Monday, February 20, 2012 at 4:58 p.m.
Today, in turtle-wonkery:
We told you last week about the big fight to keep Hillsboro Lighthouse
from being turned out by sea-turtle activists, even though the sea-turtle activists say they love the lighthouse and don't want it turned out at all.
The advocates even sent the Coast Guard a list of things that could be done without turning out the light that would still prevent hatching sea turtles from being fatally misguided by the lighthouse. The list was one letter in what the group says was two years of correspondence about the issue.
Unfortunately, when the Coast Guard asked for public comment, it passed on only that one letter. So when the Florida Inland Navigation District, which oversees the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway, decided to weigh in, it logically found that the activists hadn't presented enough information to warrant turning off the light. We asked the Coast Guard what happened to the rest of the information, and it said it didn't know.
The resolution passed unanimously, and the recommendation to preserve the lighthouse as it is will be passed onto the Coast Guard. The argument could be made, though, that FIND has plausible deniability in this case -- the Coast Guard essentially said, "Hey, we got this letter that says the lighthouse is killing turtles. What do you think?" FIND didn't ignore the evidence; the Coast Guard didn't send it along.
The Broward County Commission, however, has no such excuse. The commission will vote February 28 on a resolution that's worded in a way in which it doesn't even have to read
the information from the Coast Guard: Commissioner Chip LaMarca -- who has a picture of Hillsboro Lighthouse on the front page of his website
-- submitted a resolution identical to FIND's. His reason for the resolution: "Due to a group trying to reduce operation of the Lighthouse
If LaMarca has actually read the information that FIND received, it doesn't look like he absorbed any of it -- even with the limited information the Coast Guard passed on, there is a full page that says only, "KEEP THE LIGHTHOUSE BURNING."
It doesn't matter if he or anyone else on the commission actually reads the letter, though -- the resolution blindly endorses FIND's conclusions.
It makes sense when FIND includes a provision in a resolution that says, "Whereas, FIND has reviewed the letter from SeaTurtleOversightProtection.org and finds that the Statement of Concern is without any specific facts to justify changes to the Hillsboro Lighthouse operations..."
But that paragraph is also in the commission's resolution. It's relying on FIND to read the bill and just taking the group at its word that there isn't enough evidence. The County Commission vote was actually originally scheduled for the February 14 meeting, but LaMarca requested it be postponed
because FIND hadn't approved it yet.
"We suggested that they may want to change it to be a resolution from themselves," said FIND Executive Director David Roach.
I told him I only asked because I hadn't seen anything like that -- a group of elected officials just looking at another group's resolution and saying, "Yeah, we'll just go with whatever they say."
"We hadn't seen anything like that either," Roach said.
Here's the whole resolution: