Friday, August 05, 2016

Can An Awakening Environmental Consciousness Turn Back Southwest Florida's Heinous Red Tide?


The Florida Democratic Party has been pretty moribund in recent years, confining itself in a few small urban ghettos and leaving progressive ideas and values without champions in vast swathes of the state. Southwest Florida is pretty much all red now thanks to Florida Democratic Party neglect and negligence. Monroe county still votes Democratic nationally but most of it is comprised of water and most of the population (99%) lives in the Keys and isn't technically part of southwest Florida. The mainland part of the county that is part of southwest Florida is part of Everglades National Park and has virtually no inhabitants. Just above it is Collier County where registration figures now show Republicans with 50.3%, independents with 23.7% and Democrats in third place with 23.4%. Obama only took 35% of the vote there. Up the coast is Lee County, Charlotte County and Sarasota County, all red bastions. All 5 county commissioners for Charlotte are Republicans. The GOP also dominates Sarasota County; the last time the county went blue in a presidential race was for FDR! Lee County is the population center with Cape Coral and Fort Meyers as the biggest cities. In 2012 Obama only won 41% of the vote. Voter registration numbers in Lee County's 79th House District are approximately 34,000 Republicans, 30,000 Democrats and 27,000 Independents.

Blue America has a candidate running for the 79th state House district, entirely in Lee County, John Scott, and he offers the Democratic Party it's best shot of picking up a red seat in southwest Florida. The district includes Alva, Buckingham, Charleston Park, Fort Myers Shores, Lehigh Acres, Lochmoor Waterway Estates, North Fort Myers, Olga and Palmona Park. 23% of the residents are Latino, and in a year where registration has soared and turnout is expected to be high because of Trumpophobia, this could make the difference. It also doesn’t hurt that John Scott is part Cuban.

There are approximately 7,000 Union households (active and retired) and the Florida AFL-CIO is enthusiastically backing Scott, whose family has a long union legacy and he is an outspoken supporter of unions and workers’ rights. The district was recently re-drawn (slightly more favorable toward Democrats) but has only been around since 2010, the first time the six year incumbent Republican Matt Caldwell won the seat against ConservaDem Cole Peacock. Caldwell has yet to be truly challenged, only having Republican primary opponents in 2012 and 2014, the most recent being Tea Party Candidate Matt Miller, who decided to run this time as an NPA after losing to Caldwell 60-40 in 2014. John Scott is a candidate with whom the predominantly middle and working class people of the district can really identify, especially with the two Republicans splitting the vote.

The most pressing issue is the environment-- and water quality is front and center in this election season. Even local Republicans, who rarely even mention environmental issues, are running “clean water” TV ads and talking tough on water. It’s a metric that can’t be measured but is having a huge impact on many races in the area. You may have seen the national coverage of the South Florida coastal algal blooms that shut down beaches during the 4th of July weekend. Yes, Gov. Rick Scott and incumbent GOP Rep. Matt Caldwell had a major hand in creating the dirty-water policies (along with corrupt Sugar Industry-owned Democrats like Debbie Wasserman Schultz and Patrick Murphy). Caldwell is the local "bag man" for Big Sugar in Lee County and has a horrible track record on environmental issues. An ideological, so-called "constitutional conservative," here is a sampling of Caldwell’s track record:
Voted to roll back responsible growth management laws, allowing developers and polluters to do more of what they want without regard for environmental impact
Voted yes on pro-fracking legislation (HB191) in 2016 to legitimize and “regulate” fracking (we all know how that works in other states with corrupt administrations and/or agencies) while taking away the ability of local government to enact their own local fracking ban ordinances and protect its citizens.
In 2014, a resounding 75% of Florida voters approved Amendment 1, a Constitutional amendment which re-allocated a portion of doc stamp taxes (approx. $800 million per year for 20 years) to be used for environmental projects, most notably for purchasing lands south of Lake Okeechobee to begin real Everglades restoration. Caldwell has voted to misuse those funds for other purposes such as vehicles, insurance and balancing the budget, which should be done from general revenue, in both legislative sessions since Amendment 1 passed.
Authored the 2016 water bill, which passed the Florida legislature and was signed into law by Gov. Rick Scott, and rolls back polluter controls, removes certain reporting deadlines and makes pollution less enforceable. In other words, it puts polluters on an honor system. What could go wrong?
Caldwell took an all-expenses paid (by Big Sugar) trip to King Ranch with Governor Scott and other ‘dirty’ GOP state legislators, where they held secret closed door meetings, likely deciding which of the chosen legislators would take what career path while crafting ALEC-style legislation to further help their campaign donors.
Needless to say, Caldwell hasn’t found a special interest polluter he doesn’t like: Big Sugar, Big Ag, Big Oil, Big Tobacco, Big Pharma and Big Utilities all funnel hundreds of thousands of dollars into his campaign account and PACs. He is probably the best Return On Investment in the State Legislature and passionately does the bidding of those corporations at the expense of everything and everyone else in Florida.

Goal Thermometer John Scott, a progressive Democrat, and native, lifelong Floridian wants to represent the people of District 79 and all of Florida as a public servant. To be clear, John Scott is NOT related to Rick Scott in any way. We asked him to write a guest post on why the explosive water problems have become so pivotal in south Florida now. Please give it a read and consider contributing to his campaign by tapping on the Blue America state legislative races thermometer on the right.

Water Is The Reason For A Progressive, Democratic Pulse In Lee County
-by John W. Scott

I was born in Hialeah and I've been a Lee County resident since 1979. I’ve had a successful career in the Information Technology field for the past 23 years. My wife Ruth and I live in North Fort Myers with our two rescue dogs and we’re proud to call Southwest Florida our home.

My parents are both longtime educators in the Lee County Public School system and I am a product of public schools and college. My great-grandfather, grandfather and father worked as IBEW Local 349 union electricians. My father served in the U.S. Air Force in Vietnam.

Having grown up here, I’m a passionate advocate for Florida’s amazing and unique environment. I’ve served as group Chair of the Sierra Club Calusa Group, currently serve on the board of Caloosahatchee River Watch and co-founded a small advocacy group called Clean Water Initiative of Florida. I’ve worked tirelessly as a citizen advocating on a wide range of environmental issues:
I’ve been working for years against the Big Sugar political machine to facilitate the purchase of land south of Lake Okeechobee to begin moving clean, treated fresh water south (as it originally was) instead of sending polluted freshwater discharges east and west, killing the estuaries and eco-systems on both coasts. While Big Sugar may not be the only polluter of our environment, they are the worst polluter of our political system.

Worked together with other organizations and groups to enact local fracking ban ordinances in the City Of Bonita Springs and Villages of Estero. Directly responsible for a local fracking ban ordinance in the City Of Cape Coral. As a newly elected State House Representative I will introduce legislation calling for a statewide fracking ban.

Mark Ruffalo endorsed me at a screening of "Dear President Obama" in Sarasota, FL because he appreciated my work as a fracktivist and my willingness to run for office and create the type of change we all seek.
Our rivers, lakes, beaches, oceans and other various waterways, as well as national treasures like the Everglades, are what brings millions of people here each year to visit and some of them stay permanently. During Matt Caldwell’s time in the Florida State House, we’ve seen a steady decline in the condition of our environment and water quality.

The health of our environment is inextricably linked to the health of our economy. Florida’s biggest industry, our 70+ billion per year tourism industry, affects jobs, property values, fishing, and other facets of our economy. One of the few things we must do to ensure it continues to thrive is conserve and protect Florida’s environment and natural resources. Rick Scott and Matt Caldwell have overseen some of the worst environmental policies our state has ever seen.

I am inspired and encouraged by this year’s grassroots uprising but now I need YOUR grassroots support, even if you cannot vote for me. A win in this David vs. Goliath race would send shock waves through the Florida legislature and send a message to Big Sugar that they’re wasting their money running full page ads in newspapers across the state assuring everyone that "family farmers" (read: agribusiness) are "under attack" and that Lake Okeechobee and surrounding water quality is the best it’s ever been. Nobody around here is buying their propaganda and neither should you. If you care about the Everglades or anything else that makes Florida"paradise," and/or you’re tired of corporations and dark money being the only voice that matters, this race should be important to you.

I can win this race because Matt Caldwell is not only vulnerable on the environment but many other issues as well. This race is a microcosm of our national politics and what we’ve seen so far in 2016 with Citizen’s United money versus the will of the people. The people can and will win. Bernie Sanders created an amazing grassroots movement and others, like my friend Tim Canova (who has endorsed me), have successfully followed.

I need your vote and/or support to restore the People’s Voice in Tallahassee after November 8th. Click here to donate to my people powered campaign through Blue America!

To read more about my campaign and candidacy as well as other issues, please visit my website: or Facebook or Twitter pages: @votejohnscott

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At 9:03 AM, Blogger Robert Miller said...

My limited contact with Floridians says no. Expect denial, or perhaps blame for Obama, as they are swept out into the sea.

At 5:27 AM, Blogger Unknown said...


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