Observations and musings on Jacksonville Politics

Crist Should Veto SB 2080

“Imagine if a county administrator in Florida could make development decision in secret, without asking the county commissioners?  Only if the administrator denied a request would the commissioners have a say.”  That’s the question the Palm Beach Post asked in a recent editorial.  They were speaking, of course, in reference to SB 2080, which is currently sitting on the desk of Gov. Charlie Crist.

SB 2080 would eliminate public hearings that take place before the governing boards of Florida’s five water management districts and place one individual—an appointed executive director—completely in control over the approval process for removing water from Florida’s aquifer and rivers.  In fact, if this legislation had been passed (and signed into law) during the last legislative session, the hundreds who turned out to oppose the recent request from Seminole County to drain 5.5 million gallons of water per day from the St. Johns river…well, there would have been no hearing for them to speak at.  The withdrawal would have simply been approved by the Executive Director and the public would have had no input.

Volusia County Council Member Andy Kelly is one of those opposed to the new legislation.  He told the West Volusia Beacon that he had concerns over the political pressures that would be exerted on water-management executive directors when large, for-profit developers came requesting permits.

“I know that I wouldn’t want to be in that position,” Kelly told the Beacon.  “I would deny each one, so that it would go back to the Governing Board for public input and broad public discussion.”

Jacksonville Mayor John Peyton has been one of the rare Jacksonville politicians that have spoken up in opposition to this dangerous legislation.  Peyton penned a letter to Charlie Crist asking him to veto the bill.

As Jacksonville’s Riverkeeper so clearly states, this bill is a “poison pill” and should be vetoed.  Voice your concerns with the Governor by e-mailing him at Charlie.Crist@MyFlorida.com or calling him at 850-488-7146.

Let your voice be heard.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, , , , , , ,

Riverkeeper Fighting Water Management District’s Decision

From Riverhugger:

Jacksonville, FL — St. Johns Riverkeeper filed an appeal today with the Fifth District Court of Appeal, challenging the recent decision by the St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) Governing Board to allow Seminole County to remove millions of gallons of water a day from the flow of the St. Johns River. The Court is located in Daytona, Florida.

With the filing, St. Johns Riverkeeper makes good on its promise to continue its fight to protect the river and ends Seminole County’s hopes that concerned citizens throughout Florida would pull back from their two-year struggle to prevent the withdrawal of water from the St. Johns. Last year, St. Johns Riverkeeper, the City of Jacksonville, and St. Johns County filed for an administrative hearing to challenge the permit.

The full press release can be read here.  (Hat Tip: The Urban Core)

Filed under: Jacksonville, , ,

Volusia County Lines Up For St. Johns River Water

We all knew it was bound to happen. Seminole County isn’t the only County that has its eyes set on the St. Johns River. Volusia County has now joined the crowd. Interestingly enough, Volusia says they are doing it at the insistence of the St. Johns River Water Management District, or as they are now being referred to—the St. Johns River Water Disbursement District.

Feeling pressure from state agencies, the Volusia County Council has tentatively committed to join Seminole County in tapping the St. Johns River as a future water source.

On April 16, just days after the St. Johns River Water Management District Governing Board voted 5-4 to allow Seminole County to build a water-treatment plant at Yankee Lake, the County Council voted 4-3 to share that plant.

It’s starting to read like a Carl Hiassen novel…

Filed under: Florida, , ,

Seminole County Wants More Than Our Water

Seminole County wants more than Jacksonville’s water.  They’ve now decided they desperately need our tourism dollars as well.  Fresh off their victory over Duval, Putnam and St. Johns County in their bid to draw up to 5 million gallons of water per day from the St. Johns River, Seminole County has begun advertising in North Florida’s largest media outlet—The Florida Times-Union—seeking visitors to “Florida’s Natural Choice.”  Of course, the ads don’t mention that they manage to bring “Nature Nearer” by sucking it straight out of North Florida’s most treasured natural resource—the St. Johns River.  I don’t know about you, but until Seminole County has embraced conservation and solved their water shortage issues without causing irreprable harm to Florida’s ecosystem, I think I’ll choose to spend my tourism dollars elsewhere.  The ads are below… Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , , , , ,

Seminole County Can Draw Down St. Johns River

From The Florida Times-Union:

A plan to take water from the St. Johns River to supply growing Central Florida suburbs won approval from a state agency Monday despite pleas from scores of opponents.

“This is the most difficult decision that has come to the board in my term,” said Susan Hughes, chairman of the St. Johns River Water Management District board.

She supported the permit, which the board passed on a 5-4 vote.

The decision allows Seminole County’s utility system to take up to 5.5 million gallons daily for drinking water and lawn watering.

Many critics warned that would open a floodgate of communities wanting to take far more.

This decision is disastrous for Jacksonville and all of North Florida.  The results, once other Central Florida communities realize how easy it is to pull one over on the St. Johns River Water Management District, could be devastating for the long-term health of our St. Johns River.

Filed under: Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , ,

District approves St. Johns River Water Withdrawal Permit

Following a hearing loaded with hundreds of citizens opposing the proposed permit for Seminole County to withdraw water from the St. Johns River, the St. Johns River Water Management District voted 5-4 to approve the permit Monday evening.

If a legislator wanted to reform the water management districts with plenty of support from the public,  now would be a good time to propose that reform.  Why?  According to the Orlando Sentinel, the water management district received over 19,000 e-mails regarding the proposed permit and the vast majority of them were against the issuance of the permit.

Read the story from the Orlando Sentinel here.

Filed under: Florida, Florida Legislature, Florida Politics, Jacksonville, Mayor of Jacksonville, , , ,

Save the St. Johns River!

It’s not too late to make your voice heard on Seminole County’s plan to draw nearly a billion gallons of water from the St. Johns River each year.  The only way for Jacksonville’s residents to make their voices heard on this issue is to attend the meeting of the St. Johns River Water Management District in Palatka on Monday:

 Monday, April 13th at 1:00 p.m. 
SJRWMD Headquarters
4049 Reid Street
Palatka, FL 32177

St. Johns Riverkeeper will be providing bus transportation from Jacksonville to Palatka. To reserve a seat on the bus, e-mail Neil Armingeon, the St. Johns Riverkeeper, at narming@ju.edu and type “Bus Trip” in the subject line.

Filed under: Uncategorized, , , , ,

Public Must Attend SJRWMD Meeting to Offer Input

The St. Johns River Water Management District has decided that the only way for the public to comment on their pending decision in regards to Seminole County’s efforts to drain millions of gallons of water per day from the St. Johns River will be to attend the meeting in person.  After becoming aware of an effort by the Riverkeeper to encourage citizens to e-mail the District’s Board Members to voice their opposition, the District installed new software that will seek to block all incoming e-mails that address the issue.  The District expressed concerns about Board Members having “ex parte” communications in regards to pending decisions and warned Riverkeeper to stop soliciting e-mails in regards to the Seminole County decision.

Because of their decision, the only way for the public to offer input in regards to Seminole County’s efforts to draw billions of gallons of water each year will be to attend the meeting, which is scheduled for April 13, 2009 at 1pm at the District’s Palatka headquarters.  Mayor Peyton, the St. Johns Riverkeeper and St. Johns County are scheduled to address the Board, as well as Seminole County.  At 2:15, members of the public who have not been involved in the hearing process will be allowed to speak.  The Board is scheduled to reach a final decision by 4pm.

The e-mails that outline the District’s decision to filter e-mails from the public are below:

Read the rest of this entry »

Filed under: Jacksonville, , , , ,

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