Tag Archives: Ron DeSantis

A Better Water Future for all Children of South Florida, SLR/IRL

Governor Ron DeSantis and JTL at FloridaOceanographic in Stuart, Florida, Thursday, Feburary 21, 2019 : https://www.wptv.com/news/region-martin-county/stuart/gov-desantis-to-make-announcement-in-stuart-thursday

As you may have heard, on Thursday, February 21, 2019, I was appointed to the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board, by Florida’s Governor, Ron DeSantis.

Of course, I am very excited!

Today I wish to share my written comments of this very special day. Please note, just as when I served on Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission 2017-2018, this blog and all comments now fall under Florida’s public records laws.

Our river journey continues!

_______________________________________________________________

“…What an honor! 

Thank you Governor DeSantis! Thank you everyone who is here in spirit today, everyone who has been part of this journey to save our St Lucie River/Indian River Lagoon. I will begin with some words from our beloved Ernie Lyons, who worked as the editor of the Stuart News for many decades leading the charge to save our river:   

“What men do they can undo, and the hope for our river is in the hundreds of men and women in our communities who are resolved to save the St Lucie.”

Yes, there have been many before us, but in 2013’s LOST SUMMER  we continued Ernie Lyons’ passion through TC Palm, the River Warriors, and the River Kidz. 

And it was the River Kidz that really gave us a new perspective…

We as adults, know, there are many things we disagree on, but there is one, we do not, for sure. We wish a better water future for all children, of all communities, in South Florida. 

This goal unifies us all. 

When I was a kid, and Stuart was not very populated, my friends and I used to build forts on the edge of the St Lucie River. The giant Australian Pines had fallen with their twisted roots exposed, and we played for hours pretending we were pirates on a ship. We’d splash in the water and drop anchor. We’d try not to cut our feet on sharp oyster beds as we retrieved our gold, or get stung by a stingray when we were catching a fish in the thick seagrasses.

Today such a thing is not possible. There are few oysters, little seagrass, and sometimes the water is toxic. Yes toxic. Can you believe it? Toxic water.

Generation after generation we have ignored the science and the signs. In our excitement to develop cites and towns and build the greatest agriculture empire on earth, waterbodies across South Florida have become “impaired.” Some no longer healthy: the St Lucie River, the Indian River Lagoon, Lake Worth, Lake Okeechobee, Biscayne Bay, Florida Bay, the Caloosahatchee, and numerous creeks and rivers like the New River and the Miami, are now not much more than dead canals. 

It is said: “For what profits a man if he gains the whole world, but loses his own soul?”

The soul of Florida is water!

I believe that with the leadership of our new governor, and people like Congressman Brian Mast, former Senate President Joe Negron, and Lt. Gov. Jeanette Nuzez, who I know from serving on our state’s Constitution Revision Commission, and others, we will lay the groundwork to give Florida back her soul.

I don’t know if you have had a chance to read it word for word, but if you have not, you must. This incredible executive order recently given by Governor DeSantis, number 19-12 actually reads, as he quotes President Theodore Roosevelt: 

“….A primary mission of my tenure is to follow in the words of President Theodore Roosevelt by having Florida treat its natural resources as assets, which it must turn over to the next generation, increased and not impaired in value.”

I shall do all I can to serve with honor, our new governor, and to leave all children of all South Florida a better water future.” 

~Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch 

Governor DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-12: https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/EO-19-12-.pdf

TCPalm:https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/health/2019/02/21/florida-governor-ron-desantis-appoints-jacqui-thurlow-lippisch-sfwmd-board/2767276002/

River Kidz art contest 2013

A Closer Look at DeSantis’ Executive Order 19-12: “Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment”

On January 10th, Florida’s Office of the Governor, under very newly elected Ron DeSantis, issued Executive Order 19-12. The title of this order is “Achieving More Now For Florida’s Environment.” It is a remarkable and voluminous piece.

Today, I am going to share it in full as you may have only heard about parts of it in the newspaper.

*For entire Executive Order 19-12 link here; you may wish to print out for your files: https://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/01/EO-19-12-.pdf

Here we go–

First, note the “Whereases…” giving background and laying foundation for the order.

Whereas, water and natural resources are the foundation of Florida’s communities, economy and way of life; and

Whereas, protection of water resources is one of the most critical issues facing our state and requires immediate action; and

Whereas, recent algae blooms have resulted in an increasing threat to our environment and fragile ecosystems, including our rivers, beaches, and wildlife, as well as causing the issuance of health advisories, closures of recreational areas and economy losses in adjacent communities; and

Whereas, as the Governor of the State of Florida, a primary mission of my tenure is to follow in words of President Theodore Roosevelt by having Florida treat its “natural resources as assets which it must turn over to the next generation increased, and not impaired, in value”;

Now, Therefore, I Ron DeSantis, as Governor of Florida, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Article IV, Section (1) (a) of the Florida Constitution, and all other applicable laws, do hereby issue the following Executive Order, to take immediate effect:

The order is five pages long, with three sections:

Section 1: Focus on Rapid Improvement of Water Quality, Quality, and Supply (A-O) 15 parts directed to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP); the Department of Health; Visit Florida; and the Department of  Economic  Opportunity.

Section 2: Restructuring, to Focus on Accountability, Transparently, and Science  to Achieve More Now for Florida’s Environment (A-C) 3 parts directed only to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

Section 3: Ensure Florida’s Valuable and Vulnerable Coastlines and Natural Resources are Protected (A-B) 2 parts, again,  directed only to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP)

There are a total of 20 parts to the executive order. Note state’s organizational chart: DEP’s place is as an executive agency under the governor, Executive Branch. Water Management Districts are under the governor but fall in the “local government” section as the Water Management Districts have the power to levy taxes within their districts,  but are appointed by the Governor.

Please peruse entire executive order below. Read at least first line or underlined and know that it is not one, but all of these “declarations within the declaration” that will empower government structure, if steered by true captains, to abate water woes for all Springs, Estuaries, Rivers, Lakes, and the Everglades of Florida. Thank you Governor DeSantis for this map!

Governor’s website: https://www.flgov.com/2019/01/10/icymi-governor-ron-desantis-discusses-major-water-policy-reforms-in-sarasota/

An Inauguration Speech for Florida’s Waters, Environment, and Future ~DeSantis

~Thank you Governor Ron DeSantis for including water and the environment in your inauguration speech, not once, but multiple times, and for making a clean environment a goal for your administration and for our children’s future. JTL

Below is excerpt; full speech below.

…”Our economic potential will be jeopardized if we do not solve the problems afflicting our environment and water resources.

People want to come to Florida because of its natural beauty. Tourism is not only a pillar of our state’s economy, it helps spread the tax burden to non-Floridians, limiting taxes on our citizens. But this could be in jeopardy if we do not solve our pressing environmental problems. As the great philosopher Yogi Berra remarked: if people don’t want to come nobody is going to stop them.

For Florida, the quality of our water and environmental surroundings are foundational to our prosperity as a state – it doesn’t just drive tourism; it affects property values, anchors many local economies and is central to our quality of life. The water is part and parcel of Florida’s DNA. Protecting it is the smart thing to do; it’s also the right thing to do.

I will lead the efforts to save our waterways. We will fight toxic blue-green algae, we will fight discharges from Lake Okeechobee, we will fight red tide, we will fight for our fishermen, we will fight for our beaches, we will fight to restore our Everglades and we will never ever quit, we won’t be cowed and we won’t let the foot draggers stand in our way.

We resolve to leave Florida to God better than we found it…

Full text and video DeSantis’ inauguration speech: https://www.abcactionnews.com/news/state/ron-desantis-inaugural-speech-read-the-full-transcript

DeSantis’ Words Make History for the River and the Kidz, SLR/IRL

On Tuesday, I will raise my right hand on the steps of Florida’s Historic Capitol to take the oath of office in much the same tradition that 45 governors have before me. With my wife, Casey, and our two young children, Madison and Mason, watching, it will be a pointed reminder that to whom much is given, much is required. ~Governor-Elect, Ron DeSantis

Casey and Ron DeSantis. He holds a River Kidz workbook. River Kidz LJ Leighton (pink shorts), Keile Mader also holding book. Carley Collins, Jack Maldonado Benson, Carter Streiber and Congressman Brian Mast, St Lucie River Tour

Tomorrow at 11:00 am, Ron DeSantis will be sworn in on the Capitol steps as the 46th Governor of the State of Florida. I met him once. The date was August 20, 2018 and he and his wife Casey, had come to Stuart to see the toxic-algae water problems for themselves. A boat tour had been arranged by Congressman Brian Mast’s office. The water was a disgrace, all explained why….

Ron and Casey DeSantis were attentive listeners, and took seriously the plight of the St Lucie River. They have young children of their own. Just a few days ago, DeSantis, wrote an op-ed referring  to his experiences along the rivers of St Lucie and Calooshahatchee. I  believe the tour and the words of the River Kidz had an effect, read below, and I know the kids too will be watching not just DeSantis but what all of us do…

“I will fulfill promises from the campaign trail. That means prioritizing environmental issues, like water quality and cleaning the environmental mess that has resulted in toxic blue-green algae and exacerbated red tide around the state. We will put Everglades restoration into high gear and make it the reality that Floridians have been promised for three decades.”  Ron DeSantis, Governor Elect  ~Full text, Tallahassee Democrat: https://www.tallahassee.com/story/opinion/2019/01/04/im-committed-pursuing-bold-agenda-florida-ron-desantis/2481606002/)

“Happy your’e here; not happy about the algae!” the River Kidz arrive to meet the DeSantises with River Mom, Cristina Maldonado, River Granny JTL, and Congressman Brian Mast.

Meeting the kidz 
Joe Negron and Stephen Leighton show Governor-elect DeSantis and Congressman Mast Brain Mast blue green algae in Shepherd Park

Algae floating in the SLR

Ron DeSantis, positions: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ron_DeSantis

Ron DeSantis: Protecting Florida’s Environment on Day 1

Yesterday, I called in for the final conference call of Governor-elect Ron DeSantis’ Transition Advisory Committee on the Environment,  chaired by our own, Congressman Brian Mast. It was very, very interesting. Highlights of the call were recorded by TC Palm’s Ali Schmitz:

https://www.tcpalm.com/story/news/local/indian-river-lagoon/politics/2018/12/28/desantis-transition-work-agriculture-limit-pollution/2424629002/

https://desantistransition.com/governor-elect-ron-desantis-announces-transition-advisory-committee-on-the-environment-natural-resources-agriculture/

As a member of the public, I was able to listen-in on the call ~this one focusing on Agriculture, and make my recommendation.

Having served on the Constitution Revision Commission in 2018, I am especially drawn to the importance of government structure. DeSantis’ originally posted environmental policy statement listed Accountability for Water Quality. Right now, many Floridians wonder “who is charge,” who answers for our present lack of water quality? Some even think, understandably so, that it is the Army Corp of Engineers. It is not. Under the law, the state of Florida is responsible for water quality, but with “three cooks in the kitchen,” (DEP, Water Management Districts, and Dept of Agriculture) this is difficult. So with my time on the call, I asked for centralization of enforcement of water quality standards and a strong Lead Agency:

CENTRALIZE THE ENFORCEMENT OF WATER QUALITY STANDARDS. A Majority of water quality regulation is currently housed at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). However, certain water quality standards and monitoring reside within the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (DACS) which is overseen by the Commission of Agriculture. DeSantis will work with the Florida legislature to move all components of water quality regulation within the Executive Branch to DEP. This will increase uniformity and ensure that the Secretary of DEP, who is accountable to the Governor, has the tools necessary to meet the water quality standards that Floridians deserve. ~DeSantis for Governor website Sept. 2018.

As we all know, the inauguration is January 8th, 2019. Very exciting! Congratulations Governor DeSantis! And awesome that Congressman Mast is by your side!!

Before we get too excited, let’s not forget…

Today, I will post the website of Governor-Elect Ron DeSantis on the environment so we can remember what was promised and hold the governor and all members of the Transition Advisory Committee on the Environment accountable for next four years. Looking forward to a governor who will protect the environment on day one!

Website links:

GOVERNOR-ELECT RON DESANTIS

https://rondesantis.com/issues/

https://rondesantis.com/environment/

The “Michigan J. Frog” Blue-Green Algae of the IRL

Harborage Marina here and below, an area the algae is “always present” looks clear on 8-19-18. JTL

When I was I kid, I loved to watch Looney Tunes. For some reason, my favorite cartoon was the story of “Michigan J. Frog,” the singing frog that would stop singing when its “owner” would take it out of the box to perform.

Although our St Lucie cyanobacteria issues are no performing frog, and are anything but funny, sometimes I do feel like I am in Looney Tunes. And most certainly, the singing frog analogy stands.

Recently, when some big-names came to visit our area to “see” the algae, I must admit, when it wasn’t, I wanted it to be there. This happened with famed conservation photographer Max Stone, and the next day with gubernatorial candidate Ron DeSantis’ ToxicTour with Congressman Brian Mast.

In both cases, just a day apart, we would be staring at an area famous for caked, stinking algae, photographed thousands of times, and the area would look “clean,” completely devoid of the thick green-blue mats. In a desperate attempt for credibility, I’d be showing Max Stone or Congressman DeSantis pictures on my phone displaying how the algae looked “just last week”….”just yesterday!” “See those grey lines on the seawall, they were blue!”

They believed me of course, they’d seen the national news, but it would have been so much more convincing if I had been able to show them the fierce algae face to face! AGGG!

But that’s not my decision. The algae comes and goes. And most important, thick or thin, it is always there. The particulate algae is just as bad as the mats, just not as emotionally charged.

And of course, the moment these big names left, just the next day in fact, the algae started coming back ~like these photos shared this morning by Mary Radabaugh from famed Central Marine in Rio.

Maddening! Isn’t it?

8-23-18 Mary Radabaugh shares photos here and below of cyanobacteria blue green algae” back in Marina. It was not visible like this when I visited just days before.

I guess the lesson is, and what we must know, and be able to explain, is that the algae, like the character Michigan J. Frog, during times when Lake Okeechobee is being discharged, the algae whether performing or not, is always there in the box/in the river.  Only the cyanobacteria/blue green algae will decide if and when it will sing…

Not so visible particulate cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) in the SLR, August 2018. JTL

And it probably won’t when you want it to, and it probably will when you wish it would not…it is a living creature with a mind of its own in tune with temperature and nutrients (food) not thinking of people at all.

In closing, take Bathtub Beach yesterday for a final example, now closed due to cyanobacteria. The same thing! I went to visit after hearing the beach had been closed, but by the time I got there the tide and winds had pushed most of the cyanobacteria out to sea. But it was still there, just quiet. Looking closely, the particulate clumps were gathered at the shoreline waiting to perform. Be certain, the frog, one day, of its own accord, will sing.

MichiganJ.  Frog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bh376GzsSKI