DEFENSIVE LEADERSHIP SUCKS

“Baby Trump” Ron DeSantis Implodes

Well, it was quite a weekend for our trusty Florida governor, Ron DeSantis. It began with a scathing report on 60 Minutes for all the nation to see. That’s what happens when you refuse to sit down for an interview with 60 Minutes. They just ask you a question at your press conference and demonstrate your all-encompassing defensiveness. According to CBS, DeSantis was handing out Covid shots and arranging shot locations as a payback to his campaign donors. He insists these things aren’t true, but the facts speak for themselves. Developers and a grocery store chain who gave more than $100,000 to his reelection super PAC were rewarded with Covid shots before the poor and people of color. Sadly, while he was denying and lying about one crisis another one was unfolding.

Florida produces tons of agriculture products. According to the Economic Research Service of the United States Department of Agriculture, in 2017 Florida agricultural products generated $7.64 billion in revenue. The crops accounted for 77.0 percent of total cash receipts and the state’s agricultural output is second only to California. Major crops include citrus, sugarcane, tomatoes, peppers, cotton, watermelons, peanuts, snap beans, and potatoes. Timber is also an important agricultural commodity for Florida and because the land has been farmed for more than 200 years it needs to be treated with lots of fertilizer to realize significant returns on investments. Tons of nitrogen, phosphate and potash have been dumped on Florida’s land and lawns. The chemical runoffs eventually find their way to lakes, rivers, the Gulf of Mexico and the ocean.

Fertilizer companies came to Florida, built their plants and, because of EPA regulations, constructed large pools to hold their industrial waste. These were constructed far from neighborhoods, but now that Florida’s population has exploded into these areas people are living much too close to these toxic timebombs of waste. In 1966, Borden Chemical, a spin-off of Elsie the Cow’s milk company, built an industrial plant to process phosphate, a key ingredient in fertilizer. Even though the phosphate processing plant became inactive in 2001, the large INDUSTRIAL WASTE holding ponds remained and collected millions of gallons of rainfall, adding to the problem.

I’m not going to get too far into the weeds, but the weeds around the pool are going to get very wet because there is a hole in the radioactive gypsum molded pond and wastewater is leaking into the surrounding soil. The pool cannot be drained into a river because the lakes and bay get extremely sick from the chemical residue, which make algae grow amazingly fast. Too much of that low level plant life sucks all the oxygen out of the water and kills the fish. Oh, did I mention humans eat fish? This chemical imbalance causes a condition known as Red Tide, which produces algal blooms or large concentrations of aquatic microorganisms, such as protozoans and unicellular algae. It hit the west coast of Florida two years ago and killed hundreds of thousands of fish and hurt many businesses in the tourist and boating trades. If the sludge from the pool makes its way to the rivers and bay, no one will want to visit Florida to lay on a beach with dead fish.

I should say here that “hole” and “leaking” are simplified terms. It’s much worse than those words may lead you to believe. The gypsum wall of the pond is breached. Engineers have attempted to plug the hole with rocks, but that hasn’t been working. The concern now is the containment wall will collapse, unleashing a 20-foot wall of wastewater.

Governor Ron DeSantis declared a state of emergency and MADE THE PEOPLE LEAVE THEIR HOMES! He could never bring himself to declaring a mask mandate, which would have saved thousands of lives, but with frightened people imagining polluted water pouring out of this man-made pond he acted swiftly. Many people have followed orders and left their homes, but others have refused to evacuate.

Florida now has an environmental crisis and a medical crisis at the same time. The people in charge were warned about the potential of a leak, and they did nothing. Should you want to say that Ronnie wasn’t the Governor back then, well, he was a state representative taking money from BIG FERTILIZER and he always voted in favor of them. The last major Florida Red Tide attack was in Lake Okeechobee, the state’s largest lake. DeSantis’ and former Governor Rick Scott’s solution was draining the polluted water into the Everglades. Beware, teenage mutant Ninja alligators are coming!

So, the solution to the current crisis is draining that large retaining pond, but where to put that sludgy water? When the leak was first detected, workers moved more than 22,000 gallons a minute out of the main retention pond and into a “drainage ditch” at nearby Port Manatee. But the sad truth about this kind of wastewater in Florida, sooner or later, it usually either ends up in the ocean or the gulf.

The engineers say it will take ten to twelve days to drain 380 million gallons into Tampa Bay, which prompted worries about the impact on marine life and another bout of Red Tide. Here we go again. What a mess. Just before we posted this article, the Florida Emergency team announced that they think there is more than one place where the wall of gypsum is leaking. This might get worse.

I cringe when a politician tries to convince us they know what they are doing by citing a “science person” who offers incorrect advice. With science, the more you know the more stupid your old ideas appear. We didn’t figure out that the Earth traveled around the sun until 1956. Okay, that was a joke. It was 1543 and the discovery was made by Nicky Copernicus. Why didn’t we know that fact sooner? Our egos led us to believe we were the center of the universe. We are not. Science and nature easily prove just how dense we are. Evidence of that? How about a global pandemic that has already killed 2.8 million human beings?

My greatest hope is this insane pandemic will teach us a major lesson. Our national healthcare system sucks and we need more doctors, more nurses and more hospitals. We also must make greater investments in research and science. I am NOT for the government taking over corporations, capitalism is the best motivation for most, but we must be ready next time. Not for me and those in my demographic but for our kids and grandkids. When people with no cars are forced to travel 25, 50 or 100 miles to get a Covid shot we are failing our own people. As for the state of Florida, maybe its citizens will learn that a defensive, argumentative and politically motivated governor is bad juju during health and environmental crises. DeSantis wastes most of his time defending himself. Maybe he should stop making bad decisions.

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