Protecting the Santa Fe River in North Florida

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Speak Up Wekiva, Inc. Challenges DeSantis’ SB 712


Santa Monica Beach In: Speak Up Wekiva, Inc. Challenges DeSantis' SB 712 | Our Santa Fe River, Inc. (OSFR) | Protecting the Santa Fe River
Santa Monica State Beach. In 2013 the city adopted a “Sustainability Rights Ordinance,”[135] recognizing the “fundamental and inalienable rights”[135] of “natural communities and ecosystems”[135][21] Flickr images reviewed by FlickreviewRCC-BY-SA-2.0Files from Pedro Szekely, the Creative Commons CC0 License

The following press release is self-explanatory.  We are so glad to see this lawsuit.  Each little thing like this law is industry’s ploy to get more control of Florida.

Since environmental regulations almost always cost money for the polluter, these industries employ powerful lobbyists who strongly influence our governor and our legislators.  And since our Supreme Court has made it legal to buy our legislators, this makes it  easy for this form of corruption to reign in our state.  The Supreme Court calls it “freedom of speech” but  it is nothing less than bribery.  Not illegal but certainly unethical and wrong.

That is why we  are losing our our rivers and springs.  That is why our “water protectors” continue to allow more and more pumping from our rivers and more and more agricultural and industrial runoff to pollute them.   That is why  the water management districts are not allowed to stop the decline of the aquifer and the increase of pollution in our rivers.   That is why big business just laughs at fines for environmental pollution– it is just another business expense.

Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back

From: “Chuck O’Neal” <>
Date: July 1, 2020 at 4:36:31 PM EDT
To: “Chuck O’Neal” <>
Subject: Speak Up Wekiva, Inc. vs  Gov. Ron DeSantis
Contact: Chuck O’Neal, 407-399-3228, ChuckforFlorida@gmail.comToday, July 1, 2020, Speak Up Wekiva, Inc. through its attorney Steven M. Meyers, filed a lawsuit against Governor Ron DeSantis in Federal Court to declare the preemption of local self-government in Section 403.412(9)(a) (Fla. Stat.), a part of the Clean Waterways Act (FKA Senate Bill 712), unconstitutional.  Specifically the lawsuit asks the Court to issue a judgment:

“A. Declaring that Section 403.412(9)(a), Fla. Stat. is facially unconstitutional under the Ninth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution by infringing upon plaintiff members’ and Florida citizens’ constitutional right to local, self-government, and is thus devoid of any legal force or effect;

B. Declaring that Section 403.412(9)(a) is unconstitutional as applied to Plaintiff by infringing upon plaintiff members’ and Florida citizens’ right to local, self-government, including having WEBOR placed on the November 2020 general election ballot in Orange County;
C. Declaring that Section 403.412(9)(a) violates Article 1, Section 1 of the Florida Constitution by violating Florida plaintiff members’ and Florida citizens’ right to local, self-government, and thus is invalid and void;
D. Declaring that Section 403.412(9)(a) is unconstitutionally vague under the Fourteenth Amendment of the United States Constitution and is thus invalid and void;
E. Declaring that Section 403.412(9)(a) violates Article VIII, Section 1(g) and Article VIII, Section 2(b) of the Florida Constitution, as well as the Municipal Home Rule Powers Act and Chapter 125, Florida statutes, and is thus invalid and void;
F. Declaring that Section 403.412(9)(a) fails to set out a clear intent to preempt any area or field, and further fails to adequately identify and describe any such area or field, and thus is invalid and void;
G. Enjoining Defendant from enforcing Section 403.412(9)(a);
H. Enjoining Defendant from applying Section 403.421(9)(a) so as to prohibit the placement of the WEBOR proposed Orange County charter amendment from being placed on the November 2020 Orange County ballot.”WEBOR stands for the Wekiva and Econlockhatchee Rivers Bill of Rights.  It was approved by the Orange County Charter Review Commission under great scrutiny and legal review.  Although similar Rights of Nature measures have been enacted in three dozen communities around the country, WEBOR is the first such measure to be placed on a County ballot anywhere in the United States.

“This matter is of utmost importance today because the Governor, with a stroke of his pen, eviscerated the rights of citizens and charter counties to protect their own waters and thereby their own health, safety and welfare” said Chuck O’Neal, President of Speak Up Wekiva, Inc..  “This ill-conceived, vague and overly-broad preemption law could also impact the ability of local governments to issue mandatory face mask orders that protect the lives of their most at-risk populations.”

Indeed the complaint states:  “Section 403.412 (9)(a) preempts local governments’ ability to legislate protections to its citizens from the spread of airborne diseases and viruses such as COVID, including requiring the use of masks, social distancing, and decisions whether to keep local businesses and schools open.”

“Though perhaps well-intentioned in its initial draft, the final version of this bill became so polluted with the influence of special interest lobbyists that many knowledgeable environmental organizations asked the Governor to veto the final version passed by the Legislature” said O’Neal.

Chuck O’Neal 

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