Fred Grimm

Fred Grimm: When it comes to bears, zombies, Marlins, Marco — I’m on a long losing streak

The absurdity seemed so very apparent. Just needed to give the Florida public an inkling of what the good ol’ boys at the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission had planned for the state’s piddling population of black bears.

To kill them, of course. To let the gunners loose. The FWC was planning to stage the first hunt in two decades for a beloved threatened species. So I let ’em have it.

And ain’t I got clout.

The FWC, slapping away bad press like a buzzing mosquito, not only approved a weeklong black bear hunt for this October, but by Thursday, had issued more than 1,300 black bear hunting permits. That’s 1,300 permits sold just in the first two days that the licenses were available. That’s 1,300 permits to stalk a bear population that the FWC itself estimates is only 3,000. By October, Florida’s woodlands will have more hunters than bears.

I was just as effective last week writing, with considerable umbrage, about outlandish proposals proffered by the acting secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. Jon Steverson intends to open up Florida’s state parks to timber harvesting, cattle grazing and — worst of all — hunting.

Oh boy, did my column get a reaction. On Wednesday, the Florida Cabinet voted unanimously to remove “acting” from Steverson’s title and make him Florida’s official, full-time DEP secretary.

The Rick Scott administration has inspired a passel of other columns deploring the governor’s uncaring stewardship of the environment. About his lack of enthusiasm for enforcing environmental regulations, for cleaning up the Everglades, for buying up conservation land. And how his administration essentially banned agencies from using the term “climate change” in state documents.

Which led, of course, to the Fish and Wildlife Foundation presenting Gov. Scott with the “BlueGreen Award for Conservation Leadership in Florida” last month.

Sorry, Uber

I’m on a tear. A few months ago, I wrote about the public’s affection for the Uber app-based ride service. And the Broward County Commission promptly chased Uber out of the county.

Back in 2010, I wrote about how a state representative from West Miami had misused the state Republican Party’s American Express credit card, running up $16,000 in personal charges for groceries, car repairs, wine and other household expenses. But there he was on national TV Thursday night — Marco Rubio, scoring points in the Republican presidential debate, unscathed by his hometown critics.

I’ve got the antithesis of the Midas touch.

And so on

In 2012, I wrote a column agreeing with a principled senator named John Thrasher who argued that term-limited state politicians shouldn’t be exploiting their political clout to land cushy, well-paying retirement jobs at state colleges. Two years later, John Thrasher was so inspired he used his political clout to get himself a cushy job as president of Florida State University.

I wrote column after column over the last two years about murder and abuse and corruption in the Florida Department of Corrections. Made the need for reform so glaringly obvious that the Florida Legislature adjourned this spring after doing nothing.

Been writing for years about the lack of a rational comprehensive gaming policy in Florida. So now we’ve got parimutuel barrel racing in North Florida and a billion dollar compact with the Seminole Tribe allowed to expire down in South Florida and nothing in between that makes much sense.

Zombie apocalypse

Last year, I wrote with considerable hilarity about an NRA-sponsored absurdity percolating in the Legislature — a proposal better known as the zombie apocalypse bill — that would allow gunslingers without concealed weapon permits to pack heat during emergency evacuations. Well, the governor signed the zombie apocalypse bill into law in May.

Zombie apocalypse seemed less irrational than the “Docs v. Glocks” law, a legal gag order that forbade physicians from asking patients — even mentally unstable or suicidal patients — about firearms in their homes. I wrote columns sure that the Florida law would be tossed in favor of doctors’ First Amendment rights to free speech. But last month, a 2-1 vote by a three-judge panel with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals kept my losing streak alive.

I can’t win. For years, I’d write columns about the inane economic arguments for using public money to build the Marlins a new baseball stadium. Back in 1999, I wrote, “Precise economic reasons remain hazy, but apparently our survival depends on retaining baseball, and retaining baseball depends on a publicly financed suburban stadium. With an extra $100 million or so for a retractable roof. In case it rains.”

Well, at least the suburbs said no. But, despite my advice, another public entity came up with $600 million in taxpayer money and built a now sparsely attended stadium and a parking garage that includes several blocks of vacant storefronts.

But after looking back on my long, long list of loser campaigns, I’ve changed my mind about the usefulness of the Marlins ballpark. It’ll make for a great place to cower, come the zombie apocalypse.

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