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Democrats have been accusing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis of politicizing the state’s latest red tide crisis, but according to him, they’re the ones politicizing it.
Every now and again, Florida suffers from a red tide crisis. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC), a ride tide is a “higher-than-normal concentration of a microscopic alga (plantlike organism).” They’re an issue because they “produce toxic chemicals that can affect both marine organisms and humans.”
The last time a red tide hit Florida in 2018 it “devastated southwestern Florida, killing fish, manatees and turtles and costing businesses millions of dollars in lost tourism dollars,” according to Politico.
Three years later, another red tide “has left more than 650 tons of dead marine wildlife floating in waterways and polluting the tourist-heavy region of Tampa and St. Petersburg with decomposing sea life,” as noted by Politico.
DeSantis maintains that his administration is handling the problem just fine by funding clean-up efforts and enhancing Florida’s red-tide-monitoring capabilities.
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 18, 2021
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) July 18, 2021
“I directed all agencies to take an ‘all-hands-on-deck’ approach to respond to the red tide impacting the Tampa Bay area,” he said in a statement Wednesday.
But according to critics, this isn’t enough. They want him to declare a state of emergency, and his refusal to pursue this extreme measure has them convinced that he’s playing political games.
One of his fiercest critics has been St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman, a Democrat. Here’s what the far-left mayor tweeted early Wednesday morning:
The politicization of the governor’s response to red tide is truly sickening. My team and I are focused on fixing the mess that was sent our way. When crisis comes, partisanship must go. We should always come together in times like this. https://t.co/zOd4SH5s3n
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) July 21, 2021
He was angry over not being invited to a roundtable held in his own city. In fairness to the governor, Kriseman has a history of prioritizing left-wing politics over the interests and well-being of his own constituents.
Last year he was wildly supportive of the Black Lives Matter “protesters” who blocked local city streets and harassed local outdoor diners.
In 2015, he needlessly banned then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg.
I am hereby barring Donald Trump from entering St. Petersburg until we fully understand the dangerous threat posed by all Trumps.
— Rick Kriseman (@Kriseman) December 8, 2015
During the St. Petersburg roundtable later Wednesday afternoon, DeSantis was asked about his alleged politicization of the red tide crisis. He responded by swiftly slapping down the dubious allegation.
“How did I politicize red tide? Is that credible to say that? This is something that I tackled from day one in office. It has never been political,” he said.
He was only slightly off.
Two days after assuming office in early January of 2019, he “began following up on a campaign promise to make the environment a priority by signing an order Thursday seeking to tackle Florida’s problems with blue-green algae in its rivers and red tide off its coast,” as reported at the time by The Florida-Times Union.
Continuing his remarks, the governor then accused his critics of being the ones desperate to politicize the state’s red tide crisis.
“They were the ones who were saying ‘you gotta declare a state of emergency.’ So we asked them why. Well, they didn’t know why. They just wanted to do it for a political talking point. The fact is we budgeted for this. We have money for this. Ask some of these business owners,” he said.
DeSantis then allowed Tampa Bay Beaches Chamber of Commerce president Robin Miller to speak up on behalf of local business owners.
“We represent nearly 1,000 businesses on the beaches, and a state of emergency does not help our economic vitality at all,” she said.
It’d be nothing more than a pointless virtue-signal, she explained.
The only people politicizing red tide is the @FlaDems.@GovRonDeSantis planned in advance and allocated funds for red tide. If a state of emergency was declared, it would hurt small businesses. pic.twitter.com/iizl7lwoy5
— Florida GOP (@FloridaGOP) July 21, 2021
In separate statements released Wednesday, numerous other involved parties also expressed support for DeSantis’s methodology, including the chair of Kriseman’s own local city council.
“I have been so impressed with the strong leadership at all levels of government on the recent red tide bloom. The governor’s office has been great to work with, along with our Pinellas County partners, along with city leaders. This is how government is supposed to work to solve complex problems,” St. Petersburg City Council chair Ed Montanari said.
County officials were just as appreciative.
“I want to thank the Governor for visiting Pinellas County and for allowing the DEP and FWC to fully commit to mitigating the red tide fish kill and for committing over $2 million in cost reimbursements to date with an openness for more as needed,” Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners chair Dave Eggers said.
“Also, I want to thank the Governor for reconstituting the red tide task force in an effort to provide much more focus on policy and research,” he added.
Meanwhile in what appears to be an alternate reality, House Rep. Charlie Crist, a Democrat who purportedly represents Pinellas County, had this to say:
DeSantis says “things are well” in Pinellas. Maybe he needs a COVID test because if you can’t smell the rotting fish and red tide burn something’s wrong with your senses. We need an emergency declaration and aid, not happy talk, Governor. https://t.co/TLpj6OmxNf
— Charlie Crist (@CharlieCrist) July 21, 2021
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