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...



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


[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



[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 ]

[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



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