Friday, December 21, 2007

In Memory of a Warrior


Isa Bryant, Black Seminole and Palm Beach County community activist, died recently in San Francisco

Click to view the obituary and online guest book


¨My heart feels heavy with the loss of such a strong and true warrior. Isa´s words and spirit were an inspiration to me. And my memories of our encounters--brief yet powerful--will continue to give me courage. The struggle for justice, dignity, freedom and land continues.

Thank you Isa for all you gave to this earth and its people.

Tonite we celebrate the Winter Solstice at the home where i live. We will be sending you our messages through the fire´s smoke. And this February, when many are gathered in South Florida for the Earth First! Winter Rendezvous, we will commemorate your life and your work by sharing stories and songs to inspire today´s warriors, and most importantly, by taking action for a better world.

There is an open invitation to participate in this gathering. Please call me for details. 561-588-9666¨

Panagioti Tsolkas (Lake Worth, FL)

Monday, December 10, 2007

PBC Environmental Coalition December Meeting Notes and Updates

Mark your calendar, next meeting is Jan 7th 7pm

CHANGE OF LOCATION: At the request of several participants, we will be trying out a new location for the month. We will meet on the back patio of Howley's Restaurant, 4700 South Dixie Highway. Repeat: this is only a trial. Next month may return to Pegasus (as it turns out, a concern raised about the veal on the menu has turned out to be moot; they do not serve this item)


*FPL updates
For those who haven't heard yet, on 11/29 the County Commission voted unanimously to expand the West County Energy Center to 3800 megawatts, making it potentially the third largest fossil fuel power plant in the U.S. Along with several Chamber of Commerce people, The Marshall Foundation also spoke offering praises of FPL. It was a sad disgrace to Art Marshall's legacy of bold and thoughtful advocacy for the Everglades. Read a great article by Art Marshall on 'Energy and Growth' that was presented at the PBCEC meeting: http://everglades.fiu.edu/marshall/FI06011111/index.htm

Ask the Marshall Foundation why they don't honor their namesake.. http://www.artmarshall.org/contact.htm

The Palm Beach Post has also been towing the line of FPL's greenwashing lately, ask them to start asking the hard questions.. http://www.palmbeachpost.com/opinion/content/info/mail.html

Now more than ever, we are committed to fighting this FPL monstrosity to its death. And we could use your support.

-Can you make an online donations towards our legal battle at www.pbcec.blogspot.com

-Can you make it to the next County Commission meeting for the final vote on the WCEC expansion to 3800MW (date TBA)

-Can you commit to joining the February 18 Call to Action for Restoration & Sustainanbility in the Everglades? Can you commit to bringing a friend to the protest? Can you commit to participating in civil disobedience? Read the Call to Action: http://pbcec.blogspot.com/2007/12/everglades-uprising-call-to-action.html

(more details TBA)
This will be discussed at the January meeting.

*Rock Mining
On Tuesday 12/4, mining in the EAA was delayed again… Keep the pressure on. Demand sheet-flow and re-connectivity for the southern Everglades ecosystem! There is a County Rock-Mining Summit planned for Feb (dates TBA)

*The Fight for Mecca from Continues…
Dec 13 BIG DEAL Meeting, SFWMD and County Commission joint meeting 9am-1pm at the County Convention Center to discuss all the most controversial environment/water issues you could think of. The PBCC will be focusing on the future of Mecca Farms. Rumor has it that there is a proposal for rock-mining for Mecca. The PBCEC will focusing on restoring Mecca as a corridor between the J.W. Corbett and Vavrus Ranch (as the Northeast Everglades Natural Area (NENA) plan recommends that Vavrus be protected.) Please call Environmental Resource Management (ERM) and ask them to stand up for restoring Mecca: 233-2400 and Please join us at the Convention Center 12/13. We are hoping to have a presence inside as well as out on the street to inform the public of the meeting. So bring signs, banners and bullhorns..

*Reef News
-Palm Beach Island wants to continue destroying endangered coastal ecosystems and species to create a fa├žade of protection for their poorly planned Condos. Beach dredge and fill projects are dismal and expensive failures. The "Reach 8" project for South Palm Beach is being scrutinized and challenged by groups including Reef Rescue, Surfrider Foundation and Sierra Club. On Monday 12/10 at the Palm Beach Episcopal Church, 12 noon there was a public forum on the Reach 8 project.

-Thanks to pressure from groups like Reef Rescue, the DEP is saying they want to close all waste-water outfalls in Florida. The cities of Miami and Ft. Lauderdale are opposing them. The PBCEC supports Reef Rescues efforts. For more info check out www.reef-rescue.org

*Support Protests to Scrutinize FPL Security company
Activists affiliated with labor union SEIU spoke at our meeting about their campaign targeting our favorite bad guys regarding FPL's contracted security company Wackenhut for overworking employees at local Nuclear facilities, causing serious public safety risks. www.eyeonwackenhut.org

*Celebrate the Longest Night!
Winter Solstice Party, Dec 21st, at 822 North C Street, Lake Worth (residence of PBCEC participants cara jennings and panagioti tsolkas). 7:30pm will be a potluck; 8:30pm solstice ceremony; after that, dance, dance, dance!! call for direction: 561-588-9666

*Fundraiser/Outreach Event, January 27th,
there are no new details on this event, but it is still in the works and looking for help in organizing it. It is shaping up to look for like a public debate/forum. Commissioner Bob Kanjian has expressed interest in a public debate. Anyone up for the challenge?

*Everglades Coalition is taking place Jan 10-14th.
There has been a resolution drafted, modifying last years WCEC Resolution. It will be presented at the Jan PBCEC meeting for feedback. Thanks to all those who donated so that PBCEC could have a representative there. www.evergladescoalition.org

*Earth First! Winter Rendezvous and Organizes Conference is coming back to the Everglades this February. Check out their great website.. http://www.earthfirst2008oc.info/

*Peace Calendar Fundraiser
January is just around the corner and we'll all be using new calendars. The 2008 Peace Calendar put out by the Syracuse Cultural Worker catalog is the perfect holiday gift for at least one person you know if not more. While you're at it, treat yourself to one. To purchase a calendar you can call 561-585-9325, or email PBCEnviroCoalition@gmail.com

To view the 2008 Peace Calendar click on the following link, but keep in mind that in order for the PBC Environmental Coalition to receive proceeds of the sale, it would need to be purchased through the contact information listed above.

http://syracuseculturalworkers.com/2008-peace-calendar


Thanks for supporting environmental efforts in Palm Beach County and elsewhere.

EVERGLADES UPRISING Call-to-Action, February 18, 2008

*SHUT DOWN THE FLORIDA POWER & LIGHT AND THE PALM BEACH AGGREGATES* A Day of Civil Disobedience For Clean Energy, Restoration and Sustainability in the Everglades

-No More Fossil Fuel or Nuclear Energy
-No More Rock Mining in the Everglades
-No More Sprawling Development & Political Corruption

In the spirit of past movements for justice—anti-colonial, labor, sufferage, civil rights, anti-nuclear—activists around the country will be in South Florida to put their bodies on the line to stop the illegal construction of a giant gas-burning power plant across from the Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Residents have petitioned, met with elected officials from the County to the Federal level, protested, and, finally, filed lawsuits. And still the construction continues. Corporate pay-offs to politicians and environmental groups have stifled all conventional and legal means of opposition; we are taking it to the next level.

The climate crisis facing the planet demands that humanity stop all greenhouse gas emissions and begin restoring damaged ecosystems immediately. International climate scientists have established the goal of, essentially, a 90% reduction of greenhouse gases by 2050; we are still moving in the other direction. In the Everglades, this country’s most famous wetland, there is a popular quote that refers to south Florida’s wetland restoration as a test. “If we pass it, we get to keep the planet”. We are failing. And we are losing the planet as we have known it.

But here in Palm Beach County local activists are joining a global movement to take drastic actions in attempt to avert the worst disasters of human-caused climate change and begin healing what we have done to the earth—for our own survival and for the future of life on this planet.

The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, in conjunction with Everglades Earth First!, is inviting people of all ages to join us on February 18, Monday morning, 6:30am at the corner of Northlake Blvd. and Seminole Pratt to caravan to the action site (TBA). For information about action trainings and legal support contact: 561-588-9666

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Three letters to the editor: WCEC, Nukes, Homelessness

Below are three letters to the editor. I haven´t had luck getting anything published (not sure if ´luck´ is the right word), but i´ll keep sending ´em. This time i figured i would try and get them a little circulation myself too...

-panagioti

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letter to PB Post:

'Enough FPL Greenwash'

When it comes to FPL's energy proposals for the Everglades bioregion, the Post needs to get a little more muck under their nails. With FPL's West County Energy Center poised to become the largest power plant in the State and one of the three largest fossil fuel plants in the entire country, I expect more hard-hitting news on the issue.

Take last week's articles ("FPL's targets 19 million tons of greenhouse gas," Nov. 28 and "County backs reclaimed water use at new FPL plant," Nov. 20), the first was pure PR spin attempting to win favor prior to the following day's public hearing on expanding the plant to 3800 megawatts. The second article was a diversion from
expansion, instead focusing on a 'reclaimed water' plan that was just presented to the Commission and has hardly been reviewed by staff. Bevin Beaudet, former Scripps Project Manager, now Water Utilities Director played out a scene very reminiscent of the Biotech battle. His advice: bow down once again to corporate interests, despite lacking proper environmental oversight. Remember, this plant still doesn't have all its permits needed for operation, yet they have started construction anyway. Sound familiar?

Readers deserve deeper analysis of this plant. Despite FPL's claims of improvement, which won unanimous votes from the Commission, the plant remains the County's biggest water user, the region's highest volume deep well injector, and the area's worst point-source air polluter. On top of that, the precarious situations of rock blasting next to fuel storage tanks and 30' high-pressure pipeline remains and the direct connection to one of the shadiest, corrupt dealings in Florida history has only gotten clearer. These are all issues worthy of more investigative reporting. This paper brough the Scripps scam to the surface. Don't let us down on this one.

panagioti tsolkas

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[Here is one i sent last month, but never got published.]

Nukes Not A Solution:

It´s been excellent to read all the dialogue around energy issues and climate change happening here in the Post. I believe that the conversations we are having on these subjects are shaping the future of our entire society. And, on that note, I´d like to offer some contrary perspectives to Thomas Sullivan´s letter on global warming and nuclear power (Nov. 2). Climate change of human origin is indeed a factor in the case of both increased wildfires and hurricane damage. Certainly decades of fire suppression, lax building codes and short-sighted developers building homes in disaster prone areas are all part of the story as well; but that should not derail the headway that scientists and environmentalists have made in bringing the realities of climate change front-and-center. Thankfully, the science of this is hardly even a debate anymore.

The real debate we have on the table now is not a new one, and the movement that brought it to the public and put the brakes on it over 30 years ago is dusting itself off for the next round, with a banner waving loud and clear: nuclear power is not the solution. Between waste concerns that the Post Editorial Board mentioned, the public safety issues and the massive public subsidies that nuclear power depends on, there is no reason to consider it our salvation (not to mention that fact that most all existing nuke plants depend on fossil fuels for their back up generation.)

The debate around climate change has turned the energy industry on it´s head. Conservation is only now being taken seriously because industry proposals are actually, finally, being denied for the damage they have done, both to the planet and to local communities alike. I happen to agree with Mr. Sullivan in one area. The government may not offer what we need, no matter how many regulations and subsidies they can throw at it. The system is broken and thoroughly corrupt beyond repair. War in the middle-east should be more evidence than any of us needed to see.

Now is the time for real visionaries to step forward and keep the momentum building towards distributed (decentralized), localized, community-driven energy solutions. For those interested in taking steps in this direction, I suggest arming yourself with an excellent study published recently by Dr. Arjun Makhijani entitled Carbon-Free and Nuclear-Free: a roadmap for U.S. energy policy (www.ieer.org/carbonfree/). The energy industry has enjoyed governmental support and has evaded public scrutiny for far too long. It´s time for us to change that.

Panagioti Tsolkas

PBCENVIROCOALITION@GMAIL.COM

561-588-9666

[I am co-chair of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition, the group who has spearheaded the fight against FPL´s West County Energy Center. We have open meetings on the first Monday of every month. For more info: www.pbcec.blogspot.com ]

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[From two months back...]
Regarding West Palm Anti-Homeless Ordinance

I was reminded at last week’s West Palm City commission meeting of just why it is that I am an anarchist. Watching people with money and relatively comfortable, secure lives come into City Hall with the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) and flex their electoral muscle in the face of low-income/homeless people, local charities and volunteer organizations was both nauseating and infuriating. A deep frustration towards the collaboration of greed and government burned in my gut, reminiscent of sitting in the audience watching Tony Masilotti at work in the County chambers in years past.

What some claimed was a ‘turf war’ over the plaza in front of the public library between homeless advocates and downtown businesses looked a lot more clearly like what should be called ‘class war’ by those who have against those who don’t.
Without any documented evidence to back up their claims, residents, business owners and DDA employees unleashed a smear campaign against local homeless residents—some of whom have lived in the area for easily twice as long as most of the condo-dwellers have been downtown.

Of course, there are already ordinances and laws for the illegal activities that residents complained about on Monday. And then there was the complaints about poor people ruining the downtown economy; but we all know that fingers should be pointed towards City Place, which has been draining Clematis’ business ever since it demolished the low-income residencies that preceded it. This new ordinance is nothing more than an attack on the visibility of poverty and destitution, when we need to be attacking its existence. Earlier this year, the Palm Beach Post exposed the harshest realities of homeless life when it reported on the multiple brutal murders in the County. But sweeping people out of downtown is the opposite of dealing with these problems. People deserve to be visible and they deserve services for problems with drug abuse, mental health and discrimination; they don’t deserve to be made criminals.

And if criminalization is what the City gives them, then I intend to be among the criminals. I applaud the anarchists of Food Not Bombs for standing their ground on the issue of equal access to public space, and likewise the christians of Art & Compassion for acting out of their convictions. From what I know of the historical Jesus of Nazareth, there is no question where he would place himself in this debate; in fact, from my understanding, bringing people together to share food was a crucial part of his original movement.

All across Florida recently, anarchists have joined homeless advocates at the forefront of similar fights with discriminatory municipal governments including legal battles in Orlando, Tampa, St. Petersburg, St. Augustine, Fort Lauderdale and Miami. Does the West Palm Beach really want to add themselves to this list?

Panagioti Tsolkas
Lake Worth, FL

561-588-9666

pbcenvirocoalition@gmail.com