Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Whooping Cranes are on their way back to Florida

With the cold chill in the air all over the United States even here in Florida we are hearing word about the Whooping Cranes heading back home to Florida for the winter.

With a great organization like "Operation Migration”, this organization has played a leading role in the reintroduction of endangered Whooping cranes into eastern North America since 2001. In the 1940s the species was reduced to just 15 birds.

Whooping Cranes are the tallest North American bird, is an endangered crane species named for its whooping sound and call. Along with the Sandhill Crane, it is one of only two crane species found in North America.

Adult whooping cranes are white with a red crown and a long, dark, pointed bill. Immature whooping cranes are pale brown. While in flight, their long necks are kept straight and their long dark legs trail behind. Adult whooping cranes' black wing tips are visible during flight.

The species stands nearly 5 feet with a wingspan of 2.3 meters 7.5 feet. Males weigh on average 17 lb, while females weigh about 14 lb.

The whooping crane is still one of the rarest birds in North America. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service confirmed that 266 whooping cranes made the migration to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge in 2007.

To follow more about the Whooping Crane check out Operation Migration

For live web cam feed check out Operation Migration Crane Cam

Monday, November 9, 2009

Oil Companies pull workers as Ida approaches

Oil companies evacuate workers as Ida approaches

By Thomas Johnson

Oil companies are evacuating workers from operations in the Gulf of Mexico as Tropical Storm Ida approaches.

Chevron Corp. said Monday it has removed enough employees to affect oil production in the Gulf. The company said in a news release that it is closely watching its Pascagoula refinery, located on the Mississippi coast between Mobile, Ala. and New Orleans, and taking "all necessary steps" to secure it ahead of the storm.

Ida was moving north-northwest about 185 miles off of the Mississippi River early Monday with winds reaching 70 mph. It was downgraded from a Category 1 hurricane earlier in the day.

The storm trajectory would put it east of New Orleans and the majority of oil and gas facilities in the Gulf, but that can change quickly. Oil fields in the Gulf of Mexico account for about 25 percent of U.S. crude production and 15 percent of natural gas production.

Oil and gas producers pull workers off of platforms and from other facilities as a matter of policy if a serious storm threatens. How that affects production, and energy prices, depends on the severity of the storm.


Hurricane Ida aiming for Florida

Hurricane Ida with eyes set on Florida

Hurrican Ida is setting the stage to hit the western beaches of Florida within the next 24 to 48 hours. Some predictions are that the storm will weaken before it hits landfall. The projected area that Ida will come ashore is located in the panhandle area of Florida

Govenor Crist has declared a State of Emergency for the State of Florida. "Governor Charlie Crist issued Executive Order Number 09-243 to declare a state of emergency due to the threat that Hurricane Ida poses to the state of Florida".

Hurricanes are strange and can do weird things. So it is just a matter of time to see what Ida is going to do, and how much damage it will inflick.

These late blooming storms can be some of the worst. This hurricane season has been quit for Florida , but this season looks to be extended. We all will be watching the next few days to see what happens with Ida.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Florida Environmental Issues

Florida Environmental Issues

By Tom Johnson

The Florida House is against the EPA Water Standards because of the cost of expensive water.

Representatives state
"But waste water utilities, agriculture and industry groups say they're concerned that the proposed limits will be too strict. And members of the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Policy Committee overwhelmingly echoed those concerns as industry representatives urged the state to try to block the agreement. Rep. Trudi Williams, R-Fort Myers and committee chairwoman, opened the workshop by saying that establishing the specific limits is "reckless during these economic times." She said the workshop was the first of several to be held by the committee on the issue. Representatives of the Florida Water Environment Association, representing waste water utilities, told the committee that the federal standards are expected to more than double the average monthly combined water and waste water bill in Florida from $56 to $118".

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Florida faces financial storm

Florida faces financial storm

By T. Johnson

Is this going to be the hurricane that hits Florida this year. With such tough times hitting the United States, Florida is really getting the brunt of the financial storm.

Source: The Tampa Tribune

Floridians want straight talk from public officials. They want to be able to form opinions on the direction our state is headed with all the facts on the table.
That's why I recently insisted that a required report on Florida's long-term financial outlook must disclose that our state faces billions of dollars in unfunded liabilities if it's hit by a major hurricane.

This disclosure isn't pleasant reading. But as chairman of the Senate Ways and Means Committee, I know that Floridians want and need to hear the truth.
So here it is: Our two state-run giants in the homeowner's insurance market - Citizens Property Insurance Corp. and the Florida Hurricane Catastrophe Fund - are seriously under funded. And it's the very people we aim to protect who will suffer the most if a storm hits and exposes the issue.
Combined, these two entities could wind up $14 billion short of the cash they will need to pay claims if a strong hurricane hits a metropolitan area.
How would Florida pay for this? The answer is that you - the insurance policyholder - would be asked to foot the bill, through assessments on your home, auto, boat and business policies.

It's complicated how we got here. But it's fair to say that the extreme risk of hurricanes we face each year, along with public policies that have plunged our state too far into the home insurance market - while chasing away private insurers - are two major factors.

I asked for the sobering disclosure on Florida's unfunded hurricane liability to be inserted into the Legislative Budget Commission's long-range financial outlook. The outlook is, in essence, the Legislature's annual report to Floridians about our state's financial condition.

Floridians should be aware that the CAT Fund - which provides backup insurance to private insurers - is on the hook to reimburse companies for up to $23 billion in hurricane losses this year.

Yet, the CAT Fund only has about $4.5 billion in cash and $3.5 billion in notes on hand. And experts believe the most it could bond under current global financial conditions is $8 billion. That leaves the CAT Fund with only $16 billion to pay claims - a sizeable 30 percent or $7 billion short of being able to meet its obligations.
Likewise, Citizens faces potential losses of $23 billion from a huge hurricane hitting Florida. Yet it also only has $16 billion in claims-paying capabilities - it has $4 billion in cash, $3 billion in financing and would receive $9 billion from the Cat Fund. That also leaves Citizens another $7 billion, or 30 percent, short.

And that's assuming that CPIC gets its full $9 billion reimbursement from the CAT Fund.

Clearly, Florida's at a tipping point. State government has dug itself far too deeply into the home insurance market. Most Floridians have absolutely no idea that they face the real possibility of being forced to pay thousands of dollars in assessments if disaster strikes.

We have a choice: We can allow Florida to dig itself even deeper into this financial hole, or we can take steps now to encourage private insurers to return and compete in this state and allow consumers to choose for themselves what they're willing to pay to protect their homes.
When all the facts are on the table, I believe Floridians will choose a strong, competitive private market over an under funded state system that relies on post-hurricane assessments to pay its bills.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Tim Tebow and the Gators win over LSU

Logo of the University Athletic Association Inc.Image via Wikipedia

With Tebow's Return the Florida Gators Win over LSU

Even though it was not a stellar performance the Florida Gators won over LSU Tigers.

The final score was 13 to 3, Tim Tebow held his own and the defense rose to the occasion to help beat LSU 13-3 in front of 93,129, the largest attendance in the history of LSU's Tiger Stadium.

The Florida win snapped LSU’s Saturday night 32-game win streak as the Gators held the Tigers to just 162 yards total offense in Baton Rouge.

Florida returns home to Gainesville for a Homecoming weekend match up with the Arkansas Razorbacks Oct. 17 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

University of Florida reports decline in Florida's Population

Recession causes Florida’s population to drop for first time since 1946
Author Tom Johnson

Florida’s recession has really hit Florida hard this year. For the first time since 1946 the recession has forced people to leave Florida and look for employment elsewhere, according to the latest population estimates from the University of Florida.

The state has lost more than 58,000 residents which is connected directly to Florida’s employment according to Stan Smith director of UF’s Bureau of Economic and Business Research, who led the research.

The population loss — the first since 1946 — is spread across Florida because the factors that contributed to the decline exist statewide rather than regionally, Smith said.

The biggest percentage losses were found in less populated Union and Suwannee counties in North Florida, Smith said.

Read More: UF News

Friday, October 9, 2009

Florida State Seminoles, Bobby Bowden

Florida State Football, Bobby Bowden

Bobby Bowden the coach of the Florida State Seminoles football team, who is in the cross hairs of the fans and the school after the Seminoles started his 34th season with a 2-3 record so far.

Bowden claims that it is his age is the biggest reason he is being criticized. Bowden states that if he was 50 and not 79 there would be no problem. Bowden, whose 384 career victories are three behind Penn State's Joe Paterno for most wins in major college football history, said he will not decide whether to retire until after this season.

Bowden's contract expires Jan. 4, 2010. Offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher has already been named Bowden's successor, and FSU would owe Fisher $5 million if he's not named head coach by January 2011.

Bowden hopes he'll be allowed to decide whether he'll coach the Seminoles in 2010.

"I feel like I will, but you don't know," Bowden said. "I don't know. I guarantee you I ain't going to worry about it one drop."

Source: ESPN

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Friday, October 2, 2009

Are Florida National Parks at Risk?

Author Tom Johnson

Are Florida National Parks at Risk?

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council 25 parks are risk from climate change. The agency release a report last Thursday stating that due to climate changes that 25 National Parks in grave danger, and calls for national action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The report names Dry Tortugas, Everglades and Biscayne national parks, noting that all three could be lost to rising seas, “representing the first-ever losses of entire national parks.”


Read the report

Press Release
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

The Storm over Florida

Author Tom Johnson


The Storm over Florida,

With escalating foreclosures and falling property values and the failing economy, people are walking away from their homes and leaving the state for points north of Florida.

Florida would be a great option for retirees to flock too, but the problem seems to be that they cannot sell their home in the north to come to Florida.

The newer retiree’s from the baby boomer group are choosing other places to retire than Florida. "People have a lot more options than just going to Florida. Many new retirement communities have been built in Maryland, Delaware, the Carolinas, and Georgia," reports E. Thomas Wetzel, president of the Retirement Living Information Center. "There's even a group of retirees called halfbacks, who went to Florida, didn't like it, came halfway back and settled in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Kentucky, where they get four seasons."

"Florida has definitely lost its edge," says William Haas, a sociology professor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, who has studied retiree migration in the U.S. He points to a slew of reasons, including the horrible hurricane season of 2004–2005 and rising property taxes and insurance rates, for why Florida is no longer such a draw, and he has the figures to prove it.

Between April 2008 and April 2009, the state actually lost population for the first time in more than 100 years.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

If you smoke you cannot apply...

Seal of Palm Beach County, FloridaImage via Wikipedia

As reported in the Post On Politics blog , if you want to work for the Palm Beach County Tax Collector in Florida then you have to be a non-smoker.

Beginning tomorrow Anne Gannon will no longer hire applicants who admit to the use of tobacco products. If you want to be considered for a job interview you will need to submit a “non-smoking affidavit”.

Gannon Stated “Gannon: “There’s not much to be said for smoking – it’s a major cause of respiratory and circulatory disease, it contributes to increased insurance costs for us and the Palm Beach County tax payers, it’s unhealthy to be around, and expensive these days.”

Palm Beach Tax Collector Office

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Thursday, September 17, 2009


Written by Tom Johnson 9-15-09

The city officials (my self included) for our city have decided that it was in the best interest of our great community to join this outstanding organization called The Next Of Kin Registry – NOKR. We decided to do this for our community because you never know when a disaster is going to hit your community. We living in Florida are use to disasters hitting our State and wiping out large communities, and we thought it was for the best interest of the people to get involved with an organization such as this.
Here are some facts about this organization:

The Next Of Kin Registry (NOKR) was established as a FREE tool for daily emergencies and national disasters. NOKR is your emergency contact system to help if you or your family member is missing, injured or deceased. NOKR is the central depository for Emergency Contact information in the United States. NOKR is a non-profit humanitarian organization dedicated to bridging rapid emergency contact information. NOKR was established in January 2004, for daily emergency situations.
NOKR provides the public a free proactive service to store your emergency contacts, next of kin and vital medical information that would be critical to emergency response agencies. Stored information is only accessible via a secure area that is only accessible by emergency public trust agencies that have registered with NOKR.
NOKR encourages every township, county, municipality, city, state and nation to take ownership of the NOKR. This resource belongs to you, your citizens and to your emergency agencies.
NOKR is your trusted safe guarding organization for all personal emergency contacts worldwide. NOKR does not own the information we store, this information belongs to the registrants and is made available securely to registered emergency agencies during times of urgent need. NOKR is the protector of this vital bridging resource to reconnect individuals and families after urgent events.
If you feel that this would be a valuable tool for your community, speak to your local elected officials and pass this link on to them and encourage them to sign up their community. NOKR

If you have heard of this organization or your community is part of this organization I would love to hear from you, please leave a comment.

City of the year, Inverness Florida by the 40 and 8 Veterans

By Tom Johnson 9-16-09

Great news for this small town in Central Florida. They were voted to be the National City of the year for 2009 by the veterans of the 40 and 8. This town is my town, Inverness Florida. I am sure that there are many of you that do not know what the 40 and 8 organization is, here is a little history on this great organization of veterans;
The Forty and Eight was founded in 1920 by American veterans returning from France. Originally an arm of The American Legion, the Forty and Eight became an independent and separately incorporated veteran’s organization in 1960. Membership is by invitation of honorably discharged veterans and honorably serving members of the United States Armed Forces.
If you would like to learn more about the 40 and 8 please follow this link to their home page. SOURCE
To learn more about this wonderful small town in Central Florida – Inverness Florida please click on the link; SOURCE

By Tom Johnson 9-16-09
Great news for this small town in Central Florida. They were voted to be the National City of the year for 2009 by the veterans of the 40 & 8. This town is my town, Inverness Florida.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Florida League Of Cities

This coming week I will be heading down as an elected official to the annual Florida League of Cities in Orlando Florida.

One of the great parts of this event is the vendor room, where hundreds of vendors show off their talents and products. One of the big items that will draw a lot of attention this year will have to do with the green initiative. Florida went green a couple years ago when Governor Charlie Crist took office. With all of the green initiatives and green resolutions that were signed in the last couple of years, I am sure the vendors will be pushing their products having to do with conservation, solar, and the environment.

At last year Florida league of cities convention we saw the several vendors having great displays with energy saving products. I am sure with all the talk about green this past year we will probably see even greater displays of green products.

One of the big organizations in Florida for the green movement is the Florida Green Building Coalition. The FGBC Green Home Standards indicate the criteria by which a Florida home, new or existing, can be designated green. Certifying Agents can guide designers, builders or homebuyers through the process of qualifying and documenting green homes.

The FGBC Green Local Government Standard designates Green Cities and Green Counties for outstanding environmental stewardship. It is expected that certified green city and county governments will not only gain recognition and publicity, but also function in a more efficient manner through better internal communication, cost reductions, and effective risk and asset management. FGBC is actively working towards the availability of incentives that are based on compliance with this standard.

Hopefully I will be able to come back from this conference with valuable information that I can share on this blog and also my other blog;

Florida Bay - Florida Keys

A great area in Florida on the southern tip of the state is called Florida Bay. Florida Bay is the shallow bay located between the southern end of the Florida mainland (the Florida Everglades) and the Florida Keys. The bay, which covers about 850 square miles, is partially sheltered from the Atlantic Ocean on the south and east by the Florida Keys. The average depth is about 4 to 5 feet, and the area is scattered with small islands. Mangroves and sea grasses provide habitat for animals such as manatees and sea turtles.

Historically, the Florida Bay has served as a very productive estuary. It provides habitat for many plant and animal species including sea grasses, sponges, wading birds, fish, and many invertebrates. The bay serves as a home or nursery to 22 commercially or recreationally harvested species. While many of these species are harvested elsewhere, the bay serves as a nursery for many juvenile fish and larval invertebrates. Then as they develop, these organisms move out into the ocean to complete their life cycle. Economically important fish species including snook, tarpon, sea trout and mangrove snapper use the bay as a nursery. As adults, these fish are part of a huge guide boat fishing industry. Spiny lobsters use the bay as a nursery and it is the primary habitat for pink shrimp. Both are harvested commercially and the pink shrimp are also an important base in the bay’s food chain. The Ecology of Florida Bay- Final

Click on link below for a great article and map for the Florida Bay;
Click Here

The majority of the Florida Bay is located within the confines of the Everglades National Park and the Florida Bay, as well as the Florida Keys. The Florida Bay is called the “waterspout capital of the world” and offers nearly 1,000 square miles of exploration: the basins, grass lined mud banks, mangroves, and mangrove islands serve as a habitat for some fantastic marine and wild life. The mangrove regions of the Florida Bay contain a variety of tropical trees and shrubs, and some of the mangrove regions are covered with overhanging red mangroves or poisonwood. The natural and almost mystical habitats of the Florida Bay are breath taking.

If you are into bird watching, ecology, fishing, exploring, or just want to find some pristine beauty of nature, you need to check out the Florida Bay.
Here is a list of links to some of the outfitters in the area that can help you plan a adventure:

Florida Bay Outfitters


Florida bay kayakers