Reality check: Martin County Commissioner Smith’s alternative promises




From Ginny Sherlock, renowned local attorney, civic activist, and former Associated Press editor: At Tuesday’s Board of County Commissioners meeting, Doug Smith managed to turn a reasonable proposal into another opportunity to advance Big Sugar’s agenda.


Representatives from the Clewiston-Glades area used public comment to urge the BCC to reconsider a resolution previously adopted by a 4-1 vote (Doug Smith dissenting) to support State Sen. Joe Negron’s plan to acquire land south of Lake Okeechobee to store and clean water before sending it south to the Everglades.


Commissioner Ed Ciampi proposed a summit to allow proponents of various solutions to the water issues to express their views and to learn about the benefits and the risks of various proposals, including the Negron plan.


Smith made an impassioned, and factually challenged, argument against the Negron plan implemented by House Bill 761 and Senate Bill 10 that will be addressed during the upcoming legislative session.


For one thing, Smith either does not know that the southern storage reservoirs are part of the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan or he is deliberately misstating the status of the proposal, claiming that it is not part of CERP.   


Smith also questioned the science behind the plan, echoing the false claims of public speakers that “fake science” is being used to support the Negron plan.  


But just a few months ago, when he was running for re-election, Smith signed the “Now or Neverglades” declaration that supports the conclusion of “200-plus Everglades scientists who believe that increased storage, treatment and conveyance of water south of Lake Okeechobee is esentiall to stop the damaging discharges to the coastal estuaries.”  The declaration signed by Smith urges the use of Amendment 1 and other funds to “identify and secure land south of the lake without delay, before development in the Everglades Agricultural Area (EAA) or other uncertainties condemn our waters to irrevocable destruction.”  See attached e-mail from the TC Democratic Environmental Caucus.


Smith has now apparently abandoned his written promise and is working hard to prevent Martin County from protecting its residents from the harmful health, economic, and aesthetic impacts of polluted discharges.


When Ciampi responded to the Glades public commenters by suggesting that a summit be convened to allow for broad public discourse about solutions to the discharges, Smith diverted the proposal to suggest that the summit be conducted by the coalition of the 16-county South Florida Water Management District jurisdictions, which clearly has a bias against the Negron plan.  Commissioner Sarah Heard, who has been Martin’s representative on the coalition for more than a decade, was removed from that seat and replaced by — you guessed it — Doug Smith during the BCC reorganization that named Smith as Commission chair late last year.  


Heard objected to the summit being managed by the coalition with Smith as the Martin representative.


Smith again spewed alternative facts in expressing his outrage that Heard doubted his commitment to the commission majority’s support of the Negron plan.  Smith accused Heard of “walking on incredibly thin water” and sputtered that he has never failed to advance the commission majority position on any committee or board when he has served as the County’s representative.


Set aside for a moment the curious notion that Smith thinks Sarah Heard walks on water.


Once again, Smith has either forgotten or is deliberately misstating his failure to express the commission’s position when proposals come before boards on which he sits, such as  the Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council where he has, in fact, advocated a position contrary to the position of the Commission majority with which he disagreed.


During BCC meetings, Smith cannot contain his disdain for Heard and sometimes for Commissioner Ed Fielding, who frequently disagrees with Smith’s alternative arguments. 


As the only send-the-water-south denier on the Martin County Commission, Doug Smith panders to Big Sugar (along with the Martin County Economic Council) despite his fake concerns for clean water and a healthy environment.


Thank goodness Sarah Heard, Ed Fielding and Harold Jenkins are continuing to address the very serious water issues that Martin County faces as environmental issues, health issues, and economic issues that require reason, facts, and dedication to resolve.

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