Sunday, August 18, 2019

A Tale of Two Cities and Sea-Level Rise - St. Petersburg

First - St. Petersburg, Florida

Tampa Bay, Fl   
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD                                  Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
Now  a look at two bay area cities and their view and approach to sea-level rise. First St. Petersburg...
St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman has made a big issue out of Climate change.
Unfortunately, most of his concerns are more political than practical.
What is important is the fact that Kriseman’s efforts have been more politically grandiose than effective and in reality, his actions would indicate a complete lack of understanding of the primary impact of climate change on Florida: sea-level rise and storm surge due to tropical storms.
Here is a quote from a Kriseman Campaign Flyer: “Because of the dangers climate change poses to our city, I pledged to transition St. Pete to a 100% clean energy city. We are preparing for rising seas, volatile weather, and increases in the number of powerful storms.”
If Kriseman and his administration were actually capable of reaching that goal, which they are not, it is unlikely that it would stop the water rising in Tampa Bay.
High tide flooding is already prevalent along the downtown coast line of St. Petersburg and will continue to get worse.
Clean energy and “carbon footprint” are two of the key buzz words in the climate-change  argument. These two terms are invoked by politicians because they are the mechanisms' whereby massive amounts of money can be made by prospective large campaign contributors.
Let’s look at two of the most glaring examples of Kriseman's real sea-level rise position.
If you really believe in climate change, then you must accept the fact that the sea level is going to rise.
When you are the Mayor of a low-lying coastal City, your climate-change concerns should be how do I protect my City practically and financially. And how do I make development decisions that are not compromised by the impending results of climate change over the next two decades.
Downtown development – Pier Park
Kriseman has pushed the $20+ million development of Pier Park, which essentially sets at sea level. Was that a wise utilization of public funds?
Thinking in the climate change/sea rise level rise community says that Beach Drive will likely be somewhere between 2nd and 3rd Avenue if the sea-level rise predictions are even close to being accurate.
Maybe a better expenditure of those funds would have been to begin to set aside funds to buy back coastal lands to eliminate the impending disaster.
Renewable energy, green buildings and all the rest of the climate-change hoopla make great political fodder, but a Mayor, who believes that the climate is actually changing will not waste his taxpayer’s money on things the results of climate change and sea-level rise may swallow well before the end of their useful life.
Wastewater treatment – The South West Wastewater Plant
Kriseman must not bother to read his own press clippings.
The South West Wastewater treatment plant literally sets at sea level. However, he is pouring millions into this sea level endangered facility and making plans for it to become the major wastewater treatment facility for the entire City.
What happened to his climate-change argument in this scenario?
More importantly what will St. Pete do when the water level starts to rise at the South West plant, or a major storm surge makes it inoperable?
That’s a climate change/sea rise level rise question that deserves an answer.
These are just two of the sea level rise issues Rick Kriseman has created while he “worries” about climate change.
Climate change with Rick Kriseman is the same as it is with all Democrat politicians. It is a great stump speech issue, but when it comes down to applying the climate-change problem to real-life decisions, Rick Kriseman simply does not have the will.
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Wednesday, August 14, 2019

Feds Eyeing Public Corruption Throughout Florida

Tampa, Fl
Tampa Bay Beat
By: Jim Bleyer
August 13, 2019 - 6:24 am

 Seventh Avenue, Ybor City
 By Jim Bleyer
The guilty pleas entered last week by former Tallahassee Mayor Scott Maddox and a confidante is not the end of public corruption investigations in Florida.
That’s the word from Lawrence Keefe, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Florida, and sources at the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Maddox and Paige Carter-Smith have agreed to cooperate with law enforcement authorities about other possible misdeeds in Tallahassee and Leon County.
A sentencing date for the pair has been set for Nov. 19.  They could receive up to 25 years in prison on fraud and income tax charges for their role in helping ride share giant Uber get a favorable ordinance in exchange for cash and accepting payments from a developer that turned out to be an FBI front company.
But Keefe declared the Maddox investigation should put all Florida public officials on notice.
“A public office is a sacred trust,” Keefe told the Tallahassee Democrat in the wake of the Maddox and Carter-Smith plea deals.
The FBI never discusses its ongoing investigations but the agency should look at Hillsborough County if it isn’t already.   
In his 2018 re-election campaign, Hillsborough County Commissioner Ken Hagan solicited and accepted donations from real estate interests that stand to benefit from construction of a new stadium for the Tampa Bay Rays in Ybor City.
St. Petersburg’s Tropicana Field, considered antiquated by 2019 standards, has been the home of the Rays since they first took the field in 1998.  Despite recent success,  attendance has perennially stood at or near the bottom of the 30 major league baseball teams.

 Hagan persists in promoting Rays stadium in Ybor City.
Owner Stuart Sternberg has maintained that a new stadium will solve the team’s attendance woes and found a ready and more-then-willing ally in Hagan.  Talks between the Rays, Hillsborough County, and the City of Tampa  struck out last year when it was determined no public funding existed to finance a $850 million stadium in Ybor, even with Sternberg willing to chip in $200 million.
Ybor City as the site for a new Rays home has always been puzzling. Low and middle income families would be displaced.  One of the country’s iconic historic districts would be destroyed. And the rationale for any projected attendance increase never has been documented.
But Darryl Shaw, who acquired thousands of acres around Ybor, and Jeff Vinik, whose Water Street Tampa project is in nearby Channelside, would reap benefits from the increased traffic generated by a new ballpark.
Sternberg’s latest canard—sharing the franchise with the city of Montreal—has not being taken seriously by most observers.  St. Pete Mayor Rick Kriseman did not disguise his disdain for the scheme.  His initial response:
“The Rays cannot explore playing any Major League Baseball games in Montreal or anywhere else for that matter prior to 2028, without reaching a formal memorandum of understanding with the City of St. Petersburg,” Kriseman said. “Ultimately, such a decision is up to me. And I have no intention of bringing this latest idea to our city council to consider. In fact, I believe this is getting a bit silly.”
The City of St. Petersburg continues to investigate whether or not Sternberg violated the terms of his lease agreement which decrees he must get permission to discuss relocation with representatives of other geographical entities.
As for Hagan, he continues to promote Ybor City for a Rays Stadium, despite  the fanciful prospect of sharing a split season with Montreal.  Hagan and Sternberg, at least publicly, are a minority of two in that respect.
Meanwhile, in the wake of the Maddox plea deal, federal law enforcement authorities have put Florida politicians on notice that violations of that “sacred trust” will be prosecuted.

Cross Posted with permission from: Tampa Bay Beat

This post is contributed by Tampa Bay Beat. The views and opinions expressed in this post are the author's and do not necessarily reflect those of Bay Post Internet or the publisher.

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Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sea Level Rise – Where the real battle will be waged? Part 3


Tampa Bay, Fl 
Opinion by: E. Eugene Webb PhD
Author: In Search of Robin, So You Want to Blog.
It all starts very simply. You live or have your business on the coast. At super-high tide you notice, there is some water in the street. In a year or so the same tide is now up in your yard or over the sidewalk in front of your business.
 Next year, there is some water in your garage, or you show up to open for business, there is about an inch of water on the floor. No real problem you call your insurance company to file a small claim, they pay the claim and 30 days later cancel your insurance. Try as hard as you can you cannot find an insurance carrier will now write you a policy.
 National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) Note the year of the referenced report: 1992
Source: Sea Level Rise Issues And Potential Management Options For Local Governments 1992

Established in 1968 the program is administered by the Federal Insurance Administration which is component of FEMA.
Real Dangers of Sea Level  Rise - E. Eugene Webb PhD
“The program was intended to prevent or discourage unwise development but in fact, development has actually been encouraged by the availability of subsidized insurance. Rising sea level and the continuation of the NFIP will result in increased government spending of federal tax dollars to provide insurance for unwise development to a very small percentage of the population.”
Probably sooner rather than later, the Federal Flood Insurance Program will be modified to limit, if not, exempt property located in the predicted sea-level rise areas.
The simple reason is the cost will be prohibitive.

Sea Level Rise Strategies for local Government
E.Eugene Webb PhD
As much as we might like to think the Federal Government, and perhaps the State Government will bail out all of us who live near the coast, the fact is they cannot and will not. While the politicians use climate change and sea-level rise to scare people and denigrate their political competition to get votes they have no big scale solution because there simply isn’t one.
Sea-level rise is ultimately a local issue affecting thousands of communities and millions of people. When the streets begin to flood at high tide, and what once was a marsh is now a bay with gradually rising water, when wastewater treatment plants conveniently located next to water ways are inundated the battle will be lost.
There is a no more formidable enemy than the ocean history has shown us that fact.
The questions are:
  • Will cities and counties change the building and development codes to stop building in sea level endangered areas?
  • Will cities and counties commit resources to buy back lands endangered by the sea-level rise?
  • Is there enough political courage to take on big developers?
  • When will the property insurers stop insuring property in predicted sea level flood zones?
  • Will the Federal Government insure these properties and protect the owners?
  • Who will actually pay the final tab for the sea-level rise – the property owners or all of us?
  • In the final analysis, as the sea level rises and people begin to find themselves with property, homes and business that they cannot get insured, occupy or sell what will they do?
  • Turn to the politicians? Their solution is hiring another consultant.
  • Turn to the insurance companies? They will have long ago lobbied in laws to protect themselves.
  • Turn to the scientist for a fix? They will simply say, “We warned for over a decade.”
  • So, what can you do?
For now, becoming aware of where your property is located in the sea-level flooding data is a good start. If you are already noticing what look like menacing high tides, it may be time to think about relocating.

Sea-level rise is not about “if” is about “when." You need to take the steps to protect your investment in your business and home now.
E-mail Doc at mail to: or send me a Facebook (E. Eugene Webb) Friend request. Like or share on Facebook and follow me on TWITTER  @DOC ON THE BAY.
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