Rick Scott is going to have company at his seaside mansion this weekend but the visitors are not likely to be welcome. A coalition of Florida citizens dismayed at the governor's environmental record are planning to march on his $9.2 million residence at 3150 Gordon Drive in Naples to raise a ruckus over the threat to state waters that's gathered steam on Scott's watch.
Many of the marchers are veterans of the Collier County fracking wars, including Dr. Karen Dwyer, a leading member of the area's Stonecrab Alliance, which along with area homeowners' group Save Our Paradise (and others) succeeded in forcing the Department of Environmental Protection to shut down (for now) Texas prospectors drilling in the Everglades.
"[The march] is primed to hit just as early voting starts," Dwyer told New Times when we spoke with her this past weekend. "We had a march like this last year because Scott was enabling oil drilling here in Collier County. We're back this year because it's now quite clear we need new legislation and new rules.
"We want to make clean water into a voting issue -- water is our greatest natural resource and its most threatened resource, with all sorts of water problems throughout the state," Dwyer said. "The governor has been bringing industry into everyone's backyards, not just with the oil drilling but with the pipeline and the Lake Okeechobee overflows and the big, gas-fired power plant right next to the Big Cypress Reservation. This [march] is meant to bring the issues right to his doorstep."
Among other demands, Dwyer said, is "more enforcement powers" for DEP. "The existing regulations have been written by the oil and gas industry, so we need new ones," she said. "Even [DEP] Secretary [Herschel] Vinyard has said as much, that we need to bring them up to par. People are coming in with extreme extraction measures, and fracking is not regulated in Florida.
Dwyer said the marchers will be "coming by land and by sea... We'll have a little flotilla, like last year. We've invited everyone to come with kayaks; we expect paddleboarders, dressed in hazmat suits."
Speakers at the event will include Independent Florida Seminole leader Bobby C. Billie and Betty Osceola, of the Panther Clan. "They'll be talking about their tribal tree islands," Dwyer said, "which are not now habitable because of mercury poisoning in the Everglades."
The march is going to be "perfectly legal, on the up-and-up," Dwyer said. "We did let the police know, but because we're going to be on public property, the beach, and not stepping on his private property, we don't need a permit. We'll probably have an ATV police escort from the pier. We're not doing civil disobedience."
How big a crowd is expected? "Probably a few hundred -- at best," Dwyer said. "I wish we could get thousands out, but it's Naples, and it just doesn't happen in Naples. More than 200 have signed up. In Naples, if you can get a few hundred out, that's like thousands elsewhere."
Will Scott actually be at home? "We've heard he has other commitments in town that weekend," Dwyer said. "Last year his security was outside and said he wouldn't be there. I'm going to reach out again and see if he'll be joining us. That would be terrific."
Contact info for the March on Rick Scott's home can be found here.
Fire Ant -- an invasive species, tinged bright red, with an annoying, sometimes-fatal sting -- covers South Florida news and culture. Got feedback or a tip? Contact [email protected]