EPC wetlands director fights back
Here’s more on the BOCC killing wetlands protection.
Before I get to Jadell Kerr, I just want to point out the opening of an editorial from the St. Pete Times – Wetlands sellout:
Not since three members were hauled away in handcuffs in a vote-buying scandal 24 years ago has the Hillsborough County Commission displayed such deplorable conduct. It was bad enough that the board, meeting Thursday as the Environmental Protection Commission, moved to kill the wetlands program that has protected against flooding and pollution for 22 years. But the way commissioners rammed it through, in a kangaroo court greased by falsehoods, raises legal and ethical flags.
Comparing this BOCC to those that were hauled away in handcuffs? And it’s not hyperbole. Read the entire editorial. And the Tribune, too – Costly Loss Of Wetlands Certain If County Kills Its Own Rules:
Their sole purpose, it appeared, was to please those developers who have long sought to get rid of the safeguards.
Now, on to the current EPC Wetlands Director.
Comment #35 on Friday’s post about the sellout of our wetlands is by Jadell Kerr, Director of EPC’s Wetlands Division. County Commissioners are trying to get rid of her and her division, but she’s not going quietly. Her statement is so frank and courageous I want to point it out so she can inspire others like she has inspired me. I have added the emphases:
I am so heartened to see the public outcry over the Commissioners’ attempt to dismantle the Wetlands Management Division of EPC. As I drove back to the office after the meeting, I began to look at the wetlands I passed by thinking to myself, “who will protect you now”?
The truth of the matter is that we cannot count on the State doing its job to protect wetlands. I will tell you that they DO NOT and leave it at that. The Commissioners did not hear me when I said that local government had saved over 200 acres of wetland impacts from phosphate-related impacts… THE STATE ALREADY APPROVED THEM… and Mosaic is annexing more land into their mining operation. The Little Manatee River and the Alafia continue to be at huge risk.
It was obvious to me and by all the emails, obvious to you, that the whole thing was rigged. I even believe that SWFWMD was involved. For those of you who do not know it, Todd Pressman sits on the Governing Board of the Water Management District. He is appointed in that capacity by our Governor. He is also the political consultant to Stephen Dibbs. There is no doubt in my mind that he has brought pressure to bear on the Water Management District. It seemed to me that WMD representative, Richard Owen, knew the questions that were going to be asked of him. I also thought it was odd that the Director of their ERP program did not get to speak. I’m just sayin.
Stephen Dibbs has had it out for EPC for quite a while. He has hired private investigators to follow me and other EPC staffers. He has some huge controversial development plans in the pipelines and without the EPC, those plans are likely to be a slam dunk.
Apparent to me and apparent to you, the Commissioners knew their script when they came in the door last Thursday.
Comm. Blair said after the meeting that he would be willing to change his vote if EPC could come up with an alternative idea. But he is the one responsible for the circus that we witnessed last Thursday. His alternative, pure and simple, is for the Water Management District to do the permitting and for EPC to conduct compliance. That makes it easier on developers trying to get a permit and if the EPC Wetland Rule is gone, under what authority does he expect the EPC to enforce? Many are saying that this may be the only hope of keeping some EPC presence in wetland protection. I hope that is not all we can hope for.
It is great to hear the Citizens rally and to know that someone is out there fighting for the right thing. These arrogant commissioners have to go….they are not listening to us. The Planning Commission is next, be on the watch.
Keep fighting, you all give me hope.
The courageous Jadell Kerr was suspended for 2 weeks for posting the above comment. She resigned shortly thereafter. Wayne Garcia described the whole situation well.