So last week I wrote this
The legislature taketh and then they taketh some more.
“How do I know the funds will be spent wisely?
Florida’s conservation programs have a great track record of spending these funds wisely. Amendment 1 ensures that funds are used solely for conservation purposes and cannot be used for any other purpose by the Legislature. Using the state’s existing successful programs as a model, objective criteria will continue to determine how funds are spent in order to keep politics out of the process.
Now that Amendment 1 has passed, who will be in charge of the money?
While citizens can dedicate funding for water and land conservation in the state constitution, we cannot appropriate funds via the constitution. Appropriations are solely the Legislature’s responsibility.”
Citizen Amendments explained by the University of California.
Florida’s constitution of 1968 allows citizens to amend the constitution by initiative. The initiative provision was first put to use in 1976, when voters adopted an amendment sponsored by Governor Ruben Askew requiring public disclosure of campaign contributions. During the period 1968-2006, voters over 80 percent of initiated amendments, the highest approval rate among active states. Most amendments have been placed on the ballot by the legislature — of the 110 amendments approved through 2006, 22 were initiatives and 88 were legislative measures.
The state legislature and courts have frequently sought to curtail citizen lawmaking. In response to passage of the first initiative in 1976, the legislature approved bills that banned the collection of signatures at polling places, and imposed a 10-cent-per-signature “verification fee” on submitted petitions.
In 2000, environmentalists won a major victory with passage of an initiative mandating creation of a high-speed rail system capable of speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour, and in 2002 voters approved a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a minimum living space for pregnant pigs, an amendment that was ridiculed by some officials as trivializing the constitution. Unhappy with these amendments, in 2003 Governor Jeb Bush vetoed funding for the high speed rail project and in 2004 led a successful initiative campaign to repeal the high-speed amendment. In 2006 the legislature placed an amendment on the ballot requiring a 60 percent affirmative vote to approve initiated constitutional amendments. With the passage of the 60-percent majority amendment, Florida became one of only two states in the nation to require a supermajority for constitutional amendments, and the only initiative state with such a requirement.
In recent years, state courts have been very aggressive enforcing the single subject rule, striking several measures from the ballot after signatures had already been collected.”
Remember the part about the single subject rule.
Our legislature is making is harder and harder for us to have a voice.
Anything to gag us. Because we elected kings, queens, lords apparently they feel like they have no responsibility towards us. Only for their corporate welfare.
Any group of people that have taken away my right to free speech have got to go.
My friends worked really hard for amendment one. Then they worked hard begging for land to build reservoir only to have our water management district, our legislatures and rick scott kicked us and our water in the heads.
The legislature are unable to follow directions.
Then today this happened.
Three environmental groups filed a lawsuit this afternoon against the Florida legislature, claiming lawmakers misappropriated funds intended for land and water conservation and land purchases to protect the environment.
The 10-page lawsuit was filed by EarthJustice, a non-profit public interest law firm that has represented environmental groups in more than 20-years of lawsuit over restoration of the Everglades. The groups who launched the lawsuit are the Florida Wildlife Federation, St. Johns Riverkeeper, the Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida and Manley Fuller, president of the Florida Wildlife Federation.
“The constitutional amendment is clear,” said Earthjustice attorney David Guest. “A third of the tax on real estate deals is to be used to prevent every last inch of Florida land from getting chewed up by development. But most lawmakers are simply not listening. That’s why we have to go to court.”
The lawsuit was filed in Leon County Circuit Court in Tallahassee.
I just have one word. YAY!
Here is the brief. It’s like poetry.
Who does this stuff? Hero’s do.
So who is David Guest?
As managing attorney for the Earthjustice office in Tallahassee, I have savored waging litigation wars with big corporations and their friends in government agencies. In courtrooms around Florida I have tried environmental cases for almost 30 years. In one way or another, they have been mostly about water. Before development, half of Florida was under water during the wet season and its 1,500 miles of coastline were teeming with life. But its beauty invited its consumption. Millions of acres were drained and converted into agricultural, industrial, and urban developments. As a result, rivers and lakes are being polluted and closed off to the public, ground waters are being depleted by uncontrolled withdrawals from aquifers, and the ecosystems that depend on water are threatened.
Most of my career has focused on going to court to fight for everything that can still be saved. Protecting rivers and lakes has not just required many weeks of bitterly contested trials against big corporations in their hometowns. It has also meant late nights poring over ancient maps, military records, and 150-year-old handwritten diaries. It has meant interviewing hundreds of witnesses in dingy restaurants and motels. (One interview was interrupted while the witness removed a 4-foot Black snake from the living room and chased it out the screen door with a broom.) And it has meant many hot days wading waist-deep in alligator infested rivers, marshes, and swamps, finding relief only with the driving rain of the late afternoon.
In the course of my work for Earthjustice, I have moved to the cities of the phosphate mining district of Southwest Florida for trials long and short. I once moved my whole office to a town of 3,000 on the shore of Lake Okeechobee for a six-week jury trial. And I have spent weeks at a time living out of motel rooms in small coastal towns while trying cases to protect manatees from speeding motor boats, estuary sea life from marina development, and sea turtles from the destruction of their nesting beaches.
My earlier water pollution cases were against the EPA, pulp mills and sugar companies. Now, I have come to realize that water contamination is an increasingly serious public health threat to disempowered people. My new cases are trying to halt the growing number of algae outbreaks in Florida lakes, streams and estuaries that kill wildlife and sicken humans.
Solving the hardest environmental problems by taking on the worst actors head-to-head can change people’s attitudes about what is possible. That’s why I’m with Earthjustice.
and here is a good article about Manly Fuller, President of the Florida Wildlife Federation.
Manley Fuller has a history of speaking out for rivers. First, in 1982, there was the battle over the extent of protections offered by the North Carolina Wilderness Act — he succeeded in getting a tract of wetlands and rare coastal peat forest protected. Then there was the controversy over the proposed dam on the New River along the North Carolina-Virginia border — the dam was never built. Then there was the dam on Alligator River . . . and many others
I’ve been involved in land conservation and battles over wetlands and rivers for twenty years now,” Fuller tells me over the phone, “But this time I wasn’t actively looking for a local conservation issue. This problem I just couldn’t avoid because it was right in front of my face.”
Here is the video from Saturday.
and this is a clip from our rally last summer.
In 1993, Fuller, who is president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, moved into a small ranch house two miles south of Wakulla Springs State Park. Like others, he was drawn to Wakulla County because it’s still quiet and rural and home to one of the most beautiful spring-fed rivers in the state. Wakulla Springs, however, also lies just eight miles from the sprawling interface of Tallahassee, and most residents knew it was only a matter of time before the developers began knocking at their doors.
Here is his video from the Big Sugar Summit
Our legislators may have lost their muchiness but the people who want clean water still have their humanity and for that I am thankful.