I won’t take up too much of your ink on the curious claims made by Ed Swift in his recent letter. He says he has no financial involvement in the draft legislation that would overturn the results of last year’s Key West election and force large cruise ships back into Key West. But this will come as a surprise to Kate DeLoach and the other lobbyists at the Southern Group, the high-priced firm that represents both Historic Tours of America and Mark Walsh’s Pier B Development Corporation in their effort to punish their neighbors for voting against large cruise ships and continue to exploit our shared natural resources for their personal profit.
I will, however, remind your readers that Ed Swift used to be one of the good guys. Before his addiction to cruise ship profits, his was a strong voice for environmental responsibility within the business community. Back in 1997, he had this to say:
“It is important for the tourist industry to remember that many of the tourists of the Keys are here because the environment is special. Fishermen come here because there are fish to catch — and if fishing is bad, they will no longer spend their dollars in Monroe County. Snorkelers and divers come because the reef is alive and beautiful. They will not come in the future if the reef dies. The bird watchers, the nature lovers, the beachwalkers — all those who seek natural beauty will no longer visit the Keys if these scenic delights are degraded. Whatever the industry does to improve the quality of the environment will be repaid tenfold over time in increased tourist revenues. By our very need for economic survival, businessmen should be the greatest guardians of the Keys environment.” (Ed Swift, “Tourism, the Economy and the Environment.” Florida Keys Environmental Story, 1997.)
Key West hasn’t seen the old Ed Swift in quite a while, and he is dearly missed. He can still save what’s left of his considerable legacy by telling his people in Tallahassee to stop pushing this bill. If it goes through, he will live in infamy as the man who stole the Port of Key West and sold it to Tallahassee.
Treasurer, Key West Committee for Safer, Cleaner Ships