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Governing by poll? Rick Scott now says Everglades restoration a top priority

Eight months after the Everglades Foundation released a poll showing disapproval for Gov. Rick Scott's proposal to cut Everglades restoration money by 66 percent, the Republican governor made an unpublished stop to the advocacy group's two-day meeting in Naples on Wednesday and apparently told attendees that Everglades restoration is now a top priority of his administration.

Here's a copy of the group's press release sent this afternoon:

Gov. Rick Scott reaffirms commitment to Everglades restoration

NAPLES, Fl. – Florida Gov. Rick Scott told the Everglades Foundation that he is making restoration of the Everglades a top priority of his administration.

Scott spoke during an evening reception Wednesday night, part of a two-day meeting of the Everglades Foundation to discuss progress and strategy of restoring the Everglades.

"My administration is absolutely focused on making sure the right thing happens with the Everglades,” Scott told more than 300 members and supporters of the Everglades Foundation. "I’m very optimistic that we are going to get something done.”

After Scott spoke, Everglades Foundation Chairman Paul Tudor Jones II, thanked Scott for making the issues of protecting and enhancing Florida’s water quality, a signature of his administration.

"Thank you so much. This is a huge step forward,” said Jones.

"We know you are a passionate outdoorsman, conservationist and environmentalist,” said Jones as he handed Scott a Nickelodeon’s Diego Let’s Go Fishing Rod for children and a toy sailfish. "Now you can take your first grandson, Augustus, fishing.”

Others who spoke during meeting included Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary, Herschel Vinyard,  South Florida Water Management District Executive Director Melissa Meeker,  U.S. Department of Interior, Everglades Director Shannon Estenoz, state Sen. Jack Latvala, R-St. Petersburg and state Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers.

"I want to thank the Everglades Foundation for being a fantastic organization,” Vineyard said. "You are really the gold standard.”

Vinyard said Gov. Scott is determined to move Everglades restoration forward and as a result there are discussions at DEP everyday about the Everglades.

"If somebody starts to stall Everglades restoration, I want you to yell and yell loud,” Vinyard said.

Estenoz said that Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, “loves this project. He views the Everglades as one of the biggest, if not the biggest environmental project in the nation.”

Kirk Fordham, Everglades Foundation CEO, said, “Gov. Scott understands that water quality issues affect 7 million Floridians.  We look forward to continuing to work with Gov. Scott and his administration and his counterparts in Washington.”

Comments

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Frank

If Everglades Restoration is such a priority, why would the Governor sign 2011 legislation that prohibits the very agency in charge of that restoration (South Florida Water Management District - SFWMD) from commenting on adverse land use changes that would negatively impact Everglades Restoration and all water quality issues. If planning, science and engineering for Everglades Restoration play such an important role in moving forward, why were key staff in these areas at SFWMD fired this summer (or their positions lost thru encouraged early retirement)? Could this be, as one legislator put it to me recently, "Because we don't like 'em'"? That appears to be the real legacy of Scott's tenure to date. So watch the actions (and the money), not the easily betrayed rhetoric. The Everglades is in a whole heap of trouble, and this Governor has so far managed to push the restoration schedule back even farther. Watch SFWMD for more staff cutbacks and approval of questionable water supply permits for a powerful state legislator in the next few month. Watch the Legislature further attempt to privatize water supply and government. Watch the Governor continue to allow huge developments in environmentally sensitive areas, including the Greater Everglades. Depressionally continue to watch the "might makes right" politics of the "Big Lie" administration.

Bob

Frank, no one cares about your opinion. Gov. Scott's actions are consistent with his election rhetoric. The people of Florida get the government they elected and deserve. SFWMD was grossly obese and power mad, so they had to be reined in. I hope the budget that's proposed... later today disbands all the wmds and places their responsibilities with DEP. I would like to see increased land acquisition programs of sensitive environmental areas around the everglades. But I reject the notion that future permits to tap the water supply should be denied. Our economy and population is growing so unless that changes, the burden should be placed on existing development cutting back its water usage. New development should not be convenient villain.

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