Nothing is easy.
Gainesville will be sued by the Florida Retail Federation because of “increased costs.” Yes, it will cost to clean up the environment, and we must all pay more. Clean water, clean air and a trash-free environs will cost more than to just dump waste into the water, into the air, and on the ground.
Money vs Environment one day will turn into Money vs. Life.
This pushback is expected and kudos to Gainesville for not flinching, in spite of the horrible bill put through our Legislature by corporate puppets requiring lawsuit-losing government agencies to pay opposing attorney fees and costs. That bill has the old “Rick Scott” ring to it and is a huge boon to polluters and developers.
Not one of our new governor’s best moves.
Now is the time to support your Gainesville City Commission.
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Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-
Retail federation plans to sue Gainesville
By Andrew Caplan, Staff writer
July 27, 2019
Officials for the Florida Retail Federation say they were astonished by the Gainesville City Commission’s decision to reject a legal recommendation to hold off on implementing a Styrofoam and plastic bag ban.
James Miller, a senior director of external affairs with the retail federation, said Thursday that the organization plans to sue the city once the ban takes effect in January.
“We’re surprised and disappointed in the commission’s decision,” Miller said. “They’ve now opened themselves up to litigation. They’re banning something that is legal in the state of Florida and flat-out ignoring state law. At what point do local governments get to pick and choose which laws they want to follow?”
Last week, the retail group threatened to sue the city if commissioners didn’t retract its upcoming Styrofoam container and single-use plastic bag ban. The ban goes into effect on Jan. 2, 2020 and will penalize retailers for distributing either item to customers.
The rule also applies for vendors at farmers’ markets. Those who don’t comply will be fined.
The city attorney, weighing legal costs during a tight budget season, recommended commissioners hold off on the ordinance until a similar case is decided. Commissioners voted 5-1, with Helen Warren in dissent, to stay the course.
The city of Coral Gables, whose ordinance Gainesville leaders used as a template, is currently in a two-year legal battle with the Florida Retail Federation. The courts thus far have sided with the city, but the two parties are locked in an appeals court battle.
Miller said the organization won’t wait until the case is decided.
“We’ve proven that we’re willing to go to court to protect retailers,” he said. “I don’t think that decision has any impact to proceed with a lawsuit on Gainesville. We can’t sit and wait for another two years to go by without doing anything.”The organization believes that retail businesses should not be forced to comply with the changes and that replacing the bags with an alternative item will bring unfair increased costs to store owners.
A new state law, which took effect July 1, requires government agencies to pay attorney fees and damages if the city were to be challenged on a ban and lost in court. Miller said fighting the case will likely cost Gainesville taxpayers tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars.
But commissioners say they aren’t backing down, and expected someone to challenge their decision.
Gainesville Mayor Lauren Poe said he cares deeply that the retail federation is considering a lawsuit because he believes it’s a local issue.
“The fact that they feel like they need to intervene and tell our residents, and our local government, what we should be doing is offensive,” he said. Poe said the retail federation’s lobbying efforts would be better spent defending local communities, rather than challenging them.
“They are an enormous corporate lobbying group, and we’d love if they put pressure on the Legislature to allow for home rule and for communities to decide this for themselves,” he said.
Commissioner Adrian Hayes-Santos, one of the leaders in the push for the ban, said the issue comes down to protecting the environment. While several small businesses have made the change voluntarily, he said, many large corporations refuse to. “I hope that the retail federation takes a stance on protecting the people of our community, instead of trying to put off the
environmental consequences of their actions,” Hayes-Santos said. “They should be working to make our community a better place, not working to allow businesses to pollute our community.”