The Palm Beach Post‘s Christine Stapleton reports that the “Tea Party” protesters outside of the South Florida Water Management District on Thursday were, by and large, actors hired by the Tea Party of Miami and U.S. Sugar.
The district is currently considering buying land owned by U.S. Sugar, which it would use for the treatment and storage of lake flood water. Environmentalist believe that using the land in this way will allow them to divert more water into the Everglades without harming coastal estuaries. The water would not only help replenish the Everglades, it would also provide an emergency reserve drinking supply for South Florida.
But U.S. Sugar wants to keep the land, arguing that as one of the area’s largest employers, it is in the district’s best interests not to exercise the $350 million buy-out option in its contract. Tea Party Miami:
Unable to find actual grassroots support, Tea Party Miami and U.S. Sugar joined forces, resulting in the following job opportunity — captured by Kate Bradshaw — being posted on Facebook:
Those who successfully applied for the position were not shy about announcing their good fortune:
Progress Florida Executive Director Mark Ferrulo told Bradshaw that “Big Sugar supporters hiring actors to pretend to protest is pathetic. Someone should ask who is paying for artificial sweetener to make polluting the Everglades and our drinking water easier to swallow.”
Sarah Bascom, the spokeswoman for the Support the EAA Reservoir Project Coalition, was even more cutting in her assessment.
“This is absolutely ridiculous and, quite frankly, embarrassing for these two groups to have hired paid actors to pose as protestors who ultimately had no idea what they were there to oppose,” she said.
“It is bad enough to have these last-minute groups pop up without any accountability on who they really are being funded by – but now, we have actors posing as concerned Floridians. If they could not find 50 people who were truly and genuinely concerned about the future of Florida’s drinking water and how best to spend funds from Amendment 1, we could have gladly helped them with crowd development.”