ON SEPTEMBER 16, 2016 BARRY SHAPIRO WROTE A LETTER TO THE EDITOR OF INSIDEVERO RESPONDING TO COMMISSIONER BOB SOLARI’S REMARKS ON SEPTEMBER 15 ABOUT MR. SHAPIRO’S ASSERTIONS THAT SPOONBILL MARSH “IS NOT ONLY AN ENVIRONMENTAL TRAGEDY BUT ALSO A POTENTIALLY A CRIMINAL ACTION.”
This link brings you to Mr. Shapiro’s letter to the editor.
We found Mr. Shapiro’s letter odd.
To begin with, at one point in his letter he indicated that “I was pleased to find out that the outflow into the Lagoon (from the Marsh) was found to be clean by Department of Environmental Protection standards.”
Wouldn’t you interpret this to mean Mr. Shapiro is claiming that Spoonbill Marsh works?
He agreed with Commissioner Solari that he “had written an editorial in support of (Jay) Kramer and had made an in-kind contribution to his campaign of $ 950.
He cited as true that Commissioner Solari said that in an email “I had first agreed to give it (his report)…I then refused to.”
He cited as true again that “I am not an ‘environmental expert,’ and in reading the report it was ‘all Greek to me'”.
He indicated that Commissioner Solari “never addressed any of the issues brought forward in our report.”
Quite to the contrary, in his response to Mr. Shapiro’s allegations Commissioner Solari stated that:
“Marsh water that is overflowing onto environmentally sensitive land to the north that is owned by the Indian River Land Trust.” Yes, this may be true and our County staff has been working on this issue with FDOT, Grand Harbor and the Indian River Land Trust since February of 2016.
Supposed disappearing water. Perhaps, but it may just be evapotranspiration and seepage. In any case there is no indication of harm to anyone or anything.
A blocked outflow meant to facilitate the flow of water back to the Lagoon. Yes, there is, but our permit with FDEP allows us to use the outfall to the south.
Shortly after the facility was constructed the FDEP cited the County for permit infractions for “failure to construct the disposal system at the Spoonbill Marsh site in accordance with the approved design.” This is true, but before the facility started operating the “the County suggested, and the State approved, four major additions: a debris screen at the intake point; floating plant maps; oyster seed structures; and sea grass zones”.
The Spoonbill Marsh “is detrimental to fish and wildlife.” This is ludicrous. The mystery report does not even mention fish and wildlife. A pre-construction wildlife survey (not including water dependent species such as fish) identified 17 species on site. A 2013 wildlife survey identified 53 species on-site during the winter survey and 58 species on site during the summer survey.
Then in his letter to the editor he indicated that when “the report was obtained by a “journalist,” Thomas Hardy, who is in fact a blogger and a former Bush Administration employee in Washington D.C. I cut off communication with once I concluded he is not, in my opinion, a credible journalist.”
I, Thomas Hardy, was never a former Bush Administration employee in Washington DC. I was, however, a volunteer National Advance Man and aide to former President George H. W. Bush when years ago he ran for President against Ronald Regan. At that time I lived in Boston, MA. I have never lived in Washington, DC.
And with respect to my creditability, I informed Mr. Shapiro I am a non-resident member of the National Press Club in Washington, DC and a Charter Member of the Columbia Journalism Review.
The National Press Club is the world’s leading professional organization for journalists.
The Columbia Journalism Review, published by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism is the intellectual leader in the rapidly changing world of journalism.
It’s true, when I asked Mr. Shapiro for documentation of his findings he emailed me a PDF file of the report, which I in turn sent to Mr. Vincent Burke, Director of IRC Utility Services. When I asked who authored it he wrote: “Thomas, as I have repeatedly said, I will not divulge the source of the material but you can talk to experts like Dr. Grant Gilmore or David Cox as to the authenticity of the information…I’m confident of my source.”
To this, after publishing the report, we received this email from Dr. Grant Gilmore.
From: Richard Gilmore <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Tue, Sep 13, 2016 at 9:47 PM
I notice a number of misquotes for me in your Spoonbill Marsh article. I never said Spoonbill is “killing off fish species.” I did say Spoonbill “does not function” as a native marsh or mangrove wetland as it was designed to treat water and is engineered. Spoonbill by no means functions as a native wetland typically found in Indian River County and apparently does not support roseate spoonbills as a result. This is based on 40 years of comparative wetland research observations. I believe Spoonbill needs to receive the same research and scrutiny that we have conducted at other Indian River Lagoon wetlands with abundant hard data on vegetation, hydrological cycles (tidal and annual sea level rise inundation patterns), fish and bird use. It may treat water for nutrient loading as it is designed to do so, but certainly does not appear to behave as a natural Indian River County wetland that our fish and water fowl prefer to utilize, particularly as a young of the year fish settlement site, a post larval snook and tarpon nursery.”
Our response to Dr. Gilmore:
Thomas Hardy <email@example.com>
Sep 13 to Richard Gilmore
Hi Dr. Gilmore;
In my article any misquotes would be due to Mr. Shapiro. I relied entirely on the written information he provided to me and would be pleased to make any necessary corrections. Thank you for your correspondence.
As we said, Mr. Shapiro’s letter to the Inside Vero editor was odd (unusual or surprising in a way that is unsettling or hard to understand.)
And we’re not going to stop covering this until we find out who’s behind Barry Shapiro. Someone must be. And now, whomever set him up to this, in our opinion, has put him in a pickle.