THE BLOG

On Florida's Massive Fish Kills, Voters Are Responsible

03/23/2016 07:37 am ET | Updated Mar 23, 2016

If you child is running a fever, there's no mystery what to do. You make the child rest and take every necessary step to bring the child's fever down. Entrusting Florida's waters to reckless and ignorant elected officials is exactly the same as parental malpractice. It is like locking a child in a car parked at a mall parking lot while the parent goes shopping.

There is only one excuse for forgetting to take care of our waterways: that the campaign funders and politicians voters elected want it that way.

The mainstream media are filled with talking points like this: "State wild officials could not pinpoint the reason for the deaths of the fish recently." Bullshit. The massive, horrendous, shocking and sad fish kills happening in and around the Indian River Lagoon represent the political corruption infecting the state of Florida.

Here are a few examples: regulations to provide numerical standards for mercury and sulfates in Florida waters? Never happened. 

Regulation to allow local government to stop phosphorous and nitrogen pollution in Florida waters? State legislature and Gov. Rick Scott voted, no. Protection of coastlines from massive overdevelopment? Absolutely not. Support for the U.S. EPA to regulate contaminants and enforce against violations in Florida? No.

Blame the Florida legislature, its leaders like Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, Florida Representative Matt Caldwell, House Speaker Steve Crisafulli, Senator Joe Negron, to start. Blame the most clueless, radical governor in Florida history -- the anti-people governor Rick Scott who never addressed a problem that he couldn't visualize from 30,000 feet in his private jet, or, if he did then just slammed the window shades shut.

There is no need for science to tell us what's wrong with Florida's waterways and the cascade of destruction from Florida Bay stretching north along both coasts. We know exactly what is wrong: voters who don't care, don't vote, or vote for candidates and incumbents who represent institutionalized corruption.

Who is responsible for the tragedy of Florida waters? Voters who keep returning to office at the county, state and federal level, politicians who are paid to misrepresent the truth. Voters who elect politicians in the pocket of powerful industries and trade associations that routinely make a mockery of democratic processes: Associated Industries of Florida, run by former Jeb Bush ally Tom Feeney, spewing dark money into negative advertising like algae blooms. The Florida Chamber of Commerce. The Florida Farm Bureau. In 2013, 58 business organizations in the state of Florida signed a letter to the US Congress against the EPA's regulation of nitrogen and phosphorous contaminating state waterways. Killing off the EPA itself is a central platform of the GOP.

Every dead fish in Brevard County should be picked up and deposited on the doorsteps of citizens and taxpayers who did not vote, who voted for politicians funded by special interests like Big Sugar, who voted for elected officials who refused to make government work to protect rivers and waterways through tough pollution standards. One dead fish for every lobbyist in Tallahassee and two dead fish for every voter who supported elected officials who tolerate the revolving door between government regulators and the regulated. Three dead fish for every member of the governing board of the state's water management districts, and four dead fish for every voter who returned to office the governor who put those governing board members in place.

Five dead fish for every biologist who feared retribution if he or she spoke against his or her supervisor, afraid to shine the spotlight on pollution. Six dead fish for every voter who supported politicians that cultivate the atmosphere of fear and intimidation in environmental agencies like the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.

The pollution starts at the top in the executive branch of government and spreads out in a toxic stream as vast as the pollution spreading from Lake Okeechobee. There is no mystery, why. We don't require scientists sifting through diseased tissue of dead manatees and dolphin. There is just one cause: politicians elected by Florida voters. There is only one way out: at the polls in November.

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