Jesse Hardy

Fighting to keep his land

February 06,

Who is
Jesse Hardy

His Story

The Ballad of Jesse Hardy

Interview with Jesse

Governor Bush and DEP Robbed Me!

First of all, let me make this perfectly clear, to my attorneys, to my supporters and to the public, "I got took!" My property was stolen from me that fateful day of April 12, 2005. I thought I had so many important people; people who knew I wanted my land more than anything else in the world, yet I sat there like a zombie letting them do the work for me. Yet I was let down by those attorneys I trusted. I can't fault Karen Budd-Falen from Wyoming; she doesn't have a license to practice here in Florida. She was at a disadvantage, because she had to operate under Charlie Forman. Besides, Karen was handling the federal aspect of the litigation. Charlie and his team were the litigators for the price, but settling was not what I had in mind.

Let me tell you how Charlie came on board. He came into the picture when I fired Bill Moore. Bill didn't want to work with Karen, for some reason, so he had someone named Gregory S. Rix from his law firm write a letter indicating that eminent domain proceedings could be included in my lawsuit. It appeared to me that by his actions Bill had the DEP's best interests in mind, and not mine, which was why I fired him. I heard that Charlie was a good attorney, so I hired him and told him to fight for my home and my land, and not to deviate from that.

As we progressed through the ongoing negotiations, he seemed to not want to fight for my land, and he seemed anxious to settle. Charlie would tell me that they (DEP) would keep coming back again and again, and that they were going to get my property, one way or the other. Then I told Charlie that there was no way they could flood my property. I told him there was no reason for them to take my land, and that they didn't need to take out the roads, etc. This was why I wanted to fight. Here I was, trying to be a good citizen, I fought for my country, this was all totally beyond my comprehension - I did not want to lose my home! I told Charlie that this Everglades Restoration is not what it's purported to be. Fifty years from now, it'll still be playing out, you wait and see.

Now, the Governor says he paid too much. And the Naples Daily News said what a "top-notch" negotiator I turned out to be. You people need to stop and think for a minute. Since this has happened, I've looked around at some local properties. After spending time with realtor Matt Hudson, the closest thing I can come to, for a small five-acre piece of land, will cost me nearly one million dollars. I have to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, I was in a state of shock. One acre of land, here in Naples, averages $50,000. So, you can do the math, people, 160 acres at $50,000 per acre, equals $8 million dollars - a far cry from the "staggering" $4.95 million I shrewdly negotiated!

I say we should go back to DEP and negotiate further. I sat there with my attorneys, like an idiot, as they negotiated my life, while telling me what they were doing for me, all the while, as they twisted the knife further in me.

The fact of the matter is, Jesse Hardy was took! My negotiator, Will Smith, let me get ripped off, just like my attorney, Charlie Forman. I would do anything to get my land back, even if I didn't have anything else left. I would feel much better with nothing, knowing I had fought as hard as I could, than to have the sick feelings I have now, just knowing it's all gone.

One more question remains to be answered. How is it that Nancy Payton from the Florida Wildlife Federation has now become the "official" spokeswoman for anything environmental around here? I thought this was a project between DEP and South Florida Water Management District, and not the Florida Wildlife Federation. Why does every article that's written on the environment, include a quote from her? Is she the only one with a voice on environmental issues? I find it awfully sad to think that she has the final say on our environment.

Thank you, ladies and gentlemen, for hearing me out.

Jesse James Hardy
June 10, 2005

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