I’ve said more than once that Florida is the most corrupt state in the union.
Unfortunately, evidence in support of my calamitous assumption just keeps piling up.
Earlier this month, Florida Department of Environmental Protection secretary Jon Steverson announced he would be stepping down after a tumultuous two-years at the top of the agency charged with, among other important things, protecting our drinking water.
You may remember that Secretary Steverson was “widely criticized” last year over his failure to notify Governor Rick Scott, the citizens, or anyone else, about a massive sinkhole (billed by Steverson as a “water loss incident”) at Mosaic Company’s Mulberry phosphate processing plant.
Geologists later said that a child could have seen it was a pollutant-guzzling sinkhole, but in keeping with Mosaic’s PR damage control, Jon avoided using the “S-word” for some 19-days post incident.
Yep. Jon kept us all in the dark for three-weeks while some 215 million gallons of acidic, radioactive wastewater drained into the region’s aquifer.
You know, where our potable water originates.
“Widely criticized?” This bastard should have been hung by his fucking thumbs from a gallows in front of the State Capitol building as an example to any other dishonest whore who would turn a blind eye to his sworn duties and jeopardize the health of Florida residents.
Did Rick Scott launch his ass like a Saturn Five?
No. He let Steverson get his solid gold parachute packed, then ‘honorably’ resign months later.
Although Steverson’s two-page resignation letter didn’t say peep about the Mosaic disaster, or his other mindbogglingly dumb ideas – such as allowing commercial timber and cattle operations on State Park lands – or increasing the ‘acceptable’ level of carcinogenic chemicals being dumped into our waterways – he did, however, tout Governor Scott’s pursuit of the manically expensive lawsuit against the State of Georgia known as the Tri-State Water War.
Wonder why he would do that?
Last week, when Floridians began to question Scott’s mental state after discovering that he has now thrown some $72 million of our tax dollars at the Tri-State suit – we learned that Jon Steverson will be going to work for one of the very firms billing taxpayers for the legal work!
Jon will join Rick Scott’s previous Department of Environmental Protection secretary, Herschel Vinyard, who already works at the same law firm.
With no resolution to this lawsuit in sight – two – count ‘em – former DEP secretaries, the very people who were charged with protecting our vulnerable water supply and overseeing our sensitive wetlands and environmental assets, will now be working for the very same firm that is hip-deep in the public trough.
In an excellent piece in the Orlando Sentinel, the always intrepid Scott Maxwell wrote:
“We have trapped ourselves in a wickedly stupid cycle.
Whenever someone proposes we do something radical like not allow raw sewage in our rivers or dump fertilizer into our watershed, business groups pop up to scream: “That’s regulation! That’s overreach! That will kill jobs!”
A few years back, businesses actually teamed up to coin a supposedly evil-sounding name for environmental watchdogs: “Big Green.” It sounded more silly than sinister. But the idea was to try to convince you that Florida’s true enemies are the people trying to keep your water clean.
It sounds ridiculous. But Florida leaders parrot this claptrap. Gov. Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam have all ranted about the EPA.
And Scott — with the help of spineless legislators — has decimated environmental protections put in place by Jeb Bush, Bob Graham, Charlie Crist and others. They dismantled the state’s growth-planning agency, closed water-quality offices and put developers in charge of restraining development.
So they allow our natural resources to get fouled and then bill you to fix the mess. Over and over again.”
This is the same administration that has allowed Long John Miklos, Rick Scott’s hand-picked Chairman of the uber-powerful St. John’s River Water Management District’s governing board, to lobby for private clients of his Bio Tech environmental consultancy in front of, well, the St. John’s River Water Management District.
Only in Florida.
As Maxwell points out, the Tri-State lawsuit may have some merit. But allowing participating law firms to bill Florida taxpayers up to $825 an hour is simply over-the-top. After all, what incentive do they have to resolve the matter so long as the public tap is flowing strong?
Our tab for this year’s legal fees and costs associated with the suit is estimated at $41-million dollars.
And you can bet your bippy nothing settles until Jon Steverson gets his back-handed payback for taking the fall on the Mosaic disaster – among other environmental debacles. After all, he did yeoman’s work holding the watchdogs off as long as he could.
Even as hundreds of millions of gallons of highly toxic waste whirlpooled into our drinking supply.
In an interesting side note, last week Florida Department of Transportation Secretary Jim Boxold announced he will also be leaving the Scott administration midway through the governor’s final term.
Per the Tallahassee Democrat, just hours after Boxold announced his resignation, “Capital City Consulting announced he was joining the Tallahassee-based group’s team of lobbyists.”
Sleep well, my fellow Floridians.