It was a searing message, voiced in answer to a debate that continues to heat up.
On Thursday, Florida residents from around the state gathered with members of South Florida Tea Party, Tea Party Miami, and Florida Citizens against Waste to make a statement against the proposed 46,800 acre land buy being pushed by environmental groups. Held at Green Acres Park, the groups set aflame a symbolic $2 Billion in cash to protest wasteful spending of taxpayer dollars for the land purchase.
“This money represents the over two billion of taxpayer’s money that’s going to be wasted if the Everglades land purchase goes through” stated South Florida Tea Party Leader Everett Wilkinson, as he set fire to the stacks of symbolic money. Those in attendance at times sang Woody Guthrie’s “This land is your land” and at others chanted “Stop the Waste” as the faux dollars burned.
Though touted by environmental groups as “necessary” for Everglades Restoration and Protection, no definitive plan for the land or determining evidence has yet been brought forward by proponents of the land purchase.
“$2B is the cost of upgrading the land for use as a resivoir which would have NO IMPACT on Everglades water quality because it is too small and in the wrong place.” stated Eric Von Tausch, leader of Tea Party Miami. He continued saying “land cost is not $350 Million. It’s MORE. That price expired in 2013. New fair-market price would have to negotiated with increase in land values it could be over a half billion dollars in additional funds.”
One of the groups in attendance at the rally, Florida Citizens against Waste, has created an online petition to protest the Everglades land purchase. One member of the group stated “This is such an important issue. We believe that it should matter to every Florida resident how those in Tallahassee are spending taxpayer dollars! We wanted to help people have a voice, since the Everglades Foundation is spending so much money to lie about this!”
Tea Party Miami’s Von Tausch voiced similar thoughts stating, “Politics, not science, are driving the Everglades trust.” He continued ” [It’s] an incredibly expensive land grab that makes no hydrologic, environmental or economic sense and will only disrupt the restoration program and divert resources from projects and efforts that are working.”
The petition, which is on the Florida Citizens against Waste website, is gaining support around the state from residents, sparking conversations and discussions that appear to be making their way into the state capitol building.