LikeTheDew.com » Monica Smith http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Wed, 22 Oct 2014 16:52:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 LikeTheDew.com http://likethedew.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/dew3_mh4feed.png http://likethedew.com 88 31 A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics The Road to Hell is Paved with Good Intentions http://likethedew.com/2014/10/22/road-hell-paved-good-intentions/ http://likethedew.com/2014/10/22/road-hell-paved-good-intentions/#comments Wed, 22 Oct 2014 11:58:16 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=58120 How does that happen? Mostly, it's the result of a mixture of hubris and inadvertence. Humans, stuck on themselves, think they know it all. Others are convinced "all it takes is the idea" (the ExxonMobil slogan) and, as it was in the beginning, man says the word and nature is obedient.

Fortunately, the age of electronics has made it possible to virtually eliminate inadvertence. We can look ahead and simulate what will happen, if we repeat the mistakes of the past. That's what James Holland is doing...

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How does that happen? Mostly, it’s the result of a mixture of hubris and inadvertence. Humans, stuck on themselves, think they know it all. Others are convinced “all it takes is the idea” (the ExxonMobil slogan) and, as it was in the beginning, man says the word and nature is obedient.

Fortunately, the age of electronics has made it possible to virtually eliminate inadvertence. We can look ahead and simulate what will happen, if we repeat the mistakes of the past. That’s what James Holland is doing with the various projects at Cannon’s Point in the marshes on the coast of Georgia. Holland is superimposing the planned erection of a monster dock in a little tidal creek to demonstrate how erosion will occur, just as it did before. The only difference is that when the site was a fish camp, people fished for a living. What’s being proposed as the Cannon’s Point Preserve is an eco-park for edu/tainment purposes. That’s where the good intentions come in.

Click to view slideshow.

Will be situated something like (just estimate) is shown in my aerial photo. No matter what you may think about “Living Shoreline” restoration what you see in my photo is nothing more than replacing a problem with a problem. If you look in the drawing you will see where the original floating dock was located, it was just outside the drawing in my photo. St. Simons Land Trust says the docks where Taylor Fish Camp used to be in Lawrence Creek caused the damage in the area where they want to place a “living shoreline” as restoration where the old docks harmed this creek. These small tidal creeks where you can not go and come on low tide are not suitable for docks. These type creeks are too narrow and shallow to support obstructions such as docks, with or without a floating dock. It is not clear to me why the land trust is doing this, but I am putting my bets on the harm will continue with the new dock in place. The land trust documents show that the floating dock will extend 3/5ths of the way across the creek at low tide. All the marsh wrack in that creek is now singing “looking for a home and one is coming”. — JH (from JamesHollandPhotography.com)

The Saint Simons Land Trust people are big on management and proud of it. That’s what “offering the community limited access” means. If the ecology and the history are to be protected, people have to be restricted. Can’t have people, especially people with children, wandering about willy nilly. Which is probably why some lucky winners of a lottery were invited to bring in their kids and hunt the deer, under the supervision, of course, of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Having been adjudged too numerous, the wild herd needs to be thinned.

Our local paper, The Brunswick News, interviewed Mr. Holland, whose ad had caused quite a stir, and published the story in the dead of night, but then withdrew it, but not before some early risers had got ahold of it.

It wasn’t a one-sided story. The St. Simons Land Trust got to explain its eleemosynary intent.

The land trust’s executive director said Wednesday that his organization has not made a single penny off of the limited hunts and has no plans of doing so. He said the Department of Natural Resources hunts are necessary to control a growing herd of deer that has become overpopulated.

Management. That’s the ticket. It’s a mistake to think that the Department of Natural Resources serves the interests of Mother Nature and the wild things in her domain. No, the mission of the DNR is to manage and maintain order and that includes people. Which explains, for another example, why our little marsh rivers are becoming littered with docks.

The Georgia legislature has, in its wisdom, granted individual property owners the option to erect docks in state waters, as long as they own the banks, as many of the homeowners on Dunbar Creek apparently do. Though not all. The red line in the image from the county’s property maps (which all 159 Georgia counties have available online) indicates ownership by an indulgent corporate entity. Why the DNR countenances this kind of “poaching” is a puzzlement, since it makes it virtually impossible to prohibit construction that’s inappropriate (interferes with traffic in the waterway or damages the marsh).

In addition to wanting to call attention to this public information resource that’s available in Georgia and likely other states, I’m posting these images because the proposed building of a dock off Cannon’s Point is doubly questionable, aside from being inappropriate for such a small body of water. The first reason it’s questionable is because, unlike other docks in the area, the one proposed by the Land Trust would not be serving an individual property owner or household. And the second reason is that the marsh and creek slated to be disrupted don’t even belong to the Land Trust. As is their won’t, the Sea Island people sold off the high land (for twenty five million dollars) and kept the 1264 acres of surrounding marsh (appraised at a mere fifty thousand dollars) for themselves. (Imagine owning more than twelve hundred acres and paying just $415 in tax!)

I suspect one of the reasons Google Earth is so popular is because things on the ground almost invariably look attractive from up high. That’s certainly true of most of the pictures James Holland takes of the machines in the garden and the offensive monsters in the marshes. However, this one seems to be an exception. It’s not a pretty picture.

Our governmental agencies are well practiced at redefining insults to nature by virtue of their good intentions, so whether or not these frivolous man-made obstructions are illegal or unlawful is largely irrelevant. They’re the useless and carelessly intrusive signature of vandals.

“Killjoy was Here” is what they announce.

We should make such erections socially unacceptable — a fad we can do without.

“Machines in the Garden” and “Monsters in the Marsh”  Evidently, Adam still hasn’t learned from being expelled from the Garden of Eden and, unable to keep his hands to himself, still has to be expelled from the likes of the Marshes of Glynn.

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Georgia, the state of things left out http://likethedew.com/2014/10/11/georgia-state-things-left/ http://likethedew.com/2014/10/11/georgia-state-things-left/#comments Sat, 11 Oct 2014 15:13:06 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=57960 My spouse of fifty years has a quirky brain. It looks for things that aren't there. Which is probably why one of his favorite poems is Antigonish or "The man who wasn't there," by Hughes Mearns.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn't there.
He wasn't there again today,
I wish, I wish he'd go away...

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My spouse of fifty years has a quirky brain. It looks for things that aren’t there. Which is probably why one of his favorite poems is Antigonish or “The man who wasn’t there,” by Hughes Mearns.

Yesterday, upon the stair,
I met a man who wasn’t there.
He wasn’t there again today,
I wish, I wish he’d go away…

When I came home last night at three,
The man was waiting there for me
But when I looked around the hall,
I couldn’t see him there at all!
Go away, go away, don’t you come back any more!
Go away, go away, and please don’t slam the door…

Last night I saw upon the stair,
A little man who wasn’t there,
He wasn’t there again today
Oh, how I wish he’d go away…

Whether looking for the thing left out is part of the quirk, I don’t know. The spouse employed it successfully in analyzing Hemingway’s style of writing –relying heavily on autobiographical experience from which much was excised. We all appreciate the result.

But, what’s true in literature is less helpful in the political arena, where more, not less information is always needed, and things left out, like a half truth, turn out to be downright deceptive. An example on point would seem to be the recently released (June 2014) Concept Report* for the “improvement” of another Georgia highway, State Road 99, by building a dike through an area of marshes and swamps. For some reason, this preliminary engineering review, catalogued quite appropriately as an Hydrologic study, runs to 113 pages but leaves all but the conclusion, on page 99 (attachment 11) of the study, out. How do we know something was left out? Well, the conclusion makes reference to “the 100-year floodplain as discussed in more detail in the section above” — a section nowhere to be found.

While this particular bureaucratic exercise identifies “stakeholders” whose input has been sought, these stakeholders are all of the mercenary kind:

  • URS Corporation- Project Manager
  • URS Corporation- Lead Engineer
  • URS Corporation- Designer
  • GDOT- OPD Project Manager
  • GDOT- Brunswick Area Engineer
  • Glynn County- Director of Community Development
  • Glynn County-Interim County Engineer
  • Seaboard Construction- Vice President
  • Seaboard Construction- Plant Manager
  • Coastal Pines Golf Club- Owner
  • Representing Coastal Pines Golf Club
  • Driggers Construction
  • Representing Stratford/ Altama
  • Ratcliffe & Smith Steamboat

By mercenary I mean that they have an interest in personal or corporate profit. The citizenry and those representing Mother Nature have all been left out. Which may well account for why most communities in Georgia haven’t benefited from all the “development” that’s gone on. Our people not only enjoy low wages, but the highest unemployment rate in the nation.

“Father knows best” and “in loco parentis” are attractive concepts, but the fact is that “family values” is often a euphemism for abuse. We should not be surprised when family values lead to the exploitation of Mother Nature.

No BMPs by road to new subdivision with obvious souring of the bottom during rain event.

No BMPs by road to new subdivision with obvious souring of the bottom during rain event.

This is what building a dike in a wetland looks like. And for what purpose? To access a pipe dream (Steamboat City USA) that has officially failed as of 2010 but was used to justify the widening of Spur 25 in 2011. Maybe somebody thought it would be consistent with the HOGARC resource protection and management plan. But, HOGARC (an appropriate acronym given that hog hunting is still a popular sport in the region and the spouse interjects “obviously a misspelling of “hog ark”, the boat on which the fat cats float”) seems doomed from the start since the Heart of Georgia Altamaha Regional Commission includes the counties of Appling, Bleckley, Candler, Dodge, Emanuel, Evans, Jeff Davis, Johnson, Laurens, Montgomery, Tattnall, Telfair, Toombs, Treutlen, Wayne, Wheeler, and Wilcox in south Georgia, but leaves both Glynn and McIntosh at the mouth of the mighty Altamaha River out.

The essential purpose of the Regional Resource Plan is to meet the state mandate, but also to serve as an advocacy guide to inform, educate, and provide a decision framework for all concerned to understand the importance of natural and cultural resources in the Region from environmental, social, economic, historical, and quality of life perspectives. Hopefully this importance and understanding can lead to sustainability and retention of these resources in the real world environment as connected, functioning, quality contributors to environmental and economic well-being for both existing and future generations, and the natural world involved.

Resources are, of course, to be used. Note that there is no mention of preservation. Note also how “the natural world” is appended as an afterthought.

I’ve been arguing for some time that Georgia is a socialist state. Planning “to meet a state mandate” is characteristic. One could say it’s merely the persistence of the plantation mentality into the modern day. But, what I hadn’t fully realized until recently is that, albeit man-centric, what is commonly referred to as “representative democracy” is actually a system of social organization that leaves the majority of the demos, the people, out. People exist to be “done to” and “done for,” but the public giving directions to public servants is anathema.

Which suggests that the general impoverishment of the population is not a happenstance. Keeping the populace on the economic treadmill, working three jobs just to stay alive, ensures there’s not much energy to make complaint and/or issue demands. So, the powers that be — i.e. people who lust for power — get their way and the promise of an occasional circus, a day at the fair and periodic excursions to Disney Land serves to pacify the compliant. The non-compliant, of course, get sent to jail.

Yes, to make an omelet we have to break a few eggs. But, filling in the marshes and wetlands with dams and dikes for roads to a non-existent Steamboat City USA is an example of wanton destruction. No wonder James Holland’s complaints get no results. It’s all in the plan.

There was reason to scoff at Soviet Five Year Plans. Unfortunately, the major scoffers, like our deficit and war hawks were just jealous. Determined to go the Soviets one better, they got into bed with the predatory and parasitic denizens of the free market and the myth of free enterprise.

Ah public/private partnership! The rule of law makes it so easy to liberate our neighbors from what we and they need to survive. That’s one place where the public is not left out.

For coverage of an earlier Concept Report click here.

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Road to Nowhere and Nowhere Roads http://likethedew.com/2014/10/04/road-nowhere-nowhere-roads/ http://likethedew.com/2014/10/04/road-nowhere-nowhere-roads/#comments Sat, 04 Oct 2014 11:18:20 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=57876 Let it not be said that our far Northwest state, Alaska, has a monopoly on Nowhere. While their "Bridge to Nowhere" garnered much national attention on the political and comedy circuit, here in Southeast Georgia, we've got a whole lot of nowhere. Not only have we got the state Department of Transportation doing a major expansion of a road to nowhere from two lanes to four, we've got a peninsula on our island (bet you didn't know that it was possible to have a peninsula on an insula), sporting more than fifteen mapped roads that aren't to be found on the ground.

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Let it not be said that our far Northwest state, Alaska, has a monopoly on Nowhere. While their “Bridge to Nowhere” garnered much national attention on the political and comedy circuit, here in Southeast Georgia, we’ve got a whole lot of nowhere. Not only have we got the state Department of Transportation doing a major expansion of a road to nowhere from two lanes to four, we’ve got a peninsula on our island (bet you didn’t know that it was possible to have a peninsula on an insula), sporting more than fifteen mapped roads that aren’t to be found on the ground.

First things first. Our friendly environmental watchdog, James Holland, has been much agitated for months, if not years, about the insults being visited by the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) on the wetlands and streams adjacent to what is commonly referred to as the Spur 25 or, more formally, the extension of the Golden Isles Parkway. Sometimes he flies over and sometimes he’s at ground level, but the annotated pictures Holland sends out to agitate all and sundry public officials are never pretty. One wonders if their imperturbability and resistance to correction is endemic. There’s no refuting the evidence. Some recent examples:

#2-6952---9-27-14 Dirt off site at Spur 25 DOT Project

6885---9-27-14 Spur 25 site

6902-9-27-14-Spur-25-site-small

I suppose the question that has to be asked about that culvert pipe waiting to be buried, along with the remnants of that watery ditch, is whether it’s a “water of the state” that’s entitled to be protected, along with whatever critters have taken up residence there, if it’s a man-made ditch in the first place. Given the responses from state and local “authorities” so far, the answer would seem to be “no.” Perhaps, if they were honest, the GDOT would tell us, “If we built it we can damn well destroy it. So there.”

BMPs stands for Best Management Practices and can refer to silt fences, straw bales, rip-rap — anything that prevents storm events from eroding dirt and burying organisms in sediment.

Did they build it? Evidence from the extension of the Spur 25 that isn't being widened, at present, would suggest that they did. Here's a picture of naturalized ditches and culverts bringing a streamlet south. What the culverts are discharging is water from the wetland on the north side of the road where the bank is nicely protected from eroding by a bit of rip-rap (granite chunks) on both sides.

Did they build it? Evidence from the extension of the Spur 25 that isn’t being widened, at present, would suggest that they did. Here’s a picture of naturalized ditches and culverts bringing a streamlet south. What the culverts are discharging is water from the wetland on the north side of the road where the bank is nicely protected from eroding by a bit of rip-rap (granite chunks) on both sides.

riprap-protecting-inflow-to-culvers-under-Spur-25

 

***

 

Although Spur 25 dead ends at this pile of rubble and a gate, beyond which lies, wonder of wonders, a sewer lift station belonging to the Joint Water and Sewer Commission (JWSC) of Brunswick and Glynn County, the end of the road also tells a story of what used to be.

Although Spur 25 dead ends at this pile of rubble and a gate, beyond which lies, wonder of wonders, a sewer lift station belonging to the Joint Water and Sewer Commission (JWSC) of Brunswick and Glynn County, the end of the road also tells a story of what used to be.

Wetland-beyond-end-of-the-road

Spur-panorama

It’s a fresh-water marsh, as pretty as can be, with some swamp land in the distance — aka “wetland,” a pejorative in some circles. The “Marshes of Glynn” may be storied, but there are some people (foresters and developers today and Spanish troops trying to invade long ago) who do not like places that are wet. Their ideal vista looks more like this.

Or even better.

Or even better.

6923---9-27-14 Spur 25 site

The Estates at Golden Isles, located many miles from the ocean and putting the lie to the promise that “if you build it, they will come.” Not all the developments for which water and sewer lines and TWO water towers (one on stilts and one hugging the ground) have been installed, along with hundred of fire plugs, are as desolate as the Estates at Golden Isles or Plantation Crossing or Sweetwater at Golden Isles. Holland’s last picture from the Spur is of the entrance to a gated enclave, the Villas at Golden Isles, whose neighbors, at the Landings, across the soon-to-be four lane, have gone so far as to organize a neighborhood watch. Perhaps, having felt secure enough to buy into an open neighborhood, gates sprouting like mushrooms have made them suspicious.

***

I suppose I could have entitled this post "Gates, gates, everywhere," but to my way of thinking, behind every gate is a nowhere place. Some places are just more nowhere than others, even when, or perhaps because, they have fancy or allusive names. The peninsula extending north from Saint Simons Island is a case in point. Actually, it's Cannon's Point.

I suppose I could have entitled this post “Gates, gates, everywhere,” but to my way of thinking, behind every gate is a nowhere place. Some places are just more nowhere than others, even when, or perhaps because, they have fancy or allusive names. The peninsula extending north from Saint Simons Island is a case in point. Actually, it’s Cannon’s Point.

"Limited access," apparently a new euphemism for "gate," is secured by two gates. It's not very welcoming.

“Limited access,” apparently a new euphemism for “gate,” is secured by two gates. It’s not very welcoming.

But not totally exclusive. The guardian of the gateslet's all with the magic numbers pass.

But not totally exclusive. The guardian of the gateslet’s all with the magic numbers pass.

Which raises the suspicion that perhaps there's more to the "cultural heritage" that's to be preserved -- more than a tabby cabin or a midden of oyster shells. And, indeed, there is. To begin with, there are the Jones heirs, whose heritage has been severely diminished since the Sea Island Company went belly up. Surely they're entitled to keep the contents of their trusts secure from prying eyes. The yellow circle shows where the public is going to be allowed once the Land Trust people get through messing with the marsh.

Which raises the suspicion that perhaps there’s more to the “cultural heritage” that’s to be preserved — more than a tabby cabin or a midden of oyster shells. And, indeed, there is. To begin with, there are the Jones heirs, whose heritage has been severely diminished since the Sea Island Company went belly up. Surely they’re entitled to keep the contents of their trusts secure from prying eyes. The yellow circle shows where the public is going to be allowed once the Land Trust people get through messing with the marsh.

Of course, preservation isn't necessarily protective. The machines in the garden (not worth hiding for just eight hours a week) already provide evidence of that.

Of course, preservation isn’t necessarily protective. The machines in the garden (not worth hiding for just eight hours a week) already provide evidence of that.

Machine-in-the-wilderness

Now the remnants of heritage are also evidenced in the naming of roads and lanes -- names that only show up when the zoom is set just right. Cedar Bank Road. Gator Road. Cheapside Lane. Jones Creek Landing. Garden Road. Fire Break Lane. Hogwallow. Beekeeper Road. Hammock Road. Overseers Road. Climbing Buckthorn Trail. Shell Road. Olive Grove Road. Coopersfield Loop.

Now the remnants of heritage are also evidenced in the naming of roads and lanes — names that only show up when the zoom is set just right. Cedar Bank Road. Gator Road. Cheapside Lane. Jones Creek Landing. Garden Road. Fire Break Lane. Hogwallow. Beekeeper Road. Hammock Road. Overseers Road. Climbing Buckthorn Trail. Shell Road. Olive Grove Road. Coopersfield Loop.

End-of-Cannons-Point

Coopersfield Loop is at the end of the road on Cannon’s Point, where, just as a point of information, there are no public utilities, other than electricity, coursing through buried lines ’cause overhead would be unsightly and definitely not in keeping with the contemporary ecology.

Ecology — the political movement that seeks to protect the environment, especially from pollution (by people).

Would it be wrong to suggest that what we have here is a new form of segregation? How else to explain the splurge of investment in the hinterlands, while the City of Brunswick, Georgia, is left to languish in a sea of parking lots that nobody visits?

On the other hand, it does seem the population driven by exclusive interests is limited. They can build all the gated communities they want, but the people won’t come.

“If you build it, they will come.” Lots of wishful thinking going on. Most people don’t want to be locked up. Most don’t even want to settle down.

4454-6-19-14-Beach-Club-Dunes

What’s peculiar about Holland’s picture of the Sea Island Beach Club, other than that it looks like a painting from the Riviera? There aren’t any people in those chairs.

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Stasis in the Dynamic Dunes http://likethedew.com/2014/09/11/stasis-dynamic-dunes/ http://likethedew.com/2014/09/11/stasis-dynamic-dunes/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 07:36:22 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=57589 What's a dynamic dune? It's a reference that was changed to just "dunes" in the law, perhaps because it left too many people confused. Or perhaps the idea that dunes change and move was upsetting to people who want their environment to stay the same.

In any event, it's hard to deny that the purveyors of entertainment on Sea Island, Georgia, are bound and determined to "fix" their venue, even though it means breaking the law to do so. Pictures don't lie.

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What’s a dynamic dune? It’s a reference that was changed to just “dunes” in the law, perhaps because it left too many people confused. Or perhaps the idea that dunes change and move was upsetting to people who want their environment to stay the same.

In any event, it’s hard to deny that the purveyors of entertainment on Sea Island, Georgia, are bound and determined to “fix” their venue, even though it means breaking the law to do so. Pictures don’t lie.

Click to view slideshow.

All summer long the toys have languished in the dunes, forgotten and unused. It’s almost sad. So many toys and so few people to play with them! Perhaps the fact that Sea Island Acquistions charges $75 a day just to walk on the beach to people staying at their off-island Inn has something to do with it. After all, the beach belongs to the public, why should we pay just to walk on it? Talk about trying to convert a public good into private profit!

Aerial photo of Sea Island dunes in June by James Holland, our Altamaha RiverkeeperJames Holland, our Altamaha Riverkeeper, Emeritus is of a legalistic bent and qualifies his objections with “unless a permit has been issued.” I’m more inclined to insist that, however neatly arranged, clutter has no place on the beach.

What he found in June was there in August, too. Maybe each chaise and each umbrella should pay a fine of $10 a day.

So, we’ve got a cesspool in the dunes and clutter on the shore. How much lower can Sea Island go? Not far. After all, the local politicians already abandoned all the streets and lanes and public rights of way in 2004 because they served no useful purpose.

Safe and secure and static. That’s how the predators like things. Shall we withhold judgement because the residents have assented to the sequester?

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Ferguson and Sea Island, two sides of the same coin http://likethedew.com/2014/08/21/ferguson-sea-island-two-sides-coin/ http://likethedew.com/2014/08/21/ferguson-sea-island-two-sides-coin/#comments Thu, 21 Aug 2014 13:12:03 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=57371 Why do we care what happens in Ferguson, Missouri? Because on some level we recognize that if any one group or community can be officially deprived of their human and civil rights without restraint, then it can happen to any other group or neighborhood. Sea Island, Georgia is proof. Sea Island, Georgia has been turned into an exclusive neighborhood. Random visitors are turned away at a guarded gate and even residents driving off the island must pause and wait for the barricade to rise and let their vehicle pass unscratched.

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Peace Officers

Why do we care what happens in Ferguson, Missouri? Because on some level we recognize that if any one group or community can be officially deprived of their human and civil rights without restraint, then it can happen to any other group or neighborhood. Sea Island, Georgia is proof.

Sea Island, Georgia has been turned into an exclusive neighborhood. Random visitors are turned away at a guarded gate and even residents driving off the island must pause and wait for the barricade to rise and let their vehicle pass unscratched. Presumably, pedestrians can leave unchallenged. Though, people on foot are universally suspect in the car culture that is the U.S. Only less so when they are walking away. To be really safe, it’s best to be running and barely dressed.

Michael Brown in Ferguson was obviously wearing too many clothes and, equally obviously, not a jogger. So, there was no excuse for him being in the middle of the street — just an opportunity for him to be stopped and questioned by an officious and suspicious public servant, who, proving unable to exit his cage with grace and the efficiency required by his position, made himself an object of sport. Then the wanton pedestrians, rubbing salt into wounded pride, instead of being compliant, lodged a complaint, adding insult to injury. A just cause for revenge. Insult has long been that.

Private Entrance Gate at Sea Pines, GACan we imagine a similar scenario for Sea Island? Not likely. Because, you see, the segregation of Sea Island and the exclusion of the general public is much better organized and much more advanced. Moreover, like that proverbial frog in the pot on the stove, neither the residents nor their neighbors on Saint Simons noticed the gradual tightening of restrictions and the removal of public amenities. Indeed, the local County government was able to abandon all public streets, alleys and utility easements without raising a single objection. Of course, the residents hadn’t received proper notice, either. If notice to individual households had been required, it couldn’t have been timely delivered, because the USPS had already been banned from the premises for some forty years.

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds,

unless their access be denied by covenant. Deed restrictions. That’s the ticket to exclusive living. But, what that means is just beginning to hit home now that the landlord, Sea Island Acquisitions, has determined that even the mail sorting facility needs to be moved off-island and privatized. Ah, privatization — the new handmaiden of segregation, separation and exclusivity. Which just goes to prove segregation is an equal opportunity instrument of deprivation. Depriving citizens (natural persons) of their private, civil and property rights is a source of satisfaction, regardless of whom it affects.

Sea Island proves that. It isn’t just the menial work force that’s required to leave their own vehicles (cages) off site and ride the shuttle bus. Moderate income guests, who can’t afford a night at the Cloister (a secular, not religious sequestered place), can find lodging at The Inn, located on Saint Simons, next to the “Shops at Sea Island,” which aren’t on Sea Island, either, and take the free shuttle to the beach, where they can walk for $75 a day.

You may wonder how that can be since all U.S. beaches below the high tide line are public. How can people be charged just for walking? The answer is simple. The access to the beaches, as well as the marshes around the island, became restricted when the County abandoned the streets, giving Sea Island Acquisitions a fifty foot wide strip along the eastern edge over which trespass is not allowed, unless one has bought or paid for the privilege.east 31
Talk about abandoning the sheep to the wolves. Or, perhaps, it would be more accurate to cite this as a blatant example of how public assets get converted into private wealth. What is $75 a day to walk on a beach but sheep being fleeced?

See, that’s the beauty of using symbols. Though lucre may be considered “filthy,” the predator using money need never get his hands dirty. The deprivation occurs at one remove. It’s a triangular relationship — the triangle of extortion into which wealth disappears and magically surfaces somewhere else, on the other side of the hedge in a Wall Street account. And the extorted never know what hit them until all that’s left is the bills which, if they don’t go to collect and pay, will leave them homeless, as well.

One almost feels sorry for the residents of Sea Island. Even the trailer parks on Saint Simons, being much less exclusive, get home delivery of their mail. Neither “exclusive,” nor “separate but equal” are obviously positive.

Being shut in or out and equally deprived is not a good thing, whether it’s being perpetrated on Ferguson or Sea Island. But, at least in Ferguson, the voters can throw the bums out. Sea Island property owners have tied their own hands by agreeing to deed restrictions. That the County abandoned them is another matter, but getting their streets back is going to take more than a trip to the ballot box.

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True Blue Georgia http://likethedew.com/2014/08/17/true-blue-georgia/ http://likethedew.com/2014/08/17/true-blue-georgia/#comments Sun, 17 Aug 2014 12:05:04 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=57289 That's how the attendees at the Glynn County Democrats' Annual Dinner want everyone to think about our state. Georgia is a democratic state. Republican rule is just a blip, the result of Democrats being too generous and thinking the other side ought to have a chance to win.

That, in a nutshell, was the message from the five candidates and two surrogates who showed up for the Glynn County Democrats' Fish Fry last evening. They obviously weren't expecting 240 people and the catering service took some time catching up. But they did and everyone was satisfied. There wasn't room for the key lime pie, anyway.

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Watercolor-Donkey-2

That’s how the attendees at the Glynn County Democrats’ Annual Dinner want everyone to think about our state. Georgia is a democratic state. Republican rule is just a blip, the result of Democrats being too generous and thinking the other side ought to have a chance to win.

That, in a nutshell, was the message from the five candidates and two surrogates who showed up for the Glynn County Democrats’ Fish Fry last evening. They obviously weren’t expecting 240 people and the catering service took some time catching up. But they did and everyone was satisfied. There wasn’t room for the key lime pie, anyway.

The big draw, of course, was Michelle Nunn, candidate for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Saxby Chambliss. Since 2014 is going to be the Year of the Women, Nunn is a harbinger of good things to come out of Kentucky (Grimes), Texas (Davis), not to mention the re-election of the all-female contingent in New Hampshire (Hassan, Shaheen, Shea-Porter and Kuster).

Jason Carter had a scheduling conflict. That Andrew Young, former Mayor of Atlanta, came to speak for him and gave an invocation didn’t hurt, but his formal surrogate, Tom Bordeaux, a former state legislator and current Alderman in Savannah, Georgia really did Carter proud. Bordeaux is obviously used to working with women. Savannah has a female Mayor and four women on the Council. Which probably also accounts for why the theme of the evening wasn’t money, but collaboration, cooperation, collective action and caring–a nice contrast with the Cons. Brian Reese, candidate for the House from the first District, made the point that “support” isn’t money and not even just a vote, but a persistent effort to get more people to the polls. Reese also made the point that he got more votes in the run-off than in the primary election. Which tells us Democrats are fired up.

(I’ve been arguing for years that the Democratic party’s habit of skipping primary elections was self-defeating, but won’t go into the reasons here).

Michelle Nunn has a formal stump speech which, among other things, highlights the contrast between herself and David Perdue (the lost). In part, that’s because Perdue has tried to make an issue of her managing a non-profit enterprise while he claims to have been engaged in the real world. Perhaps that’s true. But, if so, what he’s touting is the competition characteristic of the predator while Democrats are promoting collaboration–working together instead of just begging, taking and/or exploiting our resource base. Producers vs predators. Now there’s a choice!

Connie Stokes, candidate for Lieutenant Governor, Robbinn Shipp for Labor Commissioner and Dorothy Stewart for the Glynn County Board of Education from District 4 were also impressive speakers. Democrats are qualified and experienced. There’s not one failed businessman among them.

Finally, though I’m not at all keen on flyers left on windshields, it was gratifying to find an invitation/reminder for people to Pre-enroll in the Affordable Care Act now, so they’ll be covered come January 1, 2015. Even more gratifying that insurance agents are getting into the act, making an effort to correct the $9 million a day Georgia is leaving in Washington by refusing to expand Medicaid and participate in the insurance exchanges.

I still think Medicare for All would be more efficient, but that’s not possible when Republicans are in charge. Republicans aren’t just the party of no, they positively don’t care. Medicare, health care, affordable care, Obamacare. It doesn’t matter how you qualify it. Republicans flee from care like the devil at the sign of the cross.

Which is why Georgia is a blue state. It’s not necessary for people to identify themselves as Democrats ’cause we’ve got a secret ballot. Everybody’s just got to be encouraged to get out and vote. “Politics is not a spectator sport.”

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Aquifer Recharge on the Southeast Coast? http://likethedew.com/2014/08/06/aquifer-recharge-southeast-coast/ http://likethedew.com/2014/08/06/aquifer-recharge-southeast-coast/#comments Wed, 06 Aug 2014 14:36:24 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=57188 Too little too late? Georgia is one of those states where there is much bruiting about "local control" and how the people who live there know better what's good for them. This editorial from the Brunswick News lays it out nicely: "In this country there are laws against stealing land, but that doesn't stop the federal government and its oversized bureaucracies from doing it. They accomplish such thievery simply by changing the rules whenever they get a hankering to do so."

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The-Brunswick-News-Editorial-8-5-14Too little too late? Georgia is one of those states where there is much bruiting about “local control” and how the people who live there know better what’s good for them. This editorial from the Brunswick News lays it out nicely.

In this country there are laws against stealing land, but that doesn’t stop the federal government and its oversized bureaucracies from doing it. They accomplish such thievery simply by changing the rules whenever they get a hankering to do so.

This has particularly been a problem for coastal communities and their residents. (click here to read the rest)

(You’d think that the editor of a newspaper would know that bureaucrats are just people who keep records in file drawers. But then, this one seems particular deficient when it comes to even seeing records as a store of history).

Historical accuracy is likely what prompted the following response from James Holland to the legislative members of the Aquifer Recharge Study Committee:

Good Afternoon Gentlemen,
Senator Ligon it was indeed a pleasure to see you at the table representing us along the coast. As I mentioned at this meeting, I attended a legislative water study about twenty years ago at the then invitation of Senator Ed Boshears (Republican, Brunswick). I was also invited to speak at the committee meeting and my message was basically the same that the loss of our wetlands and the over pumping of the Upper Floridan aquifer by the pulp mills. Back then I was a commercial blue crab fisherman with about twenty or so years experience and I talked about how the loss of this freshwater was impacting our fisheries. Due to the loss of this freshwater came extraordinarily high salinities from the sea and we were also entering into a very severe drought and the waters got warmer and saltier and then all of a sudden we discovered our crabs were dying in the river for no apparent reason. However, it did not take our marine scientists long to figure out that with these warmer, saltier waters came a dinoflagellate called hematodinium that attacked our crabs blood stream depriving them of the necessary oxygen to survive. Unfortunately, we learned that crabs being canniballistic (Spelling?)if one crab died of this hematodinium and another crab came along and ate it, it would also die from this same disease, therefore setting off a chain reaction that put my industry on its knees and I do not believe it has fully recovered to this date.

Some in the state wanted to blame the drought for our woes but that was not true, we have had droughts ever since time began and the ones I saw before did not do this. In fact, the drought only exacerbated an existing problem which was the lack of freshwater input into our marsh and estuary systems.

I moved to Brunswick from Cochran, Ga after a nine year stint in the Marine Corps in 1967 and back then our larger swamps retained water at least waist deep year round. By 1985 the big timber industry had finished ditching and draining off our swamps as much as they could before the federal government stopped it. By about 1990, we started seeing declines in our annual blue crab landings that are kept by the Coastal Resources Division (CRD). In 1999 I left the fishery and started the Altamaha Riverkeeper (ARK) Organization. By then the crab fishery was just about gone so I advocated to stop wetland losses and other forms of pollution.

Okay, that is enough about why I do what I do so let’s get back to the legislative study committee meting I attended oh so many years ago. It took me a long time to figure out why Senator Ed Boshears invited me to that meeting and got me on the calendar to speak. After a lot of years I think he may have wanted me to witness first hand why he may have thought I was fighting a losing battle. After seeing that lobbyist from the Union Camp Corporation whispering in the senators ear that was co chair of that meeting before he would even speak taught me something. I would not call that Senator’s name out in a public forum this afternoon but it was Hugh Gillis which I believe was from Soperton. I think Mr. Gillis has also passed on as has Ed Boshears.

If y’all recall I said our legislature has not changed at all, it still thinks with a one track mind. I can now maybe explain that a little better in writing; from the moment of the first legislative meeting not one iota has changed that will spread the burden of cost in an equitable manner.

I have attached images of most of that long document I was holding in my right hand this afternoon showing who the guilty parties were that put us in this position with the most pristine drinking water on earth (the Upper Floridan Aquifer). Up above I mentioned the timber industry ditching and draining huge amounts of wetlands in southeast Georgia until the Federal Clean Water Act stopped them with new laws. I would like to mention just one of those swamps that used to hold waist deep water year round and that is the Cow Pen Swamp Off U.S. 341 northwest of Brunswick. I know that Jeff Chapman should know that swamp and vouch for what I have said. Occasionally back then you would see people along the road fishing in that swamp (me too), try it now and see what you catch. We have had some rain this year and you might get your trousers wet up close to your knee’s in spots but most years now it might be ankle deep. There is a reason for that and it is because the timber companies have ditched it and the surrounding swamps and these swamps feed almost directly into our estuarine waters and marshes. Take Cow Pen Creek for instance, it dumps out into the Turtle River right beside Plant McManus (Ga Power).

That is only one creek, compound it by hundreds along the coast and you have a tremendous loss of freshwater into our marshes and that is just counting the larger tributaries and not the smaller tribs that do the same thing. Heck, the upwellings (springs) in the swamps and woods no longer flow because they have either dried up or been capped and they flowed all year long back then.

When I mentioned the legislature only thinks with a one track mind is because the legislative participants only think about what the general public can do to help sustain the upper floridan aquifer. This train of thought always places the onus for the burden of cost on every person in the public whether they can afford it or not.

Why don’t we start thinking in a progressive long term manner by causing our major aquifer users to begin reusing their own waste water rather than polluting our rivers with it. I mentioned just one pulp mill this afternoon that could begin some form of loop system and reuse just 50% of the waste water they dump into the Altamaha River every day. Like i said earlier today, between the city of Brunswick and St. Simons Island together they discharge approximately 10 million gallons of waste water per day into our rivers. 50% of Rayonier’s waste water discharge would be about 30 million gallons per day which is approximately 3 times what Brunswick and St. Simons discharge combined. In other words, Brunswick and St. Simons together could operate approximately two and one half days off just 50% of Rayonier’s waste water that could be left in the upper Floridan Aquifer if Rayonier would recycle 50% of their uptake from this aquifer.

Do any of you realize what would happen to the surrounding area of Wayne County, Long County, Appling County and the northwestern section of Glynn County if they started reusing 50% of their own waste water? It would not take long before some citizens would see water showing up in places they had never seen it in their life time and that is only one major water user.

The legislators only have a one track mind and that is never disturb big industry and y’all know it and I know it and some day the public will get the message. If you want to nickel and dime the public to death about toilet bowels, showers and brushing teeth why can’t we think big time instead and look at how we can restore some of this water back to the landscape and cause industry to start reusing their waste water. By doing this, in the long haul our industries will create more wealth and you will have a more satisfied public by them knowing the legislature has taken care of their leisure time and not have water woes for many, many years to come.

I am asking you all at this time to please do a more comprehensive water study and this time use all the tools available to you, even ARS. However, ARS should be banned until we have a more comprehensive review that the public can rely upon. Thank you very much! James Holland, Concerned Citizen

P.S.
I will put this on hold for twenty four hours to give each of you time to review it and do with it as you please and then it will be released to others.

Of course, Holland attached pictures. Can’t have a communication from him without them.

Introduction Saltwater contamination is restricting the development of ground-water supply in coastal Georgia and adjacent parts of South Carolina and Florida. The principal source of water in the coastal area is the Upper Floridan aquifer, an extremely permeable and high-yielding aquifer, which was first developed in the late 1800’s. Pumping from the aquifer has resulted in substantial ground-water-level decline and subsequent saltwater intrusion of the aquifer from underlying strata containing highly saline water at Brunswick, Georgia, and with encroachment of seawater into the aquifer at the northern end of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The saltwater contamination at these locations has constrained further development of the Upper Floridan aquifer in the coastal area and has created competing demands for the limited supply of freshwater.
Introduction
Saltwater contamination is restricting the development of ground-water supply in coastal Georgia and adjacent parts of South Carolina and Florida. The principal source of water in the coastal area is the Upper Floridan aquifer, an extremely permeable and high-yielding aquifer, which was first developed in the late 1800’s. Pumping from the aquifer has resulted in substantial ground-water-level decline and subsequent saltwater intrusion of the aquifer from underlying strata containing highly saline water at Brunswick, Georgia, and with encroachment of seawater into the aquifer at the northern end of Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. The saltwater contamination at these locations has constrained further development of the Upper Floridan aquifer in the coastal area and has created competing demands for the limited supply of freshwater. (Source: USGS.gov)
Predevelopment Ground-Water Flow System Prior to development of the Floridan aquifer system in the 1880’s, recharge to the aquifer system was roughly offset by natural discharge. The Floridan aquifer system was replenished (recharged) by rainfall in areas where aquifer sediments are at or near land surface, generally west and northwest of the coast. Ground water flowed from areas of recharge downgradient toward the coast. The aquifer system was under artesian conditions and the pressure in the aquifer system was great enough that wells flowed at land surface throughout most of the coastal area. In some areas, pressure was high enough to elevate water to multi-story buildings without pumping. The artesian water level was about 65 feet above sea level at Brunswick, and 35 feet above sea level at Savannah. Ground water discharged naturally to springs, rivers, ponds, wetlands, and other surface-water bodies; as diffuse upward leakage into overlying adjacent aquifers; and to the Atlantic Ocean. As water flowed coastward, low-permeability sediments in the vicinity of the Gulf Trough inhibited ground-water flow and produced a steep flow gradient.
Predevelopment Ground-Water Flow System
Prior to development of the Floridan aquifer system in the 1880’s, recharge to the aquifer system was roughly offset by natural discharge. The Floridan aquifer system was replenished (recharged) by rainfall in areas where aquifer sediments are at or near land surface, generally west and northwest of the coast. Ground water flowed from areas of recharge downgradient toward the coast. The aquifer system was under artesian conditions and the pressure in the aquifer system was great enough that wells flowed at land surface throughout most of the coastal area. In some areas, pressure was high enough to elevate water to multi-story buildings without pumping. The artesian water level was about 65 feet above sea level at Brunswick, and 35 feet above sea level at Savannah. Ground water discharged naturally to springs, rivers, ponds, wetlands, and other surface-water bodies; as diffuse upward leakage into overlying adjacent aquifers; and to the Atlantic Ocean. As water flowed coastward, low-permeability sediments in the vicinity of the Gulf Trough inhibited ground-water flow and produced a steep flow gradient. (Source: USGS.gov)
Modern-Day Ground-Water Flow System Ground-water pumping has caused the water level in the Upper Floridan aquifer to decline throughout the entire coastal area, resulting in the development of cones of depression in areas of heavy, concentrated pumpage, such as the Savannah, Brunswick, Jesup, and St Marys, Georgia-Fernandina Beach, Florida, areas. Wells have ceased to flow at land surface in much of the coastal area. Many freshwater springs and seeps have ceased to discharge; freshwater wetlands and ponds that prior to development were sustained by flow from the Upper Floridan aquifer are no longer sustained by that flow. Although the cones of depression are deep, they do not intercept the top of the Upper Floridan aquifer; thus, dewatering or mining of water is not occurring. The pressure reduction has caused saltwater that is under higher pressure to flow into and contaminate the freshwater part of the aquifer in at least two locations—Brunswick, Georgia, and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.
Modern-Day Ground-Water Flow System
Ground-water pumping has caused the water level in the Upper Floridan aquifer to decline throughout the entire coastal area, resulting in the development of cones of depression in areas of heavy, concentrated pumpage, such as the Savannah, Brunswick, Jesup, and St Marys, Georgia-Fernandina Beach, Florida, areas. Wells have ceased to flow at land surface in much of the coastal area. Many freshwater springs and seeps have ceased to discharge; freshwater wetlands and ponds that prior to development were sustained by flow from the Upper Floridan aquifer are no longer sustained by that flow. Although the cones of depression are deep, they do not intercept the top of the Upper Floridan aquifer; thus, dewatering or mining of water is not occurring. The pressure reduction has caused saltwater that is under higher pressure to flow into and contaminate the freshwater part of the aquifer in at least two locations—Brunswick, Georgia, and Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. (Source: USGS.gov)
Salwater Contamination at Brunswick, Georgia Saltwater contamination at Brunswick is the result of upward intrusion of saline water from the lower part of the Fernandina permeable zone into freshwater zones of the Lower Floridan, then Upper Floridan aquifers. Saltwater from the Fernandina permeable zone migrates upward through fractures and conduits in the limestone and dolostone confining units in response to reduced artesian pressure caused by pumping of water from the Upper Floridan aquifer. Upon reaching the aquifers in the southern part of Brunswick, the saltwater moves toward areas of ground-water pumping in the northern part of Brunswick. Contamination of the Upper Floridan aquifer in the Brunswick area is not due to lateral encroachment nor downward intrusion of seawater because the Upper Floridan aquifer is deeply buried at Brunswick (greater than 500 feet deep); the freshwater-saltwater interface is far from the coastline (more than 50 miles offshore); and perhaps most importantly, pressure in the Upper Floridan aquifer was greater than sea level when saltwater contamination at Brunswick was first detected in the late 1950’s. Lateral encroachment or vertical infiltration of saltwater may be possible, however, in the shallower surficial aquifer or in the upper and lower Brunswick aquifers.
Salwater Contamination at Brunswick, Georgia
Saltwater contamination at Brunswick is the result of upward intrusion of saline water from the lower part of the Fernandina permeable zone into freshwater zones of the Lower Floridan, then Upper Floridan aquifers. Saltwater from the Fernandina permeable zone migrates upward through fractures and conduits in the limestone and dolostone confining units in response to reduced artesian pressure caused by pumping of water from the Upper Floridan aquifer. Upon reaching the aquifers in the southern part of Brunswick, the saltwater moves toward areas of ground-water pumping in the northern part of Brunswick.Contamination of the Upper Floridan aquifer in the Brunswick area is not due to lateral encroachment nor downward intrusion of seawater because the Upper Floridan aquifer is deeply buried at Brunswick (greater than 500 feet deep); the freshwater-saltwater interface is far from the coastline (more than 50 miles offshore); and perhaps most importantly, pressure in the Upper Floridan aquifer was greater than sea level when saltwater contamination at Brunswick was first detected in the late 1950’s. Lateral encroachment or vertical infiltration of saltwater may be possible, however, in the shallower surficial aquifer or in the upper and lower Brunswick aquifers. (Source: USGS.gov)

There are just a couple of things I’d like to elaborate on. The first is that what Holland refers to as spreading “the burden of cost in an equitable manner,” is the inequity now commonly recognized as private benefit derived from public cost. This inequity was supposed to be avoided by the magic of “trickle down,” but that hasn’t worked. Instead, we have the concentration of wealth in the one percent. And it’s not just free water on the Georgia Coast that’s brought that on; there are also the federal food stamp and housing subsidies that keep the populace in penury. Republicans, in particular, are keen on teaching men to fish without giving a second thought to the fact that their industrial cohorts have rendered the fish (and crabs) unfit to eat.

The other thing I’d point out is that the legislators’ one-track doesn’t go where Holland might think. Fact is that the industrial interests that were presumed to benefit haven’t, at least not in the long term. The pulp industry is nearly defunct, as are “specialty wood products” (chemicals). Now the only industrial strength enterprise on the horizon is the REIT (Real Estate Investment Trust) plan to carve the drained landscape into residential lots before they get flooded by the rising tide.

The thing about hydric soils is that, once they get de-watered, they become rock hard and rain water runs off even faster. The aquifer is not like a faucet that can be turned on and off. If a steady trickle is wanted anywhere, it’s there. Maybe if we said the land needs to be regularly moisturized, it would be easier to understand.

Finally, I think there’s a clue in the Brunswick News’ editor’s stance as to why conservatives don’t get anything of a practical nature done. Their reliance on bosses (leaders) doesn’t just serve to relieve individuals of responsibility for what goes on. Bosses intimidate and that hides the fact that they don’t know what to do. “Let George do it” doesn’t work, because George doesn’t know how. That’s what the bullying is designed to distract us from.

Knowledgeable people, on the other hand, don’t bully and that, ironically, puts them at a disadvantage. Bullies coerce because it’s the only thing they know. So, when a polite fellow like James Holland shows up, it’s like showing a red flag to one of the bulls of Pamplona. But, if Ed Boshears was aiming to discourage James Holland, that didn’t work either. This old man is still agitating on behalf of the creatures that live in the sea, and on the land, including his fellow man.

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The Post Office as status symbol http://likethedew.com/2014/07/29/p-o-status-symbol/ http://likethedew.com/2014/07/29/p-o-status-symbol/#comments Tue, 29 Jul 2014 22:29:16 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=56852 Who knew? We've got some snotty residents on St. Simons Island who collect their mail at the Sea Island Post Office so they can pretend they live where they don't. Now they've been discombobulated by the armed guards at the gates and collecting their mail has proved an inconvenience. Not to worry. The Sea Island Acquisitions people will just move the P. O. out of their exclusive enclave and give it a new home on St. Simons while they continue to pretend that the Sea Island Road is as exclusive as that cesspool on the dunes known as Sea Island.

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SeaIsland-FirstClassPostage

Who knew? We’ve got some snotty residents on St. Simons Island who collect their mail at the Sea Island Post Office so they can pretend they live where they don’t. Now they’ve been discombobulated by the armed guards at the gates and collecting their mail has proved an inconvenience. Not to worry. The Sea Island Acquisitions people will just move the P. O. out of their exclusive enclave and give it a new home on St. Simons while they continue to pretend that the Sea Island Road is as exclusive as that cesspool on the dunes known as Sea Island. The patrons will even get to continue to use their special zip code so they won’t have to be identified with the hoi poloi on the main island.

Jim Gilbert, the local lobbyist and legal flack, thinks it will be

a real advantage to the north end of St. Simons Island.

i.e.– people who take care of business for only four hours a day, from nine to one, so the rest of the day is free for golf and tennis and, of course, breakfast, dinner and lunch.

And, since it will be similarly inconvenient for them to wait for a left-turn light, there will have to be a round-about at the intersection of Frederica and the Sea Island Road. Not a minute must be wasted by people busy being exclusive.

Exclusion, shutting other people out, it’s such a cost-free salve to the fragile ego of special people! If they can’t privatize the P.O., at least they can relocate it into a private shopping mall. Who knew that the antagonist of privacy is the public; that privacy is wherever the public is not allowed?

That the public is the guarantor of privacy seems not to have sunk in.

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When conservation engineers speak of brush and noxious weeds http://likethedew.com/2014/07/25/conservation-engineers-speak-brush-noxious-weeds/ http://likethedew.com/2014/07/25/conservation-engineers-speak-brush-noxious-weeds/#comments Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:34:08 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=56794 You get a hint of the problem. Of course, the article I'm referencing was published way back in 2001. But, the mindset is telling. The author, who was employed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, dismisses one kind of grass as a bank stabilizer because: "Fescue tends to clump in our climate and wither in droughts. It fades in hot, dry weather, which lets weeds, brush and other noxious vegetation grow. Fescue is simply not a turf type grass."

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Bedford Lake

You get a hint of the problem. Of course, the article I’m referencing was published way back in 2001. But, the mindset is telling. The author, who was employed by the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, dismisses one kind of grass as a bank stabilizer because:

Fescue tends to clump in our climate and wither in droughts. It fades in hot, dry weather, which lets weeds, brush and other noxious vegetation grow. Fescue is simply not a turf type grass.

That is to say, natural vegetation is noxious and the problems unending:

In the past, the vegetation on the newly completed dam has been greatly underrated. We have several horror stories regarding subcontractors who failed to do an adequate job establishing an adequate surface. In some cases we have had to come back with our equipment crews and strip, regrade, and reestablish the surface. We have decided to attack this problem in the future differently. On bid submittals, contractors are required to list the mechanical and electrical subcontractors they plan on using. We are going to require that this be done for the landscape contractor also. At least we will be able to check his prior work. This may not be a panacea, but hopefully it will prevent the homebuilder type thinking where the builder throws out a few seed and a little mulch and disappears.

Because the needs of the equipment aren’t being properly served. So, he tells us, in the context of praise for Bermuda grass, an African native that’s perhaps not considered “invasive” because it requires constant mowing and tending:

It will suffer and survive as much neglect as any grass I have seen. If you can get your maintenance folks to mow your dams at least once in the spring or summer (twice is better), the Bermuda will thrive. It does not tolerate shade, so mowing is required for the weeds and brush that try to shade it out. Some high nitrogen fertilizer in the early summer will work wonders, especially in thin spots you are trying to get thicker.

“High nitrogen fertilizer” on the edge of a water body! That’s the ticket! Talk about agencies working at cross purposes. But then, the objective of the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency for a dam is:

It needs to endure, be easily maintained and present a good visual effect to the public.

Superficial optics rule!
Preconceived notions are all-important.

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Employer provided health insurance http://likethedew.com/2014/06/30/employer-provided-health-insurance/ http://likethedew.com/2014/06/30/employer-provided-health-insurance/#comments Mon, 30 Jun 2014 19:40:43 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=56522 So, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no Constitutional basis for agents of government requiring employers to provide particular kinds of health insurance coverage to their employees. But, I'd go further and argue that, if health services are part of the general welfare responsibilities of government, delegating those to employers is both irresponsible and inefficient. Adding a layer of middlemen in the form of insurance companies is bad enough. Expecting employers to pay the bill is adding insult to injury.

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Hobby-Lobby

So, the Supreme Court has ruled that there is no Constitutional basis for agents of government requiring employers to provide particular kinds of health insurance coverage to their employees. But, I’d go further and argue that, if health services are part of the general welfare responsibilities of government, delegating those to employers is both irresponsible and inefficient. Adding a layer of middlemen in the form of insurance companies is bad enough. Expecting employers to pay the bill is adding insult to injury.

One is reminded that the industrialized agriculture that was developed in the American South expected plantation owners to provide medical services, however rudimentary, to the slaves. Since reproducing themselves was one of the critical slave functions, that expectation made economic, if not humanitarian sense. Now that workers are free to labor for themselves or others, employers have little practical interest in their physical welfare. Which means that the health insurance (which assures nothing at all) “benefit” is simply, because targeting specific populations for deprivation has been declared taboo, another component of the coercive culture of obedience seeking to encompass one and all.

“Single payer” was a misnomer for the “public option,” which tried to have it both ways by renaming an obligation as an option. The bottom line is that the public health is a public responsibility and our public servants are tasked with delivering it. Making it a profit-center for some middlemen does no-one any favors. Making the SCOTUS decision a rallying cry for disaffected Democrats is deplorable.

Yes, corporations, being subsidiaries of the states that create them, can be ordered to follow particular regulations, especially when it comes to how the currency, which the federal authorities helpfully provide, is to be employed. However, as is often the case, here the stricture — “if you want it done right, do it yourself”– seems particularly apt. If the persons within the jurisdiction of the Constitution are to be provided with medical and preventive care, then the Congress should see to it and not pass it off to corporations whose primary mission is making widgets or, worse, destroying the natural environment. It makes no sense to expect munitions makers and the purveyors of mobile cages with wheels (cars) to supervise the health care of their employees. Never mind the corporations that make poisons like DDT and ‘Roundup.’

Of course, the American fascination with death to whatever we don’t want is part of the problem. Perhaps the Hobby Lobby people have a point in not wanting to be part of it.

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Sea Island Dune Abuse http://likethedew.com/2014/06/28/sea-island-dune-abuse/ http://likethedew.com/2014/06/28/sea-island-dune-abuse/#comments Sat, 28 Jun 2014 15:21:37 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=56485 It's almost pathetic, the Sea Island Beach Club setting up a playground in the dunes along the lines of "if we build it, they will come."

Then along comes James Holland on one of his morning inspection flights, takes pictures and circles what he judges to be clearly illicit intrusions and impositions on the dynamic dunes.

And Holland's got the statutes to prove his point:

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4453-6-19-14-Sea-Island-Beach-Dune-Field

It’s almost pathetic, the Sea Island Beach Club setting up a playground in the dunes along the lines of “if we build it, they will come.”

Then along comes James Holland on one of his morning inspection flights, takes pictures and circles what he judges to be clearly illicit intrusions and impositions on the dynamic dunes.
4453-6-19-14-Sea-Island-Beach-Dune-Field2

And Holland’s got the statutes to prove his point:

Violation
Violation2

east-31But, there’s a couple of things Holland overlooked. He not only missed that fat-wheeled buggy parked on the left edge of his picture, but that rivulet of fertilizer/pesticide/herbicide runoff from the morning washing of the palm tree-studded lawn (whose installation has transformed the dune into an exempt highland). Nor does he call attention to the remnant of asphalt road in the upper right of his picture on which the Sea Island Acquisitions group base their claim of a right to exclude any intruders from the sea into their newly gated community.

On the other hand, it could be argued that the law Holland is citing doesn’t even address what has obviously taken place. The legislators apparently didn’t consider that, like “protected” vegetation, entire dunes are liable to being removed, whether it’s to “replenish” the beach or create a volleyball pit. Then, since there’s no longer a dune, what’s to prevent the incredibly shrinking Sea Island beach from being extended to the West?

0342-2-25-14-the-spit_595

That the vegetated sand dunes serve to prevent erosion by the wind apparently hasn’t registered yet. So, just as the groin to the south of the beach has hastened the erosion of the Spit, removing the dune will transfer of yet more sand down to East Beach.

ConeyIslandAerial2

Coney Island

If it seems implausible that the owners of a resort would engineer the destruction of their own venue, keep in mind that Sea Island Acquisitions is a bunch of Wall Street speculators, who picked up some real estate cheap and intend to make a profit on sales. So, what’s important in their book is that the concern look good — maybe like the Coney Island (cleaned up) that people remember or the beaches on the Riviera.

“If it looks attractive, somebody will buy it.”

That’s how speculators and exploiters think.

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Muffin Bribe http://likethedew.com/2014/06/16/muffin-bribe/ http://likethedew.com/2014/06/16/muffin-bribe/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 17:41:55 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=56294 Is it possible for citizens to be bribed for their votes by a muffin and/or a couple of slices of pizza? I sure hope not. In my case, I was really put off by Comcast and “Ready for Hillary” getting access to New Hampshire Democrats at their state convention via an infusion of callories for breakfast and lunch. It’s hard to know what the party staff were thinking when they invited Comcast to make a fifteen minute presentation and the Hillary people comcast a full hour to flog her book. “Hard Choices” is a phrase no Democrat should use, since it inevitably means that someone other than the chooser is in for a tough time.

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comcastIs it possible for citizens to be bribed for their votes by a muffin and/or a couple of slices of pizza? I sure hope not. In my case, I was really put off by Comcast and “Ready for Hillary” getting access to New Hampshire Democrats at their state convention via an infusion of callories for breakfast and lunch. It’s hard to know what the party staff were thinking when they invited Comcast to make a fifteen minute presentation and the Hillary people a full hour to flog her book. “Hard Choices” is a phrase no Democrat should use, since it inevitably means that someone other than the chooser is in for a tough time.

But then, the propagandistic mode was characteristic of the whole event. Not only was the internet inaccessible to participants, but, other than agreeing to pass resolutions in bulk, the assembled citizens had no opportunity to provide feedback, either during the main program or the afternoon break-out groups. The NHDP’s nominal communications director was left lecturing about Tweeting and Facebook without being able to access either. She wasn’t even embarrassed that she hadn’t bothered to insure the WiFi system would be accessible and useable by visitors. Cluelessness is obviously not just a Republican affliction.

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Rayonier — Splitting the un-Real from the Real http://likethedew.com/2014/06/05/rayonier-splitting-un-real-real/ http://likethedew.com/2014/06/05/rayonier-splitting-un-real-real/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 17:29:23 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=56133 Like an amoeba, Rayonier is splitting, but not in the interest of promoting organic existence. Rather, the real transformative and productive endeavors, which informed the operations of the original corporation to convert trees into paper and other useful products, is being left behind, as the new moniker, Rayonier Advanced Materials, Inc., is clearly designed to disguise, in the interest of promoting speculation in Real Estate development. I suppose we could say it's a matter of separating the doers from the seers.

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Georgia-Lowcountry

Like an amoeba, Rayonier is splitting, but not in the interest of promoting organic existence. Rather, the real transformative and productive endeavors, which informed the operations of the original corporation to convert trees into paper and other useful products, is being left behind, as the new moniker, Rayonier Advanced Materials, Inc., is clearly designed to disguise, in the interest of promoting speculation in Real Estate development. I suppose we could say it’s a matter of separating the doers from the seers.

Perhaps at one point in our history, “real estate” was actually descriptive of tangible assets which, through the application of intelligence and labor could be transformed into permanently useful products. More recently, it was all about “location, location” — a relative concept that served as a catch-all, ruling out the vast majority of locales as unsuitable for a variety of unmentionable rationales. Now, perhaps because it has become painfully obvious that a growing homeless population has no relationship whatsoever with the quantity of housing available for occupation, real estate enterprise, as exemplified by the invention of the Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT), is embracing speculation overtly.

Given this renewed commitment to speculation, it is probably entirely appropriate that they’ve recruited John Ellis (Jeb) Bush and former U.S. Senator Blanche Lincoln to sit on the Board of Directors — Bush because, as former Governor of Florida, he presumably knows something about legislative evasion, as well as the real estate business he entered with his college degree in Latin American affairs, and Lincoln because, as the replaced Senator from an Agricultural state, she knows something about agriculture and federal subsidies. Or, in the words of the Rayonier press release:

Her political experience will be invaluable to the Rayonier board in helping the company address a range of public policy and legislative trends.

Never mind that the nominal Democrat was turned out by her constituents and replaced by John Boozman, an optometrist, whom the voters preferred by a 21 point margin. Presumably, Boozman’s enterprise was a success, since he also had time to volunteer at clinics for the indigent and serve on the Rogers School Board.

Rayonier, meanwhile, has put itself in hock to accomplish this self-severance of its parts. According to a report filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission,

On May 22, 2014, Rayonier A.M. Products Inc. (the “Company”), a wholly owned subsidiary of Rayonier Inc. (“Rayonier”), entered into an indenture (the “Indenture”) with Wells Fargo Bank, National Association, as trustee (the “Trustee”), relating to the issuance by the Company of $550,000,000 aggregate principal amount of its 5.50% senior notes due 2024 (the “notes”). Rayonier Advanced Materials Inc. (“RYAM”), which will be the Company’s parent after the previously announced distribution by Rayonier of shares of RYAM common stock to shareholders of Rayonier (the “distribution”), and each of the Company’s wholly-owned subsidiaries (other than Rayonier Foreign Sales Corporation) have jointly and severally guaranteed the notes.

Why a corporation would voluntarily limit itself is a question I can’t answer. One hopes it has nothing to do with the fact that Rayonier is being sued by environmental groups for violating the provisions of the Clean Water Act. But, by its own admission, RYAM seems to have tied its hands.

Subject to certain qualifications and exceptions, the Indenture limits the ability of the Company, RYAM, and any restricted subsidiaries to, among other things, (i) incur, assume or guarantee additional indebtedness, (ii) pay dividends or make distributions or purchase or otherwise acquire or retire for value capital stock, (iii) make any principal payment on, or redeem or repurchase, subordinated debt, (iv) make loans and investments, (v) incur liens, (vi) sell or otherwise dispose of assets, including capital stock of subsidiaries, (vii) consolidate or merge with or into, or sell all or substantially all of its assets to, another person, and (viii) enter into transactions with affiliates.

Perhaps that accounts for the stock being downgraded to “underperform,” notwithstanding the company’s persistent claim (ever since 2008) that

The company’s holdings include approximately 200,000 acres with residential and commercial development potential along the fast-growing Interstate 95 corridor between Savannah, Georgia, and Daytona Beach, Florida.

That “potential” would seem to have got a bit tarnished. And, while the press releases grants that:

While management believes that these forward-looking statements are reasonable when made, forward-looking statements are not guarantees of future performance or events and undue reliance should not be placed on these statements.

That’s an admission from which a reasonable person can only conclude that the Real Estate Investment Trust is not to be trusted. If the buyer has been warned to be wary, then the buyer has no complaint. It’s the same logic they’re trying to pull with the waste water discharge permits they’ve acquired from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division. “We’ve got a permit to pollute, so don’t be surprised when we do.” That the clams are dead and the fish are rotting downstream is not their fault. Being “forward looking” and “speculating” does not mean some people actually see anything — certainly not while they’re sitting in a board room in Jacksonville. But, it’s not so easy to leave the real world behind. The fishermen know.

Neither Rayonier nor Rayonier Advanced Materials assumes any obligation to update these statements except as is required by law.

No wonder the Wall Street Journal disclaims any connection to Rayonier’s Friday news dump.

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Republicans are lazy http://likethedew.com/2014/05/27/republicans-lazy/ http://likethedew.com/2014/05/27/republicans-lazy/#comments Tue, 27 May 2014 22:32:45 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=56035 If it's hard, their solution is to just not do it. Maybe it's only Republicans in Georgia that react that way. Jack Kingston, who's now seeking a seat in the United States Senate, the gentleman's club, complained bitterly when the Democractic Speaker of the House decreed that that body would be in session five days a week. More recently, Kingston has been joined by Judson Turner, the Director of the state's Environmental Protection Division, who determined that protecting the marshes from pollution and sediment intrusion was just too hard and just wrote the whole thing off.

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If it’s hard, their solution is to just not do it. Maybe it’s only Republicans in Georgia that react that way. Jack Kingston, who’s now seeking a seat in the United States Senate, the gentleman’s club, complained bitterly when the Democractic Speaker of the House decreed that that body would be in session five days a week. More recently, Kingston has been joined by Judson Turner, the Director of the state’s Environmental Protection Division, who determined that protecting the marshes from pollution and sediment intrusion was just too hard and just wrote the whole thing off.

One gets the sense that Turner, a Nathan Deal appointee is not just lazy but daft. Who in his right mind would want to piss off the whole coastal region, the one part of the state that reliably votes Republican, in an election year?

Image: Bloody Marsh St. east of Simons Island by Ralph Daily

So, former public officials and editorial writers weigh in:

Susan Shipman: Former DNR official — New rule will harm Georgia’s iconic salt marshes

Posted: May 25, 2014 – 12:46am

By SUSAN SHIPMAN

‘I urge state legislators on both sides of the aisle to work together to re-establish the protections that our iconic and renowned coastal marshes deserve.’

Georgia’s coast is blessed with some of the most extensive salt marshes in the nation. Although our state has only 100 miles of coastline, Georgia stewards roughly one-third of the salt marsh on the East coast.

Why protect what our founding fathers viewed as buggy, boggy landscape not good for much anything?

Salt marshes provide invaluable services:

• They filter contaminated sediments, provide a water-based highway for commerce and host myriad recreational activities.

• Marshes also provide crucial habitat for threatened and endangered species; and, they serve as the nursery grounds, shelter, and food source for 75 percent of the commercially and recreationally important fish, crustaceans, and shellfish.

• The salt marsh-upland transitional zone is an important nesting ground for osprey, painted buntings, and diamondback terrapins.

• Of paramount importance to coastal residents, salt marshes buffer the mainland from flooding and storm surge.

• A quick look through the real estate listings affirms that a marsh vista also has tremendous aesthetic and economic value.

In 1975, the Georgia General Assembly passed the Erosion and Sedimentation Act to protect state water quality. The Act requires the establishment of a 25-foot vegetative buffer to protect waters of the state from runoff carrying silt, pollutants and contaminants.

Imagine my dismay on Earth Day when 20 years of salt marsh protection was vacated.

The EPD’s new policy pertaining to buffers on the high ground adjacent to salt marsh revolves around the definition of “wrested” — i.e., “twisted” or “pulled away” — vegetation, a term found in the Erosion & Sedimentation Act.

According to the new directive, a buffer shall not be established if an obvious erosional bank with wrested vegetation is not present. This new method for implementing the Erosion and Sedimentation Act ignores the reality that storm tides, winds and waves can wrest vegetation from a gently sloping marsh upland interface.

This directive leaves the hundreds of thousands of acres of Georgia’s salt marsh vulnerable to the same contamination the Erosion and Sedimentation Act was written to prevent.

The Georgia General Assembly has the opportunity during the next legislative session to end the buffer debate once and for all. The coast’s economic engine, sense of place and coastal lifestyle depend on the health and well being of our salt marsh.

Protection of our coastal marshlands is a non-partisan issue. I urge state legislators on both sides of the aisle to work together to re-establish the protections that our iconic and renowned coastal marshes deserve.

Susan Shipman is the former director of the Coastal Resources Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. She retired in 2009 after working 31 years with the DNR and lives on St. Simons Island.

And from the Savannah Morning News:

Editorial: Coastal counties must do the EPD’s job

Posted: May 24, 2014 – 10:53pm | Updated: May 25, 2014 – 12:57am

STATE LEADERS in far-off Atlanta may think it’s OK to strip away protections from Georgia’s salt marshes, which help shield the coast from floods and hurricanes and are critical to the success of the state’s fishing, crabbing and shrimping industries.

But here in Chatham County, this stuff is personal. We’re protecting our own.

Other coastal counties should follow suit.

When state Environmental Protection Division Judson Turner — an appointee of Gov. Nathal Deal — issued an ill-conceived memo on Earth Day last month that will leave coastal Georgia and its marsh more exposed and less protected, many feared the powers-that-be at the state capitol had the final word.

Fortunately, that’s not the case. Chatham County’s marsh buffer remains firmly in place.

In a memo issued May 8, County Environmental Program Coordinator Jefferson Kirkland reiterated the county’s requirement of a 35-foot vegetated buffer on most marsh-front properties.

“Fundamentally, the memorandum released by Georgia Department of Natural Resources, EPD, does not change the way Chatham County determines the presence and locations of the above described buffers,” he wrote.

Mr. Turner’s missive to the coast from the state EPD office instructed local authorities on how to enforce the state’s Erosion & Sediment Control Act. That act requires a minimum of a 25-foot vegetated buffer between the marsh and uplands. In a major change of state policy that dates back to 1993, Mr. Turner said the EPD would no longer enforce the 25-foot-rule in places where rapidly moving water prevented vegetation from growing along a bank.

That meant it was open season on development in some coastal areas, as far as officials in Atlanta concerned.

Mr. Turner’s memo was disappointing and out-of-touch. But frankly, it’s no surprise, as the EPD has behaved more like a lapdog than watchdog.

It was three years ago this weekend, along a placid stretch of the Ogeechee River northwest of Savannah, that Georgia suffered its worse fish kill in history. The investigation into the King America Finishing textile plant in Screven County, which dumped its effluent into the river, revealed an agency that was unwilling or incapable of pro-actively protecting public resources from harm.

But who needs the EPD? If the state agency won’t do its job, then individual Georgia counties must step up and impose their own buffer rules to protect public resources.

In Chatham County’s case, the local requirement will help shield at least 66,000 acres of salt marsh from potential danger. That’s roughly 17 percent of the total 378,000 acres of marsh on the coast. If county leaders in McIntosh, Glynn and Camden followed Chatham’s lead, then more of that acreage would be protected. The EPD’s ridiculous memo would be rendered meaningless.

Score one for the so-called “State of Chatham.” This is one of those times when it’s good to see responsible, local leaders taking care of the public’s business.

The proponents of “small government” and local control are often disingenuous control freaks who rationalize that smaller jurisdictions are easier to dominate. They often get their way because it is a matter of fact that the residents of an area or region are more familiar with environmental peculiarities and more capable of managing them effectively and efficiently. But, when the emphasis is on dominion or the exercise of political power — i.e. the control of the human population — the environment stands a good chance of being wasted to advantage some privileged group.

In this case, it would seem that forestry and logging interests, having depleted the resources, have decided to transform themselves into Real Estate Investment Trusts, which depend on even more drainage of the wetlands than tree growers imposed on the coastal plain. So, instead of accommodating the natural environment with detention and retention basins, they’re looking to maximize their profit by dedicating every square inch to turf and asphalt and concrete impoundments (swimming pools).

I got a call today from the Ocean Conservancy, which wants to blame the decrease of fish in the oceans on over-fishing. I couldn’t resist observing that the reason the fish population has decreased is because the ocean waters have been poisoned by pesticide and herbicide run-off and industrial contamination and the marsh nurseries have been destroyed.

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I hate planning! http://likethedew.com/2014/04/27/hate-planning/ http://likethedew.com/2014/04/27/hate-planning/#comments Sun, 27 Apr 2014 11:53:15 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=55747 Never mind that in the U.S. it has been become all the rage, since the supposed cradle of central planning, the U.S.S.R., crumbled. That raises suspicion about the sincerity of the opponents to begin with, but might be explained as a simple case of rivalry rearing its head. More worrisome is the realization that, in terms of man's well being, failure may be what planning ultimately aims for.

In other words, planning on a grand scale looks to be designed to destroy the population for whom it claims to provide...

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SaltMarsh

Never mind that in the U.S. it has become all the rage, since the supposed cradle of central planning, the U.S.S.R., crumbled. That raises suspicion about the sincerity of the opponents to begin with, but might be explained as a simple case of rivalry rearing its head. More worrisome is the realization that, in terms of man’s well being, failure may be what planning ultimately aims for.

In other words, planning on a grand scale looks to be designed to destroy the population for whom it claims to provide. Sort of like Temple Grandin adjusting the chute into the slaughterhouse to facilitate the cattle’s transit with no fuss and no muss.

What’s prompting these dark ruminations?

The Georgia Coastal Management Program, which had been rumored, has finally been found, if not in plain sight, on the internet. Initially promulgated in 1997,

there have been numerous changes in the Program specifically related to the enforceable policies that are the basis for Federal Consistency Review. The process for updating enforceable policies of a coastal management program is prescribed by NOAA and involves the notification of new or modified policies to federal agencies and other affected parties.

The mention of NOAA, the people who warn us about hurricanes, makes it sound innocuous, but “Federal Consistency” should give pause. Because, as we find under the heading “Uses Subject to Management,” subjugation is what this whole agenda is about. Subjugation to what, one might ask? Then an old nemesis pops up, the “national interest.”

“National interest” is, of course, the precursor of the “national security” craze and its partner “national defense.” Which, again, sounds innocent enough, as long as the nation is just a catch-all designation for all the people living in these United States. But that’s not what prompts comedian Stephen Colbert’s sardonic reference to his viewers as “nation.” No, the nation, whose interests and security concerns prompt spoofing is not all of us together. Rather, it’s the designation for a secular sovereign, aka the rule of law, which gets invoked whenever people are not doing what they should.

Which is really perverse, when one considers that the law as regards individuals is supposed to be about preventing wrong, not making them do what’s right. If people are to be ordered around, they’re to be compensated with pay. Who knows when public servants’ inability to understand that began, but it was obviously in full flower by 1997 and informed Georgia’s plan.

Chapter 6 makes is plain.

As lead agency for the Georgia Coastal Management Program, the Coastal Resources Division recognizes that there is considerable national interest in the effective management, beneficial use, protection, and development of the coastal area in Georgia, and in all coastal states.

Note that there is no mention of preservation or even conservation.

The following concerns are considered by the State of Georgia to be of such long range, comprehensive importance as to be in the national interest: (1) National Defense; (2) Energy Production and Transmission; (3) Transportation, Ports and Navigation; and (4) Coastal Resources (significant fish/shellfish/crustacean species and habitats; threatened wildlife habitats; public recreation areas; freshwater aquifers; historic, cultural, and archeological sites; barrier islands; and wetlands).

Wetlands, the very essence of the coast, come at the very end, a mere after-thought. One can fairly conclude, I think, that the Coast Guard, a military organization, being in charge is not a happenstance.

Consideration of national interest in program implementation is achieved by the review, certification and permitting process conducted by the Coastal Resources Division.

In other words, the object of the permitting process is not to preserve and sustain the natural resource base, but to promote the national interest, however and by whomever it happens to be currently defined. The opponents of “big government” have reason to be concerned, but they don’t seem to understand that their fearful posture and clamour for national defense is what prompts this essentially useless expansion of the federal role. Useless, because nothing is actually accomplished by having bureaucrats certify that an imposition of man-made structures on our rivers and wetlands is in the national interest. If the national interest is to be served, permits have to be issued and people have to be harassed until they apply.

What we’ve got here is a perfect example of form taking precedence over function. The permitting agency doesn’t care about the cumulative effect of man-made “improvements” (which can, conveniently, be taxed by local authorities), as long as permits, the evidence of their importance, are issued. The health of the environment, including the people living in it, is not an issue. Indeed, the word “health” is not to be found in the entire chapter, not as a rationale for “management” nor to justify regulation.

Justice Anthony Kennedy asserts that permits must be issued, but his explanation that individual applicants have a right to get them falls short. Permits must be issued, once permitting agencies have been set up, because the permits are evidence of the agency’s function–like water flowing out of a faucet.

It is sometimes considered as evidence of Richard Nixon’s good intent that he supervised the creation of the Environmental Protection Agency. However, in light of subsequent developments, one can reasonably conclude that the primary focus was on “protection,” as a response to his perception of threats coming from every direction, and the natural environment was just one more venue to which the protection of the national interest could be applied. In other words, the object wasn’t even to regulate or make regular, but just to exercise control — an attitude which obviously persists to this day, as can be seen in statements such as the following:

The national interest in wetlands is reflected throughout all of the policies, which provide strong protection against unwarranted dredging, filling or other alteration of coastal and freshwater wetlands.

“Unwarranted.” Now there’s a loophole we can drive an army through. Or could, if the military weren’t already exempt from any review. Which is why we have a host of former military installations remaining as pockets of contamination all over the country. The mess left behind by industrial enterprise actually pales in comparison. But, that’s another matter.

That a policy provides protection is, of course, a peculiar, albeit characteristic, notion that informs the thinking of idealists, people who believe that the idea or intent is all that matters, because function will somehow automatically follow what was meant. And indeed, in the company of well-intentioned people, that does sometimes happen. People do what others suggest to be agreeable and compliant.

But, some humans aren’t well-intentioned; some are predatory creatures, out to exploit not only the resources of nature, but their own kind. For them, an amorphous concept such as the “national interest” suits their purpose to a ‘t’. It lets them wreck havoc with impunity; all under the umbrella of the rule of law. After all if a man’s livelihood, or even his whole community, is destroyed in the national interest, that’s just too bad. As long as due process has been followed, the miscreants get off.

So, when you come to think of it, unintended consequences, like collateral damage, aren’t really a happenstance. There’s always a plan. The problem lies not in the stars, but in our priorities or lack of same.

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