A few days ago we wrote that after a little over a year employment with the Town of Surfside, former Satellite Beach City Manager Mike Crotty had resigned his position as City Manager of Surfside.
As part of our article, we wrote about an issue with sand replenishment on the beaches of Surfside where the town had used sand that had higher levels than allowed by state law.
There were several things that caught our eye within the article.
First is this comment by Crotty at a June 2, 2014 Town Commission meeting:
“This is a normal condition following a sand renourishment. [The experts] indicate that the sand will
lighten, it will bleach,” Crotty said. “If someone doesn’t like the sand, I can’t change their point of view.”
That is not something that the Mike Crotty we knew in Satellite Beach would have said, at least publicly. It rings of “screw the public, we are the government.” That is not how we remember the public persona of Mike Crotty.
When we read the comment, our thought was “that is a comment that reads like it is made out of anger / frustration / something else going on.”
Secondly, on a blog called “Who Controls Surfside Florida“, there is part of an article on the Crotty resignation which reads:
Some say its because of him being tired.
Some say its because of corruption.
Some say its because he’s tired of the corruption.
Some say its because the corruption isn’t moving along fast enough for the mayor and commissioners.
From an insider: If/when Crotty leaves there’s a good chance others may leave? They will leave as they do not want to find themselves in a compromising position? Meaning to okay area items, projects, etc. that may not be financially feasible. Sound familiar? Like the under grounding of utilities project.
We can find no evidence that Crotty was under fire or anything like that but we still wondered about the comment.
Which brings us back to the sand issue.
The sand issue is troubling because it appears that the Town of Surfside broke the law when using sand that had a higher concentrate of arsenic than allowed.
Studies done by two independent toxicology firms hired by the town revealed that the levels of arsenic were between 7.0 and 8.9mg/kg. The state level for residential areas is 2.1mg/kg.
But in a statement, the Florida Department of Health said “there is an extremely low risk of health effects due to the arsenic found in the sand.”
Christopher Teaf, one of the toxicologists hired by Surfside, told residents at the meeting that he reached the same conclusion.
“There is no negative impact from people being exposed to the sand,” Teaf said, adding that comparing the exposure to the levels for recreational areas — 5.5 mg/kg — is more accurate. “I think there is a reason to question. It is different from a reason to be concerned.”
One of the main points we continually make in this blog is that government and government employees are not above the law. Laws like levels for arsenic are passed on the basis of harm that may occur. So when the government of the Town of Surfside allows dumping of sand to replenish its beaches that is 376% to 423% higher than allowed by law, what does that tell you? When the Town’s own expert and hired gun says that arsenic level is 21% to 61% higher than he would recommend, what does that tell you?
Hold your hand up if you think a homeowner would have been allowed to use that sand as fill on their property.
Laws like the ones that restrict levels of arsenic are always made under the premise of “public safety” or “it’s for the kids.”
When the Florida Department of Health says “there is an extremely low risk of health effects,” then either the law mandating levels is screwed up or the Florida Department of Health doesn’t care about citizens. After all, how many kids or people would have to be taken sick to be above a “low risk?” How many people would have to die?
In the end, the Corry resignation has been characterized as for “personnel reasons.” That is fine and we can understand that. However, there is good a good faith belief that the citizens of Surfside are riled up and tired of the corruption in their town.
We don’t believe that the rancor with the Town of Surfside was created by Mike Crotty, but at the same time, such rancor is wearing on a person. We aren’t trying to say that the sand issue was the main straw, but it might have been the straw that broke the camel’s back leading to or influencing Crotty’s resignation.
We wanted to revisit this to clarify our position that we are unaware of any wrong doing by Crotty in Surfside.