What I have learned

Trish Hunt gigi101 at bellsouth.net
Fri Sep 21 13:54:35 EDT 2001

Hello again everyone.  Where do I begin…In light of recent events on
America, there is a part of me that feels like this fight was so
insignificant now.  But, since so many of you replied with supportive
words to me on this issue as well as other issues, and I had even received
some emails that educated me on the “political” side of the scientists’
community (with views about the particular individual in question) I felt
that I should return the favor and make good on my promise to the list to
let all of you know that I finally received a letter of response from
Governor Jeb Bush’s office today in response to the letter I sent him on
25 June 2001. Below you will find a copy of this email and below that, you
will find a copy of my letter to Governor Bush.

Why this email has come to me now, so soon after the tragic events of last
week, I don’t know.  I would think that government officials in this
country would have more important things going on than making sure that
someone responds to an email that was sent nearly three months ago.

It has since [my original letter] been announced that Janet Reno is indeed
going to run for the position of Florida’s Governor.  If she continues
keeping the environment in the top 3 of her list of priorities for our
state, I am still going to vote for her.  It seems to me, in the reply
below, that Governor Bush thinks that the entire state, (like his brother
thinks the entire country) is worried about taxes being too high and we
pay too much money to the government.  I have always felt (perhaps because
I have never known different) that our tax rate was fine.  If protecting
the environment means the government keeping the tax rate the same, then
keep my money!  If protecting our country means rescinding our income tax
rebate, then take my family’s $600, if it will keep that disaster from
ever happening again!  Just because (in my opinion) the Bushes are
particularly greedy (for the record, I do have a newfound respect for our
President now), does not mean that the rest of the American citizens feel
the same way.  I do not want to sacrifice my freedom, security, or my
environment just to keep a few dollars for myself.  I just wish everyone
did feel the same way. Perhaps we would already know more about our
environment, perhaps coral reefs and other reef systems wouldn’t be in
danger from dying for one reason or another, and perhaps the World Trade
Center twin towers would still be standing, the Pentagon would not be
damaged, and thousands of people would not be dead.  As I am sure some of
you will point out, I know there are a lot of other “perhaps” that could
go into that short list.

Here is the response, and as always, I welcome any comments from any of
you. I have learned so much from many of you over recent months and look
forward to continuing that relationship.  One day, I will have a title
and/or acronyms behind my name like so many of you.  Keep up the good work
because each of you does make a difference in many ways.  If you don’t
believe that, then take to the bank that you have inspired me to follow my
dreams.  When you feel like your work is insignificant, keep in mind that
there are others out there that read about the work you are doing and they
are asking questions of their own.  One day, there will be enough of us
asking the right questions, coming up with right answers, and saving our
underwater world, one organism at a time.

Patricia Hunt

-----Original Message-----
From: Smith, Sandi [mailto:Sandi.Smith at LASPBS.STATE.FL.US]
Sent: Friday, September 21, 2001 1:11 PM
To: 'gigi101 at bellsouth.net'
Subject: RE: What I have learned

Dear Ms. Hunt:

Thank you for writing to Governor Jeb Bush to share your reaction to items
in the General Appropriations Act.  He appreciates hearing from you and
has asked me to reply on his behalf.  I apologize for the delay in
responding. As you already know, Governor Bush vetoed the appropriation
for the Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution when he signed Senate Bill
2000 into law on June 15, 2001.  The Governor gave his approval to
projects that meet priority needs, are funded from an appropriate source,
and do not have unacceptable out-year costs.  The projects he vetoed
failed to meet these stated criteria.

The Governor believes the Fiscal Year 2001-02 budget passed by the Florida
Legislature accomplishes much for Florida.  Working together, the state's
top priorities have been met through this budget:  education, protecting
our most vulnerable citizens, the environment, tax relief for Florida
families, public safety and election reform.

Thanks to a visionary commitment by the Legislature, Florida is funding
its critical needs while providing meaningful tax relief.  Given the
fiscal challenges we face, this achievement is remarkable.  With these new
investments and tax relief, Florida's promise now shines brighter than
ever. While there is much in the budget of which to be proud, several
items did not go through committee or statutory processes for inclusion in
the budget. Governor Bush therefore used his line-item veto authority to
save taxpayer money, eliminating more than $290 million statewide in
special projects in the budget.

The Governor is grateful to you for taking the time to let him know of
your views on the state budget.  He hopes you can understand that with
limited fiscal resources and many spending needs, some worthy projects
could not be afforded this year.

Please contact him again on issues of importance to you.

Sandi Smith
Office of Policy and Budget
Executive Office of the Governor

Dear Mr. Governor,

            My name is Patricia Hunt and I live in Jacksonville, FL.  I am
just your average citizen.  I am a 27-year-old wife and a mother of a 2
year old.  I have served in the US Army for 4 years (Ft. Hood, TX) and
other than those 4 years, I have lived here my whole life.

            As a child, my father took me fishing.  We fished from beaches
and from docks until he was able to afford a boat.  I spent most summer
weekends offshore from the age of 6 to 17.  During those years on the
water, my father taught me about safety and about conserving our
resources.  If we had no intentions of eating whatever fish we caught, we
threw it back.  If it was too tired to swim on its own, I watched my
father get into the water with it (once, a 6’ female tiger shark in
addition to others) in order to assist its breathing until it could swim
away on its own.  I learned about the dangers of plastic bags floating in
our waters and that sea turtles eat them – mistaking them for jellyfish.  
I learned that the plastic rings that come around soda 6-packs can get
caught around birds’ and other animals’ necks, strangling them to death –
so I rip them apart before throwing them away.  I learned not to anchor on
reefs because it tears them up, killing the very place that fish hide in,
swim in, and feed in.  I also watched my father capture a pelican that had
a hook caught in its skin, just below its bill, so that we could take the
hook (still attached to fishing line) out of him.

            From a very young age, a love for the marine environment has
been instilled in me and nurtured.  I may not have a boat yet, but when I
do go to the beach with my husband and baby, I find myself picking up
trash others have left behind.  I want the marine environment to be
healthy and enjoyable for my son when he is my age.  If I am lucky, he
will learn from my example to care for his environment the same way my
father taught me.  I cannot afford to get a diving certification yet,
either.  So instead, I have started up my very own marine aquarium.  I
want to one day keep corals and other invertebrates in my aquarium and
have been doing a tremendous amount of research on the subject on the
Internet.  That is how I became a part of coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
<mailto:coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> .

            I am not a scientist nor am I even in any profession
associated with the marine environment, but because I am fighting an algae
bloom in my aquarium, I found a particular article from this list
interesting. It spoke of an alleged algae bloom that is allegedly killing
off some of Florida’s coral reefs and a possible reason behind the algae
bloom.  All that was needed was some more money from the state in order to
research this reason. You vetoed this funding according to the article
because the research wouldn ’t provide a statewide benefit.

            As a Florida resident and a registered voter, I am completely
appalled with this decision.  The last time that I checked, tourism is
Florida’s number one industry and I am sorry to say, Mickey Mouse isn’t
Florida’s only tourist attraction.  Divers, snorkelers, fishermen, and
tourists enjoy healthy reefs and the diverse population of fish and other
marine life the reefs support. The reef-lovers buy dive and snorkel gear,
rent boats, hire guides, stay in hotels, rent beach houses for weeks and
months at a time, eat in restaurants, not to mention they spend money on
their “land-based” entertainment as well. Fishermen spend money on many of
the same things.  The “snowbirds” spend their money in the winter; the
rest of us spend our money in the summer months.

            If that is not “statewide” enough to reconsider giving these
scientists some funding to do their research on my behalf, your behalf,
your family’s behalf, my son’s behalf, and his children’s behalf, then I
truly don’t know where your priorities lie.  You say it is on education.  
We live in Florida and I assure you most of our natural sciences
curriculum in high school consists of knowledge of what is around us
locally.  I am still young enough to remember my high-school days and
learning about turtle nests, manatees, fire coral, Portuguese-Man-O-Wars,
and octopus.  Helping to fund this research will be funding long term and
real life education. If we don’t have much of a reef-ecosystem left later
to educate our children or our grandchildren about, there goes most of my
most memorable school lessons right out of the education system.  If that
happens, have we really done our job?

            Another thing, I cannot speak for the rest of the residents
that enjoy nature in all forms, but after living in Killeen for 3 years I
assure you I wanted nothing more than to come back to Florida when I got
out of the service.  I needed to be near the ocean.  I have plans on
diving in the future.  If I don’t have anything to look at but dead stuff
when I do finally get down there, I might have to move to Australia or
something.  If you don’t reconsider funding this research project, I
assure you, if Janet Reno does run for your position, I will vote for her
in a heartbeat.

            I am sorry this has turned out so long.  I felt the need to
fully explain my position and why I stand where I do.  I would appreciate
a response, even a short one; but please do not send me a typical form
letter. Thank you for your time.

Patricia Hunt
Jacksonville, FL

For directions on subscribing and unsubscribing to coral-list or the
digests, please visit www.coral.noaa.gov, click on Popular on the
menu bar, then click on Coral-List Listserver.

More information about the Coral-list-old mailing list