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Nancy Smith

Florida Audubon's Two Heads; Bullsugar Bob Markey II, Exception or Norm?

February 11, 2017 - 6:00am

This column is a vehicle for a number of items in a bits-and-pieces, strictly opinion, sometimes irreverent format. Look for "Just Sayin'" to run once a week in this spot.

Audubon Shows Us Their Yin and Yang

There's politics and then there is science. Have I ever got an example for you of why we mustn't confuse the two.

For Florida Audubon, Executive Director Eric Draper is the politics; Paul Gray, science coordinator of the Everglades Restoration Program, is the science. Sometimes the messaging of the two doesn't meet. I mean, not even close.

Eric Draper
Eric Draper

Take Tuesday after Sen. David Simmons pitched pressuring the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to expedite renovation of the Herbert Hoover Dike (HHD) to allow more water storage in Lake Okeechobee. (Read the story here.)

Draper, Mr. Politics, said no way should we try to store more water in the lake. In fact, he called it "dangerous."

He told Politico Florida's Bruce Ritchie, "Allowing lake levels to be raised two feet or more as proposed by Simmons would cost billions of dollars, pose a safety risk and would drown important wildlife habitat around the lake."

Said Draper, "I think it's a diversion -- I think it's a distraction. It's another thing to take attention away from a real solution, which is opening an outlet (to the Everglades) south of the lake." The perfect political answer.

But then there's Paul Gray, Audubon's Mr. Science. It wasn't that Gray didn't get the memo to butt out of the HHD conversation. The problem is, he put his science in a letter written nearly a year ago to Stacie Auvenshine at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. (See the letter in the attachment at the bottom of this column.)

And guess what? His opinion couldn't be further apart from Draper's. I would call your attention to the end of the second paragraph and start of the third: "With the repair of the HHD, more options will be available and many of Lake Okeechobee’s values can be restored and maximized. Once remediation is complete, occasional higher water levels may be permissible in the Lake."

Later, Gray says, "Although chronically deep levels are a concern, occasional deep water during wet period emergencies, could be a future part of management. To a point, the lake marshes and biota can withstand temporary deep water events with manageable harm. Were the HHD safer today, the Corps could contemplate reducing or halting the current disastrous releases to the estuaries for a period of time to benefit them, and resume releases later. With the HHD in its present condition, such an option is not feasible and is an example of how a safer Dike can allow improved management."

Oh, yes, and the science coordinator ends his letter with this: "Audubon pledges to support efforts at the national and state levels to help the Corps and its partners make South Florida as safe and functional as possible." 

The reason it's important to point out this canyon of difference now between Audubon's politics and Audubon's science is because there really is a right and wrong here. If senators like Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, and Rob Bradley, R-Fleming Island really mean what they said -- show us alternatives to the Negron plan if you've got them -- legislators in both chambers will need to work overtime to identify which is which. 

Pay No Mind, Glades Folks, He's Just Another Bullsugar Oinker

Stay out of dark alleys, Bob Markey II. What goes around tends to come back to bite you in your curly little pink tail.

Bob Markey II
Bob Markey II

By the time I read Bullsugar Bob's disgusting post on the anti-sugar fright site, half of the population of the Glades had already seen it. I'm sorry about that. These are good people who deserve better. It was J.P. Sasser, former mayor of Pahokee, who called my attention to it.

Here is Markey's post, fresh from the trough of's Facebook pigpen:  

"Bob Markey II I don't care if jobs are lost in the Glades because of a cut in sugar production. Those jobs are causing the destruction of our environment and should not have ever existed. Clewiston is a legitimate town, but have you seen Belle Glade or Pahokee? They are godforsaken places of crime, municipal corruption and poverty whose residents would be better off, and would cost the state and feds less by being relocated to legitimate communities elsewhere."

Spoken like a true Realtor. Which he is. Has he ever broken bread with anybody in Belle Glade or Pahokee? Does he know anyone out there? It's not so easy to dismiss people as garbage when you've met them and listened to them. 

It so happens Bullsugar Bob, son of the local newspaper's founder, grew up amid the polo ponies of tony Wellington. Wouldn't you think a guy whose hometown was carved out of the pristine Everglades, bermed to help keep it dry, dredged with canals that go nowhere so people like him can make a bundle selling "waterfront," then blasted every summer day for God-knows-how-many years to annihilate the mosquitoes ... wouldn't you think he might have just a touch of humility and compassion for his hard-working neighbors across the River of Grass?

Said Sasser bitterly, Markey deserves "a shout-out for actually verbalizing on a public format what people really think about us."

He told me the First United Methodist Church in Pahokee will celebrate its 100th year in 2018. "We've been here longer than most cities in Palm Beach County."

Certainly they've been there longer than nouveau cities like Wellington and Royal Palm Beach -- Bob's haunts -- which are very much part of the history of today's water problems in South Florida.

Good news for Bullsugar Bob and his ilk if the dike fails: The land will be so much cheaper then. On the other hand, there's the inconvenience of having to clean up all those bodies.

Some things just make me want to cry.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith


Nancy, keep in mind that what a follower says on a public forum, such as Facebook posting, does not speak for the stance of the org running the Facebook. For example, Just because some of the readers of your column call you out as a shill for sugar does not mean it is true. Though it sure appears to be sometimes. Support SB 10, calling for southern storage, that is an original component of CERP.

Of all the orgs who take money from Everglades Foundation, Bullsugar is the most evil. They print lies about people and then when you tell them they are lies they still keep them up on their site. Kenny Hinkle = worst offender and he is your president. You also got it wrong about CERP. Southern storage is in CERP now, just not 60,000 acres. We have 31,000 acres in A1 & A2 which can be made deeper to take more. Where is it written except by Negron and Eric Eikenberg that we need 60,000 acres?

Conner, You are are completely bought and paid for by the Everglades Foundation. What do you stand for other than buying US Sugar out? Tunnel vision can't work skipper. Bill

Will make sure I never do any business with Bob Markey II. I'm sure this arrogant schmuck is still developing everything he can pounce on.....Loser just like the rest of the foundations money suckers like the bull sugar puds.

Spoken like a true Realtor? Really? That's as ignorant as Markey's statement.

You're right, it was wrongly stated. I apologize. What I really intended to convey is that Markey added to the worst perceptions of Realtors.

What is sad about Markey's tirade against the Glades and our spreading of horse manure on the farm land is that it is Wellington's manure we are accepting.

Thanks, Nancy. Stay on the case. I would love to see you do more on AAF. Like with the Everglades and water, there are certainly good approaches to high speed north south rail along the east coast. But, instead of pursing the best solution, AAF is pursuing the economic interests of the railroad's owners. Communities can be ignored (think Treasure Coast). Where is our state and federal government when we need them?

Nancy, thank you. Just thank you. Thank you for being the one consistent honest news reporting site about this subject matter. I am sad for Mr Markey to hold other human beings in such low regard is a sign of a man without much of a soul. I pray God opens his eyes to the humanity around him. I also pray the Lord imparts Eric Draper with a conscience so that when he tells a "lie" he will at least know the difference. How embarrassing to be caught in a lie like this. I also pray God opens the eyes of the blind Joe Negron and Robert Bradley. These 2 men have abandoned reason and science in an effort to harm farmers in Soith Florida for a solution that isn't a solution to anything. I pray our leaders just follow the science. And it appears this Simmons gentleman may indeed be an answer to prayer. For the environment, for the safety of the people, and for the livelihood of all who depend on growing food in South Florida. I hope better days are ahead of us and this ugly chapter of lies and dehumanization will be in the rear view mirror soon. Shall we grow Americas food with dignity and respect.

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nancy smith


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