt the only solution was to hunt down the bear that had been raiding his bee hives during the summer of 1931. Pitchford first thought to capture the bear using a steel trap he set out over several nights near the hives. The bear, however, was too smart to fall for that trap, avoiding it each night and still getting into the honey, destroying several hives.

Determined to end the bear’s raids, Pitchford, with the assistance of a neighbor, Vincent Wortham Sr., laid in wait one Saturday night, Aug. 8, 1931, with weapons in hand. As hoped, in the darkness of night, the bear appeared and the men turned on their flashlights. Pitchford immediately fired three times using his 303 Savage rifle, and Wortham fired his 32-20 Smith and Wesson revolver twice at the animal. The seriously wounded bear managed to scramble a short distance away before the two men later found him dead near the Pickerton farm. They managed to bring the 200-pound animal back to Jensen where photos documented the event, as this marked the last bear killed on Hutchinson Island.”

So, quite sad as far as I am concerned that we killed all the bears here. Let’s figure out how FWC, the Florida Wildlife Commission, the agency making the laws on bear hunting today “works.” —How do they fit into Florida government?  How were they able to determine it is OK to shoot bears this season? For one thing FWC is not “under the governor,” a situation many state agencies would “kill for.” Oh, no pun intended… 🙂

Also,  I must state that the structure of the agency is confusing like everything else in government.

There is “US Fish and Wildlife,” a federal agency, and then there is FWC, or the Florida Wildlife Commission, a state agency. One will also hear this same agency referred to as Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Why  I am not sure. So Florida Wildlife Commission (FWC) and Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FFWCC) are the same thing. If anyone knows more about this please let me know….

In 2004 the agency, FWC. was  restructured by an act of the Florida Legislature:

This excerpt below explains:

“The FWC was established with a headquarter in Tallahassee, the state capital on July 1, 1999 after an amendment to the Florida Constitution approved in 1998. The FWC resulted from a merger between the former offices of the Marine Fisheries Commission, Division of Marine Resources and Division of Law Enforcement of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP}, and all of the employees and Commissioners of the former Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) serves as the environmental regulatory agency for the state, enforcing environmental legislation regarding air and water quality, for example. In 2004, the Florida Legislature approved a reorganization of the FWC that integrated parts of the Division of Wildlife, Division of Freshwater Fisheries, and the Florida Marine Research Institute to create the ‘Fish and Wildlife Research Institute’ (FWRI) in St. Petersburg, Florida.It has over 600 employees. As of 2014 FWC had over 2,000 full-time employees, maintained the FWRI, five regional offices, and 73 field offices across the state.”

FWC commission 2015
FWC commission 2015
Organizational Chart FWC 2015
Organizational Chart FWC 2015
Organizational Chart DEP
Organizational Chart DEP

Looking at the structure one can see that the commissioners are at the top of FWC chart and the “people” are over the governor for DEP chart….

Hmmmm?

If the bears had a seat at the table, I wonder where they would be?

Bear sitting at picnic table, a popular image from Facebook, 2014.
Black bear sitting at a picnic table, a popular image on Facebook, 2014.

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Full note from my historian mother when she sent the “last bear” photo:

“Jacqui, Here is a photograph of Bill Pitchford’s “last bear” that Alice Luckhart wrote about. I have a file on the Waters family who lived in Walton on Indian River Drive. The photograph of Russell Waters with the mother bear and two cubs had “1918” written on it. I am glad Ed Killer’s article explain that hunters will not be allowed to kill a mother with cubs. Reginal Waters Rice who supplied the photograph said his uncle Russell felt very bad about killing “the three bears.” Mom

FFWCC or FWC: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Florida_Fish_and_Wildlife_Conservation_Commission)

FWC: (http://myfwc.com/about/)

DEP(http://www.dep.state.fl.us/mainpage/about/about_dep.htm)

CHART DEP (https://www.dep.state.fl.us/secretary/info/org/files/orgChart.pdf)

CHART FWC (http://myfwc.com/media/2992946/orgchart.pdf)

FWC Board photos: (http://myfwc.com/about/commission/)

US Fish and Wildlife: (US http://www.fws.gov)

Ed Killer’s TCpalm article (may need a subscription) (http://www.tcpalm.com/sports/columnists/ed-killer/ed-killer-bearing-down-for-the-bear-hunt_13102220)

 

 

Alice Luckhardt: (http://www.tcpalm.com/ugc/martin-county-ugc/historical-vignettes-when-bears-roamed-hutchinson-)

JTL former blog post on black bears: https://jacquithurlowlippisch.com/2014/02/25/black-bears-of-hutchinson-island-our-wild-past/