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Grand Jury Releases Findings On Billboard Company's Illegal Tree Cutting Permits
In June 2009, Citizens for a Scenic Florida received an anonymous letter reporting that acres of trees were being cut down along I-10 and other state roads in the Panhandle without approved vegetation management plans or associated mitigation fees. As it turned out, more than 2000 trees were "illegally removed" from state right-of-way along I-10 and other roads in the Panhandle. The letter indicated that the trees were removed by Bill Salter Advertising Co. in order to create view zones for the company's billboards. The letter also suggested that Salter Advertising had used the influence of then State Representative Greg Evers to broker a deal with FDOT leadership and that an FDOT employee had been ordered by the FDOT District Director of Operations James Rodgers to let Salter Advertising "do whatever they want." In response to public records requests by Citizens for a Scenic Florida and the St. Pete Times, no documents provided by FDOT confirmed any communications on the subject between then Representative Evers, then FDOT Secretary Stephanie Kopelousos, and then FDOT Deputy Secretary Kevin Thibault. In response to a public records request made in 2010 (by a citizen in St. Petersburg) for all emails to and from Secretary Kopelousos for a given period, among the thousands of documents provided by FDOT were emails revealing such communication between Evers, Kopelousos and Thibault. Other emails turned up later when the original records requests were repeated verbatim in 2011. This information was forwarded to the State Attorney for the Second Judicial Circuit and subsequently reviewed by a Grand Jury. The Grand Jury called it a debacle.
* Grand Jury Presentment (report)
* Grand Jury Presentment Attachments
* Citizens for a Scenic Florida Press Release
* Citizens for a Scenic Florida letter to Governor Scott
* Citizens for a Scenic Florida letter to FDOT Secretary
* FDOT letter (dated 2-22-2012) to Bill Salter Advertising, Inc.
Summit Meeting Announcement
April 10 - A Summit on Billboards and Electronic Messaging Signs
|"Civic groups in Miami have 'had it' with the continuous battle against these forms of urban blight.
As just one an example, in the photo to the left, there are giant billboards blocking the views out the windows at the Miami Herald Offices so that staff members can no longer actually SEE the view.
They a called a summit meeting on:
"Billboards: How Did We Get Here and How Do We Get Out."
The panel discussion will include William Brinton, Esq., a leading national authority on scenic issues and billboard regulation.
A concrete plan of action will result from this summit which is sponsored by Miami Neighborhoods United, MiMo Biscayne Association, Scenic Miami-Dade, Inc., Scenic Miami, Inc, the Upper Eastside Preservation Coalition and the Urban Environment League of Greater Miami.
Attendees from across the state are expected and there is no charge to attend the summit. Donations will be accepted.
Those who wish to attend the summit are asked to RSVP to JLIB_HTML_CLOAKING .."
--Scenic Miami-Dade, Inc.