Have courage, stand your ground

Regarding the proposed settlement agreement between DeSoto County and Mosaic, we think we can understand the position of county staff and attorney Mr. (Donald) Conn. They want to avoid the cost and continual threat of litigation by Mosaic. However, as long as Mosaic does not get their rezone approval, this threat will continue. The only difference this settlement provides is to “kick the can down the road” a few more years to probably another county commission and another county staff.

You have to ask yourself if any other applicant with lesser financial resources would be granted this special settlement opportunity. Truth is, we wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for the threat of a Bert Harris takings claim, and going to court.

You can say, as we have heard before, “Welcome to America, this is business as usual.” But that shouldn’t mean we just throw up our hands in defeat. Aren’t we supposed to have a government by, of and for the people?

It’s clear that there are times when we have to stand up to the powerful. In this case the county has a strong position that could be defended in court. I think Mr. Conn was the first one to say that. Why would our county give away any of that strong position and allow Mosaic a possible foothold to overturn the original rezone denial? Mosaic wants the chance to manipulate DeSoto County and weaken their position on this decision. If Mosaic wants to bring litigation, let them bring it now while the county’s position is still strong and just. So let’s just do the right thing and say “no thanks” to this settlement agreement. We don’t need it.

Mosaic can still have their workshops. They can still use their land for agriculture as it is currently zoned. They can still apply for a rezone later. If Mosaic is truly in earnest and wants to convince all concerned of the value and safety of phosphate mining, they will do so without litigation. They have previously stated that they would not intend to mine for several years anyway. Commissioners, we urge you to do the right thing. The people are with you. We’ll go through this together. Be strong, have courage and stand your ground.

Catherine White, Kerry Bowers,

Jane and Tom Pafford, Rhett Morris,

Brooks and Nancy Armstrong,

Margaret Niklas, Vicki Stiner,

Leon and Christie Dean,

Sarah Hollenhorst, Paul DeGeata,

Gayle Reynolds and Molly Bowen

In exchange for

selling out their neighbors

Twelve members of the Arcadia Rodeo Association have signed last week’s letter to the editor (April 4 Arcadian) that is a public admission that they don’t give a hoot about the residents of western DeSoto County, the importance of Horse Creek to the water supply of the region, and our neighbors downstream. They don’t care that the deep, massive strip mining of thousands of acres of quality agricultural land will forever impact the health, safety, way of life, and property values for the residents of historic Pine Level, Hidden Acres, Royal Park Estates, Environmental Lab Road and all those near Mosaic’s proposed mine.

What the 12 signers of the Rodeo Association care about is the Mosaic Rodeo Arena and Mosaic’s money, that they spread as if in generosity to gain public support. Mosaic is not a good steward of the land. Fly over the mined counties to get a good view of what they have done.

The 12 signers say that they are confident in the experts with the EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other regulatory agencies. Look no further than the sinkholes, the blue-green algae, red tide, and dead zone crisis connections with Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River to see how well those agencies are handling things.

Mosaic is profit driven. The profits are overseas sales, not necessarily the American farmer. China is using our reserves. Sustainable farming is our true future. Mosaic destroys and degrades our valuable agricultural land, permanently. Mosaic’s ‘volunteers’ are well paid employees.

There is nothing glamorous, as the 12 state, in the process of mining, which obviously includes accepting gifts and money in exchange for selling out your neighbors and the prosperous future of beautiful DeSoto County.

Thankfully we have commissioners with the integrity to stand up against the influential few for the best interests of DeSoto County residents and our exceptional environment. They too love the rodeo ... and the 12 are not representative of all.

Sarah Hollenhorst

Arcadia

Make your own

choices with phosphates

Just a few thoughts about Mosaic from my perspective. I’m Jonathan Brown, a seventh-generation Floridian and have been involved in agriculture my entire life. I grew up in Hardee County and moved to DeSoto in 1991.

So many of us watched the rezoning process for Mosaic from the sideline last summer. I have known for many years that the phosphate industry owned the property on the west side of DeSoto County and had every intention of someday bringing their business south. Rezoning a portion of their landholdings is one step in a very lengthy process.

As a farmer, I recognize the need for phosphate and the fertilizer Mosaic manufactures in Florida. My ability to farm is influenced by many things I cannot control—weather, pests, etc. Our community has a tremendous opportunity with the natural resource that exists here. This resource brings a global company into our community that will provide jobs, economic impacts and more … if we stay engaged.

Community organizations tend to put their hands out for support from this Fortune 500 company. But last summer we let a vocal minority—the majority of which don’t even live here, work here or raise their children here—speak on our behalf against them. Mosaic has an office in Arcadia and anyone who has questions about their operations should contact them directly.

I hope in the coming weeks people think long and hard about what’s in it for us. Mosaic is not asking for last summer’s decision to be reversed. They are asking for a fair process. There are rules they must follow and they intend to do just that. Don’t sit on the sidelines and let people from outside our community make decisions for us.

Jonathan O. Brown

Arcadia

Thank you to DMH for saving me

On Tuesday morning, Feb. 26, I was starting my day with a trip into town and I suddenly began feeling badly ... within minutes I started experiencing sharp chest pains followed by difficulty breathing. Thankfully, I was able to drive myself to DeSoto Memorial Hospital. Once I made it in the emergency room entrance doors, I was immediately greeted by the security guard, Brian Burthcher, asking if I was okay. I told him I thought I was having a heart attack and felt my legs giving out. He and the registration intake person quickly had me in a wheelchair and I was immediately taken into the ER, without hesitation.

Tami Skinner, Lori Fussell, Nikki Jones, Dr. Bernhart and many others including but not limited to respiratory therapy, diagnostic imaging etc. were quickly at my side and confirmed, in fact, I was having a heart attack. I could not have asked for better care.

I was transported by helicopter in less than an hour to Sarasota Memorial Hospital, where I later had five-way bypass surgery. It was stated on many occasions that DeSoto Memorial Hospital was quick with their assessment and treatment, which included getting me to Sarasota Memorial and that I should not have any permanent heart damage.

I am extremely grateful to have a hospital in our community. I can’t imagine my outcome if we didn’t have one. I am also grateful for the staff at DMH; I have no doubt if it had not been for the well-trained and expedient staff, that I would most likely not be here today. Thank you, DMH!

Jeffrey R. Griffis

Arcadia

Hate speech shouldn’t be here

I read the Arcadian every week and was very disturbed by the article submitted by Judith Doctor in the April 4 paper. She has picked a side in this political environment, yet she calls herself a “spiritual life mentor” ... appears to be someone so full of hate she can’t help herself. Name calling, censoring those she doesn’t agree with, quoting a Bible verse as a way to “back up” her stance. This isn’t a way to convince others that her opinion is the only one that matters and it really has no place in this community newspaper. She also says that this hate of hers should be brought to the pulpit of the churches. She appears to be “unhinged” and I have to wonder if the editor of the paper reads her submission before publishing it. This is a community paper and this type of hate speech shouldn’t be here; at least I hope the paper doesn’t accept this name calling or persecuting those that don’t agreed with her opinion as acceptable journalism in a small “church going” community like Arcadia.

Linda Dunham

Arcadia

Failing grade for Florida House

Today, the Senate passed their budget bills which includes their education funding proposals. The House is expected to pass their budget on Thursday which will pave the way for conference committee negotiations. While neither bill is ideal, if the House budget passes as is, it falls far short of the level of investment needed in public schools by Florida’s students.

The budget bill passed today in the Senate is an encouraging step toward reinvesting in our neighborhood public schools and the millions of students who attend them. While the Senate bill challenges a decade-long history of failing to prioritize public education in Florida, the current House bill falls far short of that ambition.

The education budget bill passed by members of the Florida Senate increases K-12 education funding by more than $1 billion, with nearly $600 million in discretionary funds that can be used for teacher and support staff salary raises. Whereas the House education budget is one of the leanest the state has seen in years, raising per education funding by $167 compared to the Senate’s $350.

Decades of inadequate funding for public education have taken a harsh toll on public schools throughout the state. Florida sits near the bottom of the nation for educator salaries, ranking 46th for teacher salaries and 47th for education staff professional salaries. Low funding levels have also contributed to an ever-growing shortage of educators throughout the state. At the beginning of this school year, Florida public schools reported more than 4,000 vacancies for educators and the State Department of Education projects that the number of teaching vacancies at the beginning of the next school year will exceed 10,000.

Members of the House must follow the lead of their Senate counterparts and support a budget that demonstrates a real commitment to Florida’s students. Anything short of the funding levels passed by the Senate are an insult to the future of our children and the educators who work so hard on their behalf.

Fedrick Ingram

President, Florida Education Association

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