Monday, April 06, 2009

Florida's Environment: Who Cares?

Florida is in a terrible drought right now. We are facing the tightest watering restrictions we've ever faced because our sources have literally dried up.

The Tampa Bay Area is scrimping and saving all the water it can, hoping desperately to hold off until the rains come once more. This is a doubtful hope, as we've been in a drought for three years now, and we're terribly overdeveloped with a relatively poor infrastructure.

As a native, I hate to see this happening, but politicians and businessmen allowed their greed to exceed their judgement. And why shouldn't they? It's human nature to get what you want; the hell with everyone else. That is why government is supposed to be in place to check human nature. But government only works when it's also incorruptible.

Currently we have many abandoned homes in our neighborhoods. These are homes that have become neglected, run-down, with lawns that are dry and crispy from the lack of rain and no one to water them weekly.

The home behind me was once the most beautiful home in the neighborhood: It was a lovely oasis, tucked away from prying eyes, with a vast backyard of lush, green grass, rimmed with tropical landscaping and citrus trees. The tree in front of the house was majestic, and shaded a large part of this pristine home.

I recently checked on the home, which has been vandalized by local teens who've been holding parties there. Last Thanksgiving, they even dug a firepit in the middle of the formerly lush lawn, which is now nothing but brown straw. Alarmed neighbors called the police, as one spark could have brought down the entire neighborhood.

Windows are now broken, the roof has been compromised, the carpeting spongy and moist. The tree in the front yard has split in half, and is now laying on the white tiled roof.

The swimming pool had become a pond for a while, with murky depths that could conceal anything from a corpse to the Ebola virus. It was full of mosquito larvae and tadpoles - a sign that life hadn't entirely left the premises.

Due to the health hazard and my repeated calls to the city about it, the pool was finally drained and covered by some unknown group (possibly the bank that the property must have reverted to).

Other than this one concession, no one cares any more. The best property in the neighborhood is a virtually worthless tinderbox, waiting to go up in flames.

Down the street, some homes have become rental properties. A rental property usually means a different type of resident: Someone who doesn't care about the property or being part of the community. There is little to no obligation or responsibility.

Mexicans have moved into these homes, because (at least in this area) Mexicans don't mind cramming a couple families into one home and sharing the expenses. And because they have little-to-no regard for the people that they live amongst, they have contributed color to the neighborhood.

We now have thumping stereos from souped up cars travelling regularly through the neighborhood. We've had spectacular, noisy, screaming fights taking place at 7 AM on a Saturday morning: Our Mexican alarm clocks.

And yesterday, they decided to fire off illegal fireworks. Near the tinderbox.

We called the police.

They didn't bother to come.

Eventually, the Mexicans grew tired of all the pyrotechnics and, alarmed by seeing many of us watching them (and on our phones), they slunk off into their respective homes.

As I turned to go into my home, I saw that my next door neighbor, Mr. Clean, was running his sprinklers full-blast on a non-watering day. His lawn got some of the water; our street got the rest. You'd think if you were bent on doing something illegal, you'd at least want to get the full benefit of it.

I was pretty angry about this. I have tons of beautiful landscaping that I'm babying along because I'm playing by the rules. We are in the most severe drought that we've ever seen in Florida, and I'm a native suffering because so many people have moved down here that we may never see 'normal' water usage again.

So I called the hotline to report Mr. Clean's pirating. Do you see a theme here? Yup: I'm a tattletale.

The hotline's mailbox was full.

I called again, this time hanging on to the line so that an operator had to take my call.

"Oh, just leave it in the voicemail box," she said dismissively. I told her that the mailbox was full. "Well, we aren't equipped to take complaints," she said. "You'll just hafta call back durin' business hours. We don't send inspectors out at night, anyways."

"You don't?" I asked incredulously. "The news is full of reports of your inspectors catching homeowners watering illegally at night!"

"I dunno what ta tell ya," she said, bored already with our conversation. So, I shot off an email to Pinellas County Utilities. Who knows if they're any more interested than she is? I guess the disinformation was just a fluff piece to scare us into conforming: The tiger has no bite.

Who really cares about Florida's environment?

Who knows.


Fred said...

I'm totally with you on this one. I woke up this morning, and the street in front of one of my neighbor's house was wet from his sprinkler. The idiot failed to look at the weather forecast; we got a good bit of rain today.

Over here, I don't see the housing issue. I do see lots of empty retail stores, though. It's amazing the a band new mall opened just up the road from seems like suicide to do that in this environment.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Fred, So good to "see" you again! Which mall opened? Where? I wasn't aware of a new one! Yeah, you're right - that doesn't seem like the brightest move.

Businesses are definately struggling and/or closing down. Any one that was a 'start up' was a 'shut down' almost immediately.

The Doozie said...

the empty houses and retail stores are nationwide. However, the new construction continues, with extensive lawns and landscaping that will have to be watered. This country is full of idiots.

The Lazy Iguana said...

I am against all lawn watering. What is the point?

My coconut tree is fine by the way.

And of course the voice mailbox is full! Think about it. If 1,000 people call the number 10 times each and Rick Roll it ( - the voice mailbox is full.

And then when snitches call to rat out their neighbor, they can't leave a message.

Next time call the local news. Then the news vans will show up and put the guy on TV.

A real turd floater is supposed to be on the way.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Off topic:

A flag that you've enabled comment moderation on the Obama post and I responded to Michelle's comment and you haven't published it.

A right to reply is essential in all debate, it's a shame that has been refused in this case, so, I am forced to publish my rebuttal here.

It was something along the lines of...


You say you won't respond and then respond.

My whole intent is discussion and evidence based debate, it is you and those you support that are not debating or discussing. I prefer debate and discussion because in this case, I know I have the facts on my side.

I'm glad I have permission to think what I think.


Ed Abbey said...

I have a hard time feeling sympathy for areas that developed in arid climates that require water to maintain green grass and shrubs when the rains stop. I also have a hard time feeling sympathy for areas that developed faster than a substainable rate and charged outrageous sums for the priviledge of living there. I feel like I am now staring in the side of the ant farm watching the occupants scurry worriedly around figuring out what to do next because they didn't think that far ahead as a collective whole.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Doozie, Dittos!

Lazy & Ed, I agree mostly. My lawn is pretty sturdy, and I water it rarely, with reclaimed water, twice a week (as I'm allowed). For over a year I didn't water it AT ALL, but the drought is killing what there is.

I've xeriscaped a great deal of it, so there's minimal water required.

Daniel, I didn't see your comment yet, but I'll check it out.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Apologies for jumping the gun, feel free to delete my comments in this post.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Daniel, It's fine! I try very hard to never censor or delete comments unless they're just absolutely nasty. ;o)

Fred said...

Saur, here's the mall. It's in Wesley Chapel.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Fred, awesome! Thanks! I'm gonna check it out this weekend.

Scott said...

Why all the harsh words for the Mexican Americans? I can't believe nobody else commented on that, such a sad thing. Not to justify those particular actions of lighting off firewords irresponsibly, but come on, I see lots of idiots of all races doing stupid things. Why do you have to single out one race?

Saur♥Kraut said...

Scott, Because in this case the problem isn't with the blacks or whites who live in our neighborhood. For the Mexicans (probably NOT Mex-Americans but illegal aliens), it is cultural to be antisocial.

Perhaps you aren't inundated with them as we are here in Florida (which has one of the highest amount of illegal alien concentrations in the country), but as a whole their culture is one that does not encourage community loyalty or responsible living.

It can be argued that black culture is even worse in some areas (as Thomas Sowell has written about) but in this neighborhood, the only troubles are with the Mexicans.

And I won't give voice to any politically correct lies to cover up such facts.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...


I'll fess up, I missed it altogether in my rush to deal with a previous post and you have it right.


Saying that an entire culture, whether Mexican or 'Black' (bearing in mind there is no such thing considering the complexities within that term alone), with all it's complexities and nuances has somehow an element written into it which is anti-social is as wrong as it is dangerous.

Imagine, someone saying the term American and then following it with:

They are naturally anti-social (please see invading other countries without reason for evidence), unloyal (please see the old allies they have screwed over) and cannot live responsibly (please see high gun crime rate and the fact they are the fattest nation on the planet), also, it could be argued that American culture is the worst in the world (popular culture seeking to an all time low, anti-intellectualism rife and a large proportion of the population thinks Jesus will come back to Earth).

Obviously, although these statements have some tiny element of truth in them (this is the nature of prejudice), to label America and all Americans as fundementally flawed would be a terrible and stupid thing to do.

I would suggest that the same thing applies to the labelling of Mexican and Black culture.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Daniel, I WAS surprised you hadn't weighed in.

No one is stereotyping. That would involve a sweeping inaccurate statement of ALL Mex-Americans and I tried to avoid that.

That being said, you don't live here (nor does Scott) and you don't hear in the media the cold hard facts.

The media is bent on being politically correct. In this case, political correctness comes at the expense of the truth (as is often the case).

Remember that I have close LEGAL Mex-American friends, so I know that there are exceptions. But these are exceptions. They will tell you the same thing.

What I said about the Mex-American culture stands.

There is no excuse for it. If you live in another country, it is both arrogant and selfish to refuse to be part of the culture. Instead, we have illegals demanding that we conform to theirs.

I know of no instance where Americans move to Mexico and attempt to force tea parties, barbecues, and civilized behavior upon the natives. And yet the illegals believe that we Americans should bow to what they expect.

Incidentally, since you say that they are "naturally" reprehensible people, you seem to be unwittingly agreeing with a stereotype that even *I* do not ascribe to.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...


Ha ha, you must have known you'd written something a bit awry then if you were surprised.

All I can go on is what I read and it does read, intentionally or not, esp. the comments, as a bit sweeping.

And indeed, I don't live there, my equivalent (as in largest ethinic group in my part of London) would be Greeks and, it would be possible for me to lay all kinds of things at their door if I wanted to. But I don't and it would be sweeping, as Scott says, it is not the ethnicity or nationality but the individual and groups of individuals in question that are a pain in the ass.

You mention a term I have a loathing for, 'politically correct, I loath it becuase it doesn't exist, it isn't a movement and never has been and the term was originally coined in the 20s by Trotsky, now it is used and re-invented by the right as a stick by which to beat good-spirited policy making. Also, I've never heard anyone complain about the fictional movement of political correctness, that wasn't using it to attack others from some kind of miniority group; it is a tool used generally speaking by bigots and those on the right.

Can I also flag, just because you have friends of a certain ethnicity, doesn't mean you can't be racist towards that ethnicity, it is common for people to not see their friends 'colour' or ethnicity (in it's own way a form of racism for colour is the first thing we all see and it comes with deep social baggage) and attacks others of that race for 'not being like their friend'.

It sounds to me as if really, your problem is with illegal immigrants and not Mexicans, ie: those who look to abuse the system offered to them but remember also, those that are exploiting them and encouraging such behaviour. Not all of them will be Mexicans.

And if what you said about Mex-American culture stands, then I suppose what I said about American culture (what is left of it) also stands but I think you'll agree that dismissing an entire culture based on a few factors is not the best move.

I tried being an immigrant last year, I went to Poland (for research for a show but the Polish people didn't know that) to get a job and it gave me some insight into the reality of being an immigrant in another country. Until you've tried it, you don't know how hard it is and how the temptation to build a version of your homeland in the new country you find yourself in is so very tempting.

"Instead, we have illegals demanding that we conform to theirs."

I quote this because I would like to see some evidence of this on a larger scale, this seems to be attacking those at the bottom of the pile, rather than those that have set up the economic exploitation.

If no one employed them, they wouldn't come?

I'd be careful about calling American culture civilised, again, many Europeans would doubt that and again, that would be a sweeping generalisation of American culture but while you're at it, why not all of us have a stab.

It is divisive I think.

"And yet the illegals believe that we Americans should bow to what they expect."

Again, I'd like to see some detailed evidence of this.

Also, you mistook my use of the word "naturally", I was trying to find a term to sum up your view of their culture, no race or ethnicity is naturally anything, it is like picking Hitler as the token white and saying all white folks are evil.

Some of us are, most of us aren't.

So it goes.

Saur♥Kraut said...

Daniel, No, I didn't think that *I* had written anything awry. But I know that you and Scott shy from the truth when it's spoken so bluntly.

You're quick to swear like a sailor, but blush like a maiden over truthful but painful issues such as this.

Please understand that I'm not trying to be cruel at all (I consider you a friend) but I think that you definately have a blind spot here.

daveawayfromhome said...

Saur, I think you're confusing the behavior of your neighbors with a cultural or racial identity, when it is far more likely to be a socio-economic based behavior. Think about it, are these firework shooting neighbors of yours middle-class? Not likely, with their mulltiple families crammed into those houses. I suspect if your drug-addict former tennant was celebrating something, she'd be doing something similarly obnoxious, but it'd be in the middle of a trailer park rather than in a "nice" neighborhood.
The same goes for any obnoxious group. Check them out, you'll likely find that they're undereducated, underfunded and possibly young. It's not an issue of nature, but of nurture.

As for refusing to "adopt" the culture into which they've moved, that's been a complaint since before the Jews left Egypt.
Funny thing, though, if you look at the families, while the parents may never learn the language, the kids ("illegal" or not) who've been born here are indistinguishable from the "natives".

Oh, and speaking of people who refuse to learn the culture of their new home, I dont see you living in a chickee.

Scott said...

I have read your response and I still don't get it. How you can say that I shy away from bluntness is not at all the issue. What you perceive to be calling it like you see it, or like it is, is actually just prejudice.

You say I don't know much about your Country, but I read a lot about the United States, in fact a great deal of the media that Canadians consume comes from US cities. I don't know what you know about Toronto but it is considered to be one of the most culturally diverse cities in the world. Some say it is the most culturally diverse.

What I have learned from that is that there are JERKS from all races and all walks of life. To say that one race contributes more than another to crime and inconsiderate behaviour is just inaccurate.

Oh, and as for Mexicans being antisocial. That has never been my experience. I have found Mexicans that i know to be welcoming, inclusive and fun. But hey, that's just me.

As for the "politically correctness", I am okay with discourse about problems in the black community, the Hispanic community or the white community. It is my belief though that people of different races are not inherently more likely to be criminals or anti social or whatever else you want to say. It is much more complicated than that, there are societal issues that must be considered in any such discourse.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Hi Saur:

Well, to be blunt, what you're speaking isn't truth and I think both Scott and I are trying to be gentle in our feedback and not calling you a racist because what you've written reads like racism. Indeed, it is racist.

I like blunt but not when it's wrong, having said that, fair play to you for being open and honest with your feelings in a public forum.

Also, there is not truth in what you say regarding inherent values and elements in some cultures, give me evidence rather than your own opinions which are coloured by your political ideology and prejudice and then we'll talk turkey. But there isn't any is there?

This is the thin edge of the wedge, next you'll be running with stuff about black people having 'naturally' low IQs and being a lesser race; which is basically what you're saying about Mexicans but via the device of discussing their culture.

You speak of blind spots, which is funny becuase I was about to use that term for your drift towards racism now and then.

But you Americans are so famously racist and bigoted, it's written in your DNA and culture, which, if I've not mentioned it for a while is: naturally anti-social (please see invading other countries without reason for evidence), unloyal (please see the old allies they have screwed over) and cannot live responsibly (please see high gun crime rate and the fact they are the fattest nation on the planet), also, it could be argued that American culture is the worst in the world (popular culture seeking to an all time low, anti-intellectualism rife and a large proportion of the population thinks Jesus will come back to Earth).

Saur♥Kraut said...

Dave, As for the chickee (you didn't have to send me a link), do I need to point out that the current America is not one of 200 years ago? I don't wear long settlers dresses complete with stays and hoop skirts, either.

The Trifecta (Dave, Daniel, Scott):

I have little more to say. I think I explained myself very clearly.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...


An interesting term to call us...

Saur♥Kraut said...

Daniel, ;o)

krok19 said...

Saur, those wetbacks are worthless. They just love driving around drunk.

But at least you don't have coons moving in.

The Lazy Iguana said...

Daniel, you should have tried this for your experiment to be valid.

1. Sneak into Poland illegally.

2. Offer to work for less than the going legal wage, if there is such a thing.

3. Demand that people in Poland address you in English. You want to take the drivers test in English, you want to vote in English, and so on.

4. Demand full citizenship rights, even though you are there illegally.

This is pretty much what is going on here.

I can understand people wanting to move here. But there is a legal way to do it, and an illegal way.

Daniel Hoffmann-Gill said...

Krok: stop being a troll racist twat.

Lazy: sorry but that is not how the vast number of immigrants behave, hence why I didn't behave like that. Caution has to bes hown when it comes to generalising behaviour in order to hate others.