Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Hewlett-Packard Lawsuit Against Brevard Clerk of Court Dismissed


Scott Ellis
ORLANDO, Florida -- Earlier today, U.S. District Judge Charlene Edwards Honeywell approved a U.S. Magistrate Judge’s Report and Recommendation that Hewlett-Packard Financial Service’s lawsuit against the current Brevard County Clerk of the Circuit Court, Scott Ellis, for non-payment of a $6.1 million loan be dismissed on jurisdictional grounds.  The dismissal allows Hewlett-Packard to refile its action in Florida state court. 


Former Brevard County Clerk of Court Mitch Needelman entered into the $6.1 million loan after losing the primary election in 2012 to fulfill the funding of a scanning contract that is tied to the criminal case brought by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement against Needelman, his business partner Matt DuPree, and BlueGEM CEO Rose Harr.  BlueGEM was a direct recipient of $5.7 million of the loan.   


Ellis continues to assert that the loan done by Needelman, BlueGEM, Harr, and Hewlett-Packard was illegal and unconstitutional. Ellis reaffirmed that he would continue to defend that position should Hewlett-Packard refile its claim in state court.



Mitch Needelman
Hewlett-Packard also alleged in the lawsuit that Caruso, Swerbilow & Camerota, P.A., a Merritt Island, Florida law firm, engaged in  “professional malpractice, negligent misrepresentation, and breach of fiduciary duty” after the lawfirm had “provided a legal opinion letter verifying that the Clerk had the power and authority” to borrow funds to pay BlueGem for the scanning contract.   BlueGEM, and Harr were also parties to the suit. 


Brevard Times was the only news source to continue a series of in-depth investigative articles led by Charles Parker into this and related stories: 

 
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Brevard Tea Party 5th Anniversary Celebration

MELBOURNE, Florida -- The 2014 Brevard Tea Party 5th Anniversary Celebration will be held on Saturday, April 19th, from noon-3pm at the Wickham Park Event Pavilion next to Eastern Florida State College.


The event is hosted by the Brevard Tea Party.  Local Conservative Talk Radio Station WMMB AM is sponsoring the event.


The 2014 Brevard Tea Party Fifth Anniversary Celebration will allow voters to engage with candidates at the local and state, as well as members of local grassroots clubs. 


A straw poll will be conducted by Brevard Supervisor of Elections Lori Scott.  


Admission is free to the public; food and drinks will be available for purchase. 


For more information, visit here.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Florida Men Charged With $32 Million 'Obama Phone' Fraud


 
TAMPA, Florida —Three men have been indicted for their alleged roles in an approximately $32 million fraud against a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program designed to provide discounted telephone services to low-income customers, the F.B.I., U.S. Department of Justice, I.R.S., and F.C.C.  announced last Thursday.


Thomas E. Biddix, 44, of Melbourne, Florida; Kevin Brian Cox, 38, of Arlington, Tennessee; and Leonard I. Solt, 49, of Land O’Lakes, Florida, were charged by a criminal indictment returned on April 9, 2014, and unsealed on April 10 in federal court in Tampa, Florida.


The indictment charges the three men with one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and 15 substantive counts of wire fraud, false claims, and money laundering. The court also authorized a seizure warrant seeking the defendants’ ill-gotten gains, including the contents of multiple bank accounts, a yacht, and several luxury automobiles.


The indictment also alleges that the defendants owned and operated Associated Telecommunications Management Services LLC (ATMS), a holding company that owned and operated multiple subsidiary telephone companies that participated in the Lifeline Program.  Biddix, chairman of the board at ATMS, and Cox and Solt allegedly caused the submission of falsely inflated claims to the Lifeline Program between September 2009 and March 2011 that resulted in ATMS fraudulently receiving more than $32 million.


Federal authorities allege in the indictment that the men engaged in a scheme to submit false claims with the federal Lifeline Program administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company, a not-for-profit corporation designated and authorized by the FCC.
 


Another Black Eye for Brevard County

Biddix is also alleged to have used the Lifeline government subsidy to pay a portion of salaries for employees of another company, Telecom Sevice Center (TSC) of Rockledge, Florida, that temporarily had over 90% of those wages paid by Brevard Workforce through an Obama administration federal grant known as "Florida Back To Work" at the height of the recession. 


Allegedly, Biddix was prohibited from using federal money from the Lifeline program for TSC's remaining portion of those salaries subsidized by another government program.


Although publicly available information in early 2010 showed that ATMS was already under investigation for "atypical monthly growth in the amount of Lifeline disbursements received by ATMS companies" by the Florida Public Service Commission, the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast (EDC) and Brevard Workforce pushed through the "Florida Back To Work" grant money for TSC later that year.  EDC records show that Biddix was an EDC Board Member during that time and also belonged to the EDC Executive Committee.


"This is just one more great example of how collective efforts can bring employment prospects and economic diversity to the Space Coast through the partnership of our community leaders and the Economic Development Commission,”  said Brevard County Commissioner Mary Bolin in a September 2010 EDC press release about the TSC taxpayer subsidy.


Brevard Workforce, the organization that administered the grant to TSC, remains under investigation since 2011 by the U.S. Department of Labor for possible cronyism involving the award of federal grant contracts to companies connected with Brevard Workforce board members.  EDC President and CEO Lynda Weatherman, Brevard County Deputy Manager Stockton Whitten,  and Brevard Public School Superintendent Dr. Brian Bingelli are among Brevard Workforce's Board of Directors.


Biddix is the second corporate officer in less than a year that has been brought up on criminal charges related to a company lured to Brevard County by the EDC with taxpayer dollars.  Last August, BlueWare CEO Rose Harr turned herself in on an outstanding warrant in connection with bribery charges related to a multimillion dollar scanning contract involving former Brevard County Clerk of Court Mitch Needelman.


Brevard Times sought statements from both the EDC and Brevard Workforce regarding their involvement with the companies named in the federal criminal case.  Neither have responded as of the time of this publication.


SIMILAR STORIES:

Tracfone Defends New 'Obama Phone' Broadband Subsidy

Free School Lunch In Florida For Some Kids Who Can Afford It

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Brevard County Manager Leaving for St. Lucie County




Tipton
ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Florida -- Brevard County Manager Howard Tipton notified Brevard County Commissioners this morning that he has been selected and approved as the next St. Lucie County Administrator.


"As you know with my impending departure from Brevard County planned for later this year, I had begun to look for what the next chapter in my career would be," Tipton wrote to the Brevard County Commissioners.  "Well I never anticipated that things would come together so fast, but in God’s good time, it appears this next chapter will occur as the County Administrator for St. Lucie county which is the county just south of Indian River county.  Their county commission approved my selection this morning and the next step in the process will be to work out an acceptable employment contract."


Although I don’t know yet what date I will be leaving, it will be well in advance of my originally planned September 30th date," Tipton continued.  "Please know that I will continue to work with Stockton and the entire administrative team to ensure a smooth transition and that I have no doubts about the leadership I leave behind.  Brevard  County could not be in better hands."

Last July, Tipton proposed that the Brevard County Commission designate Deputy County Manager Stockton Whitten as "County Manager In Waiting" following Tipton's announcement that he will retire from Brevard County in the fall of 2014.
 


Whitten
But all of the Brevard County residents who spoke at last year's Commission meeting about the succession plan were opposed to it.  "This succession plan is totally out of order," said Merritt Island resident John Weiler.  "I recommend that you accept Tipton's resignation immediately.  He [Mr. Whitten] should compete for it."


Commissioner Chuck Nelson disagreed with the residents and said that FLORIDA TODAY "got it right" in the paper's editorial in support of Tipton's succession plan.


Upset at what she sees as paying two people for the same position, Commissioner Trudie Infantini was the only one who voted against Tipton's plan.  "It doesn't seem to be to the best interest of the taxpayer to pay for 15 months salary, plus 6 months severance pay on top of that, plus annual leave, sick leave, retirement and health benefits - its too much for the taxpayer to bear," said Infantini.

FDEP: Stormwater Unlikely Cause of Indian River Lagoon Superbloom

BREVARD COUNTY, Florida -- The Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) said that it "does not believe the nutrient loads from specific stormwater and wastewater discharges were the culprit for the Super Bloom" in the Indian River Lagoon.


This statement from FDEP comes after a Brevard Times inquiry into a seeming conflict with government research and publications regarding the cause of nutrient loads in the Indian River Lagoon, the algal Superbloom of 2011-12, and seagrass loss.


An excerpt from FDEP's 2013 BASIN MANAGEMENT ACTION PLAN  stated:

 
"The median depth limits for seagrass coverage in the BRL subbasin decreased over the years due to changes in water quality conditions resulting from anthropogenic influences. As polluted runoff reached the lagoon, it created conditions that prevented the seagrass from growing in deeper water."


But according to the Saint John's River Management District's  (SJRWMD) Indian River Lagoon 2011 Superbloom Investigation, stormwater and wastewater discharges were unlikely causes for the algal Superbloom that caused large-scale seagrass loss:
 
 
"It was more surprising that the event even happened at all given the long-term drought conditions during the 2009 – 2011 period [and the] decreasing trend in treated wastewater discharges... drought means comparatively little rainfall-runoff...The other major external sources – atmospheric and groundwater – are similarly affected by rainfall and would be diminished during the same period. Therefore; notwithstanding some unreported nutrient-laden discharge, an internal flux of nutrients may be the primary mechanism that fueled the bloom. " (Emphasis added).



FDEP explained in an email to Brevard Times the reason for the seeming conflict:


"While the Basin Management Action Plan for the Indian River Lagoon Basin Banana River Lagoon was published in 2013, the excerpt provided is referencing a long-term trend used to establish total maximum daily load (TMDL) standards in 2009. The excerpt does not reference and is not in reference to the Super Bloom." (Emphasis added).


"The SJRWMD excerpt is referencing a specific trend from 2009 – 2011. It is also commenting on stormwater and wastewater discharges and noting that they as specific discharge events are not believed to be the triggers directly causing the Super Bloom.  
(Emphasis added).


Stating that anthropogenic influences impact water quality is not at odds with stating that stormwater and wastewater discharges are unlikely causes for the specified algal Super Bloom.  The Indian River Lagoon has been impacted by anthropogenic actions and sources of nutrients for many decades.  A part of the load of these nutrients is stored within the Lagoon as a legacy source of nutrients." 


"The St. Johns River Water Management District (SJRWMD) created an IRL 2011 Consortium to conduct a comprehensive data analyses to examine the possible causes," FDEP added.  "So far, no consensus has been reached among scientists on the exact causes.  The results of investigations will probably not be fully known till 2016 or 2017."


Nutrients Produced by Manatees in the IRL


FDEP also addressed the effect of the increased manatee population on the nutrient load in the Indian River Lagoon which many Brevard County waterfront property owners, boaters, and anglers blame for the Lagoon's plight.



Graphic Credit: SJRMD.  Tropical Storm Fay, Florida Fish and Wildlife Manatee Count, Coldest Winter,  and Superbloom added by Brevard Times

As the above graphic shows, the manatee count on Florida's East Coast has nearly doubled since 2007 (the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission cautions that the published manatee survey count provides a minimum count of manatees, but it does not provide an accurate population estimate).


"At the time the seagrass TMDLs were developed [in 2009], manatees were not considered as major nutrient contributors to the Indian River Lagoon because not all the data needed to quantify the manatee nutrient contribution were available.  It is worth noting that manatees have been part of the Indian River Lagoon ecosystem for a long time," FDEP stated.
 

"Based on the Department’s Nutrient and Dissolved Oxygen TMDLs for the Indian River Lagoon and Banana River Lagoon report (FDEP, 2009), the long-term annual average TN [Total Nitrogen] and TP [Total Phosphorous] loads entering the Indian River Lagoon system are about 1511 tons and 216 tons, respectively.  The 25 to 109 tons of TN and 2 to 7 tons of TP contributed by manatees only account for about 1.7% to 6.7% of TN loads and 0.7% to 3.0% of TP loads entering the Indian River Lagoon system."



"We have at least got [FDEP's] attention to the subject," Citizens for Florida's Waterways President Bob Atkins said of FDEP's analysis of the manatee's nutrient impact on the Indian River Lagoon.  "My conclusion is that seagrass loss is worse [from manatee consumption] than I have calculated and free nutrients are not as bad."


SIMILAR STORIES:
 

Will Increased Sewer Fees Help the Indian River Lagoon or Jeopardize Brevard School Tax?

2014 Florida Manatee Count 3rd Highest On Record

Fukushima Radiation and America's Aquatic Dustbowl

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Brevard School Board Will Not List School Closures


VIERA, Florida -- At the April 8, 2014 Brevard County Public School Board Meeting, School Board Member Andy Ziegler explained why he has chosen not to name Brevard County schools that would close if the half-cent sales tax does not pass in November.


Ziegler said that he was concerned about the effect naming schools would have on the productivity of students and staff at any school that was slated for closure.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Court: EDC Has 30 Days To Produce Records



Brevard Clerk of Court Scott Ellis
TITUSVILLE, Florida -- Brevard County Circuit Court Judge John 'Dean' Moxley, Jr. issued an order on April 3, 2014 that the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast (EDC) "... shall produce all records requested by Scott Ellis, in his official capacity as Brevard County Clerk of the Circuit Court, within thirty days of the date of this order..."


Judge Moxley, Jr. also ordered that if the EDC believes certain records are not subject to inspection, that the EDC "... provide a privilege or exemption log specifying the record and the basis for non-disclosure...." within 30 days.

EDC CEO Lynda Weatherman

The order comes after Judge Moxley, Jr. made a finding that the Economic Development Commission of Florida's Space Coast (EDC) is subject to the Florida Sunshine public records law.


The EDC also has 30 days from the date of the order to file an appeal.




BACKGROUND:



BlueWare is the company caught up in a public corruption criminal case brought by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and State Attorney Phil Archer against former Clerk of Court, Mitch Needelman, his former business partner Matt Dupree, and BlueWare CEO Rose Harr


The EDC helped BlueWare and some of its affiliated companies to qualify for various government programs and other "workforce incentives" that could have totaled nearly $2 million in taxpayer money.   None of those incentives were ultimately awarded to BlueWare because it did not meet its performance benchmarks.

After the Clerk's office learned from a Brevard Times investigative article published on August 26, 2013 that State of Florida Department of Economic Opportunity officials said the BlueWare's confidentiality had lapsed and Governor Rick Scott's Office stated to Brevard Times that the BlueWare incentive contract was canceled on April 5, 2013, the Clerk sent his auditors to the EDC in Rockledge the next day to request a copy of the EDC file on BlueWare.  When the EDC refused to comply with the public records request, Ellis then filed this lawsuit.


Brevard Times was the only news source to continue a series of in-depth investigative articles led by Charles Parker into this and related stories: 


RELATED STORIES:

Friday, April 4, 2014

Bus Fare In Brevard County May Increase

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. -- Space Coast Area Transit will be conducting public outreach to distribute information and receive comments from citizens regarding a possible fare increase. 


According a statement released by Brevard County, the proposed fare increase is being requested due to increased ridership and the need to better serve the community.


The outreach will be conducted in an informal atmosphere and citizens can arrive any time between the designated times. The times and locations will be as follows:


Monday, April 14, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Melbourne Square Mall – at Transfer Station
1700 W. New Haven Avenue
Melbourne

Tuesday, April 15, 7:15 a.m. to 8:45 a.m.
Hammock Landing – at Transfer Station
225 Palm Bay Road
Palm Bay

Tuesday, April 15, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Space Coast Area Transit – Cocoa Terminal
401 S. Varr Avenue
Cocoa

Monday, April 21, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Shepard Park – at Transfer Station
179 E. Cocoa Beach Causeway
Cocoa Beach

Monday, April 21, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
North Brevard Library – at Bus Stop
2121 S. Hopkins Avenue
Titusville

If you are unable to attend any of these dates, further information can be obtained by accessing www.RideSCAT.com.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Brevard County Manager Seeking Job In St. Lucie County

UPDATE: Brevard County Manager Leaving for St. Lucie County



Tipton
ST. LUCIE COUNTY, Florida -- Brevard County Manager Howard Tipton will be looking for a new job as St. Lucie County Administrator on April 8th and 9th, according to a St. Lucie County public notice.


Tipton is one of four final candidates vying for the St. Lucie position.  The candidates will first meet with St. Lucie residents on Tuesday followed by interviews with each of the St. Lucie County Commissioners on Wednesday.


Last July, Tipton proposed that the Brevard County Commission designate Deputy County Manager Stockton Whitten as "County Manager In Waiting" following Tipton's announcement that he will retire from Brevard County in the fall of 2014.

 


Whitten
But all of the Brevard County residents who spoke at last year's Commission meeting about the succession plan were opposed to it.  "This succession plan is totally out of order," said Merritt Island resident John Weiler.  "I recommend that you accept Tipton's resignation immediately.  He [Mr. Whitten] should compete for it."


But Commissioner Chuck Nelson said that FLORIDA TODAY "got it right" in the paper's editorial in support of Tipton's succession plan.


Upset at what she sees as paying two people for the same position, Commissioner Trudie Infantini was the only one who voted against Tipton's plan.  "It doesn't seem to be to the best interest of the taxpayer to pay for 15 months salary, plus 6 months severance pay on top of that, plus annual leave, sick leave, retirement and health benefits - its too much for the taxpayer to bear," said Infantini.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Will Increased Sewer Fees Help the Indian River Lagoon or Jeopardize Brevard School Tax?

The Banana River with NASA's Vehicle Assembly Building at Kennedy Space Center in the background.                    Brevard Times / File photo.


UPDATE: The County Commission voted 4 to 1 to increase the stormwater fee from $36 to $52 for the next two years, followed by an increase to $64 in the third year.  A proposal to raise the minimum stormwater fee to $5 did not pass.  Commissioner Trudie Infantini was the sole no vote.


VIERA, Florida -- On the Brevard County Commission Agenda at 5:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 3, is a proposal to raise the stormwater fee assessed on properties in Brevard County from $36 to $64.  


The proposed sewer fee increase comes during the same year when there is also a proposal to increase fire fees. Later in 2014, voters will decide in November whether to add a half-cent sales tax for schools.


"Should we build a tourist welcome center at a cost of $3,000,000; pay the Washington Nationals $29,000,000 to stay; pay $6,500,000 toward the construction of a shopping mall/office building/movie theater or spend the money to reduce runoff to the lagoon?" Brevard County Commissioner Trudie Infantini wrote in an email.  "Prioritization is the problem in my opinion.  So I will NOT support taxing individuals more when we, as a Board, cannot prioritize the spending of funds we already have."


In a memo to Brevard County Commissioners, County Manager Howard Tipton wrote:


"Should the Board approve the proposed increase, these funds will be applied toward efforts to restore the Indian River Lagoon.  These funds will be applied using proven technologies and programs to provide results by reducing future pollution, removing existing pollution and sources of much; and restoring the ecosystem; all of which will be guided by the best available research."



But according to the Saint John's River Management District's Indian River Lagoon 2011 Superbloom Investigation, stormwater and wastewater discharges were unlikely causes for the algal superbloom:
 

"It was more surprising that the event even happened at all given the long-term drought conditions during the 2009 – 2011 period [and the] decreasing trend in treated wastewater discharges... drought means comparatively little rainfall-runoff...The other major external sources – atmospheric and groundwater – are similarly affected by rainfall and would be diminished during the same period. Therefore; notwithstanding some unreported nutrient-laden discharge, an internal flux of nutrients may be the primary mechanism that fueled the bloom. " (Emphasis added).



Background:

Two events marked the decimation of the Lagoon's environment.  First, there was the loss of over 60% of seagrass coverage from 2009 through 2012.  Second, there was the Indian River Lagoon Algae Superbloom that lasted from April 2011 through March 2012.   Both events were extraordinary because no events of that scale had ever been recorded in the Lagoon's history.  


Those extraordinary events were followed by an unusually high number of manatee deaths beginning in 2012 and continuing throughout 2013.  Unusually high dolphin and pelican deaths were also recorded during 2013.


Despite those events being historically extraordinary statistical outliers, many environmentalists blamed the Lagoon's demise on causes that have otherwise remained constant (or even dropped) such as fertilizers, sewage, muck, grass clippings, runoff, pet waste, and even global warming.  





But the strongest evidence against those particular human-related common causes was the geographical location of the start of the Superbloom in the northernmost portion of the Banana River that is bordered by sparse populations because the Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Canaveral National Seashore, and the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge make up most of that area's landmass as shown in the above graphic.


In fact, a 2003 scientific research paper titled Impacts of Reduced Salinity on Seagrasses in Indian River Lagoon published in the Journal of Phycology, an International Journal of Algal Research, stated that the northern Banana River is "an area of IRL considered the least anthropogenically impacted."  That's scientific jargon meaning that humans have little impact on that area of the Indian River Lagoon.

Graphic Credit: SJRMD - Federal Lands coloration added by Brevard Times



Ignoring the 1,500 Pound Sea Cows in the Lagoon


Graphic Credit: SJRMD.  Tropical Storm Fay, Florida Fish and Wildlife Manatee Count, Coldest Winter,  and Superbloom added by Brevard Times



As the above graphic shows, there appears to be an inverse relationship with the manatee population counts and seagrass acreage whenever the manatee count exceeds around 1,700 on Florida's East Coast (the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission cautions that the published manatee survey count provides a minimum count of manatees, but it does not provide an accurate population estimate).


According to a research study performed by the University of Florida and the U.S. Geological Survey in 2012,  the record-breaking manatee population has grown so much in the last decade that they may be reclassified by wildlife management officials from endangered to  threatened.

 
An 800 to 1,200 pound adult sea cow can eat up 10% to 15% of its body weight daily in aquatic vegetation which mostly consists of seagrass.  According to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Manatee Recovery Plan, manatees sometime graze on seagrass which leaves the possibility for regrowth - but manatees also "root" seagrass - meaning the entire plant is pulled and the underwater sediment is disturbed.  Based on those consumption rates, an average manatee can consume and/or destroy around 3 acres of seagrass a year, depending on the density of the seagrass per acre.




Has a population rebound of an endangered species ever caused a collapse in seagrass beds before?

Many scientists believe that the rebound in endangered sea turtle populations caused localized declines and/or collapses of large seagrass beds in the 1990's and 2000's.  In a scientific publication entitled Effects of excluding sea turtle herbivores from a seagrass bed: Overgrazing may have led to loss of seagrass meadows in Bermuda, research suggests that:


It is likely that the removal of the photosynthetic potential of leaves by grazing sea turtles decreased the production and storage of photosynthate in the seagrasses, slowing their growth and reducing the ability of the seagrasses to recover from unfavorable environmental conditions. This makes the effects on seagrasses of the grazing by sea turtles similar to the effects of severe light reduction. (Emphasis added). 




Could manatees have consumed all the seagrass that disappeared from 2009-2011? 



Even if 2,000 manatees consumed and/or destroyed 3 acres of seagrass per year, that would only amount to 18,000 acres of seagrass (2000 manatees x 3 acres x 3 years).  So manatee consumption alone would not have accounted for the total loss of approximately 30,000 acres of seagrass during 2009-2011.  Additionally, the amount of seagrass consumed by manatees should have been mitigated by the re-growth of seagrass over those three years.       


However, just like in the sea turtle study, the record-breaking manatee population and corresponding increased seagrass consumption could have put enough pressure on the seagrass to reduce its ability to recover from unfavorable environmental conditions such as decreased salinity in the Lagoon from record-breaking rainfall caused by Tropical Storm Fay in 2008, the coldest winter on record in 2009-2010, drought conditions during 2009-2011 that caused land vegetation to die and decompose in the Lagoon, and the Superbloom during 2011-2012.   



The additional pressure put on on the seagrass by an increased manatee population coupled by weather extremes could have caused a tipping point where less seagrass meant that other herbivores, with less grazing areas, put additional pressure on the remaining seagrass which started the spiraling loss of over 30,000 acres of seagrass before the Superbloom of March 2011.   


Also, seagrass absorbs and stores nitrogen and phosphorous.  When manatees consume seagrass, they then discharge that stored nitrogen and phosphorous as waste which becomes free nutrients in the Lagoon.  The waste from increased manatee population could be the "internal flux of nutrients" that the Superbloom Investigation hypothesized.  Manatee waste, disturbed by severe weather in late March 2011, could also explain why the Superbloom occurred near Kennedy Space Center where there are sparse populations and military-restricted waterways.     



The manatees' population comeback resulted in another extraordinary event in recent years.  Residents in Vero Beach witnessed the full extent of the sea cows' voracious appetites' end product in 2009 when a mile-long stretch of manatee fecal matter closed area beaches.  





“I’ve never seen anything like it, and I’ve lived along beaches all my life,” beach-goer Bill Becker told TCPalm. “It was disgusting, but mystifying. It looked like Great Dane poop all along the beach.”