Save the Halpatiokee Nature Trails! Move the Bridge! Stop destroying us!

Many kudos to Shari Anchor who leads us in this fight to save this important piece of land.

http://www.tcpalm.com/opinion/shari-anker-lessons-from-our-battle-to-save-two-preserve-state-parks_67688320

The story of the Port St. Lucie Crosstown Parkway Bridge tells how we lose Florida’s natural beauty, resources and ecosystems, even if they exist in our preserve state parks. It’s the story of a battle that must be fought if we are to save any of them.

In 1990, the city surveyed federal, state and regional natural resource/regulatory agencies about building a bridge through the North Fork of the St. Lucie River Aquatic Preserve using two potential routes. All agencies commented both routes crossed very environmentally sensitive lands and waters, impacting important wetlands, but of the two, they were firmly against what is now known as Route 1C.

Undeterred, the city manager stated that since there was unanimous disapproval, the next step was to go “political.”

Then-Sen. Ken Pruitt was enlisted to lobby for the cause. Engineering consultants were hired for millions of dollars to make the case that Route 1C was the “most beneficial.

In 1996, the city began purchasing properties along the Route 1C corridor, even though the National Environmental Policy Act dictates an objective Alternatives Analysis and Environmental Impact Statement be completed prior to route selection. Florida’s Department of Environmental Protection demanded, unsuccessfully, that an environmental-impact statement be performed for the entire proposed Crosstown Parkway from Interstate 95 to Hutchinson Island. Project segmentation does not accurately assess impacts.

By 2006, the bridge project was being reviewed by the Department of Transportation, which solicited input from reviewing agencies such as the DEP. Many agencies “red-flagged” the proposed bridge crossing because of impacts to parks, wetlands and wildlife. No matter, the environmental impact statement declared a road piercing the heart of important public lands was the very best possible route.

If the city chose any other route, the bridge would likely be built by now and for tens of millions of fewer dollars. What’s holding it up is that pesky irritant called the law, at least according to the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County and the Indian Riverkeeper. We filed a federal lawsuit in 2014, arguing the Federal Highway Administration and the DOT violated Section 4(f) of the Department of Transportation Act when they approved Route 1C.

Section 4(f) states there shall be no taking of parkland for incompatible uses such as road infrastructure if any other route exists which would have less or no impact to parklands. Route 1C would take the most parkland, from the aquatic preserve and from the Savannas Preserve State Park Buffer Preserve.

DSC_0003

Taking no parkland, another route, known as Route 6A, would fully comply with this law.

Likewise, Section 404 of the Clean Water Act dictates every effort must be made to avoid the destruction of wetlands. Other less-impacting routes must be chosen. The Army Corps of Engineers states that Route 1C “is the most ecologically damaging” route, with the most impact to the most acreage of the highest functioning and quality wetlands, thereby likely not in compliance with the act.

The South Florida Water Management District has requested a “formal finding” as to whether a bridge through the aquatic preserve is compatible with state law. Of the 10 types of activities permitted in aquatic preserves, none of them involve bridge construction.

Another sleight of hand at work here is the strategy to mitigate for the “worst-case scenario,” suggesting that was what was intended from the get-go. A big, expensive mitigation package was supposed to make it OK to take highly ecologically valuable preserves. Nothing in the law absolves the parties from choosing the least impacting route.

DSC_0008

The Overton Park decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1971 established that park land must receive priority status in law, otherwise the economic and social factors at play in highway construction would always prevail and no park lands could survive.

It’s up to us to make sure the laws designed to protect park lands count.

Shari Anker is president of the Conservation Alliance of St. Lucie County.

DSC_0015_2

Here is a link to the lawsuit.

http://www.conservationallianceslc.org/uploads/5/0/3/6/50361177/lawsuit_to_move_bridge_location.pdf

Thank you so much Shari, Marty, the Conservation Alliance of St Lucie County and the Indian Riverkeeper.

This must be saved.

The thought of having a bridge crossing over to the Island and all the construction that will come after that just slays me. People will not be happy with a bridge. They will want giant apartment buildings, places to eat and that whole of the Island that is just beach will destroyed. People complain it’s hard to get there. It should be. It should be hard. No one’s asking anyone to hike in. Just drive in the comfort of their car for an extra 15 minutes.

Let’s get this part done first.

Here is a video I put together of the area last year. You don’t have to sign that petition any more but you should watch to see what we are talking about.

Oral arguments on Oct. 6th at the Paul G. Rogers Federal Building Courthouse in West Palm Beach. More info on time when we get it.

Advertisements

Jail is the new state mental hospital. Where are the diversion programs?

@joenegronfl

@MaryLynnMagar

Jail is the new state mental hospital.

and Florida is one of the worst places.

If its “our money” we’d like to keep it and not waste it on housing people. We need a real solution. Stop wasting our money on a solution that doesn’t work and hurts people.

P1-BN290_JAIL_j_G_20130925183605 state of denial

Here is a TC Palm Editorial I found from Feb 2013

http://www.tcpalm.com/opinion/editorial-county-jails-expensive-and-ineffective

“During the 1960s, there were well-intentioned public policies to close most mental health institutions, some of them dens of abuse and neglect, and replace them with community mental health centers, which could dispense medication to people who needed it. But states failed to follow through with either sufficient community mental health centers or funding for treatment.

As a result, many states, including Florida, shifted the burden of dealing with the mentally ill to counties, which lacked appropriate treatment options. Ultimately, jails became the first resort for people whose mental illness contributed to their commission of crimes.

As a result, county jails have become de facto mental institutions at massive costs to taxpayers without resolving long-term problems of the ill, Treasure Coast sheriff’s spokesmen agreed.

Nationally, about one in five inmates suffers from a diagnosed mental illness. Those numbers are even higher on the Treasure Coast, local officials said. And, the numbers have been climbing, in part because of the economic downtown as well as the rise in pain killer addictions.

mentalilljail

The St. Lucie County Jail is the largest mental health institution in the county, housing about 240 mentally ill inmates daily. Over the past year, the jail housed 9,452 inmates with mental health issues, compared to 5,431 five years ago.

St. Lucie contracts for health, mental health and dental services at an annual cost to county taxpayers of about $4 million. Meantime, the mentally ill stay five times longer and cost six times more than other inmates, he said.”

And, while those with mental problems may stabilize with medication in jail, many cannot afford to medicate when they are released and find no other place for treatment.

“This causes havoc with the judicial system,” Tighe said. “The courts have no place to send them. It’s just a vicious cycle.”

http://www.npr.org/2014/01/20/263461940/mentally-ill-inmates-often-locked-up-in-jails-that-cant-help

Officials acknowledge that what’s happening in these wards is reminiscent of the mental asylums of the last century. But they say the only other option is to lock the mentally ill in solitary confinement for weeks on end.

This is, after all, a jail. And this is one of the few in the country with doctors and nurses, psychologists and correctional officers trained in how to handle psychotic episodes. And there are rules: Inmates can only be forcibly medicated with a doctor’s orders. Leather restraints and padded rooms have time limits.

mental_illness_photo_img

“Sometimes I would even commit a crime just to make sure I would get my meds,” says inmate Joseph DeRiggi. “Here, there’s a little more understanding because they know us: ‘OK, DeRiggi, we know what you’re on. You’re good.’ That’s just the way it is.”

But jail is an expensive place to get medication. It costs almost $200 a night to house a mentally ill person here; health clinics cost a fraction of that.

Plus, their cases clog the courts with largely minor offenses. That lengthens jail time for everyone. The average stay is now eight days longer than it was a few years ago. Adding eight days costs county taxpayers $10 million more every year.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_Mental_Health_Act

The Community Mental Health Act of 1963 (CMHA) (also known as the Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act, Mental Retardation Facilities and Construction Act, Public Law 88-164, or the Mental Retardation and Community Mental Health Centers Construction Act of 1963) was an act to provide federal funding for community mental health centers in the United States.

The CMHA provided grants to states for the establishment of local mental health centers, under the overview of the National Institute of Mental Health. The NIH also conducted a study involving adequacy in mental health issues. The purpose of the CMHA was to build mental health centers to provide for community-based care, as an alternative to institutionalization. At the centers, patients could be treated while working and living at home.

Only half of the proposed centers were ever built; none were fully funded, and the act didn’t provide money to operate them long-term. Some states saw an opportunity to close expensive state hospitals without spending some of the money on community-based care. Deinstitutionalization accelerated after the adoption of Medicaid in 1965. During the Reagan administration, the remaining funding for the act was converted into a mental-health block grant for states. Since the CHMA was enacted, 90 percent of beds have been cut at state hospitals.

The CMHA proved to be a mixed success. Many patients, formerly warehoused in institutions, were released into the community. However, not all communities had the facilities or expertise to deal with them. In many cases, patients wound up in adult homes or with their families, or homeless in large cities,but without the mental health care they needed.

Essentially we are spending a lot of money to house people when we could spend smarter money to treat people. In this day and age with all the good medications we have these folks could get jobs, have a life, be a part of the world. Instead they are ignored and live in a world which is really no better than the state hospitals that closed down. Another example of our legislators wasting our time and money and not advocating the people who must be advocated for.

http://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/final_jails_v_hospitals_study.pdf

“Florida
In the Broward County Jail in 2007,
23 percent of the prisoners were
taking psychotropic medication. Polk County
Sheriff Grady Judd said: “Our jails and
prisons collectively are the biggest mental-health
facilities in the state. . . . Jails have
become asylums for thousands of inmates with
mental illnesses whose problems and needs
far exceed what jails can provide.”

Food for thought when we are all binge watching “Orange is the New Black.’

Excellent video about CIT (Crisis Intervention Team Training)

Which is great but we have to have a place where people are bought that not jails.

“Diversion programs work better than incarceration – for everyone. In cities like Seattle, San Antonio, and Salt Lake City, we see that successful solutions are a viable option to help end serious social problems. These services alter the course of people’s lives in a positive way and save taxpayers huge amounts of money. We cannot continue to isolate and imprison people who suffer from mental illness, substance abuse, or homelessness. We must treat them with compassion and care to better serve our communities and our pocketbooks.”

Where are the Pet-Friendly Shelters?

@MartinCountygov

@TCPalm

@TCPalmAndreassi

To Our Commissioners in Martin and St Lucie County.

This past Saturday I attended  our annual disaster conference. Our area includes Martin County, Port St Lucie County, Okeechobee County and Indian River County. The MRC (Medical Reserve Corp) are volunteers who assist in disasters.

CGQKShmWgAA1jj9.jpg_largeThe only county that seemed to have it act together was Indian River County. They have this:

ifyougotheygo

photo

It was suggested you take a photo of yourself with you and your pet so no one can show up and say that your pet is their pet.

meme selfie

meme selfie (you should have your face in the photo)

photo

Do not leave your pets if you have to evacuate. If you go they go!

photo

don’t leave us food source your our only hope!

photo

photo

The number for the Humane Society of Vero Beach and Indian River County is 772-388-5492. Our commissioners can call them and get info on how to set up programs in our county. I bet they would be deee-lighted to come down and show you guys how to do this.

In a storm everything east of Federal Hwy is considered an evacuation zone. That means your veterinarians in that area are in a potential evacuation zone.

We still do not have pet friendly shelters in Martin or St Lucie County.

I found this article that George

@TCPalmAndreassi

wrote in 2007:

http://www.tcpalm.com/weather/30martin-pets-canshelter-in-storm

The Humane Society of the Treasure Coast in Palm City, the county’s first pet shelter, can withstand winds of 140 mph or more and accommodate as many as 200 cats and dogs.

The offering, free for up to five days, is a temporary solution that allows Martin County to comply with a new Federal Emergency Management Agency pet shelter strategy requirement, Holman said.

The county in the meantime is working to provide a similarly secure shelter for pets as well as their owners, Holman said.

It’s 2015- what’s the plan?

We really need a plan especially for our seniors who have pets. We have a lot of people who live by themselves with their dog or cat in substandard  housing. What are we going to do to help them?

In Indian River County the first pets they take are the volunteers that work the shelter. HINTHINTHINT

Here is a list of pet friendly shelters for Florida. Plan now. Many of these place require that you pre register. Your pets must be up to date on their vaccinations and you need to bring a crate, food, basically everything your pet will need.

http://www.floridapetfriendly.com/pet-friendly-hurricane-shelters.htm

We also need an update list of hotels/motels that accept pets and I am told that some that usually don’t take pets will change their policy during a storm.

After Hurricane Katrina hundreds of pets were displaced. Please make sure your pet has at least a tag with a phone number.

Here is a nice video from the AVMA.

Here is a good FEMA video that I found.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aUbSF_S20bE