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Nancy Smith's Anti-Kevin Powers Campaign of Lies

December 23, 2016 - 6:00am
Kenny Hinkle Jr., Kevin Powers and Marty Baum
Kenny Hinkle Jr., Kevin Powers and Marty Baum

It offends me to see good people lied about and dragged through the mud. 

The Powers family -- as far as I can tell every one of them including South Florida Water Management District Governing Board Vice Chairman Kevin Powers -- are unfailingly good people who make time for public service and serve their community, rural Indiantown, with honor. They don't deserve the treatment they're getting.

I say this now because I'm tired of reading lies on Facebook about Kevin Powers' business interests.  

Unless you live in South Florida, you probably don't know much about, a 2-year-old, anti-sugar 501(c)(4) organization. All 501(c)(4) means is, it doesn't have to reveal its donors and its money can stay dark. The organization swears up and down billionaire Paul Tudor Jones, the force behind the Everglades Foundation/Trust, doesn't have a leadership role, but most of the group's critics don't buy it.  

I Beg to DifferThe Bulls (let's call them) apparently feel the need to hatch a conspiracy theory about Kevin Powers because the SFWMD board opposes their push to "buy the land, move the water south" for reasons I've consistently written about in Sunshine State News. Powers lives in Martin County, ground zero for algal blooms.

Bullsugar's lies first came to my attention in August, when organization president Kenny Hinkle Jr. and staffers Michael Conner and Jo Neeson launched a concerted effort to paint Powers as a man in a dirty business, profiting from his Rick Scott-appointed SFWMD position.

Hinkle wrote, "Guess who owns Indiantown Gas Co at the end of the (Sabal Trail) pipeline. None other than Kevin Powers of SFWMD. Guess Gov. Rick Scott took care of his buddy that killed the purchase of US Sugarland last year."

A total lie, I thought when I read it. But I figured it would go away after Marsha Powers, Kevin's wife and a member of the Martin County School Board, fired off a letter to Hinkle setting the record straight.

"... First of all, Indiantown Gas Co. was founded over 55 years ago by Kevin's dad, Timer Powers," Marsha wrote. "In addition to being a small business owner, Timer was also a county commissioner who served with Maggy Hurchalla. Next time you see Maggy ask her about Timer. When Timer passed away in 1992, the business was passed down to his wife & children. Today, Brian Powers (Kevin's brother) is the majority owner of the company and runs the day-to-day operations with his wife. 

"Your reference to the pipeline is totally off base. IGC is a propane gas company only. The business is focused on residential and commercial propane delivery, not natural gas. IGC has no interest in this natural gas pipeline going to FPL or any other pipeline for that matter. I know you are very passionate about your cause, and that is admirable, but please get the facts before you use pieces of information that are not accurate or relevant. I am happy to talk with you any time to verify the facts."

Well, nice try, Marsha. Even your personal tutorial couldn't make the rubbish disappear. 

Even knowing his information was wrong, Hinkle never took the Facebook post down. In fact, as time went on, he doubled down on his lies.

Bullsugar Director of Angler Outreach Mike Connor, a licensed fishing guide, "posted a video ... of Kevin along with his false, vulgar commentary," Marsha Powers wrote. This is what my children and your children get to see and hear. Is this really the way to get results?

"Kevin and I were at Dancing in the Streets when we had to walk by the tent. Kevin was immediately called out by the people working in the booth. At one point, Hinkle had strangers that walked up to the booth shout things at Kevin. It was such a display of immaturity and bullying behavior that seems unimaginable as I write it. ... Kevin and I cannot go out in the community that we love as much or more than anyone without being heckled by known liars and bullies," Marsha wrote in August to Kenan Siegel, a co-founder.

"Kevin and I were both born and raised in Martin County," she went on to say, "and we chose to live, work, serve our community and raise our children here. We are completely invested in the health and welfare of our entire community. For a few people who represent your organization to attempt to slander and disparage our family is just not OK! I will no longer sit quietly while good people are treated badly by and its leaders."

You would have thought after that, word would have circulated among the Bulls that Kevin Powers may be an Indiantown Gas Co. shareholder -- shareholder in the family propane business -- but he has nothing whatsoever to do with the Sabal Trail Pipeline or Florida Power and Light Co. or coal -- all the links to him this deceptive organization makes.

But, no.

Doggone, if the Bulls aren't Facebooking the same garbage today that they were back in August. This week Kenny Hinkle was still calling the Powers family "the benefactor of the Sabal Trail Pipeline" and the owners of "the natural gas company in Indiantown." No point, apparently, in confusing Kenny with the facts.

But there was another post, too -- this one from Indian Riverkeeper Marty Baum: "... hell, Kevin Powers, vice chair, operates the COAL fired plant in Indiantown, he doesn't care about clean water. HIS golden parachute for denying us the land we so desperately need was the proposed LNG refrigeration plant that Sabal Trail Pipeline is headed to."

The answer here is no he doesn't, yes he does and no it wasn't.

I asked Baum on Thursday where he got all that from, and he said, "You know, I'm really sorry about that, I got bad information and realized it when I went back to check. I meant to address it and apologize to Kevin for what I said."

The apology hasn't happened yet.

Nor did Kevin Powers ruin Florida's chances of completing the U.S. Sugar land deal, as Hinkle continues to peddle. The Water Management District is a creature of the Florida Legislature and leaders in both chambers of the Legislature were just as unimpressed with the deal as water managers were.

The problem is, if you repeat a lie enough times, people don't believe the truth when they hear it. But I guess that's the whole idea.

I agree with Rep. Matt Caldwell, the North Fort Myers Republican who told Politico in October has brought "a callousness to political discourse while dismissing legitimate stakeholders ..."

Callousness? I'll say. How about dishonesty?

But this is what Treasure Coast residents, desperate for an answer to their sick rivers, get -- Bull in their face, day after day after day.

Sarah Powers, Kevin and Marsha's 20-year-old daughter, got fed up enough to post a Facebook comment under Baum's and another posting by Gayle Ryan: "You will never be taken seriously when you spread lies to further your agenda," Sarah wrote Thursday. "My dad, Kevin Powers, does not own or operate a coal-fired plant anywhere and has nothing to do with Sabal Trail Pipeline. If you want a seat at the table to discuss real issues, you need to stop spreading lies and propaganda. It only damages your credibility in the community and the conversation."

You go, Sarah.

I've been acquainted with the Powers family almost from the day I started work at The Stuart News in 1977. Not so much the whole family in those early days, but certainly I kept tabs on Timer Powers, Kevin's dad, a class act.

Timer Powers was Indiantown back then.

It's true, Timer brought natural gas to Indiantown, and he was a hero for it. When an oil pipeline along the coast was converted to natural gas in the early 1960s, Timer's Indiantown Gas Co. hooked up to it. That paved the way for a rural town "in the middle of nowhere" (as we would say) to leave a very large footprint for economic development that makes a huge difference to Martin County tax revenue today. In 1973, before he converted his company to propane gas, Timer was named president of the  Florida Natural Gas Association. It was a very big deal.

I can tell you for fact, Kevin Powers was raised to care about the rivers and the whole of Florida's delicate ecosystem.

Not only was his father Timer on the Martin County Commission for 12 years, in 1983, then-Gov. Bob Graham appointed him to the Water Management Governing Board. He served until illness forced him to resign in 1987, but returned to work with the district`s executive management staff in January 1991.

During his tenure, Timer Powers helped settle longstanding disputes with the Seminole Tribe over state use of Indian lands and tribal water rights. The negotiations ended in a landmark water rights compact -- the first in the nation resolving Indian claims without major, costly litigation.

"He was so patient. He would not let us leave a single meeting without at least agreeing on one point," Alan Milledge, chairman of the district`s board, said in Timer's obituary.

That sounds a lot like Kevin to me.

Timer later used his negotiating skills as chairman of the Kissimmee River Resource Planning and Management Committee and eventually helped formulate a long-term management plan for the region.

Timer Powers died in 1992 at age 55. At his death, Gov. Lawton Chiles said, "I recall a Bible verse that tells us, 'Blessed are the peacemakers.' We will miss Timer as a person and as a peacemaker. He was one of the finest people you could know, and his belief that people can work together to solve problems will be sorely missed."

I've often wondered how Timer would shovel's B.S. if he were here today.

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


After we cut through all of the ad hominem attacks, we still need a Central Flow-Way supported by reservoirs above and below the Lake Okeechobee to restore a more natural water quantity, quality, routing and timing to the Everglades, with collateral benefit to reducing the Lake Okeechobee pollutant loads for its emergency releases to the East and West Coast estuaries. It's not personal, it is the people's business to restore and protect the public trust manifest in the human and wildlife uses of and the natural services provided by our fresh, estuarine and saline water resources.

They strategically change their party because their purpose is to vote for the Republican underdog so they can register back to Democrat and vote for Patrick Murphy, Mary Higgins, Crystal Mills Lucas, Bruno Moore, and others. I grew up in Martin County and Palm Beach County. I am not new to the rodeo. I understand the Logistics of Martin County having majority Republican leaders. They are Republicans who register as such with very liberal and Democrat views. They say Republicans don't care about the environment and that the environment is their issue. Not a Republican issue. I work on water legislation in Tallahassee. I have been exposed to these individuals. I have been victim to their behavior and I have pushed their buttons. I am Tiffany Schry and they know exactly who I am and I don't care. They can say what they want about me, I am immune to it cuz they are cockroaches. They drink and do drugs. The have zero credibility and I will continue to for their efforts if I see it going in a negative way. I protect my state. My state is Florida.

I cannot even belive these people are making headlines. They are protestors against elected officals. The first guy, is Kenny Hinkle, Jr., he is a democrat who changes his voter registration to Republican to skew the vote. Recently, after a large drunken protest he drove from the protest intoxicated. Swealls Point police pulled him over. He got a DUI. He went to Martin County Jail. After another protest, he and his Democrat friends (who believe Republicans don't care about the environment or water.) posted pictures of himself and his fellow protestors putting doing inappropriate sexual things to a statue of an American Alligator, a symbol of Florida. You can see pictures of him with his genitals in the Alligators mouth, humping the alligator with Gayle Ryan a fellow protestor joining him in the desecration of a Florida Treasure. Marty Baum is the Indian Riverkeeper. His job is supported by the Water Alliance founded by The Kennedy family and Robert Kennedy, Jr. It is a not for profit organization. Marty Baum surrounds himself by fellow protestors and support their actions. He is a gruff man, not nice who needs to learn manners. He is a terrible Representative of Robert Kennedy, Jr.'s Riverkeeper and Water Alliance program. He (Marty Baum, the Indian Riverkeeper) surrounds himself by people who live to protest, waste tax payers dollars by wasting our elected officials time. In addition, he uses his Water Alliance/Indian Riverkeeper to pay for his fellow protestors drinks at various bars, in particular ... Terra Fermatta. His associates in the water chaos Marty Baum and Kenny Hinkle, Jr. have created in their web of lies including Jo Neeson, Michael Conners, Julie Jones, Katy Lewy, Carrie West, Maggy Hurchella, Becky Bruner, Mary Higgins, Crystal Mills Lucas, Charles Grande, John Heim, Irene Knomes Green Girl, Green Guy, Bruno Moore, Jacqui Thurlow Lippish and many more. I have them all on my block list on Facebook because I have been bullied, harassed, called names, had a picture of me and Rick Scott posted on their Facebook making false accusations that I was on Rick Scotts payroll. They claimed my job was a planted spy on Facebook to spy on them and report back to Rick Scott. I was also attacked at the polls in Martin County on election day by Julie Jones and Gayle Ryan. They accused me of working for Rick Scott, United States Sugar Corporation and King Ranch. Julie Jones got in my face yelling obscenities. All I could do was laugh. I was campaigning for Senator Joe Negron and Stacey Hetherington at the time. I could rattle off a lot of name after name of people from the Southeast Coast to the Southwest Coast who have again wasted taxpayers money in ways like having to have Law Enforcement double up on their duties to keep these people from getting out of control, making arrest and destruction of property. Additionally, these people organized another protest behind Florida Governor Rick Scott. Governor Scott has a home on the gulf. The protestors which included people from this quasi environmental group also trampled protected sand dunes behind and placed signs in the ground on the sand dunes and protected sea oats. These people are against farmers targeting United States Sugar Corporation who employ the people who live around Lake Okeechobee. Their goal is to get agriculture away which in turn would destroy the lives of people from Okeechobee County, Palm Beach County, Hardee County, Martin County and surrounding areas. Another target of theirs is animal farmers. Cows, Chicken, Pigs, Horses. They want to see it all taken away from these farmers and agricultural workers, ruin small business that support the community and displace families. Now, we have proven that the problem of pollution in Lake Okeechobee and its the Okeechobee Basin comes from the north, trickling down from and entering through the Kissimmee River and the Kissimmee River Basin. Bull Sugar wants the water to go south. Not only do these people undermind our legislators, our farmers and supporting businesses, they have targeted The United State Army Corps of Engineers. I even heard of plans to bomb the USACE St. Lucie Locks and dam. As a result of they are trying to displace just about everything around the lake which generated another movement called #GladesLivesMatter, which encompasses people in Belle Glade, Pahokee, Clewiston, Okeechobee who farm. Senate President Joe Negron, Representatives Gayle Harrell, MaryLynn Mager, Senator Lizbeth Benacquisto, Representative Dane Eagle and many more legislators including our Executive Branch of Government have been forced to use taxpayers money because of the backlash. Bullsugar is and the River coalition sole purpose is to file lawsuits against the state of Florida. That is how they make their money by forming 501 4C Organizations. Our attorney general has had to create a task force to closely monitor monitor from popping up everywhere. These people are wasting our time. If you care about Florida, you should keep a close eye on the tangled web of environmental groups that are associated with the few organizations I mention above. I don't want you to waste your money on efforts that undermine our state and taxpayers. Plus I just want to bring awareness of these people like Bullsugar, The Rivers Coalition, River Kidz and more just to see how they are associated and who you are associating with. Do some research if you would like. Investigate my claims. I speak the truth of my personal experience as I am very involved in advocacy of clean water and our Florida Springs. Have your people put me under oath, depose me, take me to court and I will testify before a Judge and Jurt, putting my hand on the Bible and tell you the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me God. I also have exibits saved on my computer. I have statements made by these people. This whole thing stinks. Its unhealthy for my state to have to endure these people whose sole purpose in life is to create drama, chaos and make themselves important. Marty Baum will never apologize and if he does, it is only going to be because he is trying to save face with the Riverkeeper job. His wife, Robin is equally as guilty of encouraging his behavior. Kenny Hinkle, Jr. drags his wife and kid into this mess. They are teaching this behavior to children. It is just very sad seeing these people aggressively targeting innocent people while they claim they are doing it in the name of peace, love and happiness. It is ugly.

Lady, YOU ROCK! Your comments are spot on.

Please forgive my spelling and grammar errors. I am on my phone. I will clean this post up grammatically and repost it again and again and again until it sinks through the heads of the people involved.

Nancy: thanks for writing this article. I was born in Palm Beach county, raised in Stuart FL and lived there until I went away for university in the mid-1980s. My father and sister are buried in Stuart, and I still have many friends there. I have been following this debate for the last two years, and I am appalled by how many decent people have been fooled by the bullsuger mafia. This "mafia" have totally polarized the debates, when in reality all of us want a sustainable, long term solution for our ecosystem. All of us want clean water. All of us want a healthy estuary in Martin county. What we don't want are for neo-political, outside interests to hijack our county to support huge land purchase that may or may not solve the environmental hollocaust occuring in the Everglades. Frankly, I am beginning to wonder if the bullsugar mafia stand to benefit directly from these land sales if they occur. Big money is behind bullsugar and these interests are not aligned to the good people in Martin County. It's time all of us understand this and denounce these charlatans for what they really are. Thanks for shining the spotlight. There is no substitute for integrity.

You know Nancy - this article is a convoluted mess. I do not know who you are talking about and what your point is. I know that the environment is in really bad shape and there are serious problems with the water they are releasing out of Lake Okeechobee. There are very strong political interests that are being challenged by environmental activists in South Florida and you do not like it. I have been reading your articles for a while trying to figure out what your exact point is. It is strictly to protect interests with money that are friends of the Republican Party in Florida. Many people (Democrats, Independents, Republicans) in Florida and the U.S. have been galvanized by this last election. We are not just upset losers any more. Many of us are very angry and have come to the start realization that unless some of us start getting up, speaking up and getting very active we are not going to have any environment left to give to future generations. Please start getting to the point more quickly and stating what your real aims are instead of this type of stream of consciousness blather aimed at protecting a few of your friends. We need real information and this is not real information.

Where have you been, Miss Catherine? Nancy Smith is the ONLY one I've read over the past couple of years to give REAL information about our problem. The rest of your friends have their heads stuck in the sand. Google her stories. This story was about a group of environmentalists who should know better acting dishonestly and like most of what Nancy writes needed to be said. Thank you Nancy, keep up the good work.

Ms. Price, you are obviously under their umbrella. I will add your name to my list of people associated with this mess. You are guilty by association. The best thing you could have done is say nothing at all and that includes the others here making comments against the writer of this article.

Thank you Nancy, we sure miss you in Martin County and appreciate this article. You are correct that the Powers family is very well respected and has done (and continues to do) much good for Martin County and our rivers. We are greatful for them and sorry to see these attacks.

Thank you, Nancy. We all want clean water here in Martin County, but these attacks on Kevin have been insane.

When it comes to personal attacks and ruinous vilification the left makes the right look like church ladies

BOTH Marty Baum and Kenny Hinkle Jr. Are registered Republicans.

They change back and forth between Republican and Democrats. Check their voting recods available online at the Supervisor of elections office

Technically, they probably are. In Martin County you have to register Republican or you have nobody to vote for. Ask these clowns who they voted for for president (if you can believe anything they say), that will tell you.

Comments are now closed.

nancy smith


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