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So it's a little water. Big deal. Tides happen.

So there’s this “Florida” place that’s gradually being swallowed by the ocean, what with rising sea levels. But Gov. Rick Scott is quite sure that isn’t really happening, because he is pretty much the mayor of Amity Island in Jaws.* If nobody in Florida government says “climate change” or “global warming,” the problem will just go away. Actually, what problem? There is no shark sea level rise problem. Plenty of land still above water, please come to Florida and build some more condos, won’t you?

But come on, there’s no way the state government can actually enforce that silly policy, because as the state has made quite clear, there is no official written policy banning employees from saying “climate change.” It’s just that they need to be very careful in how they communicate, as a state employee learned when he was suspended without pay for using the phrase in minutes of an environmental meeting where You-Know-What was discussed. A press release by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility says Barton Bibler, a Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) employee, was reprimanded for taking detailed notes on a February 27 meeting discussing rising sea levels and That One Topic, and then including the Bad Words in his notes:

He was directed to remove any hot button issues, especially explicit references to climate change, and then was given a letter of reprimand for supposedly misrepresenting that the “official meeting agenda included climate change.”

In addition, Bibler was suspended for two days without pay and required to get his head examined by a doctor to prove that he was sane enough to return to work. Yes, really.

[H]e received a “Medical Release Form” requiring that his doctor supply the DEP with an evaluation of unspecified “medical condition and behavior” issues before being allowed to return to work.

After all, wouldn’t want a dangerously unstable person running loose at the Department of Environmental Protection, spouting off about crazy conspiracies that only 97% of climate scientists think are real.

Mind you, it’s not that Bibler violated any official ban on saying You-Know-What. As we have established, there’s no written policy banning that phrase. Rather, it’s that he was insubordinate and dishonest, according to his official reprimand:

I asked you to provide a summary of the meeting. You first provided a takeaway summary of the meeting, but had provided that summary in a document that used the agenda header from Ann Lazar, the meeting moderator, which gave the appearance that this was Ann’s official meeting agenda that included climate change. This was not part of the original agenda developed by Ann, and resulted in a complaint of misrepresentation.

Look, if That Thing was discussed but it wasn’t on the agenda, then by golly, you’d better not make it look like anyone at DEP planned to talk about That Thing. Are you trying to get us all fired?

Worse, after being asked to submit a revised set of notes, Bibler sent back an email with an attachment that apparently consisted of “the words Keystone XL Pipeline with a red circle and a cross through it,” which we’ll admit was probably a bit on the passive-aggressive side. Shame on you, Barton Bibler! It’s people like you what cause unrest.

Bibler was also admonished to “comply with directives as assigned,” as well as to never again “insert any personal agenda or political advocacy into the work you perform,” because using state workers to advance a political agenda is Gov. Rick Scott’s job, not some snotty DEP punk’s.

PEER called for the DEP’s Inspector General to investigate the incident, including whether the punishment of Bibler was excessive and whether his supervisor’s order to modify the summary of the meeting was a violation of “Florida law forbidding alteration of official records.” The Florida director of PEER, Jerry Phillips, said, “If anyone needs mental health screening it is Governor Rick Scott and other officials telling state workers to pretend that climate change and sea-level rise do not exist.”

So there you go — get too insistent about the existence of climate change, and your employer may consider you deranged. Now, where’s Robert Shaw to run his fingers down the chalkboard and offer to take this CO2 problem off our hands?

*Comparison borrowed shamelessly from NPR’s On the Media.

[AddictingInfo / WTSP / Image by “siralbertus,” Flickr]

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