Pinelands Reserve: The Civility Strawman & Opaque Commission E-mails

You’ve moved into your new home a few months ago.  The land is beautiful, and next to a preserve legally protected by the County.  Your oasis won’t be disturbed.  Or so you think.

The exchange between Mr. Josh Wynne and Commissioner Robinson demonstrates how Mr. Wynne’s passionate and serious questions regarding public health and safety are dodged by the Commissioner with a “civility” straw man.  It’s a misleading, disrespectful tactic, yet employed with regularity by the County.

Mr. Wynne’s exchange with Commissioner Robinson is supposed to be on the County website for public viewing.  His and other e-mail exchanges on this topic are missing.  Historically the County has refused to put all Commission e-mails online, limiting their public access website strictly to e-mails the Commissioners choose to answer.  But on the Pinelands Reserve shooting range approval, Commissioner exchanges with the public are opaque – not posted.

Mr. Wynne and his family live near Sarasota’s Pinelands Reserve, adjacent to a section approved last week for expansion of a shooting range.  As shared in a prior post, lead shot and clay pigeons will be used at the expanded range, introducing lead and Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons (PAH) to conservation land (near Cowpen Slough, slated to be a future source of drinking water for the County).   Lead and PAH are toxic.  Their use on conservation land is a violation of the requirement that uses of conservation land be “ecologically benign”.  Beyond that, contamination of Pinelands Reserve land adjacent to the Wynne home and a watershed puts human health at risk.

Please sign the petition opposing this hazardous use of Sarasota conservation land (see link in the right column) and take a look at the following exchange.  The Commissioner responses must be concerning to anyone who values the health and safety of their family and home.

 

 

From: Josh Wynne [josh@joshwynneconstruction.com]
Sent: Tuesday, February 10, 2015 3:21 PM
To: Commissioners
Subject: Pinelands Reserve Variance Approval and Inadequate diligence on the part of the Petitioner<Sarasota County>

Board,

I was disappointed in today’s ruling in favor of the variance request formulated and approved by the this Board. I cannot, however, say that I am surprised. This process appeared, in structure, to be as incestuous as it was represented at today’s hearing. There is no doubt that this board intended on approving this measure, without delay and regardless of sound, albeit brief, testimony as to why it should be further investigated prior to approval.

Regardless of Mrs. Robinson’s efforts to dismiss my testimony as an “opportunity to make changes at the last minute” my sole effort was to plead with the Board to hold themselves to a higher standard prior to the execution of this variance approval. It seems apparent that this board was more concerned with rushing this issue through than with getting this right. I have no doubts that had this been a private developer’s request, you would have required an actual study on the potential effects to the site, the potential for stormwater contamination, the potential for costly mitigation should the site no longer operate as a range, the potential for catastrophic and debilitating ground water contamination to the rural residents nearby, as well as the right to enjoy a peaceful and quiet Sunday afternoon on the back porch of our “rural” homes.

You required nothing. There were no scientific studies. There were no considerations given to neighbors. There are no plans that are laid out intelligently based on thoughtful feedback. It is not an exaggeration to say that it would it would require more information for someone to be granted a variance for a tool shed than you required and/or provided in this matter. This is an epic failure on the part of this Board.

It was apparent that you had already justified this expansion with the fact that “there is already shooting in the area.” This is flawed logic and I would invite you into a very public discussion regarding the use of this concept in other public matters. Let’s use parking for this example. Siesta Village has a very real problem with parking. You most certainly would not allow a very significant expansion of public space without stopping to reconsider new parking and traffic impacts. You would require a study and a plan. Why not in this case? Parking is a heavily contested issue in the area, but I would like to think it is of a lower priority than your concern for the health and welfare of the community and its aquifer. The fact that you have allowed a facility to be built and operate under certain terms should not relieve you of the duty of holding newer facilities to a higher standard. This concept can be evidenced in the way the State handles building codes. It is always improving. That is my point. The fact that the existing range operates without having been properly conceived does not give this Board license to approve another that is not conceived at all.

The risks are real. Lead contamination and risks associated with chronic loud noises are inherent with gun ranges. There are dozens of “Erin Brokovitch” style litigation cases on line. Many of them against negligent county administrators. Despite Mr. Black’s erroneous testimony to the contrary, shotguns are among the loudest of all small arms. That is evidenced in the Attachment C Acoustic Report that I submitted to the clerk and will again attach to this mailing. The primary factor, aside from the actual sound wave the gun produces, in deterring the heard sound at a distance is the direction of fire. In other words, the direction they are firing is the loudest. 180 degrees from the direction of fire is the quietest. You would know this had you required ANY amount of diligence be performed prior to this variance being approved. Also contrary to Mr. Black’s testimony, this new range will be much closer to my home and the homes of my neighbors. This is a fact that can be easily proved using Google Earth or would be evidenced in any basic diligence report.

I was pleased to hear from your lessee that they follow Best management Practices. I knew many of the guys from the Skeet club and they are certainly, “good old boys.” I mean that sincerely. Still, not one of them is qualified to ensure the safety of my family as it relates to lead. I was dismayed to hear that there is minimal to no oversight from the County with regards to ensuring Best Practices are being complied with. Every building inspector in Sarasota County knows I build a fine home, and yet they still inspect my homes each an every time. I expect the same oversight on this matter. Certainly the risks are greater.

As I stated today, my effort is not to thwart this range’s approval. My issues are not with Sarasota Trap and Skeet. My issues lie with the less than honest information portrayed to my neighbors by the Petitioner (YOU) as related to who was requesting the variance, where this was occurring, and how it would be managed. I take special exception the absolute fact that no information regarding design standards, safety practice, ongoing monitoring and sound mitigation was provided by the Petitioner (YOU) or required by the deciding entity (YOU). This is a clear conflict and the negligence resulting from the lack of oversight of these issues puts my family at risk. This is unacceptable. Rest assured, you will be in for a very public battle if you do not formulate an administrative requirement outlining a real standard for design, performance, conduct and monitoring related to this project, PRIOR to touching dirt.

I want to believe this is a matter of this Board simply not knowing what is does not know. Now you know.

I look forward to your comprehensive proposal.

Here is another fine example for what a real gun range proposal looks like:

http://myfwc.com/media/2976946/EA-Attachment-B.pdf
http://myfwc.com/media/2976952/EA-Attachment-D.pdf

Josh Wynne
President, Josh Wynne Construction

 

On Feb 11, 2015, at 6:33 AM, Christine Robinson <crobinso@scgov.net> wrote:

Dear Mr. Wynn,

There are many, many errors in your comments below reflecting that you did not have the same information that is in the record and that I have read.

I respect that you have a differing opinion from mine. I gave the petition much thought and review. I based my decision upon the testimony, evidence, and credibility of those testifying. Credibility played a big part in this decision. I will let the record stand for itself.

Best Regards,

Christine

Christine Robinson
Sarasota County Commissioner
Sarasota County Government
1660 Ringling Blvd
Sarasota, Florida 34236
941-861-5727
Assisted by Robin Bayus
rbayus@scgov.net

I observe the Civility Rule: I will conduct myself in a civil manner in all communications and will expect and require the same of individuals communicating with me.

All e-mail sent and received is subject to the public records laws of the State of Florida

If you ever see any maintenance issues or have county related questions, please feel free to call 861-5000 during business hours where you get to speak to a live human being. You can also go to our website to fill out an online form to request a service at: https://www.scgov.net/callcenter/Pages/default.aspx. Finally, you can also send an e-mail at countycontactcenter@scgov.net.

 

From: Josh Wynne [mailto:josh@joshwynneconstruction.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 11, 2015 8:31 AM
To: Christine Robinson
Cc: Commissioners
Subject: Re: Pinelands Reserve Variance Approval and Inadequate diligence on the part of the Petitioner<Sarasota County>

Mrs. Robertson,

You did not address the supposed errors in my correspondence because you are unable. Your petition was adequate for you because it was, in fact, your petition.

I did not ask for anything unreasonable. Taking some extra time to allow expert review in the interest of public health and safety would not have created an issue for anyone in this matter considering that the current pending lease agreement is valid through October of this year. I suspect that you are fully aware that given a bit more time, your petition would have failed.

I am currently in communication with officials from the FDEP. They directed me to the following information:

“…shooting ranges in Florida are potentially liable to the State of
Florida and third parties for causing any pollution or discharging
pollutants or hazardous substances into the environment. In response
to reports of violations, in recent years, the FDEP stepped up its
investigation and enforcement of these laws at several shooting ranges
in Florida. In response to the increased enforcement by the FDEP, gun
clubs in Florida, many of them allied with the NRA and NSSF,
counterattacked by introducing legislation in 2004 intended to
prohibit state enforcement of these environmental laws at shooting
ranges and imposing severe criminal penalties on any governmental
officials who targeted shooting ranges for enforcement.”
http://www.floridabar.org/divcom/jn/jnjournal01.nsf/c0d731e03de9828d852574580042ae7a/1f6ace344c94334485257178006c0fef!OpenDocument&Highlight=0,ENVIRONMENTAL,STEWARDSHIP,OF,FLORIDA,SHOOTING,RANGES*

Strange though, I seemed to have missed that in your petition info pack. It must have been in that information that you read and that I did not.

It was clear and apparent to the entirety of the public during yesterday’s hearing that you are clueless as to the realities and/or the requirements surround lead and noise mitigation. It will soon be obvious to them that you are clueless because you neglected to request a proper proposal. You allowed your decision in this matter to be made based on testimony from the party with vested interest. There were ZERO third experts on hand to provide any evidence that any of the Comp. Plan Requirements in FLU 1.2.1 were addressed, or met. Is that how “quasi-judicial hearings” work? You are an attorney and you are gaming our political process at the risk of public health and safety. Negligence.

Again, my request for expert involvement in the design of this facility and for inner-County oversight is not a an unreasonable one. I will absolutely expose this entire incestuous process and your flagrant disregard for public safety in a manner and with the result the likes of which you have never seen in any local public forum.

I am currently rallying my neighbors and the County at large. My neighbors feel betrayed and mis-led. The County, once properly informed of the risks and my requests, will back me overwhelmingly.

My resolve in this matter outweighs yours by every test. Your negligence has placed my family at risk. Every member of this commission will look back at that hearing as the defining moment of their tenure if no adequate efforts are made to address the obvious noise and health concerns associated with this project. Do not underestimate me.

I invite any or all of you to a public debate on this topic. No “quasi-judicial” nonsense. Just a good old-fashioned talk on the stumps so that you college educated folk can put us ignorant, non-credible types in our place.

My next steps will involve an official complaint to the FDEP and a full and absolute records requests to begin an investigation into potential Sunshine Law violations and ethics violations related to the double standard evidenced by your premature approval of an incomplete submittal, initiated by this very Board.

Since you enjoy family anecdotes, I will share one of mine with you. My dad always told me, “Son, you can do this the easy way or the hard way. Either way, you are going to do it.”

I look forward to a productive conversation on how this Board can adequately address the public concerns.

Josh Wynne
Native, Resident, Tax Payer, Business Owner, Veteran, Hunter, Outdoorsman, Conservationist, Knight’s Trail Supporter

On Feb 11, 2015, at 10:14 AM, Christine Robinson <crobinso@scgov.net> wrote:

Mr. Wynne,

I would be happy to engage with you but insist that you do it in a civil way. If you choose not to, I respect that decision but I will not engage with you until you do so.

Best Regards,

Christine

Christine Robinson
Sarasota County Commissioner
Sarasota County Government
1660 Ringling Blvd
Sarasota, Florida 34236
941-861-5727
Assisted by Robin Bayus
rbayus@scgov.net

I observe the Civility Rule: I will conduct myself in a civil manner in all communications and will expect and require the same of individuals communicating with me.

All e-mail sent and received is subject to the public records laws of the State of Florida

If you ever see any maintenance issues or have county related questions, please feel free to call 861-5000 during business hours where you get to speak to a live human being. You can also go to our website to fill out an online form to request a service at: https://www.scgov.net/callcenter/Pages/default.aspx. Finally, you can also send an e-mail at countycontactcenter@scgov.net.

Strawman Cartoon

 

From: Josh Wynne [mailto:josh@joshwynneconstruction.com]
To: Christine Robinson

Mrs. Robinson,

“Until I do so,” implies that I have been un-civil. I have treated this Board, and you, with more respect and consideration than I, and the rest of public have been given in this matter. No doubt that I am direct and to the point. I attribute that to my lack of education or a law degree. A fault in public service, no doubt.

Mr. Caragiulo also responded to me in agreement of a personal meeting to discuss this issue. I am willing to meet any or all of you to discuss this on the record, but not privately. My interests extend beyond my own interests and well into the public’s interests. If there is to be a discussion on this matter, it should be on the public record. I am certain that you agree.

Since none of the Commission has addressed any of my concerns, on the record or otherwise, you leave me little choice but to engage the public in total, rather than the very small circle that has rallied behind my quite minimal effort to date. I will also be reaching out to state and federal officials with experience in dealing with short-sighted local officials with regard to gun ranges. It seems that while most officials take the high road on these issues, there are government officials that are accustomed to dealing with those who do not (like you). I will also be filing a formal complaint with: FDEP, EPA, and CDC.

It is also worth noting that I have received numerous offers from attorneys willing to take the public’s case in this matter, where health and safety is concerned, in addition to the possible Comprehensive Plan violations raised by the other groups in opposition. It appears that your Quasi-judicial hearing, did in fact violate the rules established by the Third DCA in Jennings v. Dade County, 589 So. 2d 1137, 1340–41 (Fla. 3d DCA 1991):

The rules indicate the need for any evidence or testimony, written or otherwise, be allowed to be cross-examined or reviewed by the opposition.

In your hearing, you took final comments from ignorant staff, who admitted to not knowing the answers but provided an answer nonetheless. You also heard from Mr. Marty Black who admitted to not knowing the sound of a shotgun or where I lived but provided erroneous answers as to the proximity of the expansion to existing homes, as well as the audible rapport of a shotgun. It can be concluded by your line of questioning that you based your decision, in part, on these responses. There are plenty of attendees that will testify to my stature, presence, demeanor and audible objection to these false sales tactics entered by the two vested parties, Sarasota County and Sarasota Trap and Skeet. No cross examination or rebuttal allowed.

That brings me to your next violation of case law surrounding quasi-judicial hearings in this state; Fairness Protection.

This requires an unbiased decisionmaker, which in turn requires protecting the decisionmaker and the process from ex parte contacts and from political influence. It also limits the roles that the local government’s attorney or other representative can play. The fact that this Board was the petitioner in this case, and was the decision maker in this case, makes this entire hearing invalid. Add to it the presence of the County Attorney and his role in the hearing.

You have also failed to supply the public with a written decision that includes the last day of the 30 day window allowed to the public to attack the decision.

My requests were simple. If they were not clear in my 5 minutes of allotted time at the hearing, they have been made clear since, in my numerous other attempts at meaningful correspondence. There is not a single judge on this planet that will not find this Board negligent with regards to health and safety in this matter. That is the best case. The more likely scenario is that your entire hearing will be undone. All of this will cost taxpayers money and further divide our community from any sense of leadership and possibly cost the community an expanded shooting facility. These things are well within your reach for a swift resolution. Like my dad always said, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t expect him to drink it when it is full of lead.” …or something like that.

Recognizing that you all have families and lives outside of the Board, I will wait until Monday 2/16 at 12 noon to receive your general plan to:

* Require a third party expert to review the current action plan and future action plan on the range where lead manage is concerned
* Establish a regular protocol (County services are acceptable) for water monitoring including making the testing protocols and results available to the public
* Engage a range design expert to assist in minimizing the weapons fire in the direction of the residences that are as close as 810 meters from the proposed cart path in order to minimize the issues related to sound
* Establish oversight and accountability within the County Management to ensure that the BMP practices established by FDEP are in compliance on a quarterly basis and make such reviews public

These are minimal requests that will not create a tax payer burden, but do establish the bare minimum level of oversight the public deserves. I am not suggesting that these burdens be placed on the lessee of the land. As a matter of fact, the lessee’s own policing of these issues should carry no weight without oversight. I cannot inspect my own silt fence prior to building a house. Certainly they should be held accountable by a third party in a matter as critical as this. This is now the County’s burden. Your complacency, however, will cost the entire County:

* Money
* Time
* A major lack of confidence in this Board’s ability and willingness to lead
* Most likely, an expansion of the range as there is a mounting pile of evidence that this ruling is unenforceable

How this unfolds is entirely in your hands. If you force my hand by refusing to engage in reconciliation efforts, I will see this through to the bitter, bitter end. Now is not the time and this is not the circumstance for your indignance.The choice is yours.

Josh Wynne,
Native, Resident, Tax Payer, Veteran, Business Owner, Outdoorsman, Hunter, Knight’s Trail Supporter, Appreciator of non-toxic drinking water

 

 

 

6 Comments on Pinelands Reserve: The Civility Strawman & Opaque Commission E-mails

  1. It astounds me that an elected official, once elected, regards her/his constituency as the great “unwashed” without a voice. You, are supposed to be the voice of the majority, not the voice of the person slipping you money under the table. Shame, shame, shame.

  2. You are suppose to be bright intelligent people that your constituents voted for. This is ignorance gone to seed. You want to do what??? I guess you don’t value your health or others to allow this it is ridiculous. We already have enough polluted air and water in Sarasota County. PLEASE reconsider what you are about to do.

  3. Wow- Ms. Robinson says- I didn’t hear this, so it doesn’t exist in my world, and it won’t ever exist in my world, and so… Go away, and don’t come back, Mr. Wynne. How scientific! This woman surely does not represent me! Go for it, Mr. Wynne- and I’ll vote for you on the ballot next time!

  4. If there are Sunshine Law violations here, I’m surprised that Michael Barfield hasn’t jumped on the bandwagon. Oh yeah. He’s a friend of Paul Caragiulo so he wouldn’t go against this set of commissioners — only people he (or Caragiulo) doesn’t like.

    This looks like a situation where the commishes has pushed something through for one of their friends. I’m glad someone is stepping up to the plate to complain. The squeaky wheel and all that.

  5. Typical arrogance from a Commissioner, and the Board.
    Suing is the only way to get their respect.
    I’m happy to join Josh Wynne in this effort!

Leave a Reply

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers:

%d bloggers like this: