October 2004 Newsletter Articles
FROM THE CHAIR…Bob Taylor
SIERRA CLUB ENDORSES KERRY FOR PRESIDENT
MSTU STRAW BALLOT FOR PARKS AND RECREATION FUNDING
Due to fear that hurricane Ivan would be the third consecutive hurricane of the season to strike Central Florida, we elected to postpone the advertised September 9th presentation by Sarah Fairchild from Sierra’s Washington, DC-based Global Population and Environment Program. We will attempt to reschedule this for early next year. Fortunately, our ever-dependable group secretary, Marian Ryan, was able to provide on short notice an excellent local replacement. Since the chair was unable to attend that meeting, Marian has provided the following summary.
Glenda Mink, representing the Friends of Polk County Parks Foundation, informed our group about the mission of the Foundation as well as the upcoming MSTU for Parks county referendum question that will appear on the November 2nd ballot. (See article in this newsletter about the referendum.) Founded in 1993, the Mission of the Friends of the Parks Foundation is to support the county’s Parks and Recreation Departments in providing parks, open spaces and recreational services, and to promote tax-deductible gifts and donations from individuals, organizations and private industry. If you would like more information about the Foundation, visit their website: www.friends-of-the-park.com or call Glenda at 863-534-4340.
The Peace River Basin Board met Friday, September 10th with an extensive agenda that included a review and discussion of the SWFWMD project designed to raise the water level of Lake Hancock in order to help maintain minimum flow levels in the Peace River. If carried out as planned, this step will not only inundate portions of many privately owned shoreline properties, but will also widen the boundaries of the hundred-year flood plain. The current greatly elevated water levels due to recent hurricane activity have provided insight into what might occur with future hurricanes if Lake Hancock’s normal level were to be raised as planned. Several local residents, some upstream of the lake, made emotionally charged pleas, backed by vividly clear photographs, for assistance in dealing with their massive losses. They request a quick decision by SWFWMD on the final elevation of water level in Lake Hancock and a quick acquisition of their properties by the State. One property owner, north of Hwy 17/92 on Saddle Creek claimed the unusually high water levels in Lake Hancock had impeded flow in the creek to the point that his property was being flooded.
After considerable discussion the Board voted to approve funding as requested by SWFWMD to continue its study but with a requirement that more extensive input be obtained by involving affected landowners in their study.
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"This year the choice for President cannot be more clear. We are faced with a choice between the most anti-environmental President ever and a true friend who would bring to the office a dedication to improving all issues facing the environment." With those words Larry Fahn, Sierra Club President, proudly announced the Club’s endorsement of John Kerry.
Fahn characterized the last four years as an assault on 30 years of environmental progress - a regression complete with the selection of staunchly anti-environmental judges and backroom deals with polluting industries. In contrast, he states "On basically every issue John Kerry has long been in agreement with the Club. By any objective evaluation of the issues, Senator Kerry has been with us, and with the environment, more than 95% of the time over his long career. His is a long, consistent record of environmental advocacy. In fact, John Kerry has the highest lifetime rating of any nominee ever from a major party..."
Senator John Kerry has stood up to polluters and been a champion of protecting human health and the environment during his entire career in public office. He spoke at the first Earth Day in Massachusetts in 1970. As Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, Kerry chaired an Acid Rain Task Force and issued a "Call for Action" on the topic of air pollution. As a Senator he has championed the cause of conservation, been a leader in the fight against polluters and blocked the Bush Administration’s efforts to reverse 30 years of environmental progress. From clean air to clean water to toxics to public lands to energy, we can count on John Kerry to provide leadership, vision, and solutions so that all Americans can have a clean, safe, healthy environment.
November 2nd: VOTE KERRY
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- John Kerry on Clean Air
- John Kerry has been a leader in the fight for clean air since before his election to the U.S. Senate in 1984. In his first year as a Senator, John Kerry introduced the National Acid Rain Control Act to improve standards and create a fund for clean air. He has continued to work for cleaner air since then, defending the Clean Air Act against weakening in 1990 and more recently opposing the Bush Administration’s attempts to weaken the Clean Air Act’s New Source Review rules. John Kerry opposes President Bush’s plans to increase the allowable toxic mercury pollution in our air, and as President would immediately reinstate Clean Air protections weakened under the Bush Administration.
- John Kerry on Clean Water and Drinking Water
- John Kerry has consistently pushed for strengthening protections for our nation’s waters and drinking water. In his first year in the Senate, John Kerry sponsored a bill to help states clean up water quality problems due to acid rain. He was a vocal opponent of the Bush Administration’s attempt to weaken drinking water standards for arsenic, and he pushed for the Bush Administration to repeal a dangerous proposed rulemaking that would have removed 20 million acres of wetlands from Clean Water Act protections. He opposed federal funding for polluting factory farms that are a major source of water pollution. Kerry also opposed Bush’s proposal to allow coal companies to shave off mountaintops and bury the rivers below under tons of mine waste in violation of the Clean Water Act.
- John Kerry on Energy and Global Warming
- John Kerry advocates a responsible, forward-looking energy policy that would reduce our dependence on oil; increase the energy efficiency of our buildings, homes, and appliances; increase the amount of clean, renewable energy used to create electricity; and make our cars and trucks go further on a gallon of gas. He has championed and introduced legislation on a number of measures to improve fuel economy and to require the use of more clean renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power. Kerry has been a champion in leading the fight to defeat the Bush Administration’s polluting energy bill, which was hatched in secret by the Cheney Energy Task Force in 2001. In addition, Kerry has been a leading voice for the need to take immediate significant steps to combat global warming. He was a participant in the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio and a delegate to the 1997 Kyoto and 2000 Hague climate talks.
- John Kerry on Protecting Our Public Lands
- John Kerry has been a leading advocate for protecting our wild places. He has been a key champion in the fight to protect the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge from oil and gas drilling by designating the unprotected portion of the Refuge as wilderness. He is a vocal proponent of not only fully funding the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which enables local, state, and federal agencies to purchase land for parks and wildlife refuges, but hard-wiring funding so that adequate resources are available annually. He has consistently opposed extending subsidies for logging in national forests; defended the Roadless Rule to protect 58 million acres of undeveloped national forests, which the Bush Administration is aggressively attempting to dismantle; and committed to re-promulgating this rule as one of his first acts as President. In addition, Kerry has strongly opposed efforts to weaken or abandon drilling moratoria on the Outer Continental Shelf.
- John Kerry on Protecting Wildlife
- John Kerry has been the primary advocate for marine mammal protection, having authored the Marine Mammal Protection Act Amendments of 1994, which were later signed into law by President Clinton, and legislation to ban the use of drift nets, which threaten dolphins and other marine life. Senator Kerry opposes exempting the Department of Defense from the Endangered Species Act and has opposed attempts by the Bush Administration to weaken the Act.
- John Kerry on International Trade
- John Kerry has led the way in demanding trade agreements that create jobs and spur the economy without opening the door to attacks on worker or environmental rights. In 2002, Senator Kerry sponsored legislation that would have prevented trade agreements from undermining environmental protections.
- John Kerry on Urban Sprawl
- John Kerry has been a staunch supporter of proactively addressing urban sprawl, supporting initiatives to recover urban parks and recreation spaces, co-sponsoring legislation to clean up brownfield sites and provide financial assistance to revitalize brownfields, and supporting improved public transportation planning and funding.
- John Kerry on Cleaning up Toxic Wastes
- John Kerry has been a steadfast supporter of Superfund, cosponsoring legislation and voting to reinstate the "polluter pays" tax on polluting industries that the Bush Administration has refused to support. Kerry favors reform of the 1872 mining law to provide stronger environmental protection and avoid future toxic mine waste sites.
- John Kerry on Family Planning
- John Kerry recognizes that global population growth threatens the environmental health of our planet. He believes that women worldwide should have the choices and resources necessary to plan the size of their families. That’s why John Kerry opposes the "Gag Rule" imposed by President Bush that has reduced the United States’ financial support to international family planning clinics worldwide.
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The Polk County Board of County Commissioners has placed a straw vote question on the November 2nd general election ballot. A straw vote is an unofficial vote taken to indicate the relative strength of public opinion about a given issue. The question is whether voters in the unincorporated areas of Polk County would support a Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) to provide a dedicated funding source for parks, recreational facilities and trails. This straw vote is non-binding. The County Commission is simply gauging public sentiment towards the establishment of an MSTU. However, they have the ability to implement an MSTU by a simple vote of the Commission.
This funding mechanism would apply only to property in the unincorporated areas of the county. The purpose of this initiative is to address the huge deficits in park and recreational amenities that have been identified by our 10 year Master Plan. Those deficits amount to $179 million countywide - $105 million of which are the specific needs of the unincorporated area.
The Master Plan’s identified needs include renovation of existing parks, an additional regional park, district parks, neighborhood and community parks, plus more than 96 baseball/softball fields, 36 football/soccer fields, and 58 boat access lanes.
Most cities spent between $75 to $100 per resident last year on parks and recreation while the Polk County Board of County Commissioners was only able to spend $13 per resident.
Currently funded for operations through the county’s general fund, the Leisure Services Division is seeking a dedicated, reliable source of funding to assist with the heavy demand placed on its resources. A half-mil Municipal Services Taxing Unit (MSTU) on property in unincorporated Polk County will provide approximately $5.7 million dollars a year for capital improvements and maintenance of parks and open-space facilities.
If approved by voters and ratified by the Board of County Commissioners, unincorporated residents would begin paying the MSTU tax in January 2006. A citizen’s oversight committee will be formed to develop funding recommendations, solicit and review grant applications, forward recommendations to the Board of County Commissioners and oversee the disbursement of funds from the collection of the MSTU.
Additionally, the proposed 10 year spending plan includes funds for grants and city or organizational partnerships to assist with trails, park initiatives, arts and culture or other recreation-based projects.
It is important to remember that existing parks and recreation deficits cannot be paid for by future impact fees. A Parks and Recreation Impact fee study is in draft form and will most likely be presented to the Board of County Commissioners sometime later in the year. We continue to support impact fees for the costs incurred by new growth.
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Looking for an unusual gift? Carpenter Bob (our Chair) is still in the wood duck nesting box mode and for a $35 donation you can present that special person a beautifully constructed rough-cut cypress box guaranteed to attract ducks or owls.
How about our wood duck t-shirts? The Paul Schulz art makes a dramatic front on the royal blue shirt. Cost of shirt is less than $10 - all donations above costs for the shirts or boxes will be forwarded to the Richard Coleman Scholarship Fund. Call 956 3771
...Frances H. Coleman
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Our November newsletter will contain the ballot to replace three members-at-large/executive committee. Sharing the work load means no one is over-burdened. Call 956 3771 to volunteer or to suggest a candidate. ... Frances H. Coleman
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