To the editor:
Thank you for publishing the article by Craig Garrett regarding the diversion of funds earmarked for direct conservation efforts. He cited and provided information regarding the initiative to restrict fresh water overflow from the Caloosahatchee River as well as efforts to restore/repair environmental damage to the fresh water Everglades. Both of those initiatives have been undermined by the state Legislature and possibly by various County Commissions. Pine Island residents are also concerned regarding the recent purchases of vast amounts of land by big venture corporations and the ensuing efforts in Lee County to change plans/ordinances put in place years ago to protect and preserve the last remaining unincorporated island on the west coast.
Conservation appears to be a high priority to the citizenry of Florida who have voted to have their tax money used for certain purposes. Yet, those in charge of setting priorities (and budgets) seem unwilling to carry out the wishes of the people who voted them into office. Could it possibly be that we are voting the wrong people into policy making positions in Florida? Are we paying enough attention during our elections to know who will do what? Or are we, as the taxpayers, being swayed by the huge (and ever growing) negative ad campaigns being thrust upon us through the media?
Since the Supreme Court gutted campaign finance laws with the Citizens United and McCutcheon decisions, a moderately ridiculous situation has become not only unbearable but unethical and dangerous. Unrestricted (and unending) amounts of big money are now influencing who we vote into office. The predictions of dark money funding for the 2016 elections are beyond the scope of the imagination. How can we possibly sort out the pertinent information when our elections are a three-ring circus of smear campaigns, attack ads and out-of-context misinformation?
The injection of big money into our election processes cannot possibly be justified through the tenant of "free speech" as supporters of dark money purport. It would behoove us as voters to determine which local, state and national policy makers and candidates support unlimited/unidentified money in our elections and to put an end to it.
A major national initiative to "End Citizens United" is under way and information can be easily found on the Internet. Most average voters want to return our election campaigns to reasonable, informational and productive processes but now that the Supreme Court has spoken, it will necessitate a Constitutional amendment to do so. We should all sign on and support this effort and bring accountability back to Florida.
St. James City