Everglades Activists Fire back at U.S. Sugar by Mitch E. Perry

08/31/06

5 days before the Democratic Gubernatorial Primary election, no single Florida business spent more money – and received as much attention in the campaign, than U.S. Sugar.

The sugar grower has spent nearly 2 million dollars funding different groups, like one called Florida Working Families – in supporting Rod Smith against Jim Davis in the campaign for Governor.

Today a group of Everglades activists announced a counter offensive, calling attention to their new group, called the Save Our Everglades Trust – which will spend a million dollars against U.S. Sugar. (roll tape#1 o.q.�they’re just wrong�)

Mary Barley is with Save Our Everglades Trust. She announced a television ad campaign that will air ads throughout the state on prime time network and cable television up until Tuesday’s election (roll tape#2 o.q.� in America’s everglades�)

Barley says the group is independent, and is absolutely NOT working for the Jim Davis camp, although she did admit that she personally has given money to his campaign.

She is adamant that the group has been formed to target Rod Smith for his 2003 vote for a bill sought by the sugar industry that delayed new pollution standards for water pumped into the Everglades from sugarcane fields and other sources. (roll tape#3 o.q.�instead of on the polluter�)

The Davis campaign has also produced a new television ad featuring Smith’s 2003 vote as well.

The 2003 law that environmentalists refer to did pass the Republican led Legislature with bi-partisan support. But it included a provision that delayed, from 2006 until 2016, tough new limits on the amount of phosphorous permitted in runoff allowed into the Everglades by the sugar industry and others.

Jack Seiler is a House Democrat representing 6 cities in Broward County, including Fort Lauderdale. He says he initially opposed the Everglades legislation, but said he voted for a much improved bill.(roll tape#4 o.q.�I’ve had no second thoughts�)

Seiler acknowledged that he’s supporting Rod Smith in the Primary, but says he likes and respects Congressman Davis. And he said he’s sorry that this legislation has now become such a political issue (roll tape#5 o.q.�and that’s just NOT the case with the Everglades�)

Now The Rod Smith campaign says that the very same criticism that Davis is leveling against Smith now, is the same criticism HE received as a state legislator in 1994 when he voted for a similar bill.

The Smith camp quotes from an op-ed published in the Palm Beach Post on May 1st, 1994, when the then chairman of Save Our Everglades, George Barley, criticized those who supported that bill, writing that Legislators could have passed a bill that finally ended the litigation, made the polluter pay and expedited the cleanup. Instead, they made even more concessions to the sugar industry.

David Kotchman is a spokesman for the Rod Smith Campaign (roll tape#6 o.q.� running for Governor�)

The Smith camp also goes on to say that throughout HIS political career, Jim Davis has accepted more than $68,000 from sugar interests. They say this year he’s received $8,000 from sugar interests, while hiding nearly all of the occupation listings for those donations…Again, Smith spokesman David Kotchman (roll tape#7 o.q.�he’s received from sugar�)

There are just 5 days left before the Florida Primary election.

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