Long Distance Citrus Canker Runaround — Yours Is No Disgrace?

Given that we just saw the State blow $120k on dubious “expert” anti-gay adoption testimony, I don’t want to overstate anything.

But is it too much to suggest that the State’s furious scorched earth litigation strategy in defending the citrus canker lawsuits — paying Adorno & Yoss hundreds of thousands of dollars (millions?) to force Bobby Gilbert to try multiple suits in different forums for the last six years — ranks up there with one of the more colossally stupid wastes of taxpayer money in recent memory?

I guess I say that given the canker eradication program they have spent so much money vigorously defending at taxpayer expense — a program that radically changed the landscape of South Florida — was such a wanker in the first place.

As I’ve previously written, if you grew up in South Florida you probably remember orange, lemon, grapefruit, sour orange, blood orange, tangelo, those weird hard orange/lemon hybrid fruits, and all manner of citrus in your backyard, in your neighbor’s backyard, in the empty yards, in the swales, on your way to school, on your way to your friend’s house, and pretty much everywhere you went.

You could bike around the block and collect all the citrus refreshment/armed weaponry you needed in a matter of moments, and later on it turned out all that backyard fruit made a great marinade!But those days are gone.

In their place, we’ve had a perpetual transfer of taxpayer funds into the coffers of Adorno & Yoss, so they could seriously argue that suits that raise similar issues in different counties all have to proceed simultaneously (rather than wait for the benefit of an appellate ruling in one of the cases that could impact the legal issues raised in the other suits).

That should have been a big sign that something was rotten in the overly zealous way these cases were defended.

I have no idea why the State feels the need to so obstinately defend their questionable citrus canker program in the first place (pride/hubris from the decisionmakers involved?) but we are finally beginning to see the light at the end of the Wal-Mart voucher tunnel:

The Fourth District Court of Appeal unanimously held that some 55,000 Broward property owners are due $11 million for healthy trees felled by state chain saws from 1995 to 2006.

“Government has regulatory power for the very purpose of safeguarding the rights of citizens, not for destroying them,” the judges wrote. “Under any possible meaning, if government cuts down and burns private property having value, then government has taken it. And if government has taken it, government must pay for it.”

Confirming a widely held belief among property owners, the ruling said it was “apparent from the history of this case that [the Department] destroyed these privately owned healthy trees not because they were `imminently dangerous’ to anybody, but instead to benefit the citrus industry.”