Tuesday April 15, 2008

State shall pay for cut-down trees

The first of several huge class-action lawsuits against the state’s past Citrus Canker policy has come home to roost. The Miami Herald article deals primarily with the legal technicalities of the case, but here’s the point: The state based its decision to cut down healthy trees growing within 1,900 feet of infected trees on junk science, and didn’t sufficiently compensate owners. Well, now comes the penalty phase — we’re talking hundreds of thousands of trees, and the plaintiffs are talking as much as $5,000 per tree. Tim Farley, who’s quoted extensively in the article (and you can hear audio of him talking some more!) says the Florida citrus industry should pay, “but unfortunately that’s not how the system works.”

Actually, a tax on the citrus industry to pay compensatory damages in these cases would be just a wonderful idea. But they’re not the really really real guilty party here — industry looks after its interests, right? That’s what they do, that’s what they have lobbyists to do, that’s what we expect them to do. The real criminals here are the people that put the 1,900 foot rule into place — the government officials who failed to stand up to the industry, to stand up for residents with trees.

So, what do you do to ensure this doesn’t happen next time, with the next situation? Nothing. You take it, and the next time you take it again. There’s your moral. Now, get out there and plant some citrus trees — they only take a few years to get to fruit-bearing age.

Update: Clarifying the compensation per tree. First of all, that’s what the trial is going to determine. $5,000 is the pie-in-the-sky figure the plaintiffs are starting with, a number to be compromised from, and even then it’s intended to be the upper range. Actual amount would be determined by the size/age/value of the tree, with the majority in any case being under $1,000.

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  1. swampthing    Tue Apr 15, 09:46 AM #  

    I moved back here in 92. brought with a citrus tree that had been in a NY apt for 15 years. Put it in the ground in miami and it took off like jacks beanstock, bore fruit awesome tangerines. just before the harvest the tree-killers choped it down without warning. I knew then as we know now what/who the real canker is.


  2. squathole    Tue Apr 15, 09:48 AM #  

    Arboreal assassins removed 3 citrus trees from my lawn. One grew back from the allegedly ground-out roots, and is now a monster bearing hundreds of sour oranges, evidently the root stock on which the original grapefruit-bearing tree was grafted. Sour oranges aren’t as useful to me as grapefruits, but the presence of the tree has been a defiant gesture to the agi-morons who implemented the policy. I look forward to my check from the state.

    Join Asplundh, the tree-cutting greedheads, as defendants in this litigation. Make them testify that “they merely followed orders” when they butchered the trees and pocketed the profits.

  3. alesh    Tue Apr 15, 11:16 AM #  


    Why not plant another grapefruit tree??

  4. Steve    Tue Apr 15, 11:45 AM #  

    The interesting aspect of it was that it was the North Florida growers pushing the tree cutting in South Florida. Basically one group (Northern) was pushing to eliminated its competition (Southern). One of the net results is that our Florida crop is more susceptible to frosts than it used to be. The other is that we have to live with crappy citrus in Publix rather than grove stand good stuff!

  5. b.a.c.    Tue Apr 15, 11:48 AM #  

    Ok so correct me if I’m wrong but if were all complain about cut budgets, less services (mainly educational funding) yet here we are salivating at the chance to gouge the state for $5k a tree? Are you serious, just make them buy new trees for all those they chopped down.

    This is gonna cost the state oodles of cash and after the payout were all gonna be complaining about even shittier public transport, teacher wages etc etc etc.

    Again correct me if my logic is outta sync here

  6. alesh    Tue Apr 15, 11:57 AM #  


    What you’re saying amounts to “the timing sucks.” That sure is true, but it doesn’t change the facts of the case.

    Getting the state to replace the trees sounds like a great idea, but (a) probably wouldn’t save that much money — the trees are still expensive and (b) most folks have already replaced the trees, often with non-citrus, but still.

  7. adam    Tue Apr 15, 12:14 PM #  

    Is this why all the “florida oranges” I buy in the store taste like cardboard?

  8. b.a.c.    Tue Apr 15, 01:05 PM #  

    But let’s be reasonable Alesh, how much does a Citrus tree cost? According to http://www.briteleaf.com/citrus_for_sale.asp I don’t see anything higher than 50$…..To ask for $5000 a tree during the State’s budgetary crisis screams selfishness and the a blatant willingness to take advantage of the situation to me.

    My parents had more than 5 citrus trees cut down and even they think the payout being demanded is ludicrous. As a matter of fact they don’t care about getting compensation from the state. Just Give the suers a $30 credit per tree and and be done with it.

    Naturally the trial hasn’t even started but I can only assume people will be bitching and whining when their kids teachers go on strike again or their local Recreation Center is closed due to lack of funding.

  9. l'elk!    Tue Apr 15, 02:02 PM #  

    about fucking time. and $5,000 a tree? jesus… someone is obviously milking this. i dont want any money. im just happy with the idea of making home brewed OJ again.

  10. alesh    Tue Apr 15, 02:56 PM #  

    okokok … I’ve added an update to the article, since I obviously wasn’t clear — the $5,000 figure is I think more of a starting point for the negotiations. Nobody’s getting $5,000. Whatever the figure ends up being, it’ll be only for the largest, most valuable trees. Most people will get a fraction. sorry for the confusion.

  11. squathole    Tue Apr 15, 03:33 PM #  

    Reasons I don’t plant another grapefruit tree: (1) the current tree is gigantic, and I don’t want to lose it or deal with removing it, (2) up until recently, we weren’t allowed to sell/buy/plant grapefruit trees. Illegal.

    That has changed. This very spring I will clear out some room elsewhere in the yard and plant one. Yes, I think the state should buy it for me, and provide a small stipend for (1) the loss of other vegetation that will have to be removed, (2) my fucking time and effort spent on making repairs their ham-handed lame-brained policy made necessary. Dick holes.

  12. alesh    Tue Apr 15, 04:04 PM #  


    Aren’t you, as a resident of Broward County In Good Standing, an automatic member of the very class-action lawsuit mentioned herein, and as such soon to be on the receiving end of an as-yet-undetermined sum of money for just said services? Is truth that throws some meat to the dogs any less worth telling for doing so?

  13. Dave    Tue Apr 15, 04:25 PM #  

    For those who are happy about he lawsuit keep in mind who is being sued. Asplundh and the citrus industry are not invovled. YOU are being sued. The tax payers of Florida are the defendents in this case who will have to pay up.

  14. squathole    Tue Apr 15, 05:25 PM #  

    Alesh: In fact I am a tax paying tree planting home owner in Bro-Co, FL, and fervently hoping I’ll be called as a witness because I have a BIG FUCKING FOUL MOUTH and would love to be tossed out of court and/or held in contempt (again) for expressing my opinions on a matter that grinds my gorge.

    Dave: I am aware of this, as I am aware that when I drink heavily and happily I am punishing myself. Nevertheless, it’s a duty, an obligation, a call to act in the name of justice and fair play. So is the litigation.

  15. adam    Tue Apr 15, 06:08 PM #  

    make a video if you do.

  16. swampthing    Tue Apr 15, 10:11 PM #  

    where does jeb’s citrus queen katherine harris fit in? where is dade county in all this? 5k per stick is way out of whak… how’s bout a bit of ficus hedge eradication.

  17. squathole    Wed Apr 16, 09:42 AM #  

    Blame for this rests squarely on the ag industry and their powerful puppets, including Ag Com Charles Bronson (yeah, that’s his real name) and Jeb! himself. Junk science combined with greed and corporate corruption. If they really thought that 1900 foot perimeter would work, they should have cut 1900 feet out of their own goddam orchards, absorbed the loss as a legitimate business expense — THEIR business, not mine — and left homeowners’ property alone. Why are we paying for their problems?

    The program merely served to deliver favors back to the citrus growers and tree slaughterers like Asplundh. Just like war delivers favors to folks like Haliburton, and road projects deliver favors to union workers.

    So we sue. Thus delivering favors to personal injury lawyers. The business of America is business, you know.

  18. Henry Gomez    Fri Apr 18, 12:09 AM #  

    <em>The state based its decision to cut down healthy trees growing within 1,900 feet of infected trees on junk science, and didn’t sufficiently compensate owners.</em>

    What’s it going to cost to compensate Americans when the junk science behind man-made global warming is exposed?

    Oh that’s right, there won’t be anyone to sue because it will have been our own fault for silencing skeptical scientists.

    Well maybe we can go after Al Gore.

  19. alesh    Fri Apr 18, 12:35 PM #  

    Hi Henry!

    61% of Historians surveyed said George W. Bush is the worst president this country has ever had. Another 35% put him in the bottom quarter of presidents.

    107 out of 109 historians judged the Bush presidency a “faliure.”

    And here you are, insisting that the world is flat.

  20. squathole    Fri Apr 18, 03:22 PM #  


    The world IS flat. And up is down, wrong is right, and enough is enough! Why do you hate America?

    Dick Cheney