4 min read

Week of February 12-18, 2023

Week of February 12-18, 2023
Hundreds of Miami-Dade firefighters responded to the blaze at the Covanta incinerator in Doral on Feb. 12, 2023, and the fire continued to burn on Thursday. CARL JUSTE cjuste@miamiherald.com

South Florida is literally a giant dumpster fire this week

The big news in South Florida is the raging dumpster fire in one of the county’s two waste facilities. The fire, which started a week ago on Sunday February 12, was still going as of last night, Friday. The EPA has declared it a health emergency, some schools have been closed because of breathing problems and at least one of my kids has noted their school suddenly has a lot of coughing—not to mention AC that is turned off (an issue here in South Florida year-round).

Though this may seem like a temporary or laughable situation, the reality is, what caught on fire was the county’s waste incinerator that turns trash into electricity. According to the Miami Herald, “The facility is the keystone of the county’s garbage processing system, burning about half the county’s garbage 24 hours a day, every day of the year.” This is a massive problem, not only for the environment today with the fire—or even the incinerator in regular use—but because the county’s two land fills are full. In April of 2022 The Miami Herald found, “Reports filed with the Environmental Protection Agency show the North Dade landfill is almost full, and expected to reach capacity by 2025. The South Dade landfill would last a decade more, with capacity forecast to run out in 2036.” With half the trash no longer being incinerated does this mean the landfills will be full in less than two years and six years, respectively? Miami-Dade County already sends trash to facilities as far as four counties away, so this is a major concern.

Meanwhile, while the fire still burns in Miami-Dade County and mayor is canceling meetings not related to the crisis, Ron DeSantis is continuing to court groups that endorsed Donald Trump in 2016, and 2020, this time, police unions. He’s headlining a “Law and Order for Illinois,” event that is open to “law enforcement members only, spouses are not included.” DeSantis is also scheduled to “headline GOP events next month in Alabama, California and Texas.” The same article in NBC News notes, “The Alabama event, a state party dinner, was moved to a larger venue to accommodate high ticket demand.”

Charles M. Blow notes for the New York Times that, “[DeSantis] is spearheading a new iteration of the states’ rights movement, a movement that periodically resurfaces in this country like a breaching whale, from the Nullification Crisis of 1832 that pitted South Carolina against the federal government in a fight over tariffs, to the Civil War itself, to the rise of Jim Crow and the civil rights movement required to bring it down.” Ronald Brownstein of The Atlantic adds, “[DeSantis] has so many cultural confrontations that they’re difficult to keep track of.”

Speaking of Jim Crow, a Miami pre-school came under fire this week for putting children in blackface and posting pictures of the children with a title, “Black History Month,” in a messaging app. The owner of the preschool’s initial response to parent complaints was, “I’m sorry? I don’t understand? What is racist?” Literally, everything about blackface is racist, even if it is still common in South Florida.

In state more state news from this week, DeSantis’ newly appointed Board of Trustees at the state’s smallest college, New College in Sarasota, a safe haven for people who have trouble fitting in, immediately fired the school’s president in their first meeting and this week replaced him with University of Florida drop out, Richard Corcoran. Not only that, despite New College serving only 700 students, the Board, which includes the man who invented the “crisis” over Critical Race Theory, saw fit to award the UF dropout with one of the highest salaries in the state, more than doubling the pay of his predecessor. He now makes more money than the recently appointed president of one of the largest universities in the country, Florida International (where my wife works). Florida International serves 56,000 students.

With the culture war well underway in higher education in Florida, Florida education officials for secondary education this week are contemplating replacing the SAT with “an alternative focused on Western tradition.” This thinking is an offshoot of the White Replacement Theory. It is hard to imagine a test more tailored to the Western Civilization than the SAT, yet here we are.

And rolling in as I write is the story of the teacher who was fired this week for posting a picture of their classroom’s bookshelves, empty, thanks to DeSantis’ order to purge them of books that are “woke,” whatever that means. DeSantis called the notion that teachers might be fired a fake narrative a few days ago.

In another assault on human rights and public schools, DeSantis demanded information on trans students at public universities—and six of them, including FIU, turned the data over out of fear of the DeSantis administration, despite likely violating privacy rights and putting the lives of the students at risk.

Final thing I’ll note, yesterday, after Florida’s high school sports association conceded defeat in the battle over menstrual histories of students in Florida schools (you read that right, here in Florida Ron DeSantis wants to know the menstrual history of my daughters), state law makers have moved to grant Ron DeSantis the authority to do so anyway by giving him control over the board. While my daughters do not participate in sports, they do have to submit the same physical form that athletes do each year. Will they get a separate form? Will their participation in competitions such as robotics require their menstrual histories?