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Two Coasts, One Problem: In Florida, GOP Leaders Think Voters Are Stupid

02/13/2016 09:08 am ET | Updated Feb 13, 2016
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In Florida, there are two coasts -- the Gulf and Atlantic -- and one problem: GOP leaders (Republicans first and foremost, because they the executive branch and legislature) think voters are stupid. Why do GOP officials think you are stupid? Simple. They think they can hide the state's afflicted waters, the massively polluted Lake Okeechobee, by shoving it into the Everglades.

Historic rainfalls in January surfaced the mismanagement of water resources in Florida. Simply put, Florida's water flows downhill toward the political wealth of Big Sugar billionaires like Florida Crystal's Fanjul family or the Mott's of US Sugar. Buttressed by phalanxes of lobbyists and the most highly paid attorneys in Florida, plus hirelings in the state legislature, Big Sugar dictates outcomes for the rest of the state.

Growing sugarcane on 500,000 acres south of Lake Okeechobee requires year-round irrigation: never too wet, never too dry. Call it the Goldilocks principle because, once federal farm subsidies are added to the mix, sugar turns to gold.

The operation requires the use of Lake Okeechobee as a vast septic tank for agricultural runoff. It all works very well -- except when extraordinary rainfall requires the release of water from the Lake. Then, it is not just the Everglades that suffer the consequences: highly toxic flood water pours -- billions of gallons per day -- through the rivers and estuaries serving both Florida coasts and onto the shorefront of millions of property owners, residents, businesses and taxpayers on both coasts.

Two coasts, one problem. And possibly some cracks in the wall.

The use of social media to by-pass traditional, economic models of news dissemination to highlight how Republican officials -- incoming Senator president Joe Negron, aspiring governor, now Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam, and current governor and aspiring US senator Rick Scott -- have nowhere to hide. The newspapers are running to catch up.

That is why the latest GOP scheme -- to use the Everglades as a place to hide billions of gallons per day of toxic filth -- isn't going to work.

Big Sugar wants to keep political and economic order has it has always been: maintain the never--too--wet, never--too--dry Everglades Agricultural Area like a free ATM while taxpayers spend billions on Everglades restoration.

Two coasts: one problem. For Republican party leaders, the problem is how to hold aloft GOP primary contenders, especially Jeb Bush and Marco Rubio who both side with Big Sugar polluters. For ordinary folk, a different problem: downstream of bad political choices, how to stop the floodgates of hell from wrecking their Florida?

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