For years now, coastal Palm Beach County residents has been able to watch the environmental disasters caused by toxic blue-green algae and red tide from afar.
We’ve watched our neighbors to the north in the Treasure Coast have their lives buffeted; our fellow county residents to the west in the Glades have their way of life threatened; and our fellow coastal residents in Southwest Florida shutter businesses.
But that was before this weekend. Before the red tide we’ve all been reading about elsewhere in the state was suspected of making the air so bad here that local health officials in Martin and Palm Beach counties were forced to shut down 27 miles of beaches.
Health officials, on Monday, were still trying to confirm that it is indeed red tide that forced beachgoers — especially those with respiratory issues — to stay away, and had many complaining about burning eyes.
Apropos that at the center of it all is Gov. Rick Scott and his dismal environmental record of budget cutting and lax regulation. But will county residents blame Scott for if the red tide disaster has indeed made it to our shores?
If it is red tide, this may be a game-changer for Scott — who prides himself among other things on shamelessly promoting our state’s all-important tourism industry. The embattled governor, who has already been taking hits for weeks in every coastal community he deigns to visit, usually sees Palm Beach County as a sanctuary for the Scott train. In fact, he was just here a couple weeks ago raising money in Palm Beach with former President George W. Bush.
That was then. Today, drivers can see signs for “Red Tide Rick” hanging from Florida’s Turnpike overpasses in the county. And again, if health officials confirm that red tide is the cause of the current “airborne irritant” at our beaches, Scott may have to scratch another coastal haunt off of his U.S. Senate campaign tour for a while.
Take our poll here, and let us know what you think: Is Scott’s handling of the environment to blame for the worse-than-normal red tide and toxic blue-green algae blooms?
The state’s environment could use a little more respect from political candidates this election season.
For the past several weeks, candidates have been trying to figure what issues are most important to voters. With some individual races as tight as they are, every hopeful running — be it for county commission or state senate — knows hitting on that one topic that resonates with voters can move the needle just enough to eke out a win. (Well, that and spending a lot of money on the campaign in the last couple weeks.)
Is it education? We do have a flashpoint issue in school security. There’s is also the much bigger issue of our K-12 public schools being in the bottom fifth in the nation. And Florida’s horrendous teacher pay has actually resulted in a shortage of about 4,000 teachers statewide to begin the 2018-19 school year.
Is it the economy? We do have this issue that, despite all the jobs created the last several years, too many residents complain they need two or three of them to make ends meet. That’s what happens when most of the jobs created are minimum wage. Meanwhile, the cost of housing is going through the roof in many places like, well, Palm Beach County.
Is it the environment? Or as I call it, “the Rodney Dangerfield of primary ballot issues.” Voters are witnessing a red tide causing massive fish kills, and manatee and turtle deaths up and down the Southwest Florida coast. They are watching the ongoing green goo affectionately known as “toxic blue-green algae” find its way into the backyard waterways of Treasure Coast residents. And of course, there’s that long-term, existential threat to our very way of life that everyone fears but few want to talk about: sea level rise. (That’s right, I said it.)
In a survey released by the USA Today Network and Florida Atlantic University in June, voters said the environment was their No. 3 concern after economy and school safety, respectively. But unlike these first two, environmental issues cannot seem to get and/or maintain traction on the campaign trail.
Venting on social media by irate residents about red tide and blue-green algae has gotten so bad that law enforcement is on edge.
And on August 13, Gov. Rick Scott declared a state of emergency over the ongoing toxic red tide bloom.
“The red tide, which grows offshore in the Gulf of Mexico, has drifted toward the coast and is being blamed for killing scores of animals, including manatees, turtles, and thousands of fish,” reported Palm Beach Post staff writer Kimberly Miller.
But around that same time, when he had the opportunity to confront Treasure Coast residents about the blue-green goo that’s ruining their fishing and boating, Scott elected to do the equivalent of a boating flyover — leaving residents and their questions hanging.
The governor-turned-U.S. Senate candidate isn’t much different from his political brethren on this front; though most can seem to muster a bit more face-to-face compassion. Still, when Democratic gubernatorial candidate Phillip Levine tried to ride his sea-level-rise street cred to the top of the ticket, it didn’t work that well. Sure, voters like that stuff. But who can focus on an environmental threat when another candidate is accusing you of being a supporter of President Donald Trump, and guns are blazing at high school football games?
As a result, the environment gets pushed to the back-burner in a state that built its image off of sunshine and beautiful beaches. The state’s three-legged economy — tourism, agriculture and real estate — is so dependent on the environment that every storm season holds the potential to lay waste to all three. Witness: Hurricane Irma.
But so short is our attention span in this era of breaking news that environmental issues, even when they are staring us in the face daily — again, I mention toxic red tide and green algae — can’t keep a politician’s attention. Today, for example, in the wake of a mass shooting at a gaming tournament on Sunday in Jacksonville, gun control is the topic du jour.
Sigh… maybe it will be different in the general election campaign.
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What do you think?… Should the environment be a higher priority for Florida politicians?
The debate over single-use plastic straws is building up fast. But what really sucks is that there is any debate at all — especially in coastal counties like Palm Beach.
Do we really need to use plastic straws?
On Sunday, my wife and I ate lunch at one of our favorite spots, the Old Key Lime House in Lantana (two reasons: UF Gators, and shrimp and grits). Our waiter brought us glasses of water, but did not give us straws until we asked.
He explained that the iconic restaurant, which sits on the Intracoastal Waterway, is moving away from using plastic straws because of the environment and potential dangers to marine life — like our beloved sea turtles. Apparently, even if folks don’t intentionally throw straws into the water, many end up there through carelessness or error.
For, example, the waiter said straws drop on the floor and are then blown out into the Intracoastal. According to conservationists, sunlight and wave action then break the plastics down into rice-sized bits that are consumed by marine life and become part of the food chain.
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So the Old Key Lime House is phasing the plastic straws out over the next couple of years and going with biodegradable paper straws.
Turns out, they’re not the only local restaurant or resort that environmentally-conscious. Tired of waiting for local government officials to get their act together, outfits like the Breakers and Surfside Diner are taking the matter of purging plastic straws into their own hands.
“We are committed to the environment and sustainability and have been working along these lines for many years now,” said Nick Velardo, the Breakers’ vice president of food and beverage operations, told the Palm Beach Daily News’ William Kelly.
Even corporate behemoth Starbucks has said it will get rid of plastic straws in its 28,000 outlets by 2020.
But local government officials are indeed listening. Palm Beach Town Councilwoman Bobbie Lindsay plans to propose at the council’s Wednesday meeting that it refer the issue of banning single-use plastic straws to its Ordinances, Rules and Standards Committee for study.
“There’s no reason why we have to have these things,” Lindsay told the Daily News.
In Jupiter, the town’s beach committee unanimously recommended on July 23 a resolution to ban plastic straws to the City Council. The committee did not support an ordinance, as some people wanted, which would have fined businesses for using plastic straws. So the council instead unanimously approved a resolution to start a town-wide education campaign — which they hope will allow for a friendlier approach and emphasize education.
The Delray Beach City Commission is considering phasing in a ban on plastic straws as part of a proposed ordinance requiring restaurants, bars and other beverage purveyors to supply plastic straws only upon customers’ request.
Miami Beach.Fort Myers Beach.Sanibel Island. An ever-growing number of Florida municipalities are seeing their role as protectors of the waters and environment that many of their businesses thrive on as something that needs to be taken a bit more seriously.
In St. Petersburg, business owners and elected officials in April unveiled a “No Straws St. Pete” campaign that asks restaurants and residents to voluntarily curb their use of plastic straws and utensils. As of early June, more than 100 businesses were participating.
And it’s not just Florida. The cities of Seattle as well as Oakland and Berkeley in California have all banned the straws, and similar legislation is pending in Hawaii.
So why can’t this be done everywhere; or should it be?… Take our poll and leave a comment here.
We’ve been beating the drum on the issue for weeks now: The message that there is no graver threat to the future of South Florida than the accelerating pace of sea-level rise. By 2060, the sea is predicted to rise another 2 feet, with no sign of slowing down.
The editorial boards of The Palm Beach Post, South Florida Sun Sentinel and Miami Herald — with reporting help from WLRN Public Media — have joined hands in an unprecedented collaboration this election year to raise awareness about the threat facing South Florida from sea-level rise. Our goal is to inform, engage, provoke and build momentum to address the slow-motion tidal wave coming our way.
To that end, we (Post Editorial writer Howard Goodman and me) went on WPTV-Channel 5‘s “To the Point” to discuss the threat of sea level rise with host Michael Williams.
As we’ve said previously, most South Floridians get it. The Yale Climate Opinion Maps show 75 percent of us believe global warming is happening, even if we don’t all agree on the cause. We understand that when water gets hotter, it expands. And warmer waters are melting the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. If all of Greenland’s ice were to melt — and make no mistake, it’s melting at an increasing clip — scientists say ocean waters could rise 20 feet.
The problem is, too few of us are convinced sea-level rise will personally harm us in our lifetimes. We’ve got to change that mind-set because it already is. Lila Young, who has lived on the Intracoastal Waterway in West Palm Beach for 30 years, said she’s seen the king tides progressively getting higher and flooding her neighborhood more often.
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Palm Beach County is fortunate to have a slightly higher elevation, which means the risks aren’t quite so acute here as for our neighbors to the south. Still, the high-priced real estate on the barrier islands is equally vulnerable, along with the low-lying mainland along much of West Palm Beach’s Flagler Drive. As the sea level rises, the agricultural area south of Lake Okeechobee will drain more and more slowly after a major rainfall. And when significant hurricanes and floods hit farther south, we may see a sudden flood of people from Monroe, Miami-Dade and Broward counties.
Are we ready? Are we taking the threat of sea-level rise seriously enough?
About the only thing oilier than rigs off the coast is the way the Trump administration withdrew its plans for offshore drilling along Florida’s shores.
In a move that smacks of greasing the future political prospects of Gov. Rick Scott, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke flew to Tallahassee yesterday to make a surprise announcement: That threat to allow offshore drilling we made last week? Never mind.
What prompted the reversal, a reporter asked? “The governor,” Zinke said.
“You have a tremendous governor that is straightforward, easy to work for, says exactly what he means. And I can tell you Florida is well-served,” Zinke said.
Eat your heart out, Gov. Jerry Brown in California. It now appears that the White House’s environmental decisions are unlawfully based on whether your state voted for President Donald Trump or is a swing state that might elect a Republican senator in 2018.
Trump has been wooing Scott for more than a year to challenge Sen. Bill Nelson, according to Politico, and Scott is widely expected to oppose the Democrat who has held the seat since 2000.
Let’s be clear. It’s terrific that the White House is discarding its cockamamie plans, announced last week, to extend offshore drilling for oil and gas to Florida’s coast. In fact, we denounced the administration’s designs in an editorial published this morning:
“No, no, a thousand times no.
“In no way should offshore oil and gas drilling be allowed off the coast of Florida.
“Or off the coast of the Carolinas, California, New Jersey — or any other coastal state, for that matter.”
No sooner had the editorial gone to press, however, than, in a surprise, Zinke swooped into Tallahassee to stand beside Scott and announce that Florida was being spared from the administration plans to expand offshore drilling nationwide.
Now, instead of a policy that’s bad for the whole nation, we have a policy that’s bad for the whole nation except, it appears, states dear to Trump. Already, three other states with Republican governors have asked for similar exemptions — Maryland, Massachusetts and South Carolina.
Democratic-led states, furious, are noting that this exemption thing is illegal. Rep. Ted Lieu, a California Democrat and attorney, told Politico:
“Under the Administrative Procedure Act, an agency can’t act in an arbitrary and capricious manner. In this case, exempting Florida but not California (which has an even larger coastal economy) is arbitrary and capricious.
“So the agency would either have to not exempt Florida, or in the alternative, exempt Florida, California and any other state that can show the coasts are important to the state’s tourism and economy.”
In this nationwide drama of oil drilling, there may not be gushers. But there will be certainly be lawsuits.
Maybe the most furious man in Florida this morning is Nelson, who smelled a rat at once. Last night he tweeted:
Opposing drilling off Florida’s 1,300 miles of coastline has been the bipartisan position of Florida politicians, and a popular stance with the state’s voters, for years. But Scott used to waffle on the issue.
When running for governor for the first time, in 2010 — not long after the disastrous Deepwater Horizon explosion and spill — the millionaire business-turned-politician said he supported offshore oil drilling “with the right precautions,” a meaningless caveat, because what politician would ever want unsafe drilling?
But lately, the governor famous for allegedly scrubbing the words “climate change” from official communications, has positioned himself as a nature-lover. Scott has urged lawmakers to spend more on the environment in 2018. And when the Interior Department announced its proposal to vastly expand offshore drilling, he quickly criticized it and said he would talk to Zinke personally to try to straighten things out.
Scott’s spokesman, Jonathan Tupps, expressed wonderment that oil-drilling opponents wouldn’t be thrilled to see the oil-drilling plans scuttled. As Politico reported:
“Senator Nelson and anyone else who opposes oil drilling off of Florida’s coast should be happy that the governor was able to secure this commitment,” he said. “This isn’t about politics. This is good policy for Florida.”
And yet the Sierra Club of Florida said the decision was “a purely political move to aid the ambitions of Rick Scott.” The League of Conservation Voters called it a “publicity stunt.”
Perhaps they suspect, as I do, that the Trump administration wasn’t very serious about drilling off Florida’s coast in the first place. They announce a policy one week — and rescind it four days later? How committed to this policy could they have been?
But they sure gave our governor the chance to play the hero.
Seems here they’re trying to play us all for suckers.
Rick Scott as defender of Florida’s lands, air and waters? Seriously?
The Florida governor whose mantra is jobs, jobs, jobs? Who rode to office on a wave of tea party support and has pushed for limiting government and gutting regulations, including those that protect the environment, in the name of giving business a freer rein?
Yet here he was this week, proposing to boost spending on Florida’s natural resources and environmental programs by $220 million.
The $1.7 billion environmental package for lawmakers to consider in 2018 includes funding for the state’s springs, beaches and parks, along with $355 million for Everglades restoration, $50 million to help the federal government speed repairs to the Herbert Hoover Dike around Lake Okeechobee and $50 million for Florida Forever, the state’s most prominent land-preservation fund. (News Service of Florida)
And on Thursday, he touted news that his good friend President Donald Trump has ordered expedited federal spending on the Herbert Hoover Dike. Although, this might not fall under the category of “environment” so much as “disaster avoidance,” given the life-threatening dangers of a shaky levee in a major hurricane; we’re only a few weeks removed from when it looked like Irma was going to rake the center of the state and roar over Lake Okeechobee.
It’s almost enough to make you forget that Scott launched a thousand late-night TV jokes when his administration scrubbed the words “climate change” and “global warning” from official communications, according to the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting.
Because, you know, Florida doesn’t have much coastline to worry about.
It’s an easy guess why the governor is now making sure that we all know that he cares a great, great deal about our natural resources. The 2018 race for U.S. Senate is warming up. And Scott, his second term coming to an end, is expected to try to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, who has won the statewide office three times already. Current polling shows they’re virtually tied.
Florida voters are as divided as the rest of the country on most issues, but we’re in general accord when it comes to protecting the environment. Just look at 2014’s Amendment 1, which established a huge fund for land and water conservation by setting aside a portion of an existing real-estate tax. It passed with 75 percent of the vote.
In Scott’s two victorious races for governor, by contrast, he couldn’t win 49 percent of the vote.
So painting yourself as an environmentalist is good politics in this state. The trouble is, Scott has a record that looks like this:
With the Legislature’s help, he ordered water management districts to slash their property tax collections soon after taking office. The South Florida Water Management District, which oversees Everglades restoration, had its budget cut by almost half. It operates with less money today than it did in 2008. Experienced scientists and engineers who did solid work for the water district are gone.
In 2011, Scott abolished the Department of Community Affairs, which oversaw development and tried to promote rational growth. To Scott, the department created too much red tape for developers.
That $50 million request he’s now making for Florida Forever land conservation purchases? Big deal. Until the Great Recession, the program got $300 million a year. Since Scott’s reelection in 2014, his requests for the program peaked at $25.1 million. Even after voters passed Amendment 1 in that 2014 landslide, budget allocations haven’t surpassed $15.2 million, and this year Florida Forever was zeroed out. All of these sums look pretty paltry when you consider how much money Amendment 1 generates from the documentary-stamp tax. For next fiscal year, it’s an estimated $862.2 million.
There was another time when Scott talked a lot about the environment. That was 2014, when he was running for re-election.
He campaigned “on a $1 billion, 10-year environmental blueprint that in many aspects mirrored the environmental spending amendment that was also before voters at the time. The platform item included plans to request $150 million a year for Florida Forever.” (News Service of Florida)
Once Scott was returned to office, that $150 million a year never materialized.
There’s a reason that Democratic foes are calling Scott an “election year environmentalist.”
Florida needs leaders who are every-year environmentalists.
We’ve prepared for hurricanes before, but none of them felt like this.
With Frances, Jeanne and Wilma, we expected winds that shake the roof and flatten trees. Rain that pelts sideways. Those were punishing enough.
This time, the forecasts predict a something new: devastating storm surge. And for my wife and me, who have lived in South Florida since 2000, and enjoy the view of the Intracoastal Waterway from our condo, this is nothing to fool with.
This mother of all storms looks to be giving a new meaning to “Mother” Nature. It looks as fierce as an Andrew, as huge as Katrina and roaring to swallow up the whole of the Florida peninsula and spit it out as a chewed-up ruin.
Irmageddon, my friend Jon calls it.
Today, Ellen and I have spent hours packing clothes, medicines, laptops, bottled water, flashlights and plenty of food to bring to the house of a friend who lives 10 miles inland and who generously invited us in. Our house, a short distance from the ocean, is in a voluntary evacuation zone, and we didn’t hesitate to take the hint.
Our first shelter of choice — the Palm Beach Post building, a fortress of an office building constructed post-Andrew to withstand a Category 3 — fell through when the parent corporation and its risk managers decided the whole place had to be vacated as of Saturday morning. So this hurricane, unlike any other, is driving the Post from its home. Reporters and editors will work remotely.
We’re far from the only ones who have had to readjust plans — or move to firmer shelter– because this storm exceeds all previous experience in its scope and potential for savagery.
Luckily, we had a friend ready to share her house.
As we scrambled this morning to leave our fifth-floor condo, it dawned on Ellen that we might not be back home as soon as the hurricane passes. This is that different a storm. The surge they’re talking about — would it flood our parking lot? The first floor apartments? Would it compromise our building? Make it unsafe to enter?
We recalled a friend in New Orleans who fled Hurricane Katrina with only a few things flung into the car’s back seat — and couldn’t get back into her house for three months.
That might be us. And so we packed with a pang of melancholy: this could be the last time we see our house until….when?
It’s a hot day, somewhat breezy. As we drove to our place of shelter, local traffic was thinner than normal, but the streets didn’t feel empty. For all the thousands who have fled, there are still a lot of people here in this metro area of 6 million.
Lots of buildings are boarded up. Lots of cars still lining up for gas at the few stations with supplies.
Ellen and I are settling as I write, in a shuttered-up suburban house west of Boynton Beach with friend Agneta, a cooler of beer, a rack of wine and a bottle of good whiskey.
The TV is on and we’re watching the interviews with public officials and storm refugees, the meteorologists’ breathless explanations of the maps.
Journalism is a highly competitive game, but my guess is that most of us who work in newspapers — or who ever have worked in newspapers — are damn proud to see the staff of the Houston Chronicle do such an outstanding job of delivering the news of the disaster that has engulfed their city.
The entire staff of about 200 journalists has been working since Sunday morning in the most dire conditions — some unable to leave their houses, all surely burdened with worries about their homes, families, loved ones — to deliver clear, accurate reports on the flooding, rescues, deaths, and potential further perils to their fellow Houstonians and the outside world. For thousands of displaced people, the arrival of the Chronicle every day amid so much chaos must feel like a miracle. And a truly welcome source of extremely important information.
Watching that staff’s work from here is especially inspiring at this time when journalism itself is under attack from no less than the president of the United States.
“Honestly, these are really, really dishonest people,” Donald Trump seethed of the news media at his recent rally in Phoenix. “And they are bad people. And I really think they don’t like our country. I really believe that.”
Yes, they detest their country so much that scores of journalists in Houston, young and old, responded to their city’s unimaginable inundation by trudging into the waters; going without food, sleep or showers; and sweating every last detail to ensure the accuracy of their reports.
As thousands of people leave their homes and neighborhoods to flee massive flooding in Houston, journalists at the Houston Chronicle are spread out across the sprawling metro covering the story.
“Nobody covers hurricanes at this paper full-time, and now everyone is covering hurricanes at this paper full-time,” said Managing Editor Vernon Loeb.
All hands on deck is a cliche, he added.
“This is all hands on deck.”…
On Sunday at 10:24 p.m., investigative reporter Susan Carroll wrote a note on Facebook that captured what went into covering the floods.
Vernon Loeb ran a couple miles from his house to the newsroom this morning during the flood because the roads were impassable. He honestly didn’t seem to think twice about it. Lindsay Ellis walked a few miles in the storm, too. Al Lewis climbed over a flooded freeway ramp and waded through waist-high water while doing Facebook Live. Lomi Laura was stranded in her car at one point but still filed great copy. StJohn Barned-Smith’s car drowned, but luckily he’s OK and kept working. Emily Foxhall spent the night in a shelter and her day on a boat. Mike Morris waded through flooded houses in his neighborhood while Matt Dempsey rode his bike through Pearland snapping photos. Shelby Webb spent all of last night in the newsroom. I don’t think she slept at all. John D. Harden has been at the emergency command center literary for days. Keri Blakinger and Jacob Carpenter filed dispatches from down south and along the banks of swelling rivers. Rebecca Elliott, Greg Murago and Nancy Sarnoff talked to some of the people hit the hardest and left homeless, including a barefoot woman with a baby and no formula. Dug Begley filed a couple thousand words, raided the cafeteria and drove us safely to a hotel by the newsroom. Gabrielle Banks called a man back to double check the spelling of his dog’s name (thanks again!). And Mark Collette finally made it home to Meyerland on a jet ski, wearing another man’s shorts. We left Lydia DePillis, Dianna Hunt and Mike Tolson and many more in the newsroom tonight — along with Vernon, of course. Thanks, guys.
It so happens that I worked with Vernon Loeb for years at the Philadelphia Inquirer, and I’m a big fan of his talent. Over the years, I’ve been constantly bowled over by his passion and an energy level that borders on the superhuman.
In the article, he says this to Hare, perfectly capturing why all those people were working so hard:
“It’s like, ‘this is why we’re journalists,'” [Loeb] said. … “When it happens, this is why we’re here. This is the antidote to people saying reporters are evil and hate America. No, reporters aren’t evil and they don’t hate America. They feel an incredibly strong sense of obligation and responsibility and a calling to go out there and cover stories like this.”
Vernon elaborated on his Facebook page:
This is what we do, and the Houston Chronicle is how the people of Houston know. I really hate the #fakenews hashtag because it’s a bogus concept. I’ve been doing this for a long time at The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and now the Houston Chronicle, and I’ve never known a single colleague — not one, ever — to publish anything they thought was fake. It was, and is, grounds for immediate dismissal. What they really do is go out and report honestly and fearlessly, with skill and humility. They tell people’s stories with great care. They hold officials accountable fairly and accurately, and credit them for good performance. And they feel a tremendous responsibility for getting at the whole truth, which is always elusive. It’s a calling and we take it seriously. I know I’m biased, but I think the Houston Chronicle is the most important institution in the city.
This isn’t the first time that a big city’s newspaper has become a lifeline in an extreme emergency, often the only reliable means of accurate information when power goes out and radios and TVs are made useless. The Miami Herald is still remembered for its tenacity and heart after 1992’s Hurricane Andrew. The New Orleans Times-Picayune served miraculously after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, at a time when newspapers were being pummeled by economic and technological forces and bleeding red ink, their impending death being predicted almost daily.
In Houston, it’s not just the Chronicle that’s doing extraordinary work. Our sister Cox Media newspaper, the Austin American Statesman, is hard at it. TV reporters have rescued people from cars and trucks rapidly filling with water. Such as this local reporter, Brandi Smith, who stayed on the air after her CBS affiliate station was forced to evacuate:
When a catastrophe of this magnitude forces our colleagues to rise to new heights, others of us in the profession take a vicarious pride in the work they do. That’s why a group of journalists at The Washington Post — former Houstonians — arranged for a shipment of 20 dozen donuts to be sent to the Chronicle newsroom Thursday. It was a gesture of love.
As one of those Post reporters, David Farenthold, himself a formidable journalist, wrote to Loeb, telling him to expect the delivery:
What your staff has done over the last week – during the most trying time in our hometown’s history — has been nothing short of astounding. This is a small gesture of admiration, appreciation and awe. Keep it up!
Knowing Loeb, he and his staff are just getting started.
The Nosh Update, 3:20 p.m.:
As if to prove the point that journalists everywhere are taking pride in the Chronicle’s work, investigative reporter Nancy Phillips of The Philadelphia Inquirer “on behalf of proud journalists everywhere” sent the Houston newsroom two dozen COLD Heinekens, 14 pizzas and two huge Caesar salads. The staff has also received fajitas from the Dallas Morning News and “an incredible care package” from the Orlando Sentinel, according to Vernon Loeb.
Moreover, several of them decided to write letters to the editor about the eyebrow-raising pic and ask questions.
Like this short-and-sweet one from Lisa Stewart of Lake Worth:
“Did anyone notice a panther walking past the man who was posing with a dead python?”
Well, yes we did.
And others wondered why the curious-looking panther that appears to be casually strolling behind Crum wasn’t even mentioned in either the photo caption or the story.
What happened to the panther, they wanted to know.
The simple answer is that it’s not a real panther.
That’s right. According to the South Florida Water Management District, the photo of Crum — who participated in the SFWMD’s experimental python hunt — was taken in front of a display at an airboat vendor’s establishment on Tamiami Trail.
By the way, the program, which pays hunters minimum wage plus bonuses, is expected to get a green light to continue at this week’s SFWMD board meeting.
“It’s been a great success,” said Pete Antonacci, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District. “You don’t want to lose momentum when something good is happening.”
Agreed. But seriously, where can we find that cool mural?
The number of Climate Mayors has grown to 211, representing a combined population of 54 million Americans.
Two more Florida cities have now signed on to the list: Kissimmee and South Miami.
West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio and Delray Beach Mayor Cary Glickstein deserve praise — and their citizens’ thanks — for standing up with 184 other mayors for the Paris Climate Agreement despite President Donald Trump’s wrong-headed renunciation of the global pact.
The two mayors from Palm Beach County joined the so-called Climate Mayors, a group that stretches from Los Angeles’ Eric Garcetti to New York’s Bill de Blasio, in making a strong response to Trump’s withdrawal from the accords of 195 nations to curb the planet’s warming from the burning of fossil fuels.
“As 186 Mayors representing 40 million Americans, we will adopt, honor, and uphold the commitments to the goals enshrined in the Paris Agreement,” the Climate Mayors declared Thursday, adding:
We will continue to lead. We are increasing investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. We will buy and create more demand for electric cars and trucks. We will increase our efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions, create a clean energy economy, and stand for environmental justice.
It’s a remarkable show of resolve. And it’s been matched by the governors of California, New York and Washington who’ve said they’re starting an alliance of states to stick to their own greenhouse-gas reduction goals.
California’s economic growth outpaces that of the U.S. as a whole, by the way — giving the lie to Trump’s basic claim that stringent climate regulations are the enemy of jobs and prosperity.
The defiance to Trump’s shortsightedness doesn’t end there. Major corporations, including Hewlett-Packard and Mars Inc., have also said they will forge ahead with their emission-reducing targets.
And there’s Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former mayor of New York, who is spearheading an effort to take all these pledges from American cities, states and companies and submit them to the United Nations to be recognized along with the nations that have signed on to the Paris Accords. Bloomberg also pledged $15 million from his philanthropy to pay the equivalent of the U.S. share of the accord’s operating budget.
“The American government may have pulled out of the agreement, but the American people remain committed to it – and we will meet our targets,” Bloomberg said.
“Americans don’t need Washington to meet our Paris commitment and Americans are not going to let Washington stand in the way of fulfilling it. That’s the message mayors, governors, and business leaders all across the U.S. have been sending.”
Suddenly, the resistance has a new look. It’s not just protesters taking to the streets against the Trump regime. It’s states, cities and Fortune 500 companies defying a U.S. policy that throws science to the trash heap, plays hell with the future and self-mutilates America’s international standing.
The Paris accord commits countries to holding global temperature rises to “well below” 2C above pre-industrial levels, which will require global emissions to be cut to net zero by the second half of the century.
Scientists have warned that a failure to curb dangerous climate change will lead to sea level rises, more intense storms and flooding, more extreme droughts, water shortages and heat waves as well as massive loss of wildlife and reduction in crop yields, potentially sparking conflict and mass migration.
Few regions are more at risk than Florida, making part-time Palm Beacher Trump’s obtuseness all the more infuriating, and the Palm Beach County mayors’ defiance all the more welcome.
Mayors from a number of other Florida cities also signed onto the Climate Mayors list: Those of Apalachiola, Fort Lauderdale, Hallandale Beach, Hollywood, Lauderhill, Miami, Miami Beach, Orlando, South Miami, St. Petersburg, Sunrise, Surfside, Tallahassee and Tampa.
In some ways, this shouldn’t be so surprising. Some 69 percent of Americans polled in November that the U.S. should participate in the Paris agreement. That includes about half of self-identified Trump voters. Majorities in every state, including 60 percent of Floridians, said America should stick with the Paris pact.
Climate change is real — and if this resistance to Trump’s decision is any indication, there is an avid public appetite to fight back against the efforts by the fossil fuel industry, some conservatives and now, shamefully, the White House to play ostrich while the polar ice caps melt and sea levels rise.
That last fact means that Florida — and Palm Beach County, in particular — should be a leader in this fight. These mayors are setting a fine example.