Setting the Record Straight on Scott

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Editorial Page Editor Nathan Crabbe of the Gainesville Sun has written an article dealing with criticism that he has received from his writings.

nathan crabbe-2
Nathan Crabbe

Most of the examples he gives deal with environmental protection, water management, land conservation, springs and rivers.  Since both Mr. Crabbe and the Gainesville Sun are environmentally oriented and often promote policies advocating our water resources, he often comes under fire from forces opposed to them, or at best, which find them expendable when a buck is to be made.

Any writer soon learns that one’s literary offerings, once published, are fair game for derision, anger, contempt, mocking or whatever other form of amusement might fulfill the whim of the critic.  Authors are vulnerable and must withstand these barrages, often by those who are too timid to attempt to publish their own thoughts, and who find it easier to deconstruct the work of others rather than construct their own.

At any rate, OSFR commends Mr. Crabbe and his not inconsiderable efforts to point out the inconsistencies and shortcomings of our leadership in regard to protecting Florida’s natural treasures.

Following is the editorial, which can be read in the Sun at this link.

Setting the record straight

By Nathan Crabbe
Editorial Page Editor

Published: Sunday, June 21, 2015 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, June 19, 2015 at 1:32 p.m.

Gov. Rick Scott’s administration often tries to “set the record straight” when confronted with inconvenient facts.

It does this through emails criticizing news stories and opinion pieces that poke holes in the governor’s assertions of a stellar environmental record and other claims.

A June 7 editorial that I wrote for The Sun, “Gutting the EPA,” was the subject of one of these emails sent by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. One of the main criticisms was over a line that said the state, under Scott, has slashed funding for environmental protection, water management and land conservation.

The claim was inaccurate, according to the DEP email, which went on to say that Scott “has championed record funding for Florida’s springs” and delivered on Everglades protections. The governor made a similar statement at a public event this month, saying that his administration has provided “record funding” for the environment.

Thankfully, we have a fact-checking organization such as PolitiFact to scrutinize such claims. We’ve been running PolitiFact in the paper, so you might have seen the “Pants on Fire” rating that Scott received on his environmental claims. If not, here are some highlights.

While Scott has proposed some increased funding for the springs and Everglades, that is far from a complete picture of his environmental record. He proposed a total budget of $1.53 billion for DEP next year, far from a high point of $2.9 billion in 2006-07, according to PolitiFact.

Scott and lawmakers also abolished the Department of Community Affairs, which reviewed development in cities and counties and forced state water management districts to slash property tax collections, PolitiFact noted. The water management districts also have been purged of longtime employees, I would add.

The governor and Legislature also obliterated funding for Florida Forever, the state’s land-acquisition program. You might remember that as being a big reason 75 percent of voters passed Amendment 1, which was supposed to dedicate more funding to water and land conservation.

Yet as I wrote this column last week, lawmakers had just finished a budget that used the money to cover the cost of daily government operations while spending a relative pittance on buying environmentally significant land.

Where was Scott when this was going down? On a trade mission in Paris, recruiting businesses from California, speaking at the opening of businesses as small as gas stations in Florida — anywhere but providing leadership in Tallahassee.

Meanwhile, the DEP is now considering plans to open state parks to cattle grazing, hunting, timber harvesting and any other way it can make a quick buck. Department employees have been prevented from even using the term climate change, much less planning for it, according to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.

That last issue is another that has gotten me pushback from the Scott administration. It has no such policy, according to a spokeswoman who called me after the issue was mentioned in the EPA editorial.

Scott and his administration think that simply saying something makes it so. Thankfully, we have reporters in our state to help the public see through the lies.

This post rendered with LFS

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