Has JP Sasser Lost His Mind?

Has Sunshine State News contributor J.P. Sasser lost his mind?!

“Out of this 40% unemployment, my argument is how much of that 40% is actually employable. How much of that 40% would get up and go to work every morning if there was a job available…very few.”
– J.P. Sasser, One Florida Foundation, quoted in James Patterson’s documentary Murder of a Small Town (2015)

Did J.P. Sasser really say out loud that glades residents are lazy and unemployable? As a former mayor of Pahokee, how could he so rudely insult the people he once called constituents? Who knows why he said it, but he did, and all that can be said now is–at least we know what he thinks.

JP Sasser: Glades residents unemployable

Last week, Sasser alerted SSN executive director and bankrupt Mississippian Nancy Smith to a comment on our Facebook page dismissing the impact of job loss in the glades. Smith wrote in her blog that Sasser said the writer deserved a shout-out for saying what we really think about glades residents.

Is Nancy Smith really trying to smear Bullsugar with a random, unaffiliated Facebook comment, based on a tip from someone SSN is closely affiliated with, who has expressed offensive, embarrassing views about the glades communities? That’s just too rich.

By Nancy’s logic, SSN shares Sasser’s views about the glades communities. And so does Sasser’s repeatedly outed fake conservation group One Florida Foundation (OFF), which built a reputation on the Treasure Coast for parroting the sugar industry’s talking points–including trying to blame last summer’s toxic discharge-fueled algae blooms on septic tanks. OFF is associated with US Sugar’s head lobbyist Robert Coker, who gave the group some money when it started, and with Tom McNicholas, who is an at-large board member of the Economic Council of Martin County, and whose PR firm does work for US Sugar. Is Nancy suggesting that US Sugar and the Economic Council believe that 40% of glades residents are mostly lazy and unemployable too?

To be clear, we are not accusing SSN, US Sugar, or the Economic Council of sharing Sasser’s ridiculous views. Such an accusation would be irresponsible, and we take our journalistic integrity seriously. We’d like to see Nancy raise her game too: After all, once upon a time she was the editor of the Stuart News, a real newspaper.

But we are saying that SSN (whose sugar connections go deeper than merely repeating industry talking points) and the Economic Council of Martin County–along with many of others–are willing accomplices in US sugar’s massive disinformation campaign to block Senate President Joe Negron’s SB10/HB761.

More important–and this seems to be what touched off Nancy’s recent attack–we are saying that this bill has to be a win-win for glades communities and people on the coasts. Glades residents want exactly the same things Florida’s coastal residents want, no matter what J.P. Sasser says: access to good jobs and a safe, healthy place to raise a family. If SB10/HB761 revitalizes the local economy, still reeling a generation after machines replaced human labor in the sugar industry, and if another outlet to reduce lake levels makes glades communities safer, it hurts sugar’s chances to defeat Negron’s plan.

So sugar is on the offensive, and for the first time not just behind the cover of fake groups and political mercenaries. Thanks to SB10, US Sugar and Florida Crystals have been forced to plainly state what we’ve always known: They oppose the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan and they always have.

That means Florida’s sugar industry openly refuses to help reduce toxic discharges to the coasts, it refuses to help reverse the collapse of Florida Bay, and it refuses to help rehydrate the Everglades and the aquifer that supplies drinking water to millions in South Florida. After years of being coy, the sugar industry is honestly declaring its position on South Florida’s water management crisis: We don’t care what the status quo is damaging – it works for us and we won’t voluntarily change it.

How does that make you feel?

When you step back and remember that US Sugar is owned and operated out of Flint, Michigan, by the silent, wealthy Mott family that never says a word about the Everglades dying, toxic discharges, or saltwater intrusion into Miami’s drinking supply (just that ‘they live here too’ and ‘they care about our water’ — both lies)…

When you think about them hiding behind their ‘Mott Foundation’ that of all things gives money to restore freshwater ecosystems (but not in Florida), while they rake in millions in subsidies every year on the backs of American consumers…  

And you look at the army of mercenaries they pay from their homes in Michigan, professional liars hired by US Sugar–all the lobbyists, politicians, fake groups, blogs, PACs, etc.,– all to stall the one solution that scientists have known about and supported for decades…

How does that make you feel?

Aside from complete disgust for the behavior of the Mott family and US Sugar, it makes us feel incredibly appreciative and grateful that there is finally a solution on the table, thanks to Senate President Joe Negron.

We need to do everything we can to get this legislation passed, and not get watered down, because who knows if or when we will have this chance again? And we need to make sure it is a win-win for the glades communities, because they really do live here, and they deserve safety, clean water, health, and economic opportunity just like Florida’s coastal residents.