You may not know much about or have concern over the BP Restore Act funds but you need to learn and learn fast.

Dear Editor,

You may not know much about or have concern over the BP Restore Act funds but you need to learn and learn fast. Millions upon millions of dollars are becoming available to our County as compensation for the oil spill. It is an opportunity we can not take lightly and an opportunity for the public to participate and play a major role on how the funds should go for.  The RESTORE the Gulf Coast States Act is a law that dedicates 80 percent of the Clean Water Act penalties that will be paid as a result of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to the Gulf Coast states for environmental and economic restoration. The money will be used to rebuild wetlands, implement federal plans for coastal restoration and advance important resiliency measures in Gulf Coast communities. The first law of its kind, the RESTORE Act is a historic piece of legislation and a major step toward recovery in the Gulf Coast region.

The RESTORE Act was introduced in July 2011 by a bipartisan coalition of nine gulf senators. Officially named the Resources and Ecosystems Sustainability, Tourist Opportunities and Revived Economy of the Gulf Coast Act of 2011, the bill received broad, bipartisan support in Congress for its simple purpose: to send the oil spill penalty money back to the region damaged by the spill. The legislation was prompted in part by two official reports on the spill, one conducted by Navy Secretary and former Governor of Mississippi Ray Mabus and another from the bipartisan National Commission on the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling. Both reports recommended that Clean Water Act penalties from the spill be dedicated to Gulf Coast restoration. Given the devastation the spill caused in the gulf, this was the only fair thing to do. Without the RESTORE Act, this penalty money could have been used for unrelated federal spending rather than for restoration. These funds should not be left to the whims of the County Commission reeking with lame ducks and has displayed their improper stewardship in the mishandling of money like TDC.  

Here is a website that will help you

Most alarming is the obvious rush that Commissioner Bill Williams is trying to accomplish before he leaves office this November. His display of disdain for Gulf County and his horrific personal financial mistakes should strike fear into all of us. He is No longer a resident of Gulf County as he lives in Tallahassee according to reliable sources. So you have a lame duck, proven financial failure who is not a resident of our community and for some reason rushing to make our financial decisions. Could it be that he has hopes to personally gain from this or do you think he is doing this out of the goodness of his heart? You decide.

Let’s slow this train wreck down. Why do we not have more public participation, workshops to develop all the ideas? How about changing the commission meeting time so that the working public can attend? They work for us not the other way around. We should demand evening times so that more citizens can participate. Could it be they are afraid of public participation? Again, you decide.

There just might be other ideas about how the money should be utilized for economic development other than where they are headed. There are some smart people in our community who could participate in this if we take time to do it right. Knee-jerk decision-making and rushing to turn in a plan before Williams is out of office in a few weeks does not seem the right way to go.

Did you know that our “rainy day” funds are all but non existent? So if we are hit by a hurricane we are in trouble. This is merely one important area of concern where funds should be and are not. There are other issues such as our infrastructures like the land fill, proving that the plan must have more public participation and support. What could possibly be wrong with taking a little more time and if necessary getting an extension which is easily done to make sure we do the right thing.

This money belongs to our community not a select group of individuals who see this as a road to recovery for their personal financial faults. Contact your commissioner and let them know we need to slow down and have much more public input!

Citizens Improving Gulf County