I hate it when elected officials – and those appointed to protect our threatened environment – piss down our backs and tell us it’s raining. . .
In a recent article by reporter Brenno Carillo writing in The Daytona Beach News-Journal we learned of the tragic death of another distressed manatee found in a New Smyrna Beach canal.
“It is highly likely that the manatee’s poor body condition is related to the extreme loss of forage within the Indian River Lagoon as a result of excess nutrient pollution over decades,’ which ‘has led to a series of algal blooms that shaded out and killed the vast majority of seagrasses within the Indian River Lagoon.”
In short, the manatee starved to death – just like some 1,100 others who died last year – many in the northern Indian River Lagoon.
That’s right here in our backyard.
Obviously, we’ve made a mess of things. But what have our ‘powers that be’ learned from it?
In my view, they have discovered how to shoehorn even more development onto threatened areas while convincing us they are spending on “environmental restoration” projects. . .
You read that right.
Last month, while our elected elite gathered in their finery in the Ocean Center – noshing on epicurean delights generously provided by their corporate benefactors, some in the development and construction industry – this unfortunate manatee was struggling for survival in a murky Southeast Volusia canal, the latest victim of a growth-at-all-cost strategy fueled by the unbridled greed of a few powerful insiders with a chip in the game.
Who gives a shit, right? I mean, screw the manatees.
They don’t purchase zero-lot-line wood frame cracker boxes “from the low $300’s” – they don’t vote – and they damn sure don’t subsidize the political careers of those malleable shit-heels who expedite it all with arbitrary land use changes from the dais of power. . .
It’s no secret that there are untold billions to be made developing and redeveloping waterfront real estate in East Central Florida – draining the land, building ghastly “theme” communities on top of our aquifer recharge areas, and the newest phenomenon, allowing sprawling “cities within a city” – while those elected dullards who rubberstamp land use changes and neuter environmental protections, salve their conscience with band aid solutions, and state sponsored hurt here/help there mitigation strategies, all while wallowing in the political cowardice that does nothing to stop the obscene slash-and-burn sprawl.
Look, I realize we live in a time when landowners are given free rein to do whatever they want, when they want, with their property – because “private property rights” have been bastardized by those with a chip in the game to mean “shit on your neighbor – money talks – and anything goes.”
Even if it kills, sickens, and maims indigenous wildlife – chokes and pollutes our finite water supply – and endangers future generations by allowing development directly on top of former dumpsites and adds to toxic runoff into the very waterways they claim to be helping, while strategically camouflaging infrastructure projects that facilitate even more growth as “restoration” efforts – all under the deranged belief no one will notice.
Besides, it is easy for these hypocritical assholes to produce videos taking credit for the hard work of actual environmentalists when it comes time to stage the next round of “accomplishments” for the State of the County soiree next year.
Look, despite popular belief – I’m a big fan of County Council Chair Jeff Brower.
I supported his candidacy and cast my sacred vote for Mr. Brower – and I remain confident that his intentions are pure as he struggles to live up to his campaign promises to free our beach and slow the ferocity of current growth in the face of Volusia County’s Old Guard – a fusty group of obstructionist’s intent on protecting the pernicious “system” at all costs.
They say the flak gets heavier the closer one gets to the target – and Mr. Brower is clearly making some very important people uncomfortable with talk of “low impact development” and strengthening environmental protection strategies – while his “colleagues” do everything in their power to marginalize his effectiveness on the dais, and the Old Guard’s goofy mouthpieces spout nonsensical horseshit on social media to question and disparage the very initiatives that got Chairman Brower elected in the first place.
Recently, craven politicians touted a City of Oak Hill septic-to-sewer project – a phased initiative you and I paid for with some $9 million in “grant funds,” gifts, and loans from various local, state, and federal agencies, such as the Department of Environmental Protection, St. Johns River Water Management District, the Indian River Lagoon Council, and the County of Volusia – which, we were told, will partially pay for helping restore the threatened lagoon by converting some 285 septic tanks in the Indian Harbor Estates area to “. . .a more environmentally friendly central sewerage collection system.”
For the record, Volusia County will lease and operate the sewerage collection system “…to ensure payment of the city’s long-term debt.”
In the same breath, now Oak Hill officials are considering approval of a land use change that could potentially bring an additional 900+ homes and commercial space to the Bills Hill Road area of this once pristine fishing village – a move that would more than double the population of a community which currently hosts one stop light.
In the view of many, this environmental sleight-of-hand merely supplanted Oak Hill’s inability to build adequate utilities infrastructure that will allow additional development on lands near the lagoon.
Is there another explanation?
Look, we get it.
This project isn’t curing the sins of the past – it’s making it more palatable for future development – a publicly funded marketing tool.
So, these faux environmentalists on various commissions, councils, and the legislature can stop the pandering bilge and cheap propaganda of politicians throwing sacks of used oyster shells, paying lip service to water quality projects, and planting mangroves in some vainglorious “look at me” feel-good ruse while backdooring even more development.
My God. How stupid do they think we are?
A recent rehashed op/ed written for Treasure Coast Newspapers, then republished in Sunday’s The Daytona Beach News-Journal, blared the question, “Manatee death numbers rage into second year. Is there help on way?”
The answer is “No.”
What is “on the way” is more, more, more paved over sprawl along the diseased spine of Volusia County from Farmton to the Flagler County line and beyond – all facilitated by these spineless bastards that claim to care about the health and welfare of your family at election time – while doing everything in their power to advance this malignancy that is sacrificing our collective quality of life on the foul altar of insatiable greed.
While manatees don’t vote – the citizens of Oak Hill and Volusia County do.
This evening, beginning at 6:00pm, concerned residents will gather for a meeting of the City Commission to discuss the proposed residential planned unit development at Oak Hill City Hall.
Let your voice be heard.