Friday, June 06, 2008

Hurricane McCain and the Everglades paving crew

Good crowd came out on the McArthur Causeway Friday morning and all Miami TV stations covered this lively demo.

Kudos to the Florida Democratic Party for jumping on John McCain’s Florida trip and digging up some dirt.

You’ll note that yesterday I posted here with the FDP’s new ad ripping McCain for failing to support catastrophe insurance. That ad had wonderful footage of Republicans saying, Nope, McCain’s no good for Florida, doesn’t have Florida interests at heart, out of touch. Thank you, Research Department, for holding onto stuff from the Republican primary trail.

Now on Friday the FDP and Miami-Dade Democrats and the AFL-CIO combined on a vigorous demo outside Parrot Jungle, where McCain was doing a fundraiser in the morning. And to mark his Everglades trip in the afternoon, out comes an FDP news release revealing how he’s in thrall to a big developer who’s on record wanting to pave over the Everglades.

I call this energetic action. The FDP has taken a lot of lumps this year but isn’t sulking in a corner. Now is the time to be striding out in fact-based actions and demanding to be heard, like a healthy political party.

On top of the McCain critique, we got in a swipe at beleaguered U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25) who seems uncertain whether he’s for or against saving the Everglades. Come on, Mario, we know you’re against it. It’s the environmental jewel of your district – spanning from Miami’s western suburbs across to the outskirts of Naples on the Gulf Coast – but you’ve done nada in leading the way to the bipartisan goal of restoring the Everglades.

More detail on that below, but first the skinny on McCain and “trailblazer” Alfred Hoffman Jr.To quote the FDP news release:

Only one thing could be more damaging to the Everglades and the future of Florida than a major storm - Hurricane McCain and his dirty developers.

John McCain visits the Everglades today on a trip paid for by his campaign, which has accepted thousands of dollars bundled for him by an extremely controversial developer named Alfred Hoffman Jr. - a major fundraiser for the Bush family.

"Does John McCain want to protect the Everglades or destroy them? McCain should be ashamed of himself for accepting money from developers who want to steamroll the state of Florida, without regard for its people or its environment," Florida Democratic Party Chairwoman Karen L. Thurman said. "If he is serious about the Everglades, McCain must return, at a minimum, the $100,000 raised by Hoffman and others who profit from irresponsible, sprawling developments."

Hoffman, former CEO of WCI Communities, is a $100,000 bundler ("Trailblazer") for McCain's campaign. In 2004, Hoffman led efforts to coerce then-Gov. Jeb Bush into blocking a vital restoration project. [Washington Post, 12/10/07; Public Citizen, 5/10/08] Hoffman's group, the Association of Florida Community Developers, "filed a legal challenge against the state Department of Environmental Protection, which had proposed a rule governing the water protections." [Palm Beach Post, 4/26/04]

"You can't stop it... There's no power on Earth that can stop it!" Hoffman told the Washington Post in 2003, describing his intent to expand development from southwest Florida toward the Everglades. [Washington Post, 12/10/07]

In 2004, Hoffman was national co-chairman and Florida finance chairman for President Bush's re-election campaign. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 12/19/05]

I call that pretty convincing. If I were McCain I’d be ponying up that $100,000 and bowing my head in shame.

Now, what about Mario Diaz-Balart? To quote another FDP release, soon echoed by Joe Garcia’s campaign to unseat MD-B:

On a conference call today, Mario Diaz-Balart said he "held his nose" to vote for the Everglades funding bill, echoing the McCain campaign's misleading talking points.

But a Miami Herald report yesterday said Diaz Balart "vigorously supported" the Everglades bill McCain voted against. So how can Diaz Balart be trusted, and how can voters possibly be asked to hold their noses to vote for him or John McCain who brags about standing against Florida's best interests?

Everglades Bill Was Strongly Supported By Florida Republicans, Including Diaz-Balart, Crist and Martinez.
The Miami Herald wrote, John McCain "opposed spending $2 billion on restoring the national park, siding with President Bush against Florida's political establishment -- including top Republican supporters Gov. Charlie Crist and Sen. Mel Martinez... In South Florida, three of McCain's key supporters in the House -- Lincoln Diaz-Balart, Mario Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen -- vigorously supported the Water Development Resources Act. 'Congress has not passed a WRDA bill in the last seven years, creating a serious backlog of infrastructure projects throughout the country,' Lincoln Diaz-Balart said in a statement issued after the vote overriding the president's veto." [Miami Herald, 6/5/08]

"It's well known that these developers attempted, and in some cases, succeeded in buying off the Bushes and other Republicans," Florida Democratic Party spokesman Mark Bubriski said. "Is it not within reason for McCain to return the dirty money if it would help assure Florida voters that he is serious about his 'desire' to preserve the Everglades?"

This is going to be a hot summer, with McCain making repeated visits to Florida and the Democratic Party repeatedly calling him to task.

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