Tuesday, December 06, 2016

Workers' compensation rates must no longer be set in secret: Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers


Circuit Judge Karen Gievers
Second Circuit, Leon County (Tallahassee)
Ruled against secrecy in workers compensation insurance rate-setting


The National Council on Compensation Insurance, Inc., is a 1200 employee Boca Raton based rate setting cartel for workers' compensation insurance carriers.

While an unjust, ill-advised 1945 federal law (McCarran-Ferguson Act) confers insurance rate bureaus with some antitrust immunity (except for health insurance), they are not immune from Florida Sunshine laws.

Its work with state officials setting workers' compensation insurance rates must no longer be secret.

Three cheers for Leon County Circuit Court Judge Karen Gievers.

Good editorial in Tampa Bay Times:

Editorial: Decide workers' comp rates in the sunshine
Monday, December 5, 2016 5:17pm


SCOTT KEELER | TIMES

Florida's workers' compensation system has seen significant upheaval this year, with two Supreme Court opinions voiding much of the law and creating uncertainty for businesses. That underscores the importance of determining workers' comp rate increases in the open so the public can assess whether they seem fair and justified. Instead, the ratings agency that proposes rates and the state Office of Insurance Regulation, which approves them, did their work in secret. Now a circuit judge in Leon County has found that work should be done in the sunshine, and she's absolutely right.

Business groups harshly criticized both Supreme Court rulings and warned workers' comp rates would spike. Sure enough, the National Council on Compensation Insurance, which represents the industry, proposed a rate hike of 19.6 percent — the largest increase in at least six years. The Office of Insurance Regulation, which must approve any increase, set a public hearing for August. But the real work — the part that matters — already had happened. NCCI held numerous private meetings about rates with staffers at the OIR, including some with then-Insurance Commissioner Kevin McCarty, with no notice to the public and no minutes kept. About a month after the public hearing, the OIR rejected the requested rate increase but said it still would approve a rate increase of 14.5 percent.

The whole process should be in the open. State law says any meeting of a rating organization "committee" discussing insurance rates must be open to the public. NCCI lamely claimed that because it had not assigned the work to a formal committee, but essentially left it all to one actuary, it was not required to open its meetings. Leon Circuit Judge Karen Gievers did not buy it.

"Far from being the meetings in the Sunshine required by law, the meetings between the OIR staff and the NCCI staff were designed to, and had the effect of shutting the public out of meaningful participation in the rate making process," Gievers wrote in a strongly worded rebuke last month.

The judge also found that NCCI refused to turn over records from those meetings to an attorney who carries workers' compensation insurance for his law firm, in violation of Florida's public records law, and blocked the rate increase from taking effect Dec. 1.

Gievers' decision followed the Florida Supreme Court opinions that properly sided with protecting the rights of injured workers. In a 5-2 opinion in April, the Supreme Court said that a 2009 state law limiting attorney's fees is unconstitutional because it prevents challenges to the "reasonableness" of attorney's fees awarded in workers' compensation cases. The ruling stemmed from a case in which an attorney was awarded the equivalent of $1.53 an hour representing an injured door manufacturing employee in Miami. The court said the cap on attorneys' fees, which had the effect of discouraging more people from filing claims, violated workers' right to due process.

In June, the Supreme Court said in another 5-2 opinion that the time limit on temporary benefits for injured workers is unconstitutional. The ruling came in the case of St. Petersburg veteran firefighter Bradley Westphal, who suffered a severe back injury during a house fire. He couldn't return to work, and his temporary benefits ran out after the law's two-year maximum. But doctors also would not approve Westphal for permanent disability. The court properly found that left Westphal in a "statutory gap" and voided the limit on temporary benefits.

Workers' compensation insurance is arcane, even boring — unless you're among thousands of business owners across Florida who pay the premiums. Or a worker who relies on a sustainable system that protects people who may be injured on the job. The fact is, all Floridians have a stake in a system that has a real impact on the state's economy. The crucial work of insurance regulators — setting rates — must not be shielded from the public. The circuit judge's demand for sunshine is certain to be appealed, and the cloak of darkness should not be allowed to return.

Editorial: Decide workers' comp rates in the sunshine 12/05/16 [Last modified: Monday, December 5, 2016 5:26pm]

Two new County Commissioners' first meeting is this morning

Posted November 27, 2016 05:59 am
By JAKE MARTIN jake.martin@staugustine.com
Changes ahead or more of the same on St. Johns County Commission? Waldron, Dean sworn in

St. Johns County Commissioner-elect Henry Dean, representing District 5, is sworn in on Tuesday. He replaces Commissioner Rachael Bennett, who served one term and withdrew her bid for re-election.

St. Johns County Commissioner-elect Paul Waldron, representing District 3, is sworn in on Tuesday. He replaces Commissioner Bill McClure, who served one term and did not seek re-election.
Republicans are taking over for Republicans on the St. Johns County Board of County Commissioners, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can expect more of the same.

Commissioners-elect Paul Waldron and Henry Dean were formally sworn in on Tuesday in a special meeting. County officials have generally said they’re optimistic about the fresh perspectives both could bring to the board despite the experience walking out the door.

Waldron takes over for outgoing Commissioner Bill McClure in District 3, which represents the southeast part of the county. Dean takes over for outgoing Commissioner Rachael Bennett in District 5, which represents much of the St. Augustine area up to International Golf Parkway. Waldron and Dean will serve in their full capacities starting with the commission’s regular meeting on Dec. 6.

Waldron, a St. Augustine businessman, won a nail-biter in the August primary over Jerry Cameron, former assistant county administrator, taking 50.01 percent of the vote. A recount confirmed Waldron’s victory over his fellow Republican by just a 7-vote margin.

Dean, former executive director of the St. Johns River Water Management District, won his seat in the August primary with 56.03 percent of the vote over fellow Republican Dottie Acosta, a former top official in the St. Johns County Property Appraiser’s Office.

This year’s election cycle was dominated by discussions over growth and development. Questions ranged from how to meet the demands of a rapidly growing county to who was responsible for creating those demands in the first place. The question of who should pay for what was at the heart of much of those discussions.

Leading up to the primary, Waldron said developers should be allowed to build whatever they see fit, so long as it fits within the parameters of the land use regulations under which the property was purchased. He said the county had no responsibility to allow developers to exceed those parameters. Waldron also expressed interest in eliminating impact fee credits.

“We need to hold people accountable for what they’re bringing to the table,” he said in an editorial board interview with The Record in August.

When it came to funding, he and Cameron both seemed to lean toward frugality. However, when Waldron said he’d like to see the county find efficiencies in the budget before increasing any fees or taxes, Cameron said the efficiencies have been there since the budget crunches of the recession years and state-mandated decreases in ad valorem revenues.

Waldron ran a mostly self-funded campaign, with additional support from St. Augustine residents and businesses. Although his campaign raised and spent $65,744, more than $35,000 came out of Waldron’s own pocket. The majority of contributions were $250 or less. Cameron raised and spent $159,575.

Following the election, Waldron credited his business experience and some old-fashioned grassroots campaigning. While expected to bring a fresh perspective to the board, he isn’t exactly an outsider. His father is former St. Johns County Commissioner Harry Waldron.

Paul Waldron has worked in and is a co-owner of Harry’s Curb Mart. He has also worked in residential and commercial real estate since 2001.

Leading up to the primary, Dean said there was too much growth and that it should be paying for itself. He also expressed concerns about the environmental impacts of sustained growth.

In an editorial board interview with The Record in August, he said a “course adjustment” was needed and that the problem was not with the county’s Land Development Code or Comprehensive Plan, but, rather, the drifting away from those regulations by commissioners.

“I would be very reluctant to vote for any variance to the land use regulations and to the Comprehensive Plan,” he said, adding developers know and understand the limitations well before land is even purchased.

Dean also said he would have voted in favor of putting the proposal for a one-cent sales tax increase on a ballot last year.

“That’s probably the biggest revenue source available to the county,” he said. “The voters should have an opportunity to vote on that issue.”

Dean’s campaign saw a lot of monetary support from Jacksonville land development and investment firms, with additional support from businesses and associations in Daytona Beach, Tallahassee and Orlando. His campaign raised and spent $139,731 to Acosta’s $13,805.61 (mostly self-funded).

Following the election, Dean said he wanted to make sure infrastructure and services needed to accommodate new growth are addressed at the front end of the development process.

“I really want to make sure we have concurrency when we consider permitting new development,” he said. “We need to make sure that as those projects are built out that we have adequate infrastructure. That includes roads, schools, fire, police, water, everything.”

Dean was at the helm of the SJRWMD for nearly two decades. According to his candidate’s statement on the Supervisor of Elections website, he directed the acquisition of sensitive conservation lands such as the Guana Preserve, Julington-Durbin Preserve and Moses Creek Conservation Area. He has since been helping businesses navigate through the permitting processes of local and state governments.

Waldron and Dean have been pretty visible since their primary wins. Both have attended several commission meetings as audience members and participated in a number of community events throughout the county.

The Nov. 15 commission meeting was the last regular meeting for McClure and Bennett, neither of whom ran for re-election. Both served just one term on the board.

McClure made lighthearted apologies to county staff and administration for being a “hard nose.”

“Sometimes I say ‘to-may-to’ and you guys say ‘to-mah-to,’ but I learn every time I come here,” he told fellow commissioners. “Even to this day I walk away from here learning stuff.”

“It has been a privilege and an honor,” Bennett said, keeping her parting comments short after a long meeting.

McClure is president and CEO of Medi Companies, a technology firm in St. Augustine with a focus on health care, insurance and specialty software development. According to his biography on the county website, McClure had developed one of the largest web-based insurance claims processing companies in the country before selling it in 2003.

Bennett previously worked for the county as assistant zoning manager before joining engineering firm England, Thims & Miller, Inc., as a senior planner, in 2004. In 2006, she joined The Hutson Companies as a planner and was soon promoted to vice president. She has since started an independent consulting firm.

McClure made an unsuccessful run for the state’s Congressional District 4 seat on the U.S. House of Representatives that ultimately went to former Jacksonville Sheriff John Rutherford in the November general election. In TV ads running up to the election, McClure painted himself as an outsider to establishment politics. He had told The Record he threw his hat into the race partly in the hopes of bringing more representation to St. Johns County after redistricting split the county in two.

Bennett withdrew from the race for her District 5 seat on Feb. 29, citing personal reasons relating to her family, health and future. Her campaign had raised $33,420, the majority of which was returned to donors through prorated refunds.

Where incoming and outgoing commissioners draw the most parallels to their counterparts, perhaps, is in how — and with whose money — they campaigned. In running for County Commission in the 2012 election cycle, McClure did not seek campaign donations and conducted more of what he called a grassroots campaign. By contrast, Bennett had significant monetary support from county residents and businesses as well as Jacksonville developers, real estate firms and contractors.

Commissioner Jimmy Johns, boasting big monetary support from Jacksonville developers, begins his first full term representing District 1, which encompasses the fast-growing northwest corner of the county. He was appointed by Gov. Rick Scott in 2014 to take over mid-term for former Commissioner Cyndi Stevenson, who now serves in the Florida House of Representatives.

Johns secured his election in the August primary with 62.58 percent of the vote, besting fellow Republican Al Abbatiello, chair of the William Bartram Scenic & Historic Highway Management Group.

The annual salary for a county commissioner is $70,338 plus benefits.

1 Comment
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9 days ago
Jack (sponger) Harvell
How about putting a stop (moratorium) on any new growth until the schools are paid for and in place? Prices. taxes, fees, noise, and traffic keep skyrocketing, while services and quality of life plunges. Listen you two, do what you've been elected to do. Not what you think is best for us. Paradise is already lost.
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Fault lines










Fault lines visible at reorganization meeting

City Commissioners in the Gang of Four last night (December 5th) inflicted TODD NEVILLE on the populace as Vice Mayor for the next two years, refusing to second Mayor Nancy Shaver's motion to name Nancy Sikes-Kline as Vice Mayor again.

ODD TODD NEVILLE appeared in the Lightner Museum lobby early, long before the other Commissioners appeared for the 5:45 shade meeting on the artist's lawsuit.  He was grinning like a loon, who was about to be elected the estimable Chair of the Smirking Turkey Society (STS).

Did NEVILLE and other STS members violate Florida's Sunshine law, a possible crime?

From where I sat, it looked choreographed.  And ODD TODD NEVILL is no poker face.

Guilty?



St. Augustine commissioners take oaths for new terms; Neville named vice mayor


1 Comments

The three St. Augustine commissioners who reclaimed their seats in November each took the oath of office again on Monday, and chose Commissioner Todd Neville as the city’s vice mayor.
The City Commission’s organizational meeting, held on a date and time spelled out in city code, also allowed the commission to pass a resolution with the mostly the same policies and procedures except for minor changes.
Commissioners are facing major efforts ahead, including continuing recovery from Hurricane Matthew and moving forward on infrastructure and mobility upgrades.










“I think we have a great commission,” Mayor Nancy Shaver said. “We have a lot of work to do, and we’re looking forward to it.”
Before taking their oaths, commissioners held a shade meeting about litigation involving local artists and the city’s vending rules, but commissioners didn’t announce a settlement in the case when they ended the meeting in public.
The organizational meeting drew city officials, residents and board members to the Lightner Museum lobby at City Hall. The typical meeting room still needs repairs because of damage from Hurricane Matthew.
Judge Charles Tinlin, who serves in St. Johns County, administered the oath of office for Shaver, Commissioner Roxanne Horvath and Commissioner Leanna Freeman. They all took their oaths with someone beside them.
Shaver stood with family friend John Bennett, Freeman stood with Lana Dauth, 10, her daughter; and Horvath stood with her husband, Peter Rumpel.
When they got to other business, Shaver nominated Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline for the role of vice mayor.










But Horvath said the commission typically nominates someone who hasn’t served in the role yet, so she nominated Neville.
After the meeting, Neville said the role of vice mayor is mainly ceremonial. He said he is comfortable with running a meeting if he has to, and he is glad other commissioners have trusted him as vice mayor.
Sikes-Kline did not attend the meeting.
Earlier on Monday, her son Jacob Sikes Kline, 20, pleaded no contest to principal to home invasion robbery with a weapon. He was sentenced to about 12 months in prison.
While she wasn’t at the meeting to speak, Sikes-Kline shared her thoughts via a statement read by Commissioner Leanna Freeman. The statement did not mention the case.
“Commissioner Sikes-Kline is not able to be with us tonight, although she really wanted to be with us,” Freeman said. “And she wants everyone to know how much she wanted to be here … But today is a day that her family needs her and all her energy and emotion is with them today. And we know that she is exactly where she should be, so she wanted to congratulate us and wants us to know that she’s here in spirit. She is looking forward to working together with us.”
Freeman also offered her own thoughts for Sikes-Kline and her family, saying their struggles are shared by “many of our own families and our friends.”











“None of us here or anywhere have immunity from facing similar personal struggles … We want them to know that their challenges are our challenges,” Freeman said.
“Most of us in this room agree that over the last nine months, we have watched Commissioner Sikes-Kline show amazing strength and courage and poise … It’s the kind of strength that you only get when you dig really, really deep,” Freeman said. “We are very proud of Nancy. We want her to know that.”

City commissioner’s son pleads no contest in home invasion robbery

Posted December 6, 2016 12:01 am - Updated December 6, 2016 06:33 am
By JARED KEEVER jared.keever@staugustine.com
City commissioner’s son pleads no contest in home invasion robbery

The son of a St. Augustine city commissioner will spend the next year in prison for instigating a January home invasion robbery with the intention of recovering drugs that he claimed had been previously stolen from him.

Jacob Sikes Kline pleaded no contest on Monday morning — just days after his 20th birthday — to a single count of principal to home invasion robbery with a weapon for his role in the Jan. 25 robbery on West Jayce Way.

Judge Michael Traynor, going along with a plea agreement between Assistant State Attorney Chris Ferebee and Kline’s attorney Clyde M. Taylor III, sentenced Kline to 12 months and 3 days in state prison. After his release, Kline, who was sentenced as a youthful offender, will spend two years on community control followed by two years of drug offender probation in accordance with the agreement.

Kline, the son of St. Augustine Commissioner Nancy Sikes-Kline, is the last of five defendants to enter a plea in the robbery case.

Larry Thomas Travis Jr., 21, and Sean Edmund Riggs, 18, both of whom authorities said were armed when they entered the home, pleaded no contest earlier this year to single charges of home invasion robbery with a weapon and were sentenced to 40 months in prison to be followed by 72 months probation.

Ronald Tyrone Burch, 20, pleaded no contest to the same charge and was sentenced two years in state prison to be followed by four years of youthful offender probation.

Marcus Theodore Lewis, 19 — who authorities said drove Travis, Riggs and Burch to and from the home — has pleaded no contest to a single count of principal to home invasion robbery with a weapon and is expected to receive the same sentence as Burch when he appears for sentencing on Dec. 19.

All five were originally arrested on charges that reflected a home invasion robbery with a firearm, but those were later amended by the 7th Judicial Circuit State Attorney’s Office in order to allow for lighter sentences. Ferebee has cited in previous hearings the young ages of the defendants and their lack of criminal histories as reasons for amending the charges.

Ferebee alluded to that decision in court on Monday, telling Traynor that after speaking with other co-defendants to learn Kline’s role in the crime and after consulting with the victims who said they didn’t want to see any “lives ruined” by stringent sentences, his office was able to arrive at the sentencing schemes for all involved.

The longer sentences for the two who were armed and the relative mid-range sentences for the two other participants properly reflected their levels of involvement, Ferebee said.

He told Traynor that he felt Kline’s one-year sentence was also appropriate because he did not originally request that the others arm themselves before going to the home to steal back his drugs for him.

“The problem for Mr. Kline is he eventually found out that they had guns,” Ferebee said, adding that once he found out through text messages, Kline continued to direct the others, telling them where in the home they might find the drugs.

That justified a substantial punishment but not necessarily a lengthy stay in prison, Ferebee argued.

“If he had originally orchestrated this plan and said, ‘Hey, let’s go in there and rob them — guns a’blazin’ — and steal some drugs back,’ we would be looking at a whole different posture,” he said.

Taylor seemed supportive of the agreed-upon sentence, but did tell Traynor he felt his client’s age, coupled with a “severe addiction,” clouded his judgment and led to poor decision making.

“I have no doubt that addiction is a plague that many people in our society have to deal with,” Traynor responded. “But, at the same time, a young man at 19 … needs to know the difference between right and wrong and I don’t think that being hooked on a drug is an excuse for a violent crime.”

“He is lucky that the state has looked at this whole situation in the way that it has because he and the other young adults that were involved in this, had they not, would have been facing much longer prison time, probably close to 20 years,” he added.

Kline told the judge that he had been addicted to benzodiazepines and opiates — a combination that he said created a “zombie-like state” —for about a year and that he credited getting into this level of trouble as putting him on the road to recovery.

Prior to Kline speaking, Traynor encouraged him to seek the help of the friends and members of his family who sat behind him in court that morning while he awaited sentencing.

“When you get out you will need their support,” he said. “And you will need their support while you are in custody.”

1 Comment
Tom Reynolds
Well I am glad that the SAO was understanding of the young ages. There is one thing. I hope the two who got 40 months get a reduction hearing. They should get a lighter sentence. May the Father Almighty guide them all to success after this mess ! I still think that less than a year would have been better justice.

Monday, December 05, 2016

How Republicans carried Florida for Trump -- Sun-Sentinel

RNC Co-Chair SHARON DAY twice says she's a "proud Floridian." As my mother would say, "how trite." She lavishes praise on gambling lobbyist SUSAN SUMMERALL WILES, who ran Trump's and Rick Scott's prejudiced campaigns.



How the RNC's ground game made Florida red again | Opinion
Sharon Day

Registration. Persuasion. Turnout. By staying true to these three tenets, the Republican National Committee kn

Florida was always going to be a hotbed for politics in 2016.

A growing and diverse population and a history of deciding the presidential election all contribute to making Florida ground zero for politicos from D.C. to Tallahassee. But 2016 also had an X factor the pundits and analysts weren't prepared for: the Republican National Committee's unprecedented ground game operation.

Although the past few presidential elections ended with a dead heat deciding the race, Donald Trump won by a significant margin of 1.3 percent. Trump over-performed Mitt Romney in 64 counties while Hillary Clinton underperformed President Obama in 40 counties. All of this would not have been made possible without the RNC and the leadership of Chairman Reince Priebus.

Trump didn't just double Romney's margin of victory in some counties. Perhaps even more importantly he was able to flip key areas — Monroe County, Jefferson County, St. Lucie County, and Pinellas County — that President Obama previously carried.

As a proud Floridian working directly with the Trump campaign, speaking at rallies all across Florida, I saw firsthand how Trump continued to enthuse and excite voters across the state while Hillary Clinton's recurring scandals and stale policies failed to inspire the voters that Obama rode to victory.

But while the messaging drove the media narrative — it's the permanent and data-driven ground game the RNC started in 2013 that pushed the path to victory for Trump, Marco Rubio and our Republican candidates statewide.

The RNC understood that a commitment to investing in strong relationships in the field year-round was necessary to make 2016 a winning year for all of our candidates. Through the RNC's planning and leadership we were able to fully fund a winning field and data operation necessary to bring out the voters we needed to win on Election Day.

It all started in 2013 when we hired a staff geared toward Governor Rick Scott's re-election in 2014 and defeating an incumbent to elect now-Mayor Lenny Curry in 2015. Each election was another opportunity to refine the ground game approach that led us to this point — a Republican in the White House and a retained majority in the House and Senate.

From one on one meetings in local coffee shops to house parties in voters' homes, or even registering voters at various community festivals and events, our volunteers and staff focused on building relationships.

Registration. Persuasion. Turnout. By staying true to these three tenets, we knew we would stay on the path to victory. While the Democrats continued to try and hide in their offices and behind their staff numbers, we knew that the relationships our team had built would be the ultimate key to Republican victories.

Our investment in voter registration led to us flipping a total of 17 counties from majority Democrat to majority Republican since 2012. On Election Day, we flipped counties that previously voted for Obama — with margins as large as 4 percent.

All of this would not have been possible without the tireless commitment of our dedicated staff and trained organizers numbering over 1,000 people. We are also deeply indebted to the thousands of volunteers that pounded the pavement, burned up the phone lines, and sacrificed their free hours every day to help our candidates.

What made our operation even more of a success was our strong partnerships with the Trump campaign's Florida team led by Susie Wiles and Deborah Cox Rousch, and the Republican Party of Florida led by Chairman Blaise Ingoglia. Without them, our great state would not have had the multiple Republican victories we had across the state.

As a proud Floridian and co-chair of the RNC, I have seen our ground game operation grow each year. There is no way we would have been as successful as we were in winning the White House, and keeping our majorities in the House and Senate, if it were not for our dedicated and passionate staff, volunteers, and party officials who have all worked hard each and every day to Make Florida Red Again.

Together we will continue to build on our efforts to ensure the Sunshine State stays red in 2018 and beyond.

Sharon Day serves as co-chair for the Republican National Committee and resides in Broward County.

Copyright © 2016, Sun Sentinel

Florida proposes $820,000 sewage pollution fine: State getting serious on pollution by cities (TBT)

AP FLORIDA 1 000Florida wants to fine city $820,000 for sewage spills
Published: December 3, 2016

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — State authorities are proposing to fine the city of St. Petersburg nearly a million dollars due to spills from its aging sewage system.

The Tampa Bay Times reported Saturday (http://bit.ly/2h5zJkY ) that the Florida Department of Environmental Protection plans to fine the city $820,000.

Since August 2015 about 200 million gallons of sewage have been released into area bays and waterways.

St. Petersburg could avoid paying the fine if it implements a pollution prevention project, either by reducing pollution or conserving the amount of waste it generates.

State authorities have also called on city officials to dig injection wells to treat wastewater underground, make improvements to increase capacity at an existing sewage plant and repair leaky pipes.

Information from the Tampa Bay Times: http://www.tampabay.com

Friday, December 02, 2016

Reorganization, Freedom of Speech Suit Shade Meeting: Monday December 5, 2016 in Elegant Lightner Museum Lobby

At 5:45 Monday, December 5, 2016, at 5:45, City Commission commences a Shade Meeting on Bates v. City of St. Augustine (Bates II) settlement or litigation of the four visual artist's First Amendment lawsuit.

Where?  In our elegant Lightner Museum Lobby at City Hall.

Why?

Commission chambers still unusable.

Why?

City Manager's failure to mitigate Hurricane Matthew flood effects.  The room stank and was possibly structurally damaged a month after the Hurricane.

Why?

Flooding sequelae (mold, water damage to 1888 structure, ignored by City Hall directors and mis-managers to the point of possible peril from environmental health and safety risks.

At 7:30 PM, three Commissioners will be sworn in and five will vote to reorganize in that room.

Not available the Friday evening before the meeting: Resolution 2016-47, City Commission's proposed procedural rules for the next two years.

This may violate the agreement that all City Commission agendas and backup would be posted on the website on Tuesday of the week preceding the meeting.

What are City Attorney ISABELLE LOPEZ and City Manager JOHN PATRICK REGAN, P.E. thinking?

Will there be free liquor, or will government watchdog Thomas F. Reynolds, Jr. be raising that issue at the City of St. Augustine, having prevailed on the issue at the other itty-bitty-city, St. Augustine Beach.

Three re-elected Commissioners will be sworn in by County Court Judge Charles Tinlin.

Since all three Commissioners handily won re-election, the inauguration will probably be more subdued than in 2014, when City staff failed to provide adequate seating, a slight to Mayor-elect Shaver's supporters, who were required to stand.  I filed an ADA complaint as a result.

At the 2014 inauguration, defeated, ex-Mayor JOSEPH LESTER BOLES,  JR. watched as Mayor Nancy Shaver was sworn in by Florida Supreme Court Justice Peggy Quince.  BOLES refused to shake hands with Mayor Shaver.

In 2016, disgraced wannabes-boss JOE BOLES' great snide hope -- his superciliously shallow shill mayoral candidate, WFOY hate radio station owner KRIS PHILLIPS -- lost to our heroic reform Mayor Nancy Shaver, in a landslide.  

Re-elected in a 60-40% landslide, Mayor Shaver, dashed the hopes of devious developers. et pals.

As Madison would say, "Here, the People govern."





We're ALL in this together.



My late friends and mentors, Stetson Kennedy and David Thundershield Queen, lived live thattaway.





Bill McKibben: "How the Active Many Can Overcome the Ruthless Few" (The Nation magazine)



How the Active Many Can Overcome the Ruthless Few
Nonviolent direct action was the 20th century’s greatest invention—and it is the key to saving the earth in the 21st century.
By Bill McKibben


Illustration by Curt Merlo.



I know what you want from me—what we all want—which is some small solace after the events of Election Day. My wife Sue Halpern and I have been talking nonstop for days, trying to cope with the emotions. I fear I may not be able to provide that balm, but I do offer these remarks in the spirit of resistance to that which we know is coming. We need to figure out how to keep the lights on, literally and figuratively, and all kinds of darkness at bay.

Adapted from the inaugural Jonathan Schell Memorial Lecture on the Fate of the Earth, created by The Nation Institute and the Gould Family Foundation and presented by The New School.

I am grateful to all those who asked me to deliver this inaugural Jonathan Schell Lecture—grateful most of all because it gave me an excuse for extended and happy recollection of one of the most generous friendships of my early adulthood. I arrived at The New Yorker at the age of 21, two weeks out of college, alone in New York City for the first time. The New Yorker was wonderfully quirky, of course, but one of its less wonderful quirks was that most people didn’t talk to each other very much, and especially to newcomers 50 years their junior. There were exceptions, of course, and the foremost exception was Jonathan. He loved to talk, and we had long colloquies nearly every day, mostly about politics.

Ideas—not abstract ideas, but ideas drawn from the world as it wound around him—fascinated him. He always wanted to dig a layer or two deeper; there was never anything superficial or trendy about his analysis. I understood better what he was up to when I came, at the age of 27, to write The End of Nature. It owes more than a small debt to The Fate of the Earth, which let me feel it was possible and permitted to write about the largest questions in the largest ways.

In the years that followed, having helped push action on his greatest cause—the danger of nuclear weapons—that issue began to seem a little less urgent. That perception, of course, is mistaken: Nuclear weapons remain a constant peril, perhaps more than ever in an increasingly multipolar world. But with the end of the Cold War and the build-down of US and Russian weapon stocks, the question compelled people less feverishly. New perils—climate change perhaps chief among them—emerged. Post-9/11, smaller-bore terrors informed our nightmares. We would have been wise, as the rise of a sinister Vladimir Putin and a sinister and clueless Donald Trump remind us, to pay much sharper attention to this existential issue, but the peace dividend turned out mostly to be a relaxing of emotional vigilance.

However, for the moment, we have not exploded nuclear weapons, notwithstanding Trump’s recent query about what good they are if we don’t use them. Our minds can compass the specter of a few mushroom clouds obliterating all that we know and love; those images have fueled a fitful but real effort to contain the problem, resulting most recently in the agreement with Iran. We have not been able to imagine that the billion tiny explosions of a billion pistons in a billion cylinders every second of every day could wreak the same damage, and hence we’ve done very little to ward off climate change.

We are destroying the earth every bit as thoroughly as Jonathan imagined in the famous first chapter of The Fate of the Earth, just a little more slowly. By burning coal and oil and gas and hence injecting carbon dioxide and methane into the atmosphere, we have materially changed its heat-trapping properties; indeed, those man-made greenhouse gases trap the daily heat equivalent of 400,000 Hiroshima-size explosions. That’s enough extra heat that, in the space of a few decades, we have melted most of the summer sea ice in the Arctic—millennia old, meters thick, across a continent-size stretch of ocean that now, in summer, is blue water. (Blue water that absorbs the sun’s incoming rays instead of bouncing them back to space like the white ice it replaced, thus exacerbating the problem even further.) That’s enough heat to warm the tropical oceans to the point where Sue and I watched with our colleagues in the South Pacific as a wave of record-breaking warm water swept across the region this past spring, killing in a matter of weeks vast swaths of coral that had been there since before the beginning of the human experiment. That’s enough heat to seriously disrupt the planet’s hydrological cycles: Since warm air holds more water vapor than cold, we’ve seen steady increases in drought in arid areas (and with it calamities like wildfire) and steady, even shocking, increases in downpour and flood in wet areas. It’s been enough to raise the levels of the ocean—and the extra carbon in the atmosphere has also changed the chemistry of that seawater, making it more acidic and beginning to threaten the base of the marine food chain. We are, it bears remembering, an ocean planet, and the world’s oceanographers warn that we are very rapidly turning the seven seas “hot, sour, and breathless.” To the “republic of insects and grass” that Jonathan imagined in the opening of The Fate of the Earth, we can add a new vision: a hypoxic undersea kingdom of jellyfish.

We are destroying the earth every bit as thoroughly as Jonathan imagined in ‘The Fate of the Earth.’
This is not what will happen if something goes wrong, if some maniac pushes the nuclear button, if some officer turns a key in a silo. This is what has already happened, because all of us normal people have turned the keys to our cars and the thermostat dials on our walls. And we’re still in the relatively early days of climate change, having increased the planet’s temperature not much more than 1 degree Celsius. We’re on a trajectory, even after the conclusion of the Paris climate talks last year, to raise Earth’s temperature by 3.5 degrees Celsius—or more, if the feedback loops we are triggering take full hold. If we do that, then we will not be able to maintain a civilization anything like the one we’ve inherited. Our great cities will be underwater; our fields will not produce the food our bodies require; those bodies will not be able to venture outside in many places to do the work of the world. Already, the World Health Organization estimates, increased heat and humidity have cut the labor a human can perform by 10 percent, a number that will approach 30 percent by midcentury. This July and August were the hottest months in the history of human civilization measured globally; in southern Iraq, very near where scholars situate the Garden of Eden, the mercury in cities like Basra hit 129 degrees—among the highest reliably recorded temperatures in history, temperatures so high that human survival becomes difficult.

Against this crisis, we see sporadic action at best. We know that we could be making huge strides. For instance, engineers have managed to cut the cost of solar panels by 80 percent in the last decade, to the point where they are now among the cheapest methods of generating electricity. A Stanford team headed by Mark Jacobson has shown precisely how all 50 states and virtually every foreign nation could make the switch to renewable energy at an affordable cost in the course of a couple of decades. A few nations have shown that he’s correct: Denmark, for instance, now generates almost half of its power from the wind.

In most places, however, the progress has been slow and fitful at best. In the United States, the Obama administration did more than its predecessors, but far less than physics requires. By reducing our use of coal-fired power, it cut carbon-dioxide emissions by perhaps 10 percent. But because it wouldn’t buck the rest of the fossil-fuel industry, the Obama administration basically substituted fracked natural gas for that coal. This was a mistake: The leakage of methane into the atmosphere means that America’s total greenhouse-gas emissions held relatively steady or perhaps even increased. This willingness to cater to the industry is bipartisan, though in the horror of this past election that was easy to overlook. Here’s President Obama four years ago, speaking to an industry group in Oklahoma: “Now, under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years. That’s important to know. Over the last three years, I’ve directed my administration to open up millions of acres for gas and oil exploration across 23 different states. We’re opening up more than 75 percent of our potential oil resources offshore. We’ve quadrupled the number of operating rigs to a record high. We’ve added enough new oil and gas pipeline to encircle the Earth and then some.” Hillary Clinton opened an entire new wing at the State Department charged with promoting fracking around the world. So much for the establishment, now repudiated.

Trump, of course, has famously insisted that global warming is a hoax invented by the Chinese and has promised to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency. His election win is more than just a speed bump in the road to the future—it’s a ditch, and quite likely a crevasse. Even as we gather tonight, international negotiators in Marrakech, stunned by our elections, are doing their best to salvage something of the Paris Agreement, signed just 11 months ago with much fanfare.

* * *

But the real contest here is not between Democrats and Republicans; it’s between human beings and physics. That’s a difficult negotiation, as physics is not prone to compromise. It also imposes a hard time limit on the bargaining; if we don’t move very, very quickly, then any progress will be pointless. And so the question for this lecture, and really the question for the geological future of the planet, becomes: How do we spur much faster and more decisive action from institutions that wish to go slowly, or perhaps don’t wish to act at all? One understands that politicians prize incremental action—but in this case, winning slowly is the same as losing. The planet is clearly outside its comfort zone; how do we get our political institutions out of theirs?

The planet is clearly outside its comfort zone. How do we get our political institutions out of theirs?
And it is here that I’d like to turn to one of Jonathan’s later books, one that got less attention than it deserved. The Unconquerable World was published in 2003. In it, Jonathan writes, in his distinctive aphoristic style: “Violence is the method by which the ruthless few can subdue the passive many. Nonviolence is a means by which the active many can overcome the ruthless few.” This brings us, I think, to the crux of our moment. Across a wide variety of topics, we see the power of the ruthless few. This is nowhere more evident than in the field of energy, where the ruthless few who lead the fossil-fuel industry have more money at their disposal than any humans in the past. They’ve been willing to deploy this advantage to maintain the status quo, even in the face of clear scientific warnings and now clear scientific proof. They are, for lack of a better word, radicals: If you continue to alter the chemistry of the atmosphere past the point where you’re melting the polar ice caps, then you are engaging in a radicalism unparalleled in human history.

And they’re not doing this unknowingly or out of confusion. Exxon has known all there is to know about climate change for four decades. Its product was carbon, and it had some of the best scientists on earth on its staff; they warned management, in clear and explicit terms, how much and how fast the earth would warm, and management believed them: That’s why, for instance, Exxon’s drilling rigs were built to accommodate the sea-level rise it knew was coming. But Exxon didn’t warn any of the rest of us. Just the opposite: It invested huge sums of money in helping to build an architecture of deceit, denial, and disinformation, which meant humankind wasted a quarter of a century in a ludicrous argument about whether global warming was “real,” a debate that Exxon’s leaders knew was already settled. The company continues to fund politicians who deny climate change and to fight any efforts to hold it accountable. At times, as Steve Coll makes clear in his remarkable book Private Empire, the oil industry has been willing to use explicit violence—those attack dogs in North Dakota have their even more brutal counterparts in distant parts of the planet. More often, the industry has been willing to use the concentrated force of its money. Our largest oil and gas barons, the Koch brothers—two of the richest men on earth, and among the largest leaseholders on Canada’s tar sands—have promised to deploy three-quarters of a billion dollars in this year’s contest. As Jane Mayer put it in a telling phrase, they’ve been able to “weaponize” their money to achieve their ends. So the “ruthless few” are using violence—power in its many forms.

But the other half of that aphorism is hopeful: “Nonviolence is the means by which the active many can overcome the ruthless few.” When the history of the 20th century is written, I’m hopeful that historians will conclude that the most important technology developed during those bloody hundred years wasn’t the atom bomb, or the ability to manipulate genes, or even the Internet, but instead the technology of nonviolence. (I use the word “technology” advisedly here.) We had intimations of its power long before: In a sense, the most resounding moment in Western history, Jesus’s crucifixion, is a prototype of nonviolent action, one that launched the most successful movement in history. Nineteenth-century America saw Thoreau begin to think more systematically about civil disobedience as a technique. But it really fell to the 20th century, and Gandhi, to develop it as a coherent strategy, a process greatly furthered by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his associates in this country, and by adherents around the world: Otpor in Eastern Europe, various participants in the Arab Spring, Buddhist monks in Burma, Wangari Maathai’s tree-planters, and so on.

We have done very little systematic study of these techniques. We have no West Point or Sandhurst for the teaching of nonviolence; indeed, it’s fair to say that the governments of the world have spent far more time figuring out how to stamp out such efforts than to promote them. (And given the level of threat they represent to governments, that is perhaps appropriate.) What we know is what we’ve learned by experience, by trial and error.

In my own case over the last decade, that’s meant helping to organize several large-scale campaigns or social movements. Some have used civil disobedience in particular—I circulated the call for arrestees at the start of the Keystone XL pipeline demonstrations in 2011, and observers said the resulting two weeks of nonviolent direct action resulted in more arrests than any such demonstration on any issue in many years. Others have focused on large-scale rallies—some in this audience attended the massive climate march in New York in the autumn of 2014, organized in part by 350.org, which was apparently the largest demonstration about anything in this country in a long time. Others have been scattered: The fossil-fuel divestment campaign we launched in 2012 has been active on every continent, incorporated a wide variety of tactics, and has become the largest anticorporate campaign of its kind in history, triggering the full or partial divestment of endowments and portfolios with nearly $5 trillion in assets. These actions have helped spur many more such actions: Keystone represented a heretofore very rare big loss for Big Oil, and its success helped prompt many others to follow suit; now every pipeline, fracking well, coal mine, liquid-natural-gas terminal, and oil train is being fought. As an executive at the American Petroleum Institute said recently—and ruefully—to his industry colleagues, they now face the “Keystone-ization” of all their efforts.

“Nonviolence is a means by which the active many can overcome the ruthless few.” —Jonathan Schell
And we have by no means been the only, or even the main, actor in these efforts. For instance, indigenous activists have been at the forefront of the climate fight since its inception, here and around the world, and the current fight over the Dakota Access pipeline is no exception. They and the residents of what are often called “frontline” communities, where the effects of climate change and pollution are most intense, have punched far above their weight in these struggles; they have been the real leaders. These fights will go on. They’ll be much harder in the wake of Trump’s election, but they weren’t easy to begin with, and I confess I see little alternative—even under Obama, the chance of meaningful legislation was thin. So, using Jonathan’s template, I’ll try to offer a few lessons from my own experience over the last decade.

* * *

Lesson one: Unearned suffering is a potent tool. Volunteering for pain is an unlikely event in a pleasure-based society, and hence it gets noticed. Nonviolent direct action is just one tool in the activist tool kit, and it should be used sparingly—like any tool, it can easily get dull, both literally and figuratively. But when it is necessary to underline the moral urgency of a case, the willingness to go to jail can be very powerful, precisely because it goes against the bent of normal life.

It is also difficult for most participants. If you’ve been raised to be law-abiding, it’s hard to stay seated in front of, say, the White House when a cop tells you to move. Onlookers understand that difficulty. I remember Gus Speth being arrested at those initial Keystone demonstrations. He’d done everything possible within the system: co-founded the Natural Resources Defense Council, chaired the president’s Council on Environmental Quality, ran the entire UN Development Program, been a dean at Yale. But then he concluded that the systems he’d placed such faith in were not coming close to meeting the climate challenge—so, in his 70s, he joined that small initial demonstration. Because his son was a high-powered lawyer, Gus was the only one of us able to get a message out during our stay in jail. What he told the press stuck with me: “I’ve held many important positions in this town,” he said. “But none seem as important as the one I’m in today.” Indeed, his witness pulled many of the nation’s environmental groups off the sidelines; when we got out, he and I wrote a letter to the CEOs of all those powerful green groups, and in return they wrote a letter to the president saying, “There is not an inch of daylight between our position and those of the people protesting on your lawn.” Without Gus’s willingness to suffer the indignity and discomfort of jail, that wouldn’t have happened, and the subsequent history would have been different.

Volunteering for pain is an unlikely event in a pleasure-based society, and hence it gets noticed.
Because it falls so outside our normal search for comfort, security, and advancement, unearned suffering can be a powerful tool. Whether this will be useful against a crueler White House and a nastier and more empowered right wing remains to be seen, but it will be seen. I imagine that the first place it will see really widespread use is not on the environment, but in regard to immigration. If Trump is serious about his plans for mass deportation, he’ll be met with passive resistance of all kinds—or at least he should be. All of us have grown up with that Nazi-era bromide about “First they came for the Jews, but I was not a Jew…” In this case, there’s no mystery: First they’re coming for the undocumented. It will be a real fight for the soul of our nation, as the people who abstractly backed the idea of a wall with Mexico are forced to look at the faces of the neighbors they intend to toss over it.

Lesson two: These tactics are useful to the degree that they attract large numbers of people to the fight. Those large numbers don’t need to engage in civil disobedience; they just need to engage in the broader battle. If you think about it, numbers are the currency of movements, just as actual cash is the currency of the status quo—at least until such time as the status quo needs to employ the currency of violence. The point of civil disobedience is rarely that it stops some evil by itself; instead, it attracts enough people and hence attention to reach the public at large.

When the Keystone demonstrations began, for instance, no one knew what the pipeline was, and it hadn’t occurred to people to think about climate change in terms of infrastructure. Instead, we thought about it in the terms preferred by politicians, i.e., by thinking about “emissions reductions” far in the future from policies like increased automobile efficiency, which are useful but obviously insufficient. In the early autumn of 2011, as we were beginning the Keystone protests, the National Journal polled its DC “energy insiders,” and 93 percent of them said TransCanada would soon have its permit for the pipeline. But those initial arrests attracted enough people to make it into a national issue. Soon, 15,000 people were surrounding the White House, and then 50,000 were rallying outside its gates, and before long it was on the front pages of newspapers. The information spread, and more importantly the analysis did too: Infrastructure became a recognized point of conflict in the climate fight, because enough people said it was. Politicians were forced to engage on a ground they would rather have avoided.

In much the same way, the divestment movement managed to go from its infancy in 2012 to the stage where, by 2015, the governor of the Bank of England was repeating its main bullet points to the world’s insurance industry in a conference at Lloyd’s of London: The fossil-fuel industry had more carbon in its reserves than we could ever hope to burn, and those reserves posed the financial risk of becoming “stranded assets.” Note that it doesn’t take a majority of people, or anywhere close, to have a significant—even decisive—impact: In an apathetic world, the active involvement of only a few percentage points of the citizenry is sufficient to make a difference. No more than 1 percent of Americans, for instance, ever participated in a civil-rights protest. But it does take a sufficient number to make an impression, whether in the climate movement or the Tea Party.

Lesson three: The real point of civil disobedience and the subsequent movements is less to pass specific legislation than it is to change the zeitgeist. The Occupy movement, for instance, is often faulted for not having produced a long list of actionable demands, but its great achievement was to make, by dint of recognition and repetition, the existing order illegitimate. Once the 99 percent and the 1 percent were seen as categories, our politics began to shift. Bernie Sanders, and to a lesser extent Donald Trump, fed on that energy. That Hillary Clinton was forced to say that she too opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal was testimony to the power of the shift in the zeitgeist around inequality. Or take LGBTQ rights: It’s worth remembering that only four years ago, both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton still opposed same-sex marriage. That’s difficult to recall now, since at this point you’d think they had jointly invented the concept. But it was skillful organizing for many years that changed less the laws of the land than the zeitgeist of the culture. Yes, some of those battles were fought over particular statutes; but the battles in Hollywood, and at high-school proms, and in a dozen other such venues were as important. Once movements shift the zeitgeist, then legislative victory becomes the mopping-up phase; this one Trump won’t even attempt to turn back.

This is not how political scientists tend to see it—or politicians, for that matter. Speaking to Black Lives Matter activists backstage in the course of the primary campaign, Hillary Clinton laid out her essential philosophy: “I don’t believe you change hearts. I believe you change laws, you change allocation of resources, you change the way systems operate.” This is, I think, utterly backward, and it explains much of the intuitive sense among activists of all stripes that Clinton wouldn’t have been a leader. As Monica Reyes, one of the young immigration activists in the Dreamer movement—great organizers who did much to shift public opinion—put it: “You need to change the culture before you can change laws.” Or as that guy Abraham Lincoln once put it: “Public sentiment is everything.”

“You need to change the culture before you can change laws.” —Monica Reyes
By forever straddling the middle, centrist politicians delay changes in public sentiment. The viewpoint of the establishment—an appellation that in this case includes everyone from oil companies to presidents—is always the same: We need to be “realistic”; change will come slowly if it comes at all; and so forth. In normal political debates, this is reasonable. Compromise on issues is the way we progress: You want less money in the budget for X, and I want more, and so we meet in the middle and live to fight another day. That’s politics, as distinct from movement politics, which is about changing basic feelings over the great issues of the day. And it’s particularly true in the case of climate change, where political reality, important as it is, comes in a distinct second to reality reality. Chemistry and physics, I repeat, do what they do regardless of our wishes. That’s the difference between political science and science science.

* * *

There are many other points that Jonathan gets at in his book, but there’s one more that bears directly on the current efforts to build a movement around climate change. It comes in his discussion of Hannah Arendt and Mohandas Gandhi. Despite widespread agreement on the sources of power and the possibilities for mobilization, he finds one large difference between the two: Whereas Gandhi saw “spiritual love as the source and inspiration of nonviolent action, Arendt was among those who argued strenuously against introducing such love into the political sphere.” Hers was not an argument against spiritual love, but rather a contention that it mostly belonged in the private sphere, and that “publicity, which is necessary for politics, will coarsen and corrupt it by turning it into a public display, a show.” I will not attempt to flesh out the illuminating arguments on both sides, but I will say that I have changed my mind somewhat over the years on this question, at least as it relates to climate change.

Gandhi, like Thoreau before him, was an ascetic, and people have tended to lump their political and spiritual force together—and, in certain ways, they were very closely linked. Gandhi’s spinning wheel was a powerful symbol, and a powerful reality, in a very poor nation. He emphasized individual action alongside political mobilization, because he believed that Indians needed to awaken a sense of their own agency and strength. This was a necessary step in that movement—but perhaps a trap in our current dilemma. By this I mean that many of the early efforts to fight climate change focused on a kind of personal piety or individual action, reducing one’s impact via lightbulbs or food choices or you name it. And these are useful steps. The house that Sue and I inhabit is covered with solar panels. I turn off lights so assiduously that our daughter, in her Harry Potter days, referred to me as “the Dark Lord.” Often in my early writing, I fixed on such solutions. But in fact, given the pace with which we now know climate change is advancing, they seem not irrelevant but utterly ill-equipped for the task at hand.

Let’s imagine that truly inspired organizing might somehow get 10 percent of the population to become really engaged in this fight. That would be a monumental number: We think 10 percent of Americans participated in some fashion in the first Earth Day in 1970, and that was doubtless the high point of organizing on any topic in my lifetime. If the main contribution of this 10 percent was to reduce its own carbon footprint to zero— itself an impossible task—the total impact on America’s contribution to atmospheric carbon levels would be a 10 percent reduction. Which is helpful, but not very. But that same 10 percent—or even 2 or 3 percent—actually engaged in the work of politics might well be sufficient to produce structural change of the size that would set us on a new course: a price on carbon, a commitment to massive subsidies for renewable energy, a legislative commitment to keep carbon in the ground.

Some people are paralyzed by the piety they think is necessary for involvement. You cannot imagine the anguished and Talmudic discussions I’ve been asked to adjudicate on whether it’s permissible to burn gasoline to attend a climate rally. (In my estimation, it’s not just permissible, it’s very nearly mandatory—the best gas you will burn in the course of a year.) It has also become—and this is much more dangerous—the pet argument of every climate denier that, unless you’re willing to live life in a dark cave, you’re a hypocrite to stand for action on climate change. This attempt to short-circuit people’s desire to act must be rejected. We live in the world we wish to change; some hypocrisy is the price of admission to the fight. In this sense, and this sense only, Gandhi is an unhelpful example, and a bludgeon used to prevent good-hearted people from acting.

In fact, as we confront the blunt reality of a Trump presidency and a GOP Congress, it’s clearer than ever that asceticism is insufficient, and maybe even counterproductive. The only argument that might actually discover a receptive audience in the new Washington is one that says, “We need a rapid build-out of solar and wind power, as much for economic as environmental reasons.” If one wanted to find the mother lode of industrial jobs that Trump has promised, virtually the only possible source is the energy transformation of our society.

I will end by saying that movement-building—the mobilization of large numbers of people, and of deep passion, through the employment of all the tools at a nonviolent activist’s disposal—will continue, though it moves onto very uncertain ground with our new political reality. This work of nonviolent resistance is never easy, and it’s becoming harder. Jonathan’s optimism in The Unconquerable World notwithstanding, more and more countries are moving to prevent real opposition. China and Russia are brutally hard to operate in, and India is reconfiguring its laws to go in the same direction. Environmentalists are now routinely assassinated in Honduras, Brazil, the Philippines. Australia, where mining barons control the government, has passed draconian laws against protest; clearly Trump and his colleagues would like to do the same here, and will doubtless succeed to one extent or another. The savagery of the police response to Native Americans in North Dakota reminds us how close to a full-bore petro-state we are.

And yet the movement builds. I don’t know whether it builds fast enough. Unlike every other challenge we’ve faced, this one comes with a time limit. Martin Luther King would always say, quoting the great Massachusetts abolitionist Theodore Parker, that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice”—meaning that it may take a while, but we are going to win. By contrast, the arc of the physical universe is short and it bends toward heat. I will not venture to predict if we can, at this point, catch up with physics. Clearly, it has a lot of momentum. It’s a bad sign when your major physical features begin to disappear—that we no longer have the giant ice cap in the Arctic is disconcerting, to say the least. So there’s no guarantee of victory. But I can guarantee that we will fight, in every corner of the earth and with all the nonviolent tools at our disposal. And in so doing, we will discover if these tools are powerful enough to tackle the most disturbing crisis humans have ever faced. We will see if that new technology of the 20th century will serve to solve the greatest dilemma of our new millennium.

BILL MCKIBBEN is the author of 15 books, most recently Oil and Honey: The Education of an Unlikely Activist. A scholar in residence at Middlebury College, he is the co-founder of 350.org, the largest global grassroots organizing campaign on climate change.





"COFFEE WITH A COP" RESCHEDULED TO FRIDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2016

Ask questions. Demand answers. Expect democracy. Report corruption.


"COFFEE WITH A COP" RESCHEDULED

“Coffee with a Cop.” featuring Sheriff David Shoar and County Administrator Michael Wanchick, originally scheduled for November 30, has been rescheduled for Dec. 9 from 9 to 11 a.m. at City Bistro Tea House and Coffee Co., 1280 North Ponce de Leon. Residents are invited to engage in discussions regarding St. Johns County law enforcement and government activities while enjoying complimentary sweets with their coffee or tea purchase. For more information, call 209-6810.