LikeTheDew.com » Monica Smith http://likethedew.com A journal of progressive Southern culture and politics Fri, 25 Jul 2014 13:36:11 +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 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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‘Not everyone named Michelle is a loser’ http://likethedew.com/2014/04/11/everyone-named-michelle-loser/ http://likethedew.com/2014/04/11/everyone-named-michelle-loser/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 02:16:22 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=55628 That’s what the spouse said when I wrote him how surprised and disappointed I was to discover that Michelle Nunn has gratuitously endorsed the XL pipeline from Canada, because buying oil from “neighbors” is better than from overseas, as well as to read a report that Nunn wants changes to Obamacare to allow cheaper policies for the young.

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michelleThat’s what the spouse said when I wrote him how surprised and disappointed I was to discover that Michelle Nunn has gratuitously endorsed the XL pipeline from Canada, because buying oil from “neighbors” is better than from overseas, as well as to read a report that Nunn wants changes to Obamacare to allow cheaper policies for the young. Like they don’t have car accidents and sports injuries, etc? (Read the other day that there’s a chance auto and workmen’s comp insurance rates are going to decrease now that people have health insurance. Ripple effect).

He went on to observe that “Kenny and Tracy have a full-sized virtual Michelle Obama in their dining room.” (see right) And that reminded me that I’d captured Michelle’s virtual appearance on Colbert Nation the other night.

More evidence that there’s a stealth campaign underway. My money is on a Biden/Obama ticket in 2016. Just today the lady duo was making news at the White House, according to the Washington Post:

First lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, who have teamed up for the last three years to support military families as part of the Joining Forces initiative, announced at the White House Friday additional efforts to support caregivers, with the help of public and private partnerships.

‘Twas not an affair to sneeze at since they were joined “by former senator Elizabeth Dole, R-North Carolina, and former first lady Rosalyn Carter.” Lots of bipartisan credibility there. According to the press release:

The Department of Defense will offer all military caregivers a peer-to-peer support initiative. Over the next 14 months, the Department of Defense will create forums for caregivers at every military installation around the world that serves wounded warriors and their caregivers.

The successful Chamber of Commerce Hiring Our Heroes program will pilot an initiative to help caregivers find jobs. The Chamber of Commerce will expand its current job fair program focused on veterans by developing a targeted program in areas with high concentrations of military caregivers, namely, those around military treatment facilities. Recognizing that many military caregivers have limited flexibility, the Chamber of Commerce will also incorporate caregivers into a virtual job fair program. Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce will host a summit for the business community in September to promote employment and workplace friendly environments for military caregivers.

The Military Officers of Association of American (MOAA), with assistance from the USAA Bank, the Elizabeth Dole Foundation, and the American Bar Association (ABA), is launching an online guide to aid caregivers in contingency planning and decision making. The Web site will be a major public portal for caregivers across the country to access free financial, legal and social resources, including military and veteran benefits and support during or after transitioning from the military. This initiative will be further enhanced through a major national collaborative effort Lawyers for Heroes, a partnership between Public Council’s Center for Veterans Advancement, the ABA and MOAA to offer free legal support to military families who are struggling the most financially. Google will incorporate its online collaboration service Helpouts into the site, giving military caregivers the ability to speak online with social workers who can provide free screening and resource assistance.

Can you say co-opting GOP values? Military, merchants and moms. Three Ms for the 21st Century, instead of apple pie.

Of course, I could be wrong. But at this point, Michelle Obama looks a lot stronger than Michelle Nunn.

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Preventing Crime: U.S. v. Castleman http://likethedew.com/2014/03/29/preventing-crime-u-s-v-castleman/ http://likethedew.com/2014/03/29/preventing-crime-u-s-v-castleman/#comments Sat, 29 Mar 2014 13:39:07 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=55509 I've argued for some time that, if we are serious about preventing serious crime, then we address behavior at an early stage -- i.e. when it's just abusive and not the cause of serious injury. Now the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has agreed that a proved abuser of another's rights can be properly deprived of the right to own a tool, whose sole purpose is to perpetrate an assault from a distance. Mr. Castleman of Tennessee is prohibited from owning a gun because over a decade ago he was convicted of having abused a spouse.

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Domestic_violence_gunsI’ve argued for some time that, if we are serious about preventing serious crime, then we address behavior at an early stage — i.e. when it’s just abusive and not the cause of serious injury. Now the Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision, has agreed that a proved abuser of another’s rights can be properly deprived of the right to own a tool, whose sole purpose is to perpetrate an assault from a distance. Mr. Castleman of Tennessee is prohibited from owning a gun because over a decade ago he was convicted of having abused a spouse.

Castleman pleaded guilty to “intentionally or knowingly caus[ing] bodily injury to” the mother of his child, and the knowing or intentional causation of bodily injury necessarily involves the use of physical force. First, a “bodily injury” must result from “physical force.” The common-law concept of “force” encompasses even its indirect application, making it impossible to cause bodily injury without applying force in the common-law sense. Second, the knowing or intentional application of force is a “use” of force. Leocal v.Ashcroft, 543 U. S. 1, distinguished. Pp. 10–13.

While there is, of course, no evidence, the fellow’s name, Castleman, may well account for why he was moved to challenge further punishment for what he plead guilty to in the first place. He may simply have pled to what he considered a nuisance charge, given that “a man’s home is his castle,” after all. Now, how’s he supposed to protect his castle, if he can’t have a gun?

Never mind that the statistics all indicate that a gun in the house poses a threat to all the people living there — a threat that is actualized on a daily basis.

…death certificate data indicate that 680 Americans were killed accidentally with guns each year between 2003 and 2007. Half those victims were under the age of 25.
/…/
Nonfatal gun injuries occur at the average rate of 20 a day in the United States — and that doesn’t include pellet-gun injuries (which average 45 day) or injuries that don’t involve a bullet wound (like powder burns and recoil injuries).

While that rate is less than are killed in/by motor vehicles every day (40,000 a year), since guns are designed and made to kill, the carnage can’t by any stretch of the imagination be defined as incidental. Letting so many people expire in the prime of life is itself abusive.

As I’ve observed often enough, when authority stands silent in the face of abuse, it becomes complicit. This time, the SCOTUS spoke up, in unison.

Justice Scalia had to write a separate opinion to quibble about the meaning of “physical force.” He doesn’t want it extended to “offensive touching.” I think that’s telling in the context of my frequent contention that the sense of touch is either weak or missing in persons inclined towards the conservative persuasion. Sight and sound are meaningful; being touched less so. And some, of course, are totally “out of touch.” So, Scalia can rule out the mere possession of a gun because the sight of it constitutes a threat.

Castleman should have left well enough alone. The primary charge against him involved selling weapons on the black market. So, challenging that he wasn’t entitled to have them in the first place seems to have been prompted by pride. Now millions of domestic abusers have definitively lost the right to go armed into the fray. We can thank James Alvin Castleman for that.

For more background, see Amy Barasch’s assessment in Slate.

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How I came to be living on an island by the sea http://likethedew.com/2014/03/23/came-living-island-sea/ http://likethedew.com/2014/03/23/came-living-island-sea/#comments Sun, 23 Mar 2014 15:52:56 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=55120 From 1954 to 1956 we lived down the street from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Two years was about par for course for living anywhere, but I did get to spend my high school years in the vicinity of 161st Street, albeit in three different apartments. By that time, relocating every two years had become one of my maternal parents fixed habits.

It is said that seven moves are equivalent to a house going up in flames.

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From 1954 to 1956 we lived down the street from Yankee Stadium in the Bronx. Two years was about par for course for living anywhere, but I did get to spend my high school years in the vicinity of 161st Street, albeit in three different apartments. By that time, relocating every two years had become one of my maternal parents fixed habits.

It is said that seven moves are equivalent to a house going up in flames. Truth be told, when our house burnt down, it was actually less disruptive than settling in big apartment buildings and getting used to the neighbors. But, at least, remaining in the vicinity of the subway/elevated stop at Yankee Stadium meant attending the same school and accessing the same stores and entertainment venues. Since moving from apartment to apartment consumed quite a bit of money, there was never much for entertainment. Indeed, getting a knish or a loaf of fresh-baked French bread after school did double duty. And, as far as I can remember, we only visited the local movie house once.

I suppose it was because my mother did not understand spoken English very well that she shunned TV (wouldn’t have one in the house) and limited her movie-going to the spectacle and costume dramas that reminded her of her tenure, as a teen, as a ballet dancer at the Munich Opera. So we saw “Quo Vadis” and the like for the costuming and exotic venues, which also served as reminders of yearly vacations in the Mediterranean and the Middle East.

And that was the context in which she took me to a show that had come to the lowly neighborhood theatre and spared her the expense of taking in a Broadway show. The title, “The View from Pompey’s Head,” led her to anticipate a pictorial return to Italy, where she had climbed Mount Vesuvius and ruined a pair of shoes on the volcanic soil under which lay the ruins of Pompeii.

Given those expectations, the movie, starring Richard Egan, Dana Wynter, Cameron Mitchell and Sidney Blackmer, made no sense. Which may well account for why I always remembered the title, as the exception to my usual forgetfulness when it came to movies–not an inconsiderable habit, given my spouse’s professional and recreational interest in such things. Not inconsiderable but also not really annoying because it provided an excuse for endless retellings of plots and acting achievements without my being bored.

I note that the case notes for the modern DVD are not quite accurate:

… a New York lawyer … returns to his Southern home town to investigate an embezzlement charge …. But it is the novelist himself who is siphoning off his earnings ….

By putting the back-story in the present tense, the notes undermine the rather complex social relationships that are being displayed, not just between blacks and whites, but between the lower and snotty upper class. None of which registered with me at all since, at that point in time (1956), having had little to no interaction with “real” native born Americans in the immigrant communities in which we lived, the story line was a mystery from beginning to end.

Other than Southern California, where we lived for a few years, I hadn’t a clue that the American South is a special place. And then, when I met the man who was to be my spouse and claimed to be from there, the stories he told were surely fictions and his disdain for family connections an effort to relate to a young woman who had none. A honeymoon trip to Mississippi, in the summer of 1964, came as such a shock (dirt roads in the United States!) that it was, like a bad movie, best forgot. Then, in 1977, the spouse announced he was going back. The South, he proclaimed, had changed and Florida, which isn’t quite the South anyway, offered a good job and the prospect of tenure at an expanding university.

The promise of permanence convinced me and I stuck it out in what was surely a third-world country for fifteen years. And for fifteen years of annual trips back to New England we dutifully heeded the local injunction not to stop anywhere in Georgia, that den of inquity. Since the distance from Florida’s border to South Carolina is just a hundred miles, it wasn’t hard to comply. Besides, the flat marshlands and pine plantations gave no hint that there was anything worth stopping to see.

However, in 1992 it happened that our friend Jim came to visit and, having taken him on excursions to the springs, the Gulf and the Ocean, as well as the Okefenokee Swamp, we’d sort of run out of places to visit and it occurred to me that Cumberland Island, recently declared a national seashore just across the border in Georgia might be of interest. So that’s where we headed on a sunshiney October 30th. But, a visit to Cumberland was not to be, since I hadn’t thought to secure reservations on the boat (the only access from St. Mary’s), and we had to explore alternatives. A look at the map revealed more islands just a bit further north, so we drove on to Jekyll, taried on a sand beach with school kids on an outing and then thought to head even further north to St. Simons for supper and an overnight stay, for it was getting towards dusk and we were famished. We stopped at a sea food place on the causeway and then discovered there were no rooms to be had on the island because the football fans for the Florida/Georgia game had requisitioned every inch.

PompeysSo, we headed back to the mainland, located a Day’s Inn and vowed to at least see the beach in the morning before heading back to Gainesville to beat the rush of football fans. And that’s how I came home. For that’s what I felt when we stepped onto the sand on East Beach and caught sight of the ocean at first light. I was home, but I didn’t know why.

Later that year, on another visit, we toured a small art museum and the spouse chatted with Mildren Huey about art and movies and such and discovered that a movie, “The View from Pompey’s Head” had been filmed on the islands, as well as Brunswick and Savannah.

Their conversation about movies hardly registered with me, as usual, and, of course, I remembered nothing of the film, other than the title. But, I was quite determined that St. Simons is where I wanted to live and several things conspired to make it happen. We bought a house at 61 Maxwell, rebuilt it and dug a pond in the back yard and I’ve lived here ever since, more or less, at least in my mind. The six years in New Hampshire from 2003 to 2009 were to make up for the spouse having commuted for ten years from Gainesville to indulge my preference for Georgia.

But, neither of us knew where that came from until the spouse thought to get a copy of “The View from Pompey’s Head,” which was reissued as a DVD in 2008. The very first image of the movie obviously got stuck in my memory.

The dunes are still the same.

Only the names have been changed to Tamberlain and Pompey’s Head (recalling Hilton Head).

Even Fort Frederica and Jekyll’s Driftwood beach get to play a part.

The first word of the movie is “memory,” as if memory were to be called out. Apparently, it worked.

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Athens, Georgia in 1947 http://likethedew.com/2014/03/13/athens-georgia-1947/ http://likethedew.com/2014/03/13/athens-georgia-1947/#comments Thu, 13 Mar 2014 13:50:25 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=54966 The University of Georgia media collection features a handful of town films. The one about Athens, Georgia is the most complete in the sense of presenting the whole community, on the ground and from the air. The description accompanying the offering on the web page is somewhat inaccurate:

Because of its business and housing content, we believe this 16mm color amateur film of scenes in and around Athens was made by Joel A. Weir who was, at that time, Executive Director of the Athens Housing Authority as well as Director of the Athens Chamber of Commerce (1931-1949). This short clip (14 mins.) is excerpted from the full film (approx. 45 mins.) and is silent.

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The University of Georgia media collection features a handful of town films. The one about Athens, Georgia is the most complete in the sense of presenting the whole community, on the ground and from the air.


The description accompanying the offering on the web page is somewhat inaccurate:

Because of its business and housing content, we believe this 16mm color amateur film of scenes in and around Athens was made by Joel A. Weir who was, at that time, Executive Director of the Athens Housing Authority as well as Director of the Athens Chamber of Commerce (1931-1949). This short clip (14 mins.) is excerpted from the full film (approx. 45 mins.) and is silent.

Brick-Athens1947-2cThe version on the web site is 37 minutes in length, while the offering on Youtube is just short of 3 minutes of speeded up footage of the white folks in town.

Why this text has not been updated to be consistent with the 37 minute version is a puzzlement.

The more striking aspects of the footage are the extreme differences shown between the houses along Milledge and Prince Avenues, and the African-American neighborhoods, as well as the then fairly new public housing and apartments along Broad Street. Rev. Charles Knox of Athens has identified these neighborhoods as “Tip Toe Alley” (between Finley and Newton Streets at Baxter St.) and “Linden Town” (Lumpkin near Baxter), both of which were razed for public housing and for University of Georgia expansion.

Other footage not shown in this online clip includes local service organization members (Kiwanis, Pilot Club) gathering for lunch downtown, local bankers and businessmen outside their buildings, a scene of the Chamber of Commerce building, aerial views of Athens, a livestock auction at the Northeast Georgia Livestock Association building, a Shriners’ parade downtown, the airport, UGA campus scenes, the Garden Club of Georgia’s Founders Garden, a golf course, Athens General Hospital, and the Rodgers Hosiery Company.

The referenced material is all in the current online version, though obviously not in the 3 minute teaser. Since livestock and brick are still major enterprises in that part of the state, there’s no reason to leave them out.

Is it embarrassing that the only evidence of labor is that being performed by Athens’ black citizens, by a child’s nurse (complete with uniform), pulling a wagon, wash bleaching on the line and only the children at play?

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Sea Island: “Cesspool in the Dunes” http://likethedew.com/2014/03/01/sea-island-cesspool-dunes/ http://likethedew.com/2014/03/01/sea-island-cesspool-dunes/#comments Sat, 01 Mar 2014 13:46:49 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=54860 Instead of naming their new subdivisions the Dune Cottages, the Ocean Forest Cottages and the Riverside Cottages and then running their Dune Avenue down the Sea Island Spit, where the Loggerhead Turtles nest and 144 species of birds come to rest, making reference to the sea of effluent on which their cottages sit would be more honest, but it wouldn't attract many new buyers for Sea Island Coastal Properties' million dollar lots, would it?

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SaveTheSpit_ad_low_res
lotsaInstead of naming their new subdivisions the Dune Cottages, the Ocean Forest Cottages and the Riverside Cottages and then running their Dune Avenue down the Sea Island Spit, where the Loggerhead Turtles nest and 144 species of birds come to rest, making reference to the sea of effluent on which their cottages sit would be more honest, but it wouldn’t attract many new buyers for Sea Island Coastal Properties’ million dollar lots, would it?

And it probably wouldn’t please the realtors trying to move the 29 extant mansions in the million dollar plus range (For anyone looking to pay less for a house on a septic tank there are only four “Affordable Homes“). Certainly no-one ever mentions the need to accommodate tanks and leach fields under ground as the reason for all those expansive lawns and why sitting on an eight foot “high dune” is a boon, even though a hurricane tide will rise to thirteen. Sand is good for percolation, but an unmentionable. “What people don’t know can’t hurt them,” or so the old saying goes, but there is evidence that the denizens of the marshlands don’t thrive on sewage. Marex, the University of Georgia’s Marine Extension Service is even trying to prove it.

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The University of Georgia Marine Extension Service has implemented a Section 319 grant project to conduct a comprehensive environmental regulatory program for officials of local governments and homeowners concerning the relationship between individual OSDS (septic systems) and surface and ground water quality.

This program stresses the requirement for protection and prevention of septic contamination, thus calling for periodic inspection and maintenance by home owners. The primary step is to identify and locate existing OSDS and wells, with individual systems being visually inspected by local health department personnel.

OSDS
They’ve made a pretty good start. While this partial map of Glynn County, Georgia, locates a major problem in the western part of the County, where various industrial sites also contaminated the ground and waters with waste, the Sea Island tanks aren’t front and center, but they’re also no longer on page 175 of the 228 page Master Plan the consultants prepared for the Water and Sewer Commission five years ago. It was almost as if the recommendations for the immediate coast were to be overlooked, perhaps because the data hadn’t been forthcoming.

Based on these results, if the majority of the RD I/I (Rain Derived Inflow and Infiltration) is eliminated from the St. Simons Island gravity sewer collection system, the 4.0 MGD WPCP will have more than sufficient capacity to serve the 2029 needs of St. Simons Island, Sea Island, and Lanier Island, including the majority of the current septic system users. The 0.048 MGD Golden Isles Marina WPCP on Lanier Island should also have sufficient capacity to serve the 2029 needs of Lanier Island. However, if the measured flows at the St. Simons Island WPCP, and therefore RD I/I flows, are considered instead of the estimated sewer generation rates, the per capita sewer generation rate increases and the projected 2029 St. Simons Island average daily sewer flow jumps to 3.80 MGD.

It is unlikely that all the RD I/I can be cost effectively removed from the St. Simons Island sanitary sewer system. It is reasonable to assume that at least 25% of the RD I/I flows will not be removed. If 25% of the RD I/I flows remain, the projected 2029 St. Simons Island average daily sewer flow is approximately 3.02 MGD. Table 7.11 presents the total average daily sewer flow for 2029 from the service areas if RD I/I is not eliminated from the system.

Table 7.11 2029 Sewer Generation Projections with RD I/I Flows Incorporated

RDI:I

Essentially, if improvements are not made to the St. Simons Island gravity sewer system to significantly eliminate RD I/I flows, the additional flows from septic systems cannot be absorbed into the sewer collection system without exceeding the 4.0 MGD capacity of the St. Simons Island WPCP. It should be noted that the St. Simons Island flows projected for 2029 which include either the 25% or 100% RD I/I flows are based on the current average RD I/I flows observed at the WPCP. If efforts are not made to improve the gravity sewer system, the piping and manholes will continue to deteriorate and fail and it is likely that the actual future RD I/I flows will be much greater than those presented above.

It is in the best interest of the County and the WPCP collection system to continue with the ongoing rehabilitation efforts to eliminate RD I/I from the gravity sewer system. Such efforts will improve the integrity of the sewer system, reduce environmental impacts, and extend the capacity of the WPCP beyond the 20-year planning period.

Whether it would truly be in the best interest of the residents of St. Simons Island, where the sewage treatment plant sits, to pay higher rates to exclude rain water from the sewer lines, never mind raising the manholes out of the flood plain, so the denizens of Sea Island can be accommodated whenever they decide to hook on, is debatable. But, perhaps what made the consultants reticent were some of their other assumptions, such as that Sea Island was “built out” and 441 residents were all one could expect needing to be serve. According to the Environmental Health Department, a state entity, btw, even their estimate of 400 septic tanks (OSDS = on-site disposal system) was largely a wild guess.
In the event, the whole north end of the island has been carved up into gated enclaves and a golf course in the interim, while the historic Cloister Hotel has been rebuilt and any number of condos plopped down on the south end. And, presumably, the latter are served by the force main, with a single manhole, that’s been run down the island’s spine.

Glynn County Community Development GIS was even able to generate a map.
GlynnGIS2
Maybe the island should be called “Dog Heaven.” In case it’s not clear, all those dots on the map are fire hydrants — 103 of them, along with one manhole and seven lift stations. Lift stations are holding tanks with pumps that are designed to push the sewage along. But, whether the lift stations on the map are actually in place is hard to tell. At least one of the lots identified in the public records as having a lift station on it has a rather storied record as a McMansion.
cesspool1
A notice in the Brunswick News tells quite a lot.

NOTICE OF SALE UNDER POWER GEORGIA, GLYNN COUNTY
4 years ago | 69 views | |
NOTICE OF SALE UNDER POWER GEORGIA, GLYNN COUNTY Because of default in the payment of the indebtedness, secured by a Security Deed executed by John L Varner to Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc. dated July 5, 2007 in the amount of $5,000,000.00, and recorded in Deed Book 2262, Page 31, Glynn County, Georgia Records; as last transferred to TMST Home Loans, Inc. by assignment; the undersigned, TMST Home Loans, Inc. pursuant to said deed and the note thereby secured, has declared the entire amount of said indebtedness due and payable and pursuant to the power of sale contained in said deed, will on the first Tuesday in April, 2010 , during the legal hours of sale, at the Courthouse door in Glynn County, sell at public outcry to the highest bidder for cash, the property described in said deed to-wit: All that certain lot, tract or parcel of land situate, lying and being on Sea Island, Glynn County, Georgia, as described on that certain plat of survey prepared by Robert N. Shupe, Georgia Registered Land Surveyor No. 2224, entitled “Minor subdivision plat of Ocean Cottages at Ocean Forest, Phase Six” dated March 21, 2003, and recorded in Plat Drawer 29, Map No. 52, in The Office of the Clerk of Superior Court of Glynn County, Georgia, as all of Lot 17, Ocean Cottages at Ocean Forest, Phase Six. Reference is hereby made to said plat and to the record thereof for further purposes of description and identification of said property and for all other purposes. Also included herein is an easement for the purposes of vehicular and pedestrian access, ingress and egress, over, through, and across the streets and lanes shown on the several plats of survey for the various phases of Ocean Forest, all recorded in said Clerk`s Office, including but not limited to the streets and lanes known as “Ocean Road,” “Forest Road,” and “Forest Lane”. which has the property address of 801 Ocean Road, Sea Island, Georgia., together with all fixtures and other personal property conveyed by said deed. The sale will be held subject to any unpaid taxes, assessments, rights-of-way, easements, protective covenants or restrictions, liens, and other superior matters of record which may affect said property. The sale will be conducted subject (1) to confirmation that the sale is not prohibited under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and (2) to final confirmation and audit of the status of the loan with the holder of the security deed. Notice has been given of intention to collect attorneys’ fees in accordance with the terms of the note secured by said deed. Said property will be sold as the property of VarnerFamily Holdings, LLC and the proceeds of said sale will be applied to the payment of said indebtedness, the expense of said sale, all as provided in said deed, and the undersigned will execute a deed to the purchaser as provided in the aforementioned Security Deed. TMST Home Loans, Inc. Attorney in Fact for John L Varner Anthony DeMarlo, Attorney/kgrant McCurdy & Candler, L.L.C. (404) 373-1612 www.mccurdycandler.com File No. 10-04675 /CONV THIS LAW FIRM IS ACTING AS A DEBT COLLECTOR AND IS ATTEMPTING TO COLLECT A DEBT. ANY INFORMATION OBTAINED WILL BE USED FOR THAT PURPOSE.

But, it doesn’t tell all. It doesn’t tell that this residence, built on the edge of the ocean, ONE foot above sea level and on which some financial institution lent $5 million  in 2007, was most recently sold in 2012 for $2.9 million, an appraisal the tax assessor accepts and on which the new owners owe $28,478.88 in taxes and for having their garbage collected. Of course, the nesting sites that were displaced by the arrival of the Varner Family in 2003 contributed no revenue to the county coffers. And that may well explain why our elected officials are complicit in this ruination of the landscape.

Given that the elevation on the north end of Sea Island ranges from one to nine feet above sea level, the 16-foot dune on the Spit must look real attractive, if they can just sell off the lots to “sophisticated” buyers before the ocean carries them away. But, since the force main is more than 200 feet away, current law doesn’t require connections from new development, unless the rules are changed and, so far, nobody’s paying attention to the underground. That OSDS are regulated by the Health Department, a state agency, while public sewers are a local government concern may well be part of the problem. While much data gets fed into computers, there’s apparently some interest in people not co-ordinating and not knowing what’s going on.

How else did a Master Plan, for which consultants were paid good money, get laid on the shelf at a time when force mains and fire hydrants were being installed? Yes, the facilities are available, but who knew they’re not being used? It’s no wonder the marsh buffers are being disturbed. The leach fields have to go somewhere and taking out the mature oaks destroys the ambience of the place.

Meanwhile, the marshes are considered valueless, except as a viewshed, and our tax assessors seem to agree. How else are the 1,300 acres of marsh between Sea Island and St. Simons appraised at $600 and assessed $5.87 in tax? Hardly worth sending out the tax bill.

Maybe what we need to get some attention is a moratorium on new building. Besides, money seems to be tight. Why else would Sea Island’s annual fees to the Secretary of State be in arrears?

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North Carolina is not the only one http://likethedew.com/2014/02/22/north-carolina-one/ http://likethedew.com/2014/02/22/north-carolina-one/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 15:14:51 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=54782 James Holland has dug into his archives from his days as the Altamaha River Keeper (ARK) to remind us that it's not just North Carolina that's got a coal waste problem.

The Duke Energy coal ash spill in North Carolina has been in the news a lot, as of late. This tragedy on the Dan River in North Carolina started me to thinking about how one of Georgia's main rivers and lakes may be quite vulnerable to a coal ash spill at Milledgeville, Georgia. The lake is Lake Sinclair and the river that is dammed to create Lake Sinclair is the Oconee River in the Altamaha River watershed.

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James Holland has dug into his archives from his days as the Altamaha River Keeper (ARK) to remind us that it’s not just North Carolina that’s got a coal waste problem.

Plant-HarleyThe Duke Energy coal ash spill in North Carolina has been in the news a lot, as of late. This tragedy on the Dan River in North Carolina started me to thinking about how one of Georgia’s main rivers and lakes may be quite vulnerable to a coal ash spill at Milledgeville, Georgia. The lake is Lake Sinclair and the river that is dammed to create Lake Sinclair is the Oconee River in the Altamaha River watershed.

The Dan River spill got me to thinking about how many of my friends up and down this great Altamaha River Watershed had ever seen a coal ash pond (waste water from a coal burning electrical generating plant). The name of this plant is the Harley Branch Electrical Generating Plant owned by the Georgia Power Company.
Lake-Sinclair
The attached photos are old, taken by me in 2009, but you can get a general idea from these photos what would happen if we had such a spill, as the Dan River spill, into Lake Sinclair.

Just so folks can’t say I am picking on this plant at Milledgeville, in this water shed we also have other large manufacturing plants with huge, ugly nasty waste water holding ponds, fronting on our river banks. We have the Rayonier pulp mill at Jesup and the Brunswick Cellulose Plant in Brunswick on the Turtle River. All of the plants would create a catastrophe in the event of a major spill at any of these sites.

To which I can only suggest a slight amendment: “what man hath joined together, he’s obliged to take apart.” Drowning our waste is about on a par with drowning our sorrows at the bar.

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The TEA Conundrum http://likethedew.com/2014/02/14/tea-conundrum/ http://likethedew.com/2014/02/14/tea-conundrum/#comments Fri, 14 Feb 2014 13:48:41 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=54717 The Taxed Enough Already people were/are deceived, but they can't see it. Why? It's not the fault, as some people would have it, of the corporate (Koch) effort to take these disgusted citizens over. And it's not that the corporate claim to being sympathetic and understanding of the plight of being taxed too much, which the corporations surely aren't. No, the deception lies elsewhere and whether citizens and corporations are taxed too little or too much or just enough is actually entirely beside the point. Because the deception lies in the simple perversion of the truth...

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Elephant cropThe Taxed Enough Already people were/are deceived, but they can’t see it. Why? It’s not the fault, as some people would have it, of the corporate (Koch) effort to take these disgusted citizens over. And it’s not that the corporate claim to being sympathetic and understanding of the plight of being taxed too much, which the corporations surely aren’t.

No, the deception lies elsewhere and whether citizens and corporations are taxed too little or too much or just enough is actually entirely beside the point. Because the deception lies in the simple perversion of the truth that, since dollars all originate at the Treasury, like a spring flowing out of an Alpine crag, the spending comes first and the collection of revenue for recycling comes last.

What Congress would have the country believe, and aggressivley acts to sustain, is the myth that before Washington can spend, the people must be taxed. And it is this perversion which is being made plain by the 25 states (at last count) rejecting dollars for medical services. They are denying themselves healing because they don’t want to be bled, at a time when bleeding is long past its time as a routine surgical procedure.

Was there ever a time when Washington was not the sole source of currency? Indeed, before the Civil War, several of the states and territories issued their own. And before that the Dutch bankers, who had corralled all the gold stolen from the Americas, controlled the age of industrialization and world commerce by issuing notes. So, since the residents of New Amsterdam, at a minimum, had to be aware of this model of private banker control over the currency, the fact that the function of managing the currency of the United States was assigned in the Constitution to an elected body, the Congress, was not a happenstance. Neither was the continuing controversy over a national bank which the establishment of the hybrid Federal Reserve in 1913 was, presumably, designed to resolve — giving the banks a primary middleman, but not an initiating role. And letting Congress somewhat off the hook. What hook? The sole responsibility for managing the expenditure of the country’s assets and resources.

But, a funny thing happened along the way. Congress gave up the overt responsibility, what people could see, even as it continued to disburse the currency in the interest of their own longevity in office. And it is that which the TEA people, and the corps, perceived and sought to halt without realizing that it wasn’t the spending, but the rationing and targeted distribution that was at fault.

Sort of reminds me of the old saying that “it’s not the sleeping, it’s the lying awake” that has the perhaps unanticipated and undesirable results. The TEA people want us all to stop sleeping, when what’s needed is that the corrupt diddling be stopped.

“Don’t give us any money, so there’s none to collect.” Does that make sense? No, that’s downright perverse.

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Deal’s Jam http://likethedew.com/2014/01/30/deals-jam/ http://likethedew.com/2014/01/30/deals-jam/#comments Thu, 30 Jan 2014 18:52:58 +0000 http://likethedew.com/?p=54534 What is it with Republican governors and traffic jams? Up in New Jersey, we've got Chris Christie's staff ordering up some "traffic problems" for Fort Lee, perhaps as a prank, and in Atlanta, Georgia, we've got Nathan Deal and the Mayor of Atlanta hosting each other at lunch while the traffic all around the city flops around in slush.

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atlanta snow 2014What is it with Republican governors and traffic jams? Up in New Jersey, we’ve got Chris Christie’s staff ordering up some “traffic problems” for Fort Lee, perhaps as a prank, and in Atlanta, Georgia, we’ve got Nathan Deal and the Mayor of Atlanta hosting each other at lunch while the traffic all around the city flops around in slush.

The weatherman accounts for people abandoning their cars, leaving their children sleeping in the gym at school and taking refuge for themselves on the floors of grocery stores as a “policy failure.” Governor Deal explains himself as not wanting “to cry wolf” and fearing the loss of income on a 20% chance of all the roads freezing.

Of course, it is a matter of fact that people stuck in traffic jams for hours don’t cost the state government anything. Wasting people’s time has no line in the state budget. It’s not possible to count what you don’t collect. But wouldn’t it be nice if we had a scale to measure inconveniences caused by public servants and make it public policy to fire the worst offenders?

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