To the editor:
I personally just returned from Washington, D.C. where I attended and spoke at the Lake O water releases special hearing held by Congressmen Trey Radel and Patrick Murphy at the nation's Capitol.
I traveled from FMB to Jensen Beach on the east coast on Monday morning to board a chartered bus with 80 water quality activists from the east coast known as the "River Warriors" that left on Tuesday morning. (Hundreds more from their area being effected by the discharges also flew, drove, or took a train to the briefing. We ended up with more than 400 activists for clean water at the meeting while the ages of those activists ranged from age 3 to 93). Our mission was to collectively take a stand against our ecological nightmare that is destroying both east and west coasts ecosystems and economies, while standing up for out communities that are facing more than just "brown water."
With the government shut down, we suddenly realized that we were the only meeting on the hill. This played to our advantages and disadvantages. The Army Corps didn't show up, however Nancy Pelosi, Bill Nelson and many other high ranking federal politicians did. Congressman Patrick Murphy, who headed the briefing carried a bottle of our waters with him and showed each member of Congress one by one the reality of our shared water quality situation. He also pointed out to each member of Congress how activists had taken a 20-hour bus 20 ride to be heard!
Indeed, we were allowed to be heard, and we each told them out stories of our realities due to the discharges. I was lucky enough to speak. I choose to speak for my daughter, Willow Bird Heim, and Fort Myers Beach as our community. My question was simple and sent to speak it by my daughter: "If a 10-year old can understand that Plan 6 is the only fix, then why can our leaders not understand it?"
I also had noticed that I was selected to be the last speaker of the briefing as all had two minutes to be heard. I quickly asked my kid's question and forwarded my remaining time to our present Fort Myers Beach Mayor Alan Mandel so that he would be allowed time to be heard for our community as our leader. He deserved to be heard just as we all deserve to be heard to defend out way of life effected by the releases. Mayor Mandel will also lead the speaking event of the rally for clean water here on Oct.19 in Crescent Beach Family Park on the island staring at 11 a.m. We, as a water quality activist group of more than 40,000 strong, personally thank him for that and representing our Beach in DC.
The idea of the clean water movement activists was to in fact-fill the chambers of the briefing. The overflow room was set up for others to watch on close circuit TV in the halls of the hill. We were told several times as a group that members of Congress had not seen these rooms filled to capacity with activists of any kind in some time to this degree. Nancy Pelosi told us that we are the ones with the power for change in our communities, and as activists to keep pushing her for that chance to demand respect for our water ways. Thank you as well, House Speaker, Pelosi. We indeed will take you up on that offer as well as all federal, state and local reps to do their jobs in keeping our freedoms intact, whole a healthy eco-system for locally is that job at hand now.
The trip to DC was more then a trip to protest, it was a chance to be heard one on one through dialogue. We know as a group that working with them now is much better than working against them. Most importantly for us, however, is that we must keep the pressure on them as communities. We must not let then ignore us anymore as now we have their attention. It is our coastal ways of living that depends in out involvement to the protection of our environment. It's our obligation to get educated and aware of the solution. Plan 6 is our fix, ask my kid!
The only thing in the way of Plan 6 is the sugar industry crops. They don't want to lose that section south of Lake O because of the revenue it creates. Even though in reality it's just a small portion of the fields of sugar cane. It's simple! "Profit over People" once again at its lowest level of greed. If we had that land it would again also flow "naturally" south and into the Everglades the way Mother Nature intended it to be before man and industry took it over and re-routed Florida plumbing to its core of death. Remember, at one point our river was never connected to Lake O at all. Man did this! Man created the discharges. Man crafted the destruction of our precious eco-system for the intention of making money, while mismanaging our waters as well from pollution to misdirection.
We went to DC to be heard for our homes, our kids, our jobs, our communities, our eco-system, our tourism and to speak for a very hurting Mother Nature! This is our plan A as an activists group: to work with them for solutions of real time which is Plan 6. If they choose to lie to us as a promise given while in DC to fix this ecological disaster, then we go into plan B mode as Floridians for clean water. Civil disobedience will have to be used as our method to our message out if our message is not heard through our meetings in DC. However, at the present moment, we have a good working start in Congressmen Trey Radel and Patrrick Murphy crossing party lines to form this panel to approach the problems at hand for us and the east. I applaud them as well as our local politicians who were also present in DC.
We very much look forward to our ongoing relationship to regain our healthy water ways that fuel our economy. We also would like the community to engage in our cause for clean water by attending our speakers educational rally on Oct. 19. Your personal involvement can and will be by all of you as a community to simply show up at 11 a.m. Without you there is no us! We must stand together for the love of our island.
John. G. Heim
Fort Myers Beach