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Monday, August 22, 2016


On August 19, 2016, CJ's Street Report published a report based on the County's Office of Environmental Enforcement's "Notice of Violation."  The blog post included videos from August 8th and August 19th showing that Ahmad had not removed his junk cars from illegal junk yard lot in the allotted 10 days.

This morning (August 22nd), I received a phone call from Officer Steven Kenney.  He told me that Ahmad could keep his junked cars on his property as long as he initiated a development plan review.  Apparently, Ahmad has initiated this development plan review.


The question is this: why does the "Notice of Violation" state "remove all vehicles" BEFORE the development plan review is completed, but Officer Kenney told me that Ahmad can continue to operate his illegal junk yard as long as he starts the review process?  Is this not favoritism?  Is this not a deviation from the "Notice of Violation"?  Not only is the outdoor storage of vehicles "not permitted," but among the five county ordinances Ahmad violated is one related to the health and safety of residents [ 42-196(a) and 42-197(a)], namely, the attraction of potentially Zika-virus carrying mosquitoes and rats.  The first section deals with the "creation or maintenance of conditions conducive to the breeding of rats, vermin, flies, mosquitoes..."  The second section requires "Complete removal of all contributing conditions."  Why does Code Enforcement allow Ahmad to jeopardize the health and safety of residents near his illegal junk yard?  Is it simply a matter that poor people matter less?

Friday, August 19, 2016


On July 26, 2016, the Escambia County Office of Environmental Enforcement sent a "Notice of Violation" for case number CE160702662.  The five violations were for Mirza Ahmad's illegal junk yard located at 2910 W Blount Street, Pensacola.  Ahmad was told, in bold red letters on the Notice, "Comply within 10 days of receipt of this notice."  He was also provided a "Warning" which read:  "Failure to correct this violation and notify this Officer of Compliance will result in fines or a hearing.  If the Hearing is scheduled you may be assessed $1,100 or more for costs of said hearing, plus possible fines; the County may abate the violations and place a Lien on the property."

This video essay documents that on August 8th, 13 days after Ahmad was told to comply or face fines and hearing, the illegal junk yard still existed.  On August 19th, 24 days after being notified by the Office of Environmental Enforcement, Ahmad still had not taken any steps to comply with the County.  In my commentary, I said the video was taken on August 18th.  That is a mistake.  The video was taken on August 19th.

Of the five ordnance violations, "Section 42-196(a) Nuisance Conditions" poses a threat to the health and well being of residents of District 3--and his potential voters.  This county ordnance refers to the "creation or maintenance of any condition conducive to the breeding of rats, vermin, flies, mosquitos, or other anthropods that are capable of transmitting diseases directly or indirectly to humans.  Sec 42-197(a)  For conditions conducive to the breeding of rats, vermin, flies, mosquitos, or other anthropods: Complete removal of all contributing conditions" [emphasis added].

Officer Kenney wrote in the section on "Officer Comments" in plain language what was expected of Mirza Ahmad:  "Remove all vehicles from the property until such time as the property has been through development review for use as a retail auto sales/repair.  Outdoor storage is not permitted in the zoning for this parcel.  Cease and desist occupation of the RV in the back corner of the lot.  Contact Planning and Zoning to initiate the process for development review."  Note:  the electronic copy of this "Notice of Violation" will be posted when it is received from Code Enforcement.  SEE LINK ABOVE.

Not only should Ahmad be forced to attend a hearing and be fined, but his actions deem him unsuitable and unqualified to hold the office of county commissioner.  If he had any integrity, he would withdraw from the race.  Ahmad, your days in the clown car grow longer by the minute.

AUGUST 8, 2016

AUGUST 19, 2016, VIEW A

 AUGUST 19, 2016, VIEW B

Tuesday, August 9, 2016



On August 9, 2016, downtown hotspot in Seville Quarter, Phineas Phoggs, hosted a candidate forum jointly sponsored by Pensacola Young Professionals, the Seville Rotary Club, and the Pensacola Propeller Club.  The Pensacola Chamber of Commerce also participated in questioning the candidates.  This blog post covers the two candidates for the Board of County Commissioners District 3, challenger Mirza AHMAD and incumbent Lumon MAY.  It is a good thing this was a forum and not a debate.  Had it been a heavyweight fight, Ahmad's cutman would have run out of towels and bandages as the blood would have spilt from cuts above both shut eyes, a broken nose, a few missing teeth, and bleeding ears.  Ahmad has proven that he does not know the issues.  He just throws stuff out hoping that his audience thinks that empty concepts and vacuous ideas will gain him votes.  His big ideas for schools is an after-school training program.  Superintendent Thomas, who spoke in the last tranche of candidates, explained that in the past eight years the number of technical academies located inside the high schools has grown from nine to sixty.  One academy, established with the support of the National Flight Academy, comes with Federal Aviation Administration certification allowing graduates to work on aircraft.  Is that vocational enough, Ahmad?  In other words, Ahmad's idea is ridiculous.  He does not know how the federal system works on transportation issues.  May, on the other hand, explained that any improvements to the railroad system or the overall transportation system in the county, would require collaboration with the City, the Florida Department of Transportation, our representatives in Tallahassee and Washington, D.C., and other stakeholders. Ahmad appears to have watched too many empty speeches where he thinks that he alone among all the elected officials in the county can fix deep rooted problems.

May is very self-effacing.  He does not like to brag.  What he did not tell the Pensacola Young Professionals (he's a former member) and the Seville Rotary Club members is that since 2013 he has secured at least $21 Million in program funds for District 3.  This included sidewalks constructed ($445,556); drainage projects ($6,674,370); roadway and bridge projects ($9,832,522); resurfaced roads ($2,200,000); street lights ($236,000); a sewer project for Brownsville ($337,000); and, $1,300,000 to purchase the Brownsville Community Center and use it as a job training, recreation, and cultural arts facility.  This specific project, begun this summer will be completed in January 2017.  Plus, an intern program for the district.  And many other accomplishments to numerous to list.

So, the next time someone says, "Lumon's done nothing for the district," give him or her this brief list.  I will be writing up the complete list at a later time.  May brings home the beef.

This blog post presents the District 3 BOCC candidate forum as it occurred:  Opening statement by Mirza Ahmad; opening statement by Lumon May; the transportation question from the moderator from the Pensacola Propeller Club; closing statement from Mirza Ahmad; and, closing statement from Lumon May.


Mirza AHMAD, opening statement

Lumon MAY, opening statement

CSX Freight and Transportation Question

Mirza AHMAD, closing statement

Lumon MAY, closing statement

Friday, August 5, 2016



This ECUA Board in February 2013 sided with some of Florida's largest industrial polluters in opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's more stringent numerical standards for protecting Florida's most valuable resource--its water.  The Board did so by allowing the ECUA administration to make strategic policy decisions without oversight--a pattern of behavior stretching back to the 1990s.  For this reason, the three incumbents running for re-election should be turned out of office.

In February 2013, the Emerald Coast Utilities Authority (ECUA), signed a letter along with 57 other "partners and stakeholders" opposing the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to put in place a numerical nutrient measure regarding nitrogen and phosphorous to replace the vague narrative standard of Florida's Department of Environmental Protection.  The EPA's nutrient standards would have brought Florida into compliance with the Clean Water Act.  The ECUA had added its support to a letter signed by some of Florida's and the nation's largest industrial polluters.  In the three months prior to the ECUA submitting its comments opposing the EPA's proposed numerical nutrient standard and signing the letter, the ECUA's board of directors, including three incumbents running for re-election--Elvin McCorvey, Vickie Campbell, and Larry Walker--apparently did not discuss ECUA's opposition to the EPA or ECUA signing the letter stocked with industrial polluters.  Proof that no such discussions or questions were raised by the ECUA Board can be found in the official minutes of the November 2012, December 2012, and January 2013 minutes.  That the ECUA administrators and subject matter staff experts did not brief the board and the board did not inquire as to what the ECUA was doing regarding a matter that was not only controversial, but enveloped in lawsuits, is reminiscent of how the ECUA board acted in the 2000s regarding widespread industrial pollution of the county's aquifer.  The Grand Jury found (pdf page 3) that the ECUA administrators made policies on "health and safety issues without oversight from a majority of the members" and the Board "subsequently tacitly approved approved these decisions, relinquishing their responsibilities to their customers and the public."  The culture of the ECUA, despite changing administrators, apparently remains the same, suggesting that only a wholesale replacement of the board with members committed to environmental protection, accessibility, accountability, and transparency is required.

Who were some of the largest industrial polluters that the ECUA sided with in opposing the EPA's more stringent numerical nutrient rules?  They included: American Forest and Paper Association; Association of Florida Community Developers; Associated Industries of Florida; The Fertilizer Group Inc.; Florida Cattlemen's Association; Florida Farm Bureau; Florida Forestry Association; Florida Sugar Cane League; Gulf Citrus Growers Association; Gulf Power Company; Illinois Fertilizer and Chemical Association; National Cattlemen's Beef Association; National Pork Producers Council; National Turkey Federation; PotashCorp; Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida; United Egg Producers; U.S. Cattlemen's Association; U.S. Poultry & Egg Association; Virginia Poultry Association; and the Wyoming Ag Business Association.

The purpose of this blog post is to demonstrate that the ECUA's confidence and trust in the Florida Department of Environmental Protection was misplaced.  Environmental groups--the last line of defense against industrial environmental pollution--had no confidence in the FL DEP.  This blog post will highlight their commentary.  Governor Scott and the Republican dominated legislature had effectively gutted and neutralized the scientific expertise of the FL DEP.  Moreover, the governor and the legislature had also effectively weakened local health departments.

Subsequently, with the massive discharge of Lake Okeechobee water heavily polluted with nitrogen and phosphorous it has become abundantly clear that political contributions from industrial polluters enables widespread environmental destruction.


There is an official Florida website called that maintains data on departmental budgets.  From that initial page, you can find Governor Scott's previous budgets.  Thus, anyone can verify the figures below taken from the various yearly budget pages, going to a specific agency, and then specific departments.

Overall, the Department of Environmental Protection suffered significantly budget losses and losses of personnel.  The baseline is Governor Crist's 2011-2012 budget.  All subsequent budgets belong to Governor Scott.

In Governor Scott's first budget, "Let's Get to Work," the Department of Environmental Protection's (DEP) budget declined from $1.460 Billion to $1.313 Billion, a projected loss of $146 Million and 86 positions.  Similarly, the Department of Health (DH) declined from $2.85 Billion to 2.78 Billion, a loss of $70 Million and 373 positions.

In the second budget, 2013-2014, "Florida Families First," the DEP went from $1.40 Billion to $1.20 Billion and a loss of 116 overall positions.  The DH grew by $32 Million but lost 477 positions.

In the third budget, 2014-2015, "It's Your Money Tax Cut," the DEP gained $111 Million but lost 54 positions.  Health lost $12.8 Million and lost another 327 positions.

In the fourth budget, 2015-2016, "Keep Florida Working," the DEP lost $28 Million and 155 positions.  Health lost $55 Million and lost another 758 positions.

In the fifth budget, 2016-2017, "Florida First," the DEP gained $80 million but lost another 152 positions.  Health lost $36 Million and another 718 positions.

Thus, the overall trend in the Department of Environmental Protection is a loss of positions.  Governor Crist's last budget staffed the DEP at 3,450 positions.  The last budget of Governor Scott projected 2,822 positions, an overall loss of 628 positions, or a drop in 18% of personnel.  Those are not "bureaucrats."  They do not just push paper.  This is a loss of expertise.  This is a loss of institutional memory.

The interpretation of the budget cuts by environmental groups will be covered in the next section because there are lots of budget transfers and cuts in one program and increases in another program, and, then the program that was increased in terms of personnel is cut two years in a row.

Similarly, the personnel losses in the Department of Health have been no less dramatic.  Health went from 17,107 positions under Governor Crist to a projected 13,640 positions under Governor Scott--a loss of 3,467 positions or 20% of personnel.


The EarthJustice environmental group submitted a massive email supporting the EPA's numerical nutrient standard.  Among the reasons for supporting the EPA and opposing the DEP was their observation that the "DEP is firing experienced staffers and replacing them with people who represent polluting industries."  The Florida Native Plant Society's Landscape Committee supported the EPA standard in part because "Governor Rick Scott has methodically fired many FDEP and Water Management District scientists and employees who did their job, followed Florida Statutes and protected the environment. We need the EPA's backing in Florida now more than ever."

The Center for Biological Diversity, one of the country's leading environmental groups, supported the EPA's more stringent numerical nutrient rule in part because "Florida has already reduced the number of monitoring stations in the St. John’s lower basin by 2/3 due to staffing issues.  Florida has delayed setting minimum flows and levels for Wakulla Springs.  Florida rarely does anything to address MFL violations were they do exist. Florida's firing experienced staff from DEP.  There’s nothing in Florida’s management of water resources that suggests it is capable of keeping with Congresses mandate that waters of the U.S. be swimmable, fishable, and free of pollutants" [emphasis added].

Dr. Raymond Bellamy, an orthopedic surgeon and former board member of the Florida Environmental Regulation Commission, told the Palm Beach Post, "'In those days [1980s], the Department was a committed defender of our natural treasures,' he wrote. 'Sadly, that does not seem to be the case in recent administrations.  DEP employees, some of whom are my patients, now all fear for their jobs and are facilitating industry in most cases.  Institutional knowledge has disappeared and aggressive enforcement of regulations is decried.'"

Alan Farago, who writes as gimleteye for the Eye On Miami blog, reported that "One of Gov. Rick Scott’s first acts as governor was to axe the science budget and staff at the state agency charged with protecting fresh water resources in Florida.  By eliminating scientists at the South Florida Water Management District, Scott erased the institutional memory of an agency nominally charged with balancing the needs of people and the environment with the needs of industry.  Specifically, Big Sugar.  Scott appointed members of the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District with no experience or compassion for the environment."


In the wake of repeated algae blooms, manatees dying, seagrass disappearing. coral reefs in their death throes, and Big Sugar pouring fertilizers out of Lake Okeechobee and fouling both coasts of Florida, Florida's mainstream newspapers and bloggers have highlighted that campaign contributions from the state's biggest polluters enabled lax standards, weakened regulations, and increased environmental destruction.


Miami Herald (June 29, 2016):  "Since October, US Sugar has now given Scott $200,000 in donations for a political committee Scott runs called Let’s Get to Work.  In hitting the $200,000 threshold, US Sugar became one of Scott’s five biggest donors since the start of 2015.  By far the biggest donor to Scott since the start of 2015 remains the Florida Chamber of Commerce, which has donated $790,000 to Scott’s committee. Walt Disney World Parks and Resorts; Floridians for a Stronger Democracy (a political committee with ties to Associated Industries of Florida); and Tampa Bay Lightning owner Jeffrey Vinik have also given $200,000 or more to Let’s Get to Work."

Gainesville Sun (July 6, 2016):  "Since 1998, according to the National Institute on Money in State Politics, the sugar industry has given at least $21 million to Florida political candidates, political action committees and political parties. Big sugar gets what it wants, politicians’ palms are greased, Floridians get more pollution and Florida's reputation is damaged."

Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald (July 11, 2016):  "Between 1994 and 2016, a review of state Division of Elections records by the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau shows, the sugar industry—led by United States Sugar and Florida Crystals—has steered a whopping $57.8 million in direct and in-kind contributions to state and local political campaigns. (The total does not include federal contributions.)"

GimletEye Miami (March 9, 2016):  "Big Sugar’s pollution of national politics runs deep and strong through both political parties. One Fanjul brother, Pepe, takes the Republicans. The other, Alfie, takes the Democrats. It’s all about making billions and the maximum profit possible by spreading campaign cash like fertilizer across America’s political landscape."

Florida Center for Investigative Reporting (April 3, 2015):  "An analysis of campaign records by the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting shows that the utility companies have sunk $12 million into the campaigns of state lawmakers since 2010.... Gov. Rick Scott’s 2014 re-election campaign took in more than $1.1 million from the state’s utility companies.... Half of the money, $6.68 million, went to the Republican Party of Florida. The second-largest recipient of electric company money, the Florida Democratic Party, took in $1.8 million."

Rolling Stone (February 11, 2016):  "The utilities are top political donors in Florida.  Since 2004, the state's four largest IOUs [Investor-Owned Utilities] contributed at least $18 million to state politicians and political committees–a preponderance to Republicans, who now control state government. In addition, since 2007, the companies spent at least $12 million on lobbying, employing an average of one lobbyist for every two legislators in Tallahassee."

Nancy Argenziano, former head of the Florida's Public Service Commission (in Rolling Stone):  "'The legislature is owned by the utilities. To me, it's extremely corrupt. The legislature takes millions from utilities, who make billions from [the decisions of] the PSC. They get what they pay for.'"


The Florida Times Union (March 8, 2016):  "The main culprit for the pollution in Lake Ockeechobee is Big Sugar.... It’s not surprising that Scott is ignoring the role of Big Sugar since his political action committee—Let’s Get to Work—has enjoyed taking from the deep pockets of Big Sugar as he builds a bank account for a U.S. Senate run in 2018."

The Miami Herald (March 4, 2016):  "Privately, the governor is busy muscling special interests to bankroll his Senate run in 2018.  Some of his biggest donors are the worst polluters of Lake O and the Everglades....Scott’s pals in Big Sugar have been back-pumping dirty water from their cane fields into the lake, which through Friday was being emptied into the St. Lucie River at a rate exceeding 2 billion gallons a day."

GimletEye Miami (March 23, 2016):  "Who is responsible for the tragedy of Florida waters?  Voters who keep returning to office at the county, state and federal level, politicians who are paid to misrepresent the truth.  Voters who elect politicians in the pocket of powerful industries and trade associations that routinely make a mockery of democratic processes: Associated Industries of Florida, run by former Jeb Bush ally Tom Feeney, spewing dark money into negative advertising like algae blooms. The Florida Chamber of Commerce. The Florida Farm Bureau."

Eye On Miami (April 4, 2016):  "Billionaire sugar barons are OK with making South Florida into their sacrifice zone, shifting costs of making cheap sugar onto the backs of taxpayers.  Who else is responsible? Gov. Rick Scott, Ag Secretary Adam Putnam, and legislators like incoming Florida Senate President Joe Negron and chief House mouthpiece for Big Sugar, Matt Caldwell."

Eye On Miami (April 22, 2016):  "What the mainstream press is reluctant to also say: Big Sugar's campaign contributions are at the heart of the silence in Congress.  Meanwhile in Florida, elected officials like Adam Putnam are warning that any legislators who talk to will be 'vaporized.'... We are many.  Big Sugar is few."

Treasure Coast Palm (April 29, 2016):  "Rubio has been a staunch supporter of a federal program that provides price supports for the sugar industry and imposes quotas and tariffs on imports.... Rubio has accepted sugar political donations and is close with the Fanjuls, owners of sugar giant Florida Crystals. The family raised funds and helped elect him to the U.S. Senate in 2010."

Eye On Miami (June 29, 2016):  "In the interval, at each and every point in time that the EPA sought to bring Florida back into line on water quality problems, the agency has been attacked by the GOP.  Let's name names: Gov. Rick Scott and his predecessors including Jeb Bush, Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam and his Republican predecessors, Senate president Joe Negron and his predecessors (Ken Pruitt, John Thrasher), Attorney General Pam Bondi and her predecessors, Representative Matt Caldwell and his predecessors (Jimmy Patronis, Gaston Cantens, Marco Rubio)--all worked overtime on behalf of Lake Okeechobee polluters like Big Sugar and Big Ag interests north of Lake Okeechobee."

Miami Herald (May 16, 2016):  "Late last year, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi joined a lawsuit suing the EPA to stop the Clean Power Plan (CPP) from being enacted.... Bondi claims it’s what the people of Florida want, yet the numbers prove the contrary.... A poll conducted by Bloomberg Philanthropies and Forward Intelligence last week found that 73 percent of Florida voters support the CPP."

Miami Herald (June 2, 2016):  "According to calculations by FollowTheMoney,org, the report says Bondi collected $26,350 from the energy industries in the 2010 and 2014 election cycles. A closer look by the Herald/Times however, shows the figure is much higher - at least $75,000 just for the 2014 cycle.... Bondi's political committee, Justice for All, shows that in her 2014 election alone, she received $50,000 from Florida Power & Light and $25,000 from Sunshine Gas Distributors.... The Florida Chamber of Commerce, for example, for which FPL is a member, gave Bondi $110,000 in her last election and gave another $20,000 this year. Associated Industries of Florida, which also includes FPL as its member, gave her $10,000.  Then there is the Washington-based Republican State Legislative Committee, a political committee formed to collect donations from corporations but shield them from disclosure.  According to, the 527 RSLC gave Bondi a whopping $550,000 in 2014."

Eye On Miami (May 27, 2016):  "In the meantime, newspapers and television news have been largely captured by polluters' advertising budgets and promotion of false equivalencies.... Behind the scenes, US Sugar (owned by the charitable Charles Stuart Mott Foundation) and its Big Sugar twin--Flo-Sun and Florida Crystals (owned by the Billionaire Fanjuls of Coral Gables and Palm Beach)--furiously work to delineate terms of Florida's water policy through mouthpieces like Ag Secretary Adam Putnam."


Florida Politics, Diane Roberts (April 19, 2016):  "Instead, the filthy rich industries helping to bankroll Scott’s 2018 U.S. Senate bid are allowed to continue back-pumping 72 billion gallons of toxic water from Lake Okeechobee into the St. Lucie, the Indian River and out into the Atlantic Ocean as if a giant septic tank had exploded on Florida’s east coast.... Under the Scott regime, DEP has ditched that quaint notion of “protection,” becoming the Department of Environmental Prostitution—or maybe the Department of Environmental Profit.  The water management districts, denuded of their scientists, packed with Scott’s venal appointees, do nothing to upset Big Ag, Big Builder or Big Phosphate."

The Florida Squeeze (April 26, 2016):  "Considering Florida is facing a ticking-time bomb, Scott’s attitude might be more than negligence—it very well could be a concerted effort to destroy the land we have in this state and our fragile ecosystem in the little time we have left.... But now we have to begin to wonder if Scott and his legislative allies are in fact sabotaging the land, looking to reward campaign contributors and political cronies in the little time left before Florida’s ecosystem falls into final disrepair?"

Florida Times Union (July 5, 2016):  "We elected representatives who were in the pockets of the profiteers and put them in charge of the government.  And we let them erase the strides that had been taken several decades ago to better protect the state’s natural resources.  And then we re-elected them, and when they moved on, we elected their clones.... We have a governor who fights clean water rules, who did away with growth management laws, who wants to free businesses from all regulations and who pals around with Big Sugar and happily accepts their cash."

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (July 5, 2016):  "Scott has stacked the five water management district boards with unquestioning allies and told board members to pick directors Scott prefers.... Scott also opposed the Environmental Protection Agency's attempt to issue stronger water-quality rules....  On June 10, U.S. Sugar Corp., made the latest of the company's four $100,000 donations in the last two years to Scott's political action committee, which continues to operate long after the governor's re-election."

Palm Beach Post (May 27, 2016):  "Smart and other critics of the state’s new pro-growth era say that with the state abandoning much of its oversight of major planning, developers have been able to exert powerful influence on local governments, particularly city and county commissions.... At the same time, freshwater springs, concentrated mostly in Central and North Florida, have proved particularly vulnerable to pollutants from nearby development. Such landmark sites as Silver Springs, Wakulla Springs and Fanning Springs are choked by nutrients and algae."

Florida Times Union (May 31, 2016):  "The water management districts have become a developer’s best friend, and the Department of Environmental Protection has turned that agency’s name into a laughable misnomer.  For proof of the latter, look no further than the DEP’s attempt to lower the restrictions on the amount of some cancer-causing chemicals that can go into our waterways.... Developers are happy. Major land owners are happy. Scott is happy.  And the long, long years of Scott’s reign of terror can’t end soon enough."

Orlando Sentinel (July 6, 2016):  "Scott reversed the positive trend of his predecessors.  He reduced regulations and permitting, abolished the Department of Community Affairs, stripped the Department of Environmental Protection of long-term science-based staff, and decimated the budgets and staff of the water management districts.  Oh, and he took lots of money from U.S. Sugar."

Tampa Bay Times (July 15, 2016):  " If a state could declare environmental bankruptcy, Florida today would be in Chapter 11.  The sliming of our waters is a growing public health threat, a deepening environmental crisis, a looming economic disaster and a public relations nightmare.....And the guiding ethos in Tallahassee shifted from a view of natural Florida as a special place to be tended with stewardship, to a view of natural Florida as a commodity to be exploited for profit."


Broward-Palm Beach New Times (July 7, 2015):  "According to the data released by PEER—culled from public records requests—in 2014, 234 enforcement cases were opened by DEP.... But in 2010, before Scott settled into the governor's mansion, DEP logged 1,587 new enforcement cases. That means between 2010 and 2014—the governor’s first term in office—there’s been an 85 percent drop-off in the number of environmental enforcement cases."

GimletEye Miami (March 7, 2016) :  "The secret handshakes between the state GOP and Big Sugar concern water policy....  Today in Florida, the GOP’s mismanagement of Florida’s water resources is a silent version of Flint, Michigan.  No issue more clearly connects voter anger at the GOP hierarchy than Big Sugar’s lockdown of politics in Florida."

Florida Politics (May 11, 2016):  "The [environmental] commission 'sets standards and rules that protect Floridians and the environment,' according to its website. 'Most issues … relate to air pollution, water quality and waste management.'... A review of the commission’s meeting schedule for this year shows all of its monthly meetings from January to June have been cancelled.... The former commissioner wasn’t so sure. That person recalls two meetings being called in one two-year stretch."

Orlando Sentinel (August 2, 2016):  "While the state is still reeling from one water crisis, Gov. Rick Scott's ‘environmental’ commission voted to allow higher levels of things like benzene (which can lead to leukemia) and tetrachloroethylene (which has been linked to bladder cancer) into ground water supplies elsewhere.... But Gov. Scott had intentionally left the position empty. This allowed his Environmental Regulations Commission—which hadn't even met in nearly two years—to vote without any pesky environmentalists."

Clean Energy (May 12, 2016):  "Environmental regulators in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama have so far failed to strengthen state policies to at least match EPA’s federal minimum standards for coal ash handling and storage."

Eye On Miami (May 12, 2016):  "Since historic January rainfalls deluged and overwhelmed South Florida, the South Florida Water Management District has launched an unprecedented public relations effort, including direct attacks on critics.... Instead of admitting failure, Florida under Gov. Rick Scott is doubling down; launching unprecedented, coordinated attacks through the South Florida Water Management District at the same time that Big Sugar is flooding the airwaves and newspapers with full page ads.... The District has turned into the propaganda arm of state government."

Tallahassee Democrat (May 19, 2016):  "The Department of Environmental Protection is revising limits on toxic chemicals allowed in surface waters.... Allowable levels of chloroform would rise significantly, though still comparable to EPA guidelines. Arsenic levels would be unchanged—but still 1,000 times higher than the EPA recommends for drinking water. Dozens of toxins on the EPA’s recommended criteria list would remain unregulated.... And the carcinogenic compound benzene would have its limit tripled under the DEP proposal.... 'All this is about is that somebody wants to pollute,' Dr. Lonnie Draper, president of the Florida chapter of Physicians for Social Responsibility, said of the new limits. 'And in this case, it’s probably the fracking industry.'"
Flamingo Magazine (May 27, 2016):  "When Jeb Bush was governor of Florida from 1999 to 2007, he launched an initiative to save the [Wakulla] springs.... But Governor Rick Scott, determined to cut budgets and taxes, pulled the plug on the initiative shortly after he took office in 2011.... The new policy, passed at last in 2016 and signed by Governor Scott, delighted industry and agriculture. Springs advocates were less than thrilled."

Creative Loafing Tampa Bay (June 29, 2016):  "While cities and counties in Florida have for years tried to limit fertilizer pollution by banning residential use during the summer rainy season, the state Department of Agriculture seems poised to do something much to the contrary: eliminate a requirement that fertilizer companies report to the state Department of Agriculture on how many tons fertilizer they are selling.  So, to put it simply, if this passes, there may soon be no public record of how much fertilizer, an existential threat to the health of the state's waterways, is being sold in the state. Therefore, fertilizer sales could not be limited—nor could their detriment be quantified."

Florida Politics (July 6, 2016):  "Why is this water so foul?  Because Scott’s political clients have been allowed to pollute all they please, pumping untreated wastewater into the second-largest freshwater lake in the contiguous 48 states—a lake which also supplies drinking water for millions of Floridians.  Big Sugar—one of the biggest polluters—is a top contributor to Scott’s political committee ‘Let’s Get to Work.’  Cleaning up the water would hit profits."

Wednesday, August 3, 2016



No one expects board members to be experts in chemistry, but we do expect them to have sound moral principles and to exercise good judgement.  We do expect our elected officials to protect the public interest and the common good, not their own bureaucracy or corporate polluters.  When adults and children are being poisoned by radionuclides, we expect our local ECUA to warn us and limit the harm done.  And, in the case of Pensacola’s radium poisoning, Elvin McCorvey, currently running for his sixth term on the ECUA Board, sided with the ECUA administration and failed to tell the truth to Pensacola’s and Gulf Breeze’s ratepayers, even though he and the ECUA Board had been told directly that ECUA’s wells had been contaminated by the toxic plume emanating from the Agrico Chemical Superfund site.  Larry Walker on the ECUA Board at the time is now running for re-election as well.

Even today, decades after the fact, McCorvey cannot tell the public the whole truth.  He cannot tell Escambia County residents that when he was faced with a moral issue of deciding whether he would protect young children and adults from radionuclides in their water, he decided not tell them of the harm; he chose to give them a false sense of security; he chose not to protect them; he chose not to give them an alternative source of water.  He decided to treat ECUA ratepayers--and vulnerable children--like they did not matter.  Elvin McCorvey and Larry Walker do not deserve your vote.
The story is rather complicated and involved.  Here, we shall emphasize what the ECUA Board knew and what the Board, including McCorvey, did and did not do.


The Pensacola News Journal published three front-page stories on September 7, 8, and 9, 2003 (behind paywall).  The three articles, based upon a review of 50,000 pages of public documents, established that “for at least 54 months, between February 1996 and September 2000, more than 10,000 residents in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze were drinking water polluted with radium 226/228 at levels considered unsafe by the federal government.”

The EPA’s standard for radionuclides in drinking water is 5 picocuries per liter.  That standard has not changed since 1977, though in 1991 the EPA announced that it was starting the process to review this standard—though it remained legally in effect.  The Pensacola News Journal wrote that in 1996 the EPA decided not to revise the level of radionuclides upwards and had told public water companies that the radionuclide level would not change.  In 2000, the radionuclides rule was finalized without having changed the permissible Maximum Contaminant Levels (MCL).  Thus, at no time did the radionuclide standard change and no deviation from the standard was permitted.

The radium 226/228 was discovered in ECUA wells in February 1996, one year before McCorvey was coming on to the board in January 1997.

In the September 7th, 2003, article, the PNJ reported: “In August 1997, the Northwest Florida Water Management District, a state agency, told the ECUA board that the Agrico plume had contaminated two of its wells, which provided water to thousands of residents in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, and appeared to have polluted a third” [emphasis added].  In fact, the City of Pensacola knew in 1958 that one its wells had been contaminated by toxic waste from Agrico Chemical.  In 1972, the U.S. Geological Survey informed the City of Pensacola that Agrico Chemical “could be contaminating as many as ten public wells.”

According to the September 7th, 2003, article: “In the last five years alone, ECUA has closed two wells—No. 9 and East—because of radium pollution, and the No. 8 well, in part, because of radium.  All these wells are near Agrico and in the path of the known plume.”

In June 1998, the ECUA published a notice in the News Journal that barely informed the public of what was wrong.  Instead, the ECUA notice stated that radium was a “‘naturally occurring radioactive metal’” and a “‘health concern at certain levels of exposure.’”  The notice also stated that “‘although the ECUA well identified in the above [No. 9] notice is technically out of compliance ... there should be little reason for concern.’”

In November 1998, the ECUA began testing its wells for radium 226/228.  At no time did the ECUA inform the public of the results of the radionuclide testing.

The radionuclide levels were shocking.  The water going to Gulf Breeze was 129 times higher than the federal level 5 picocuries per liter.  A second sample registered at 99 times the federal level.  Samples taken from tap water revealed radionuclides 2 times the federal level, according to the Pensacola News Journal.  The victims of radionuclide poisoning included:

  •  very young children at “Cordova Park Elementary School; travelers passing through the Pensacola Regional Airport; visitors to the Welcome Center at the foot of the Pensacola Bay Bridge; employees at the offices of the Santa Rosa Island Authority at Pensacola Beach;” and, 10,613 ratepayers in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze drinking poisoned water from their household taps.

In December 1998, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) drafted a consent order that would have required the ECUA to begin a study within 90 days to determine ways to fix the high level of radionuclides and to provide ratepayers an alternative source of water.

Apparently as late as October 1999, the ECUA was still measuring high levels of radionuclides in the drinking water.  Ordered by the FL DEP to inform its customers of the dangers, the ECUA refused, according to the News Journal’s September 8th article.

The ECUA resisted and refused to provide an alternative source of water for over 10,000 people being poisoned by ECUA.  The Florida Department of Health backed up the ECUA and eventually the FL DEP caved in August 1999 on providing alternative water.  The final consent order, issued in February 2000, had no mandatory timeline to fix the high levels of radionuclides.

In February 2000, the then executive director of the ECUA wrote a letter to the ECUA Board bragging that they were required to do nothing and an unlimited time to do it.  The News Journal quoted from the letter: “‘The requirement to provide an alternate source of water, which was in the original language, has been removed,’ he wrote. ‘Most importantly, this consent order does not require ECUA to commit to any corrective action at this time.’”

Later in February 2000, the ECUA sent a “Update on Radionculides” letter to 10,613 ratepayers that essentially lied to them, telling them that the EPA was considering raising the radionuclide level.  Even if true, the 1977 radionuclide was still legally in force.

In April 2000, according to the Pensacola News Journal article, the “EPA formally announced what it had been telling public utilities and state regulators since 1996—the existing radium standard would remain unchanged.  What’s more, ‘new data and models suggest that radionuclides are much riskier than thought,’ according to the EPA notice.  The new goal: a maximum contaminant level goal of zero for all radionuclides in drinking water.  The message was clear: No level of radium in drinking water was considered acceptable by EPA.”

In July 2001, the ECUA mailed the following information to its ratepayers, according to the News Journal:  “‘Although radium levels in two wells exceed’ the federal standard, ‘both the toxicologists with the Florida Department of Health and our consulting scientists agree that there is no significant increase in short-term or lifetime risk to public health associated with the use and consumption of ECUA water.’”

The News Journal quoted three outside different experts with no apparent financial links to local industry who essentially stated that the ECUA and its Board were misleading its customers, trying to give them a false sense of security, and hiding their near criminal actions.

A toxicologist from Western Michigan University called the ECUA statement “‘baloney.’”  A nuclear physicist and radium expert from the University of Pittsburgh’s School of Medicine stated the ECUA statement was “‘a complete misstatement.’”  An epidemiologist from the University of North Carolina’s School of Public Health stated, “‘To me, that kind of public response is a red flag…. That’s the response of people who want to convince the public, ‘We know everything,’ which we don’t, and that you as a resident are irresponsible to be concerned about your water.’”

On September 30, 2003, 21 days after the News Journal finished publishing its three-part series on the Agrico Chemical Superfund site and radionuclide levels in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze drinking water, at least 50 residents of Pensacola, backed by some City Council members met with ECUA board member McCorvey and head of the Escambia County Health Department John Lanza at the Macedonia Baptist Church.

McCorvey was quoted by the News Journal telling the residents, “‘There has not been any evidence to show that the Agrico (Chemical Co.) plume has contaminated the aquifer.’”

That statement is simply not true and is contradicted by water experts who told the ECUA that it had been contaminated by the toxic plume from Agico Chemical.

As noted above, the City of Pensacola had been told in 1958 that Agrico Chemical had forced the closure of the 12th Street well and in 1972 the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) had told the City that at least ten wells were threatened by Agrico Chemical and those wells needed to be monitored.  In fact, the USGS had reported that contamination levels, including of fluoride, were higher in 1972 than they were in 1958.  The News Journal reported in its September 7th article that “There’s no evidence in the public record that this [monitoring] was ever done.”

And, McCorvey’s statement is directly contradicted by an August 1997 statement—eight months after McCorvey joined the ECUA Board—delivered directly to the Board by the NW FL Water Management District that “the Agrico plume had contaminated two of its wells, which provided water to thousands of residents in Pensacola and Gulf Breeze, and appeared to have polluted a third,” according to the first of the three-part News Journal articles.  And, the ECUA was aware as early as November 1998 when it began joint testing with the Escambia County Health Department that it was delivering drinking water to Gulf Breeze and Pensacola that was contaminated with radionuclides far above the EPA’s maximum level.

The three Pensacola News Journal articles, based upon reviewing 50,000 pages of public documents, spurred the creation of a Special Grand Jury in November 2003 to investigate the ECUA administrators and board members.  The Special Grand Jury was also investigating Conoco and Agrico Chemical, the last two companies responsible for the Superfund site.  Assistant state attorney Russ Edgar advised the Special Grand Jury.

When the Special Grand Jury’s report was released to the public, the News Journal’s headline for the May 5, 2004, story was: “Grand jury blasts agencies over tainted water supply.”  The News Journal characterized the report as “blistering” and stated that the ECUA is “by far is the agency hardest hit in the grand jury report.”  The Special Grand Jury blamed the federal Environmental Protection Agency, the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, and singled out the top two ECUA administrators for not informing the ECUA Board.

But, of the ECUA Board, the Special Grand Jury observed, “We find ECUA’s former Executive Director and former Science, Technical and Regulatory Administrator made policy decisions on health and safety issues without oversight from a majority of the members of the ECUA Board. A majority of the ECUA Board’s members subsequently tacitly approved these decisions, relinquishing their responsibilities to their customers and the public” (page 3 pdf).

The News Journal wrote that “Edgar confirmed the report is referring to Larry Walker, Bobby Tronu and Elvin McCorvey as the members who relinquished their responsibilities to the public.  Walker and Tronu no longer are on the board; McCorvey has been a member since 1996.”  Actually, Larry Walker returned to the ECUA Board and is running for re-election.

McCorvey told the News Journal, “‘It speaks directly to my actions because I supported recommendations that came to the board based on information we had,’ he [McCorvey] said.  ‘And based on the information we had, our decisions were good decisions…’”  Walker flat-out stated that the ECUA administrators and staff never withheld information from the ECUA Board and that “‘there were no big hidden secrets at ECUA.’”

The bottom line is that there is documentary evidence that the ECUA Board was informed of the radionuclide problems and explicitly or tacitly supported ECUA’s administrators who failed to inform the public of the scope and seriousness of the very high levels of radionuclides in the drinking water, especially drinking water provided to very young children at Cordova Park Elementary School; fought the Florida DEP to inform the public; fought the Florida DEP into not providing an alternative water source; and, then deliberately misinformed the public after the News Journal articles appeared.
McCorvey ran unopposed in 2004 and has never been held publicly accountable for his shameful and borderline illegal actions.

Moreover, Elvin McCorvey is still misleading the public about radionuclides in the ECUA water.

In late May 2016, McCorvey conducted a very friendly interview with the Pensacola Voice.  In response to a question about "chemicals in their water," McCorvey responded with a half-truth:  "'Some of things are naturally occurred.  Rocks give off radium and that’s natural.  It does not come from man (contamination) It’s natural.'"

Yes, radium in rocks is natural.  But, how the radium in the rocks got into ECUA's wells was not natural.  And the level of radium in the water was not only natural, it was downright dangerous to the growing bones of young children.

The September 7, 2003, Pensacola News Journal, explained that the ECUA staff knew this was not natural.  Bernie Dahl at the time was the ECUA's administrator for scientific, technical, and regulatory matters.  The newspaper reported that "handwritten, undated notes by Dahl, written sometime after April 2000, show he knew fluoride measured in ECUA wells was 'from Agrico,' and that high levels of aluminum and manganese were 'most likely from Agrico.'  He also wrote that 'extreme acid from Agrico' could have dislodged the naturally occurring radium 226/228 in underground rocks and released it into the aquifer that supplies Escambia and Santa Rosa counties with their drinking water."

McCorvey, apparently, cannot face the reality that he chose to do something monstrous--to not tell parents that their young children were being poisoned by radium in their school's drinking water, as well as more than 10,000 other ratepayers in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.