EYE ON MIAMI: Matt Caldwell: don't let the door hit you on the way out ...

Eye on Miami: Written by Ray Judah. November 21, 2018.

Eye On Miami has written extensively on Ray Judah, a former county commissioner from Lee County who had served his community for 24 years when his 2012 reelection campaign was up-ended by a $1MM dark money hit job coordinated by a fellow Republican state legislator, Matt Caldwell.

Judah had the courage -- virtually alone among Republican electeds in Florida -- to challenge Big Sugar's dominance of water management practices and policies. The net result of successive legislatures and governors, mostly under Republican leadership, materialized as toxic algae blooms harmful to public health, to the environment, and devastating to coastal economies that depend on clean water.

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MIAMI HERALD: How Nikki Fried became Florida’s agriculture commissioner

Miami Herald: Written by Jose Iglesias. November 18, 2018.

When Nicole “Nikki” Fried went to sleep on Tuesday, Nov. 6, the candidate for agriculture commissioner was behind her opponent, state Rep. Matt Caldwell by half of 1 percent.

She didn’t see the bump in votes she expected from Broward, her home county, and she had a gut feeling that the numbers weren’t right.

“For the next 24 hours, we saw that was the case,” she said in an interview Saturday. “Democracy doesn’t happen overnight.

As thousands of late ballots were tallied, particularly in Broward and Palm Beach counties, the closest of the statewide races to go into a recount flipped a day after the polls closed. She maintained a slim but decisive margin thereafter.

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TC PALM: On key decisions, water district moved with lightning speed — and left public behind

TC PALM: Written by Editorial Board. November 15, 2018.

Earlier this month, the South Florida Water Management District quickly and quietly passed two monumental measures that could have a huge impact on water quality in our region and beyond.

You probably didn't hear much about it beforehand.

We're wondering if that was by design.

On Nov. 8, the district's governing board unanimously passed a measure — added to the agenda at 9 p.m. the night before — to extend a sugar company's lease on 16,500 acres south of Lake Okeechobee, land where a reservoir to mitigate discharges from Lake Okeechobee is to be built.

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BRADENTON HERALD: ‘They’re all dead.’ That may be why red tide has quit dumping fish on local beaches, official says

Bradenton Herald: Written by Ryan Callihan. November 15, 2018.

Dead fish are no longer lining Manatee shores because of red tide. According to one county official, the answer is simple.

“I often wonder that even though we’re still seeing high levels of red tide along our shorelines, we’re not seeing the number of dead fish that we used to, and I’m afraid it’s because the fish aren’t there,” said Charlie Hunsicker, Manatee County’s director of parks and natural resources, during Thursday’s meeting of the Tiger Bay Club. “Some of our offshore reefs at the moment look like deserts. They used to be resplendent with plants and sea fans waving in the reef. That’s all gone. They’re all dead.”

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WLRN: Water Managers Renew Sugar Company's Lease On Land Slated For Everglades Reservoir Project

WLRN: Written by Kate Stein. November 12, 2018.

Environmental groups and state water managers are sparring over land for an Everglades restoration project to help with Florida’s algae blooms, following a controversial vote last week by the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District.

On Thursday, officials with the district approved extending a lease for sugar farmers on land that has been slated for a water storage reservoir. The reservoir is intended to reduce the need for water discharges from Lake Okeechobee, which contribute to algae blooms on Florida's coasts.

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NBC 2: Environmentalists upset about leases extended to sugar farmers

NBC 2: Written by Jaclyn Bevis. November 9, 2018.

More concerns were reported after the South Florida Water Management District approved a new lease with sugar farms for land in the Everglades Agricultural Area.

The district noted a requirement in Senate Bill 10 to continue the lease, but one of the bill's co-sponsors in the Florida House said that's not the case.

"I would question whether Senate Bill 10 would have been the motivator for this lease," Representative Heather Fitzenhagen said. "Why the urgency at the last minute to put it on the agenda? And why not have shorter lease terms so we can have more flexibility as a state to begin work on one of the most important pieces of legislation that's come across the state of Florida in years."

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Bradenton Herald: Why won’t red tide go away? After Hurricane Michael, toxic algae has again spread

Bradenton Herald: Written by Jenny Staletovich. November 7, 2018.

Just before Hurricane Michael made landfall last month, a ferocious red tide that had scoured Florida’s Gulf Coast for a year, depositing countless dead sea turtles, dolphin and other marine life on beaches before spreading to the Atlantic coast, had finally started to wane.

In most places, with the wet season winding down and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers easing up on releasing polluted water from Lake Okeechobee, the toxic algae that had become a key election year campaign issue had dropped to relatively low levels. Fish kills were down and so were the coughing fits among beach-goers.

But in the weeks following the storm, red tide that is already considered the worst in a decade has roared back.

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NEWS PRESS: Recount ordered in race for agriculture commissioner

News Press: Written by Bill Smith. November 10, 2018.

A recount has been ordered in the election for Florida agriculture commissioner, with Democrat Nikki Fried holding a lead of .06 percent over Republican candidate Matt Caldwell.

According to the state elections website this afternoon, Fried had 50.03 percent of the vote and Caldwell had 49.97 percent, reflecting a difference of 5,326 voted, with more than 8 million cast. Automatic recounts are required when returns show a margin of a half a percentage point or less.

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NEWS PRESS: Everglades reservoir: critics question timing, legality of agriculture lease

News Press: Written by Chad Gillis. November 9, 2018.

Some environmental watchdog groups and politicians are still fuming over a state water district's decision Thursday to extend a Florida Crystals lease on land designated for an Everglades restoration project.

The South Florida Water Management District governing board approved an agriculture lease through 2027 for about 16,000 acres in the Everglades Agriculture Area, or EAA.

While the old lease wasn't set to expire until March, district officials pushed the lease through in less than 24 hours.

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LENS MAGAZINE: Getting the Water Right

Lens Magazine: Written by Jessica Cattelino and Adam Nadel. October 6, 2018.

The Florida Everglades is an iconic national treasure and an imperiled natural wonder. Is it also a home, a workplace, a cultural landscape, and inextricably human. At only 5,000 years old, the Everglades ecosystem has never existed without people. There is no better place than the Everglades to see the destructive effects of artificially separating nature from culture in science, politics, and everyday life.

As is true with other wetlands across the globe, people living their day-to-day lives — whether as real estate developers or water managers, farmers or urban dwellers, tourists or migrant workers — have transformed the Everglades. Since the late 1800s, the slow-moving, watery Everglades ecosystem has shrunk to half its size, as have global wetlands as a whole.

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