Politicians turn to communist tactics to seize land

Ecological extremists have really done a number on the residents of Martin County, Fla. It’s the kind of thing that happens in communist Cuba. Or in Bolivia. But not in these United States.

The city of Stuart is trying to find a way to block pollution of the Indian River Lagoon and St. Lucie Estuary caused by the discharge of tainted water from north Lake Okeechobee, which the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is dumping to reduce the threat to the structural integrity of its lake dike.

Egged on by a witch hunt by the liberal Stuart News, city commissioners are preparing to ask government agencies to seize huge tracts of private land owned by sugar and agricultural farmers so it can be flooded to relieve estuary pollution.

You read that right. An executive director of an environmental group told the Stuart City Commission that “the best way to control the level of Lake Okeechobee [is] to release water southward … rather than east through the St. Lucie River and west through the Caloosahatchee River.” But releasing the water southward through a flow-way requires flooding hundreds of thousands of private acres south of Lake Okeechobee.

That land is owned by sugar, citrus and agricultural farmers large and small. They make their living by farming. By itself, the sugar industry employs over 12,500 people who depend on the work to feed their families. But now, the eco lunatic fringe and the Stuart News have convinced a governmental body to ask the state of Florida and the South Florida Water Management District to land-grab this private property through the eminent domain process.

Florida EvergladesIt’s time for some facts to be trotted out: For starters, this willful taking of private land by elected officials so that farms can be flooded to protect “public” interests goes against the values cherished by Americans. The harm to Martin County estuaries was not caused by farming south of Lake O. It was caused by heavy rainfall into the water system flowing south from Orlando into the lake, which is now overloaded. That excess water from the northern basin, which includes local drainage, lawn fertilization and hundreds of thousands of septic tanks in Martin County and places north, accounts for over 95 percent of the water volume and 95 percent of the phosphorous in the lake.

Yes, both the East and West Coast estuaries have very real problems — toxic green algae and sediment-laden water — but environmental groups are churning up residents by telling them the quick, easy solution is to send the water south to flood the sugar and farm fields. How arrogant to say the needs of coastal people outweigh the needs of innocent farm people.

Every state and federal agency involved in restoration has reviewed the science and technical aspects of a southern “flow-way” from Lake Okeechobee, reaching these conclusions:

  1. The system has been changed too dramatically for the water to flow south naturally.
  2. There are many other projects that provide more benefits to more parts of the system.
  3. During average to dry years, a flow-way would drain the water system, harming the conservation areas and Everglades Park.
  4. During wet years, like 2013, the entire system south of Lake O would be full of water, destroying farming communities and providing very little relief to the estuaries.
  5. There needs to be much more storage and water treatment north of Lake O, which is where the problem arises.

What is outrageous is that Martin County politicians and eco extremists want to fix their dirty water problem by flooding out farming in other counties. Well, the polluted water problem will not be solved by dumping toxic water into someone else’s backyard. What is particularly disgraceful is the dirty water did not come from farms south of Lake O.

This problem should be fixed at the source, which is north of Lake O. And politicians who want to use the heavy hand of government to confiscate private property for selfish purposes should have their own hands slapped. Hard.

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John R. Smith

John R. Smith

John R. Smith is chairman of BIZPAC, the Business Political Action Committee of Palm Beach County, and owner of a financial services company.
John R. Smith


55 thoughts on “Politicians turn to communist tactics to seize land

  1. David says:

    “The values cherished by Americans”….hilarious!

    The value most of this country cherishes these days is “ENTITLEMENT and promises of FREE MONEY THEY DIDN’T AND WILL NEVER WORK FOR THEMSELVES”

    Sad, but true-or we’d never have allowed the DESTROYER of FREEDOM to retain the office of POTUS for another term after he so clearly attacked the entire COUNTRY’S freedoms and foundation steadily, for the first four years.

    You are casting pearls at swine!

  2. James Crooke says:

    My understanding was that Lake Okeechobee was so low from the drought that you could see stuff in it that hadnt been seen in almost a century. When did the drought ease?

  3. Laura Brown McKee says:

    “What is particularly disgraceful is the dirty water did not come from farms
    south of Lake O.”

    What is particularly disgraceful is how many people-
    especially so called journalists don’t know that some of that polluted water did indeed come from ag to the south. You see, in the past they had permits to backpump water into Lake Okeechobee. (And still look for more

    Also particularly disgraceful is how silent all the Tea
    party, free market, anti-socialist, anti-communist, and conservative people in general are on the socialist subsidies a non essential crop gets. Not to mention the use of our government to put trade restrictions on sugar imports- and the
    worst of all, our government buying 400,000 tons of sugar because they had a good year and need the price support to keep profits up. All while they destroy the livelihoods of capitalists who own small, free market, non subsidized

    Yeah, but keep ranting about about eco-extremists– you know-
    those frustrated home and business owners and the commissioners who have to answer to them. That’ll help. Oh, please keep knocking communism while supporting socialism. (Just because the liberals get a kick out of it. ;-))

    BTW, part of the fix IS allowing the water to run its natural course- to the south. And ag wants it during the dry season. But there is a free market solution. A private businessman wanted to grab some of that water, store it on his land and then sell it to cities during the dry season. A lot of people are against privatizing water for the public but I’d bet they’d support him if he
    grabbed that water then sold it in true capitalistic style to agriculture. Free market- capitalism at it finest. Win-win, right????

  4. Colleena11 says:

    John R Smith is a ranting lunatic with no knowledge of the polluted waters destroying the Indian river lagoon. Words fail me for the profound ignorance displayed! The army corps of engineers played God to help keep big sugar in business! The Indian river lagoon and estuaries to the west are dumping grounds for polluted sugar water. Currently Martin county residents are advised not to swim in the waters due to health risks. Fish, manatees and dolphin are dying from the toxic runoff that was NEVER meant to flow into the once beautiful lagoon! Martin county residents are victims to the villain big sugar and army corp of engineers plus any politician on the take from big sugar!

  5. Rose25870 says:

    Look at this fat old greyheaded fa*t spouting off – no idea what he’s talking about. You fool – this is a $3.7 billion piece of the state’s economy that the sugar industry is bent on destroying. Or doesn’t that impress your feeble brain. Be careful when you go to bed at night -a “communist” might just jump out and get ya. Boogie boogie boogie. McCarthy era warped your mind. Too bad.

  6. Rose25870 says:

    Oh hey, are you related to Nancy Smith who quoted you extensively in her own slanted piece of garbage? Yet another rant against the Stuart News she was editor of for a long time? So what truly did happen there? Fired?

  7. Bruno says:

    Id like specific instances of eco-terrorism associated with this issue. I live near the Indian River Lagoon and haven’t heard of any terrorist activity associated with wanted to save the river.

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