Sunday, March 12, 2017

“SEND IT [Lake O water] SOUTH!”? Remember the inglorious demise of Consent Agenda item 9C?

This was a huge embarrassment for one particular City commissioner and for the City of Lake Worth as well. Maybe this was an attempt to influence policy on the issue of water discharges from Lake Okeechobee. Or maybe this was a chance for one commissioner to take to the soapbox and get his name in the newspaper while the issue was still “hot” with flowcharts and a colorful PowerPoint.

Whatever it was, it failed quickly and ingloriously. Sadly too, a lot of people who drove down from Martin and Indian River counties in support of this item on the agenda never got to speak. Instead, they were quietly ushered out of City Hall and told to go back home, by the very same people who had invited them down in the first place.

How did this whole kerfuffle come to be? It’s very simple.

Last August Commissioner Chris McVoy, PhD, had an item placed on the City Commission agenda to “Send It [water discharges] South!” from Lake Okeechobee. A little problem with this agenda item is McVoy didn’t give Belle Glade Mayor Wilson, Pahokee Mayor Babb, South Bay Mayor Kyles, or Mayor Roland in Clewiston a courtesy call and say, Hey, I think your cities should be wiped off the face of the Earth.”

Another problem with McVoy’s item on the agenda was this: septic tanks were not cited as a factor in algae blooms, conveniently left out. And the dike surrounding Lake O which needs serious repairs, the Herbert Hoover Dike, was also not cited as one of McVoy’s concerns either.

Around the same time last year, the Palm Beach Town Council also dealt with this issue, but in quite a different way. They had a resolution about Lake Okeechobee and below are three short excerpts from this article by reporter Aleese Kopf at the Palm Beach Daily News (aka, The Shiny Sheet):

     Town Council members agreed this week to adopt a resolution urging federal and state officials to spend more money on and speed up work to store, treat and move clean water to and from Lake Okeechobee.

[and. . .]

     Specifically, the resolution urges lawmakers to speed up planning for water storage reservoirs south of the lake in the Everglades Agricultural Area, to speed up repair of the Herbert Hoover Dike and to eliminate septic tanks in the region. [emphasis added]

[and. . .]

     Council members unanimously passed the resolution. Council President Michael Pucillo said it’s worded in a way that is not “particularly controversial.”
     “We’re talking about expediting planning,” added Councilwoman Bobbie Lindsay. “We’re not asking them to buy land.”

Here is the ingloriously deleted Consent Agenda item C at the Lake Worth City Commission:
Resolution No. 38-2016 - implement a solution to long standing water discharge issues plaguing the City
“Plaguing the City”? The Commission meeting had barely started when, at the 2:00 minute mark, Consent agenda item 9C is pulled from the agenda. Gone. Erased. Wiped out. Which raises some interesting questions:
  • Why did McVoy put the item on the agenda in the first place?
  • A sizable group of people showed up (or were invited) to support the resolution. Did he wave goodbye to them on their way out of town?
  • The vote was unanimous to delete it from the agenda. That’s right. McVoy voted to delete his very own agenda item. Why would he do that?
Below is the text of the brief that accompanied this item:

AGENDA DATE: August 2, 2016, Regular Meeting
DEPARTMENT: Commissioner McVoy
TITLE: Resolution No. 38-2016 – implementing a solution to long standing water discharge issues plaguing the City
SUMMARY: The Resolution urges the Federal and State governments to implement solutions and fix the problems of water discharge from Kissimmee River Valley, Lake Okeechobee, and areas west of the City into the C-51 Canal.
BACKGROUND AND JUSTIFICATION: The current plumbing in South Florida allows for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to, at times of high water and for reasons of human safety, discharge waters from Lake Okeechobee into the Lake Worth Lagoon through the C-51 Canal. The discharged waters degraded quality and elevated nutrient status of Lake Okeechobee causes undesirable and widespread algal blooms.

Has anyone seen any “widespread algal blooms” in Lake Worth? Has the water been “plaguing” us? The “current plumbing”? Not exactly the language or terminology one would expect from a PhD, is it?

And in case you’re interested, J.P. Sasser, the former mayor of the City of Pahokee, had a thought or two on “Send It South!” and septic tanks.

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