sugarcane

AP file photo

A tractor works a sugarcane field in the Everglades Agricultural Area south of Lake Okeechobee.

As a rule, I don’t like politics. This is partly due to a wide independent streak that prevents me from buying into either party’s dogma. But even more so, it’s because I believe most politicians seek office not to serve the public good but themselves and their own interests.

If I’m dragged into a political conversation, one of my favorite arguments to make is that anyone who wants to hold an office should be automatically ineligible for it, since such a desire is virtually guaranteed to stem from the wrong motives. To be blunt, I don’t trust any of them.

However, I also believe in credit where credit is due. And as such, I have to hand it to the newly minted Gov. Ron DeSantis for sending the following letter to the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board:

Today I issued an Executive Order outlining our bold vision for environmental protection and water quality. Everglades restoration is the centerpiece of our strategy to improve our water, and the actions of the South Florida Water Management District are incredibly important in aiding the success of that strategy.

I thank you for your service to the State of Florida, but it is time for a clean reset of the leadership of the Board to focus the appropriate attention on this bold vision. Therefore, I ask that each of you tender your resignation from the Board, effective immediately.

The voters spoke clearly in support of our bold vision for action on the environment. I look forward to reconstituting the Board of the with a dedicated focus toward implementing the objectives we have laid out today. The people of Florida deserve nothing less.

These are the folks (better known as Softmud) who last November voted to lease land needed for the Everglades Agricultural Area reservoir to sugar growers, after adding that item to their agenda the night before a 9:30 a.m. meeting. Low-down dirty politics at its worst, suppressing discussion of an unpopular subject and trying to avoid accountability.

Looks like their chickens came home to roost. While it looks like the governor cannot toss them out (apparently, he can appoint, but the Senate has to fire them), he can suspend them for incompetence, and I believe he should.

DeSantis also pulled back some of departing Gov. Rick Scott’s appointees, including Bradenton developer Carlos Beruff, whom Scott had named to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Beruff, whose less-than-stellar track record includes allegations of cutting down a tree with an active eagle nest and trying to develop a property on Sarasota Bay called Long Bar Pointe (you can Google that and see which side you fall on).

DeSantis campaigned with promises of clean water and environmental protection, despite such issues often being afterthoughts (or never-thoughts) for many staunchly pro-business Republicans. At the time, I assumed he was pandering to the anger over red tide and blue-green algae, and he’d drop it as soon as it was politically expedient.

It’s way too soon for me to jump on the DeSantis train, but I can say that I’m very hopeful I was wrong about him. Maybe we finally have someone in the governor’s mansion who understands that if we want to keep our economy afloat, we need clean water. Florida’s greatest assets are natural.

I’m skeptical and slow to trust by nature, and I’ll be watching our governor’s actions closely. I know I won’t be the only one. For now, I’m happy to see him following through on what he said he’d do, and I’m guardedly optimistic about our state’s new executive.

Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@WaterLineWeekly.com.

Contact Capt. Josh Olive at 941-276-9657 or Publisher@
WaterLineWeekly.com.

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