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tv   Book TV  CSPAN  May 17, 2015 2:50pm-3:01pm EDT

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now. so i can't -- i don't know if i can keep my promise to the doc. [laughter] i do something every day. thanks for your question. and your service. >> if there are no more questions. thank you. >> thank you. have a great day. enjoy this wonderful washington d.c. weather. [applause] >> booktv is on twitter and facebook, and we want to hear from you. tweet us, twitter.com/booktv. or post a comment on our facebook page, facebook.com/booktv. >> and while in ft. lauderdale, we talked to bill crawford, whose book, "florida's big dig,"
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outlines the development of the intercoastal waterway. >> it was originally built for anybody and everybody; sailors a lot of sailboats, barges steamers. there were four principal investors in the waterway, and they were all key businessmen in st. augustine. they included dr. john westcott who was a medical doctor, a minnologist a surveyor. he was everything. and, in fact, in 1855 he was surveyor general of whole state of florida. so when it came to picking out where the best parcels of land
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would be in florida dr. westcott would know. they needed about $100,000 in capital. dr. westcott put in $49,000 which in 1881 was a huge sum of money, and the other three put in the balance $51,000. back then in order to get a corporation or to get permission to do something, to do almost anything, you had to get a charter, a corporate charter from the state legislature. and in 1881 dr. westcott was well known. it had always been his dream -- especially after having been
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surveyor general -- it had always been his dream to have an inland waterway a continuous inland waterway that stretched the length of florida. so they went to the legislature and they made the deal of the century. and the deal was that for every mile of waterway dredged from st. augustine to miami, they would get 3,840 acres of public land all lying along the east coast the atlantic coast of florida which was by no means badlands swampland at all. it was prime real estate. and by 1912 this company had
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earned over a million acres of land -- west cott's company -- had earned over a million acres of land for dredging 286 miles of waterway. and when they did a actual survey in 1889 they determined that approximately 15% of the entire waterway was land and 85% was water. the problem was -- except for the st. johns river going east along the coast -- most of the waterway, like the indian river lagoon was not navigable.
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in other words you couldn't take a steamship or anything like it down the coast of florida without it being dredged to some extent. and so the deal was they had to dredge a continuous waterway five feet deep and 50 feet wide. one of the things that westcott had to do and it became a big bone of contention with the legislature was they were supposed to maintain this waterway. and so constantly the canal company and the legislature actually went to court in 1917, 1919 to force the canal company
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to clean up its act. we're going to cancel your charter, forfeit the canal, take it away from you if you don't maintain the canal. and they were supposed to maintain the canal out of toll money. remember, this is a privately-owned waterway in 1925. they collected as much as $50,000 a year. the problem was no matter what the toll was, they weren't maintaining the canal, and that, there's no question about that. the army corps of engineers finally recommends to congress that they require the state of florida to turn over the waterway to the federal
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government flee of charge -- free of charge, and florida was the only state on atlantic coast that was required to turn over its waterway free of charge. because they found out in world war i that they could not nationalize privately-owned canals. they could nationalize state-owned canals but not privately-owned canals. so, you know every time a war would come around congress would start thinking, you know this would be good for the country in a lot of different ways for the country to take over privately-owned tollway and make it a federal intercoastal waterway and as originally
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conceived from maine all the way down thekey west. -- down to key west. we had to create an entity, a local sponsor called the florida inland navigation district a special taxing district that would tax the 11 counties along the atlantic coast from duval county all the way down to dade county which is now miami-dade county. that is saw county -- nassau county, at the very adopt -- fern dee know beach -- in the last couple of years has joined the navigation district because they want some of the benefits that fine brings to the table in terms of dredging. the federal government, in exchange for -- and i have been preaching this for a long
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time -- in exchange for florida buying the canal and turning it over to the federal government, the federal government was supposed to maintain it in perpetuity. today the florida inland navigation district which our property is taxed for all property in broward county is taxed to maintain the florida inland navigation district pays about 80% of the cost of maintaining the waterway. the federal government the army corps is so behind in funding the waterway all the way up the coast not just florida, that they contribute a measly 20%.
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.. they explain why today's economic realities make passage of legislation to address the issue difficult. >> now it's my pleasure to introduce tonight's program gernot wag

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