Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition
¨Fighting for healthy ecosystems, open space and quality of life in Palm Beach County¨
October 16, 2008
The Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition offers enthusiastic support to Commissioner Cara Jennings’ re-election. She is the boldest advocate for quality of life and environmental issues we have seen in any municipality across this County; Jennings has re-defined politics in Palm Beach. After watching four public officials go to prison—with more indictments likely on the way—for crimes of fraud and corruption in land dealings, many environmental advocates have lost faith in the public process.
Politics-as-usual have allowed zoning changes to swallow up thousands of undeveloped acres of our wetlands, forests and rural/agricultural areas. Developer-driven permits have invited thousands of tons of toxic pollution into our air and water and millions of tons of climate-changing greenhouses gases into the atmosphere. Greed and corruption has become intertwined with political bureaucracy. This is seen as standard operating procedure. And it would appear there is no end in sight.
…Until a community activist like Cara Jennings gets elected. In the political climate which pervades the Palm Beaches, it’s been said that she has become the exception that proves the rule. Elected officials have acted on behalf of self-interested, profit-driven commercial and industrial efforts for so long that the participation of someone like Cara hardly makes sense to many:
• A commissioner that proposes a strong ethics ordinance, without being prodded to do so?
• A politician that pushes a city to join environmental litigation—on our side of the table?
• Someone who hits the streets and collects petitions to stop over-development and works with unenfranchised immigrant residents (which some ‘environmentalists’ have used as scapegoats)?
• A city representative who refuses to leave a community in the shadows based on their voting status or offer them paternalistic double-speak?
• An elected official who is willing to stand up to law enforcement agencies for their violation of first amendment rights and violence against environmental activists?
• A public figure with a certified Florida Friendly landscape, solar power and an organic garden?
What her position silently implies about the majority of crooked people who occupy elected seats is brilliant poetic justice—without having to resort to smear tactics. Her presence is an embarrassment to the heartless crooks, liars and lackeys who represent pay-to-play politics around here. It is a strong unspoken reminder to the real estate elites: your reign will not last forever. In the face of this double-whammy crisis of economy and environment, specifically regarding housing and climate, it is a glimmer of hope.
So let’s keep her in there for a few more years, if for no other reason than to watch the Chambers of Commerce and Builder’s Associations across Florida squirm. After that, we want her back out here with us full time in the grassroots. But we feel confident that her time in office will inspire other equally-dedicated folks to run for office, and to run greedy developers out of their towns, all across South Florida.
Barry Silver, Esq Co-Chair of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition
Panagioti Tsolkas, Co-Chair of the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition