Assault on environment led by the ill-informed, shortsighted

In a moment, I'm going to tell you about plans to gut one of Florida's key environmental programs — one meant to safeguard everything from manatees to the seafood you eat.

The program is cheap. Its effectiveness has been touted by politicians on both sides of the aisle. Yet, Florida politicians are trying to degrade it as we speak.

But first, I want to offer you a window into the mind of your typical state legislator.

It's a scary place. But if we're going to deal with those who are trying to take Florida back to the Dark Ages, we must understand how they think.

Our subject is state Rep. Chris Dorworth.

Six months ago, the Lake Mary Republican met with the Orlando Sentinel's editorial board to try to score a campaign endorsement.

During the meeting, the ed board was trying to understand why Dorworth wanted to dismantle the Department of Community Affairs, the agency charged with ensuring sensible land planning.

The agency had thrived under governors ranging from Bob Graham to Jeb Bush, with all of them touting DCA as a guard for both residents and the land.

But Dorworth thought DCA was a problem. He claimed the agency constantly blocked wonderful and sensible projects.

Really? The ed board asked for an example.

"There have been numerous examples," he replied.

OK. So how about you name one of them?

"I think every single time they work on anything," Dorworth continued. "They kick back plans all the time."

Then it should be easy for you to cite one.

"Listen, I'm not going to tell you whether a project has merit or not," Dorworth responded (right after saying DCA was constantly blocking projects with merit). "I'm going to tell you that DCA has shut down several projects."

So DCA was busy killing projects "all the time." There were "numerous examples." Yet the man wanting to undermine DCA couldn't cite a single one.

This, my friends, is what passes for leadership in your state.

Facts, logic and our natural resources are becoming casualties of an ideological war.

Developers say they want to build more easily, without regard for clogged roads, crowded schools, the environment or the higher taxes you will have to pay for their far-flung projects. Dorworth and his GOP pals are happy to do their bidding.

In fact, Republicans are so smitten with Dorworth's sophisticated and well-versed take on complicated issues that they have selected him as a future House speaker.


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