Be there! Tuesday Jan. 13 Hernando County Commission to decide Economic Impact Study

January 5, 2015

Mark you calendars now to be at the County Commission hearing next Tuesday, Jan. 13th  in Brooksville.  Plan to fill out a speaker form and speak out. The commission will consider whether to fund an economic impact study of the CEMEX mine project. The agenda will be posted this Friday so we’ll know more about what time to be there at that time.
County procurement officer Russ Wetherington will ask for direction after being told to stop the process to allow Dr. Richard Weisskoff to do the study that he was directed to commission earlier.  The skuttlebutt is that Russ is now being told that the state review may do the job,  or that they don’t need one at all,  or that the expert recommended is not qualified because he is biased.  So that’s why it is on the agenda.Your voice can help let the commissioners know that:
*  YES–it is their responsibility to be fully informed on the financial consequences and impact to our local economy if this project is approved.
*   NO–the state review will not replace a local economic impact study done by a qualified expert with experience in this field who will look at localized impacts.*   NO–CEMEX experts will not tell them the truth about the fiscal damage it will do to the county if we allow mining to replace or discourage other economic activity for the next 20 years.  But even CEMEX admits this will not create one new job!
 *  NO–Dr. Richard Weisskoff is not biased; he’s just good at analyzing and crunching the numbers that point out omissions overlooked or not raised by the applicants or the county staffers who review these applications.
The state review is perfunctory at best and at most designed to insure that permits are issued in a timely manner.  Scott’s administration has only turned down one permit since he entered office, so don’t expect the state to be looking out for local property value impacts, reduction in green jobs and tourism, reduction in business corridor growth, etc. The agencies have to turn this around in 45 days beginning around Dec. 20th.  Many agencies don’t do much but send it in back as “just fine. ”  There is no department of community affairs anymore.
This is probably the biggest decision this commission will make that will change the character of our community forever.  They should at least allow a professional experienced in economic impacts to give them the facts and numbers that matter.  Dr. Richard Weisskoff was recommended to do the study based on a similar one  he produced for Levy County.  He is a Harvard graduate with extensive experience in this area and this subject matter.  He wrote the Everglades Restoration budget.  He found the Hendry County proposal for mining overlooked the value of agricultural jobs and income and helped better inform that commission.  He found that tourism and fishing were more valuable than mining in Levy County and help them make a good decision.  He has done many such studies.   But now he is being put off so other “unbiased” consultants can be found.  He is not biased; he simply brings out facts that are often overlooked by petitioners such as CEMEX and their paid experts.
So let’s stand up for Dr. Richard Weisskoff who would do a great job if given the chance. He currently teaches at University of Miami and is available to do the job.   CEMEX and the property owners don’t want this to happen because they know they are not creating any new jobs and that there are better uses for this land that may come out in the report.  We really don’t know what the analysis will reveal; that’s why we need an expert to more fully inform us.
I know it’s short notice, but please try to be there.  We must keep working for a healthy community and  sustainable long term economic growth based on our abundant natural resources, not depletion of them.    JUST SAY NO TO MORE MINING!!!!!

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