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A job firing, shadow groups and the ladies of MySpace

Juan Enrique Planas (or should we call him "J.P." Planas?) decides to run against his third cousin, Rep. J.C. Planas, gets sued over the name and now got fired. It's the latest case of some of the odd/hard ball intrigue permeating Miami-Dade's Republican legislative races, which all link to the district of Sen. Alex Villalobos.

Facing former school board member Frank Bolaños, Villalobos is fighting a rear-guard action against a number of clandestine committees (see Ted Bundy). Some groups aren't so clandestine.

Consider The Committee for Florida Justice Reform, backed by state senators J.D. Alexander, Jeff Atwater, Mike Haridopolos and Mike Bennett. It had a fundraiser for Bolaños on July 27, the same day a Villalobos supporter filed a lawsuit against the challenger.

All four senators have been phoning lobbyists with an offer they can't refuse: Give us $10,000 to $100,000, and get your clients to do the same.

"Of course I gave. It's four senators calling me. I have to. And why not? I like these guys, they've been good to my issues, so I support them,'' said one top-flight paid advocate.

The lobbyists and the senators say the committee, founded to limit lawsuits, is setting its sites on Villalobos. "We're going to be a major player,'' said one of the senators. To do that, though, the committee of continuous existence will have to shuffle a little paperwork to form/turn over money to an electioneering communications organization.

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Ralph Castillo

SINCE THE HERALD IS COY ON VILLABUCKS SEE THE WASHINGTON POST ARTICLES FROM THE SIERRA CLUB .Building an Ocean
Joe Podgor was a confidant of the late Marjory Stoneman Douglas, the bard of the Everglades; he used to run her grass-roots group, Friends of the Everglades. It was Podgor who ghostwrote her most famous line: "The Everglades is a test. If we pass, we may get to keep the planet." And it was Podgor who dreamed up the Lake Belt.
His story, and the Lake Belt's, helps illustrate how the road to the Everglades restoration plan was paved with good intentions.
Podgor, 56, describes himself as a "fat jerk from Miami Springs." He became an activist in the 1960s because pollution was ruining his favorite fishing canal. Soon he founded a group called Save Our Water to try to protect Miami-Dade's wellfields and underground aquifers.
He helped stop some condo projects, some strip malls, a Blockbuster theme park. But there were many more projects Podgor couldn't stop. He says he got sick of power politics and rubber-stamp regulators and enviros who cared more about birds and bunnies than their own water. Mostly he got sick of losing. It seemed like nothing but the ocean ever blocked development in South Florida.
That's when he had a gloomy epiphany. "It just hit me," Podgor said. "We needed an ocean on the west side of town."
The mining firms, he decided, were too powerful to stop. They donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to state campaigns; the Legislature specifically exempted them from state wetlands laws. Their product also is the fuel for Florida's development-driven economy. South Florida limestone has helped build the state's roads, bridges, homes and parking lots, not to mention Disney World and Cape Canaveral. Every day, 3,200 trucks and 400 rail cars full of crushed rock leave the Lake Belt, carrying 40 percent of the aggregate used in Florida's concrete.
"Yeah, the miners are influential. That's because we need those holes in the ground," said state Senate Majority Whip J. Alex Villalobos, a Miami Republican whose father has lobbied for Rinker. "What are we going to do, import bricks from a castle in Europe?" So in 1990, Podgor met with a group of miners at Rinker's corporate offices to present his plan for a Drinking Water Protection Zone, the precursor to the Lake Belt ("Dwpz. Like a faucet -- get it?"). The idea was to define where the miners could and couldn't mine.
The miners would get the go-ahead to turn a massive strip of shallow wetlands into deep artificial lakes. But when they finished digging, they would have to give the lakes to the public for recreation. They could not convert unmined areas into lakefront subdivisions. And land around the wellfields would be off-limits, as would the area's westernmost tract of wetlands, known as the Pennsuco after the Pennsylvania Sugar Co. (Sen. Bob Graham, the Florida Democrat, and Philip Graham, the late Washington Post publisher, were among the Pennsuco's few human residents when they were young.)Today, Podgor bristles when activists who were on the sidelines during his earlier battles call him an "industrial sympathizer" for trading away Lake Belt wetlands. He notes that regulators had never shown the slightest interest in protecting those wetlands. The wetlands were on the wrong side of the Everglades levee that usually marks the outer limit of westward sprawl. They had been invaded by melaleuca, the thirsty Australian tree that was imported to help drain the Everglades. Podgor figured his plan at least would leave the Pennsuco wetlands and his man-made ocean as a buffer between development and the levee.
And even fake lakes can support decent bass fishing.
"What the hell were we supposed to do?" he asked. "If you can't lick 'em, you gotta join 'em." So the miners took Podgor's idea to Tallahassee, with a dear friend of former governor Lawton Chiles leading their lobbying effort. The Legislature set up a committee of the stakeholders, and soon had the outlines of a consensus plan. In 1997, the Legislature approved a 50-year mining blueprint, over few objections.
That consensus, said Tom MacVicar, is a key point to remember. MacVicar was once a deputy director of the water district; he helped develop the Everglades hydrology model that is being used in the Everglades restoration plan.Now he is a consultant to the mining industry -- as well as the sugar industry and other clients -- and he believes it's time for environmentalists to accept the inevitable.
"Look around: This is a growing state, and it needs rock," he said.
But the Lake Belt consensus has unraveled. The caustic Podgor was ousted as director of Friends of the Everglades and replaced on the Lake Belt Committee by a former Drexel Burnham Lambert broker named Barbara Lange.
She didn't pay much attention at first because she was busy fighting a nearby airport proposal. But in 1999, the Corps unveiled its Lake Belt environmental analysis, noting that the plan would eliminate 15,000 acres of "irretrievable" wetlands, in addition to 6,000 that already had been permitted. The analysis predicted "significant negative impacts" to native vegetation, wildlife, water flows and water quality.
Nevertheless, the Corps proposed to issue permits approving 50 years' worth of mining.
Suddenly Lange was paying attention.
"I was like: What? Are you out of your mind?" said Lange, the Sierra Club's Everglades coordinator. "You read the details, and it's just one outrage after OTHER.

Ralph Castillo

Posted in the Tallahassee Grapefruit Political Blog
In response to anonymous posted 8//12/06
Dear Ms. Deborah Dion (nee) Deborah UNION please provides your name in postings be truthful.
From the Gainesville Sun
RE: HONEST,” I VOTED MY CONSCIENCE “J. ALEX VILLALOBOS
By LLOYD DUNKELBERGER, Tallahassee Bureau.
An excerpt from his article while interviewing Alex Villalobos:

“The majority of lawmakers at least publicly support the new law. Many say they think it's a good idea.” It should have happened a long time ago," said Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami. "If somebody buys you a cheeseburger for lunch, that's not going to influence you. But it just doesn't look good. And the appearance of things is also important."

Really sounds good almost to be true, but not quite- Alex’s law firm on 3/23/06 completed a deal as Agent for E & J Ritz Condos listing Akerman-Senterfeitt and himself or is that his father? With radio magnate Eduardo Alarcon as sample of many other deals and corporations owned or represented by his firm, probably in conflict with his Senatorial position in “ capping lawyer’s fee” among other before it voted, and receiving a buy offer (according to the Fl Bar on 4/30/06). Alex your statement” about the appearance of things is also important” really sucks.

The, “I voted my conscience” is just smoke screen for the real thing the acquisition by Ackerman-Senterffeit of his mediocre law practice.

Alex, what renting your owned family (enterprise) building? (Space) and personal law practice paid by the State of Florida? And located seven miles outside your district, really caring for your district…. What about your tenant Fausto Gomez (Herald 8/5/06), a well known lobbyist and past corporate associate of Howard Gary and John Lasseville (well mentioned by the Miami Herald Pulitzer Prize edit. 1996).

What happened to the cheeseburger that you described to the Gainesville reporter…? “I voted my conscience” Alex where is the beef? Your honest appearance is just that, an appearance”, Alex, You ate the entire cheeseburger”.

Anyone caring to assist in Alex’s first real quest for election, and wants to assist the poor Alex, then you deserves these people. Call Ms. Deborah (UNION) Dion to (305) 213-3165 or (305) 593-8886 to volunteer your time and services.

Ralph Castillo

Posted in the Tallahassee Grapefruit Political Blog
In response to anonymous posted 8//12/06
Dear Ms. Deborah Dion (nee) Deborah UNION please provides your name in postings be truthful.
From the Gainesville Sun
RE: HONEST,” I VOTED MY CONSCIENCE “J. ALEX VILLALOBOS
By LLOYD DUNKELBERGER, Tallahassee Bureau.
An excerpt from his article while interviewing Alex Villalobos:

“The majority of lawmakers at least publicly support the new law. Many say they think it's a good idea.” It should have happened a long time ago," said Sen. Alex Villalobos, R-Miami. "If somebody buys you a cheeseburger for lunch, that's not going to influence you. But it just doesn't look good. And the appearance of things is also important."

Really sounds good almost to be true, but not quite- Alex’s law firm on 3/23/06 completed a deal as Agent for E & J Ritz Condos listing Akerman-Senterfeitt and himself or is that his father? With radio magnate Eduardo Alarcon as sample of many other deals and corporations owned or represented by his firm, probably in conflict with his Senatorial position in “ capping lawyer’s fee” among other before it voted, and receiving a buy offer (according to the Fl Bar on 4/30/06). Alex your statement” about the appearance of things is also important” really sucks.

The, “I voted my conscience” is just smoke screen for the real thing the acquisition by Ackerman-Senterffeit of his mediocre law practice.

Alex, what renting your owned family (enterprise) building? (Space) and personal law practice paid by the State of Florida? And located seven miles outside your district, really caring for your district…. What about your tenant Fausto Gomez (Herald 8/5/06), a well known lobbyist and past corporate associate of Howard Gary and John Lasseville (well mentioned by the Miami Herald Pulitzer Prize edit. 1996).

What happened to the cheeseburger that you described to the Gainesville reporter…? “I voted my conscience” Alex where is the beef? Your honest appearance is just that, an appearance”, Alex, You ate the entire cheeseburger”.

Anyone caring to assist in Alex’s first real quest for election, and wants to assist the poor Alex, then you deserves these people. Call Ms. Deborah (UNION) Dion to (305) 213-3165 or (305) 593-8886 to volunteer your time and services.

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