Friday, October 15, 2021
Sunday, October 10, 2021
September 22, 2021
This email is on behalf of two organizations and my family.
The Environmental Confederation of Southwest Florida (ECOSWF) is an umbrella group composed of environmental organizations, historic preservation organizations and individuals. Some of which are your constituent
ECOSWF has been involved in water use for the last 50 years.
ECOSWF has consistently opposed deep well injection.
Here are case studies:
- For many years, Manatee County has had an Aquifer and Storage Recover (ASR) well near Manatee Reservoir. The theory was excess water would be removed from the Reservoir and injected in the ground causing a “bubble” from which the injected water could be extracted for public supply. We know the water retrieved from the ASR well was not the same water that was injected because the water quality was different.
- The Peace River Regional Water Authority used deep well injection in their ASR program. The result was the pyrites released arsenic into the area of injection because the water chemistry of surface water is not the same as ground water. For years, the authority was not given permission to use the water from those wells for public supply. Years of purging the well took place to remove reduce the arsenic levels to acceptable one.
- The phosphate industry used to put “recharge” wells under their gypsum stacks. The water would drain into the well and go into the aquifer. The town of Mulberry actually heard the rumbling that accord as the acidic water ate away the limestone and bubbled up. Tanker trucks of fuel oil were brought in and the fuel oil was dumped into the wells. The result, when people on wells turned on their faucets, fuel oil came out.
There is also an argument espoused that says the injected water will not affect aquifers that are used by the public and agriculture. The words FOR NOW should be inserted.
We used to have free flowing wells, but anthropogenic actions changed that. So, we drilled our wells deeper. With the existing growth in Florida, we DO NOT KNOW how deep we will eventually need to go.
The Southwest Florida Water Management District’s (SWFWMD) Southern Water Use Caution Area is declared because of saltwater moving into the coast from the Gulf and upconing of poorer mineralized water from the DEEPER AQUIFERS.
This shows movement of water inland and upward.
Although SWFWMD requires wells to be cased to the aquifer from which they are withdrawing, it is not enforced. Both agriculture wells and the City of Sarasota’s Verna Wellfield are improperly constructed because they are not cased to the confining layer from which they withdraw.
The Miakka Community Club’s members rely solely on domestic wells now and into the future to meet their daily water needs. There is a real potential for the movement of the injected water to contaminate the wells in the future.
My family relies on our domestic well. I am on my third well because of the continued lowering of the water pressure/level. Each well has had to go deeper and the water quality continues to decline with each new well and on a continuing daily basis.
THERE IS NO PROGRAM TO TEST DOMESTIC WELL WATER. A domestic well only is tested for secondary drinking water standards and that is only when the well is drilled.
And it is important to remember, the existing rules and regulations state my well will not and cannot be impacted. So much for the protection afforded by those regulations.
I am asking you on behalf of ECOSWF, Miakka Community Club and my family to NOT pursue deep injection.
Out of mind, out of sight is not a solution. You are changing one problem for another. One that will not easily be seen or detected.
Finally, I want to point out that in June of 2003, DEP was hoping to send water to the reclaimed water plants in Hillsborough and Manatee counties to the city of St. Petersburg and possibly to other phosphate plants that can use the water for continued fertilizer processing. (Herald Tribune, June 25, 2003). What happened with that proposal?
Miakka Community Club President
Domestic well user.
Friday, October 8, 2021
To the Sarasota County Commission:
The people of Sarasota County have spoken again—County residents support electing Commissioners by Single-Member District (SMD).
In 2018, 60% of county voters in all five Districts and across party lines endorsed SMD. Now, on the 2021 Sarasota County Citizen Survey, residents support SMD for a second time. (See Sarasota News Leader article below this message.)
Single-Member Districts is an established method of representation.
Nineteen FL counties elect Commissioners by SMD, including Collier, Broward, and Escambia. The FL Legislature and US House of Representatives are elected by SMD. Nancy Detert, who now sits on the Board of Sarasota County Commissioners, previously was elected to the State Legislature through Single Member District Voting. In that office she represented the interests of both her local district and of all residents of Florida.
SMD is in the Sarasota County Charter based on the 2018 voter mandate. SMD is not on a “trial run” and should not be under review or on a path to repeal. Three of five County Districts elected Commissioners by SMD last November. Two Districts (about 40% of county residents) will elect Commissioners by SMD in 2022.
As a growing community, each District has unique issues. Sarasota County should provide opportunities that promote public dialogue by holding District-level town hall meetings and offering other resources to facilitate communication.
Please withdraw your request for the Charter Review Board to review SMD on October 20, 2021.
Please share the status of the CRB request for review of SMD.
Citizens for District Power (CDP)
Plurality of county residents responding to 2021 Citizen Opinion Survey
expresses support for Single-Member Districts voting method for County Commission seats
About 40% of the 1,250 respondents to Sarasota County’s 2021 Citizen Opinion Survey expressed support for the Single-Member Districts voting method that citizens approved during the November 2018 General Election, , a professor at the University of South Florida, told the County Commission this week.
Using a scale of 1 to 5, Scacco added, that meant the support reflected a score of about 3.3.
Only 26% of the respondents disagreed with the change, he said.
, Commissioner Nancy Detert stressed to County Administrator Jonathan Lewis that she wanted a question on the 2021 survey about Single-Member Districts. She and her colleagues over the past year have contended that the people who approved the Sarasota County Charter amendment in 2018 did not understand it.
That amendment restricts voters in a district to voting just for County Commission candidates who live in the same district. Previously, commission races were contested countywide.
During a Sept. 28 exchange with Scacco, at the conclusion of the presentation of the survey results, Detert alluded to two speakers who criticized the board members earlier that morning for requesting that the question be on the survey.
Joshua Scacco. Image courtesy University of South Florida
“Did anyone in the general public complain that you asked certain questions?” Detert asked Scacco.
A professional call center handles the actual survey after the USF/HCP team has developed the questions, he replied. “We would have to go back to the transcripts of that particular question to get an idea.” Scacco added, “I wouldn’t expect that there would be much there.” Nonetheless, he told Detert that he would make certain to include the information in a final report on the survey, which the team would deliver next month. (See the related article in this issue.)
Pat Rounds addresses the commissioners on Sept. 28. News Leader image
During the Open to the Public period for comments at the start of the Sept. 28 board meeting, Pat Rounds of Sarasota, , reminded the commissioners that 60% of the citizens who participated in the November 2018 referendum on Single-Member Districts approved it.
Rounds contended that the commissioners began “sowing seeds of doubt” about the voting system “immediately after the first three districts elected commissioners by Single-Member Districts [in November 2020].”
Rounds also pointed out, “One of you even likened Single-Member Districts to a question about septic tanks [also requested for inclusion in the 2021 survey], calling [the voting system] ‘sludge.’” Rounds was referencing a comment Detert made during the May discussion.
“The people of Sarasota County have now told you twice that they want direct representation and accountability for county commissioners,” Rounds continued. “Will you finally listen?”
Noting that they also had asked the county’s elected Charter Review Board members to undertake an analysis of the effects of Single-Member Districts, Rounds urged the commissioners, “Please stop any review of Single-Member Districts as a step on the path to justify a repeal effort. Each district should experience Single-Member Districts for at least a full term before any ‘review’ is even considered. Do you agree?”
As usual with Open to the Public comments, no commissioner engaged Rounds in discussion.
The second speaker, Tom Matrullo of Sarasota, also pointed to the commissioners’ comments about voters having been confused. “Your new survey resoundingly shows the opposite,” he said. “Sarasotans want and need Single-Member Districts voting.” He further referenced the fact that survey respondents in 2020 reported their top stressor was population growth and new development and that that remained the primary issue of concern this year.
“Around the county,” Matrullo continued, ”people are anxious, upset and even enraged at how oversized developments receive blanket approval despite the reasoned objections of those whose homes, neighborhoods and lifestyles are impacted.”
He added, “Development issues usually affect people within a single district.” He noted the controversy on Siesta Key regarding proposals for four hotel projects with room counts ranging from 100 to 170, for an example. “The mega hotels on Siesta Key have little direct impact on the people of Old Miakka,” Matrullo said, “and threats to the rural life of Old Miakka do not impinge on folks in Wellen Park.”
Old Miakka is located in the far eastern portion of the county; Wellen Park is near Venice.
A graphic shows the Old Miakka Planning Area, outlined in blue, as presented in a county neighborhood plan completed in 2006. Image courtesy Sarasota County
“The county currently has no satellite offices, online facilities or public town halls,” he stressed, through which the board members could engage the public in discussion about issues at the district level. “District dialogue must become a priority.”
After the presentation of the survey results, Commissioner Christian Ziegler proved to be the only board member who did voice continuing anger over Single-Member Districts.
“It’s going to be tough to change my mind on just how bad of a form of government that is,” Ziegler said. “I think people want to vote for all the commissioners. … But it’s tough to get that thought out, you know, in a survey … unless you have a conversation with people. This doesn’t change my mind on Single-Member Districts.”
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
[Mike Flynn] the former general and QAnon icon lives just 25 minutes away, in Englewood, and is part of a growing cast of pro-Trump conspiracy theorists, insurrectionists, and election truthers who call Sarasota County home.
Like all the other groups, parents’ rights group Moms for Liberty denied to VICE News that it organized the event, though messages shared by leaders of the Florida chapter of the group suggest they were closely involved in the running of the event.
|Moms for Liberty burning masks in Brevard County, FL|
The group was founded last year by Bridget Ziegler, a member of the Sarasota County School Board and the wife of Florida GOP vice chair [and current District 2 Sarasota County Commissioner] Christian Ziegler, who organized buses for people to travel to Washington on Jan. 6.
Christian Ziegler is also the owner of Micro Targeted Media, a digital marketing company that says “we do digital and go after people on their phones.”
Maria Zack is the latest mole of misinformation tied to our area. She still thinks the 2020 presidential election was rigged, and wait until you hear this doozy of a reason how: She is convinced that foreign powers used a military satellite in Italy to change votes from Donald Trump to Joe Biden on election night.
Zack, who in 2016 formed a Super Pac backing Ted Cruz and discarded Trump as incompetent, has claimed she presented her “ItalyGate” satellite evidence to Trump in person as he ate dinner on Christmas Eve at Mar-a-Lago.
And, of course, she's tied to Sarasota County, which has somehow become America's Mecca of Misinformation. According to state records, Zack is president of a company called Nations in Action, which lists a P.O Box at a UPS store on Clark Road as its address. Herald Tribune, 9.14.21
[Patrick] Byrne, the multimillion-dollar moneyman funding the Sarasota-based Cyber Ninjas in the fantastical quest to find voter fraud in Arizona, thus handing the presidency back to Donald Trump, is a little on the questionable side himself.
Byrne, meanwhile, is behind a pair of non-profits that have given the Cyber Ninjas nearly $5 million to audit 21 million ballots cast in Maricopa County, Az. during the presidential election. The long-overdue results have been delayed because some of the ninjas have coronavirus.
Now, it's not that James and Jennifer Vett were looking to sell their six-bedroom, five-bathroom cul-de-sac home in the Oaks Club in Osprey. It's just that Byrne really, really wanted to buy it, and in June, his company offered $3.35 million for a house valued at around $1.5 million, according to the Sarasota County Property Appraiser's Office, whose records revealed even more notable purchases.
Byrne's company – originally called Manatee Investments LLC – bought two more houses and a condo in the Oaks recently, and he paid over $1 million above the appraised market value for one of the homes.
In June, his company also purchased a 10,000 square-foot building on Venice Avenue, which was the former home of Bayside Gynecology. Dr. Michael Wolpmann said he was not looking to sell, but who was he to turn down $2.5 million for a building appraised at $654,300? Herald Tribune 9.9.21.
Many assume [Cyber Ninjas' head Doug] Logan got involved with the Byrne, Flynn, and Powell team through one of his contacts in the cybersecurity world, perhaps through his federal contracting work.[Overstock CEO Patrick] Byrne and [disgraced Trump General Mike] Flynn also have Sarasota County connections. Flynn bought property there in April, and Byrne followed suit in June. Joe Flynn, Mike Flynn’s brother who is involved in the nonprofits funding the Arizona audit, has owned property there since 2018. Herald Tribune 9.20.21
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Hi-Hat Villages: Sprawl at its Worst
Attend the Public Hearing
Wednesday, Sept. 8 1:30 pm
Sarasota County Admin. Bldg., 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota
Email the County Commissioners
The Hi-Hat Villages Master Development Plan and Comprehensive Plan amendment return for a final public hearing and vote of the Sarasota County Commission this Wednesday, September 8 at 1:30 pm at the County Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Blvd. in downtown Sarasota. This extreme urban sprawl, with no plan to handle the massive traffic pouring west from the development, deserves an outpouring of opposition from the community.
On June 9, the Sarasota County Commission voted unanimously -- with no discussion of the issues -- to give initial approval to the massive Hi-Hat Villages development far east of I-75, on the vast lands between Fruitville and Clark Roads. That followed 20 speakers against it, expressing often detailed objections, and no speakers in favor other than the developer representatives, and County staff.
County Planner Todd Dary even opened his presentation to the Commission and the public with an outright lie -- it can't fairly be called anything else -- about who will pay for the millions of dollars in needed road improvements to handle the traffic from the development. Referring to the proposed Master Development Plan, Dary stated, "It makes clear that roadway costs will be the responsibility of the Master Developer, not the County."
To the contrary, the Plan makes the developer responsible for just a portion of the massive road improvement costs. The Plan even then goes on to excuse the developer from its share of the costs if it instead commits to “other traffic mitigating measures” such as "the promotion of telecommuting, ride sharing or transit” acceptable to Sarasota County and “that are intended to eliminate the impact from Hi Hat Ranch development on the deficiently operating facility(ies).” (Paragraph 11.A.6.b -- See more below on that).
Unlike the strong and specific objections stated by scores of speakers, Mr. Dary stated, "Staff has no outstanding issues of concerns."
After a cursory state review, the Comprehensive Plan Amendment and Master Development Plan now returns for a final adoption public hearing on Wednesday, September 8.
In addition to the traffic and other issues detailed below, a major objection is the change of 1,200 acres -- shown in lavender within the oval in the graphic below -- from a "Hamlet" designation of one unit per acre to "Village" at 5 to 6 units per acre, the same as the rest of the development, shown as blue in the graphic. [emphasis added]
Although the developer says that it is just expanding the area in which it will spread its densities, at no total increase, nothing would prevent a future application to increase it further once that capacity is added. And in any event, the change would include moving the Countryside Line further east, increasing urban densities and traffic that are disruptive to the rural lifestyle now enjoyed by residents in that area.
Alarmingly, the developer bases its request for that density increase on a desire for "flexibility to respond to market demands." If that's all it takes for a developer to justify urban sprawl, then there is effectively no limit to developers getting whatever they want, despite the impacts on the rest of us.
A longtime defender of rural living, Becky Ayech of the Miakka Community Club, has organized a campaign to urge residents throughout the County to email Commissioners objecting to this pernicious plan. More information about that effort is at Becky's Campaign Against Sprawl.
After reading the additional information below, please attend the Wednesday hearing, speak if you can and in any event please consider adding your voice to this effort by emailing the Commissioners with your concerns at the email addresses in the link above or at: Sarasota County Commissioners
- Sarasota County is barreling towards rampant, uncontrolled urban sprawl east of I-75.
- Traffic congestion, tax hikes and other ills are inevitable unless there is a pause for better planning.
- The latest threat is the proposed Hi Hat Ranch Villages development east of the Bee Ridge Extension all the way between Fruitville and Clark Roads. This massive urbanization of urban lands is for 13,511 houses, 450,000 square feet of commercial and office development, school facilities and a regional sports complex.
- There are several issues with the proposed Master Development Order and Comprehensive Plan Amendment, which include moving the "Countryside Line" further east to allow more density on 1,200 acres south of Fruitville Road, and impacts on area wells.
- But perhaps most alarming is the County's total lack of planning for the road impacts of this and other huge developments being allowed, all at the same time, east of I-75, under the Sarasota 2050 Plan.
- Proposed Transportation Condition 11.B.7 in the Hi Hat Master Development Order provides that each rezoning in the development shall evaluate the need for widening or building only four road segments. They are two segments of Bee Ridge Road, a new North/South Roadway B on the east side of the development, and Fruitville Road between that roadway and Lorraine Road.
- That is despite the fact that the Traffic Study has identified sixteen road segments which will need improvements to handle the traffic from the Hi-Hat Ranch development, including the need to widen Clark Road.
- Further, Transportation Condition 11.A.6 of the proposed Hi Hat Master Development Order provides that no Development Orders throughout the development shall be approved if certain biennial monitoring of traffic impacts shows a roadway becoming congested below the adopted level of service unless one of two alternatives conditions are met.
- The first alternative is that “funding commitments” are made sufficient to resolve the deficiency (with the developer paying its proportional share for the new capacity and the taxpayers paying the rest).
- The second alternative -- now get ready for this, because it is actually in there -- is that the Development Order gets approved if it includes “other traffic mitigating measures” including “the promotion of telecommuting, ride sharing or transit” acceptable to Sarasota County and “that are intended to eliminate the impact from Hi Hat Ranch development on the deficiently operating facility(ies).”
- That loophole is astonishing. If the developer commits to promote ridesharing and telecommuting (perhaps with flyers given to purchasers), and “intends” -- intends -- that to be enough to take care of the traffic, and if County staff signs off on that, the developer is good to go gridlocking County roads in reality. (“Whoops, sorry about that, but we really, really intended our promotion of ridesharing to keep the roads drivable.”)
- Policy VOS 2.9 of the Sarasota County Comprehensive Plan (in the Sarasota 2050 provisions) requires that each Village development “shall provide adequate infrastructure that meets or exceeds the level of service standard adopted by the County and be Fiscally Neutral or Fiscally Beneficial.”
- Instead, the Conditions proposed for approval on Tuesday are woefully inadequate to comply with that requirement.
- And the County has not even done a study showing who is going to pay for all the road improvements that will be needed and are in part planned east of I-75 that the County Commission is in the course of approving.
- Recently, the County Commission even approved an amendment to the Future Thoroughfare Plan requested by developer Pat Neal to increase east County road expenses by rerouting a planned southerly extension of Lorraine Road from hugging the Interstate south of Clark Road to instead swing out to the east, through two nature preserves, for what staff acknowledged was to "open up more land for development."
- Ben Franklin and others said that a failure to plan is a plan to fail.
- More planning is needed in and for the Hi Hat Master Development Order, for the protection of the people both east of I-75 and all motorists and taxpayers, before it deserves any chance to be approved.
- Please attend the final public hearing on Wednesday September 8 and tell the Commissioners to put the interests of drivers and taxpayers ahead of just the interests of the big developers.
- And whether or not you can attend, please email the Commissioners to ask them to vote "No" on this bad move, at:
For Control Growth Now
Monday, September 6, 2021
If you live in North Port / Wellen Park, you should be at the Board hearing on Wednesday, Sept. 8.
If you live east of I-75 near Clark Road you should be at the Board Hearing Sept. 8.
If you live near Lakewood Ranch, you should be at the Board Hearing Sept. 8.
If you live in The Founders Club or Old Miakka, you should be at the Board Hearing Sept. 8.
1660 Ringling Blvd.
If you can't make it Wednesday, here's what Becky Ayech recommends -- she has led the opposition to Hi Hat Ranch for months:
KEEP THE COUNTRY...COUNTRY HI HAT RANCH SEPTEMBER 8TH 1:30 AT 1660 RINGLING BLVD
This is the DAY.
First, thanks to EVERYONE who has supported this campaign!
If you can wear yellow, do so. We will have yellow paper signs for you to hold up.. . .
If you can't make it Wednesday, call and talk/leave a message for the Commissioners The call center is 941-861-5000, ask for each Commissioner, Mike Moran, Nancy Detert, Al Maio, Christain Ziegler and Ron Cutsinger. Mike Moran's cell number is 941-400-1140. The offices are closed on Monday, you can still call Commissioner Moran. Start first thing Tuesday morning. Even if you can make it Wednesday, give them a call. I sent 124 email notices, so at the very least, there should be 124 phone calls. You might want to share where you live if it is somewhere in town.
A bundle of sticks cannot be broken.
Cc: Board of County Commissioners
All Commissioners email@example.com
Alan Maio (Chair) firstname.lastname@example.org
Christian Zeigler (Vice Chair) email@example.com
Nancy C. Detert firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael Moran email@example.com
Ron Cutsinger firstname.lastname@example.org
In 2018, Sarasota County citizens approved Single Member District Voting by a substantial margin. (Background here.)
|Commissioner Alan Maio|
In that survey now underway, a "policy question" is asked of voters. Here it is:
⎯ Strongly disapprove
⎯ Strongly approve
36. Sarasota County has always recognized five districts, but only recently did the people vote to give each district specific voting power. In the 2018 election, 60% of Sarasota voters across all five districts voted to structure Board of County Commission elections by district. That is, instead of having five Commissioners elected by no particular district (and therefore accountable to no voting constituency), each district elects one Commissioner to represent its unique issues and needs. All five commissioners still vote on all issues that come before the Board.Do you approve or disapprove giving each district the power to hold its representative accountable?- I approve- I disapprove
Citizens for District Power puts it this way:
The County has not provided an open public forum in which all points of view have equal time to present and to be openly discussed.
At a recent meeting of the Charter Review Board, 38 citizens spoke in favor of Single Member Districts.
Sarasota County's 2021 survey should not be cited as evidence of anything other than the county's own effort to bias and preemptively reverse a legitimate election decision by Sarasota voters.