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DeSantis Wants All SFWMD Board Members' Resignations

January 11, 2019 - 6:00am
Ron DeSantis
Ron DeSantis

Gov. Ron DeSantis called Thursday for the resignations of all members of the South Florida Water Management District Governing Board, which has been under fire since voting in late November to grant Florida Crystals a lease extension for land eyed for a reservoir.

The eight members of the board --- one seat is vacant --- were appointed by former Gov. Rick Scott.

Representatives of the district didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The request came as DeSantis also announced plans to pull back appointments to boards and committees that Scott made in his final days of office. That announcement dealt with appointments requiring Senate confirmation.

“I can announce today that for all the midnight appointments that required Senate confirmation, I’m going to be pulling back,” DeSantis said in a quote from the governor’s office. “Now, some of the people in that batch were people that I know and respect. You may see me reappoint some of them back. But we’re pulling all of them back. We’re going to take a fresh look at it and we’ll move forward from there.”

Scott, who was sworn into the U.S. Senate this week, made 84 appointments on Friday and Monday, before he was replaced as governor by DeSantis on Tuesday.

Among Scott’s late appointments requiring Senate confirmation were Andy Pollack to the State Board of Education and Carlos Beruff to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Pollack is the father of a student killed in the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland last February. Beruff, a developer from Bradenton, was appointed to a number of positions during Scott’s tenure as governor, including serving as chairman of the Constitution Revision Commission.

The announcement about the water management district was made while DeSantis was in Stuart to discuss an executive order on water-quality and environmental issues and came at the urging of U.S. Rep. Brian Mast.

"One of the recommendations that Congressman Mast has provided to me was that we really need a fresh start at the South Florida Water Management District, and so today I have sent correspondence to all of the board members, thanking them for their service but requesting their resignation,” DeSantis said in a prepared statement.

Mast, a Palm City Republican, served alongside DeSantis in Congress and was chairman of DeSantis’ Transition Advisory Committee on the Environment, Natural Resources & Agriculture.

Mast called for the resignations in December after the water-management district board approved the lease for the sugar company Florida Crystals on land that is also targeted for a roughly $1.6 billion Everglades Agricultural Area Reservoir approved by the Legislature in 2017.

“For far too long the South Florida Water Management District has been more accountable to special interests than to the people of Florida,” Mast said in a statement Thursday. “That changes today, and I look forward to continuing to work with Gov. DeSantis to find replacements who make our waterways and environment the number one priority.”

Critics of the lease, which the district has said was in the works for months, note the issue was posted on a meeting agenda the night before it was approved.

The nearly $1 million-a-year lease --- being challenged by environmental groups --- allows Florida Crystals to continue farming on about 16,000 acres in the Everglades Agricultural Area that is planned for the reservoir.

The terms for three board members --- James Moran, Rick Barber and Sam Accursio --- are scheduled to expire in March. Chairman Federico Fernandez and board member Dan O’Keefe were appointed to terms that expire in 2020. The terms for board members Jaime Weisinger and Brandon Tucker expire in 2021, and board member Carlos Diaz was appointed last year with a term until 2022.


Thanks Ron, These resignations will make a positive difference to this wonderful state.

HOORAY !! I didn't voe for DeSantis but this is long over due...Good for him let's but the land south of the lake store excess discharge water ..get the army corp to cooperate in regard to discharges.. suffering brown and green water on the West coast..

I voted for DeSantis, but telling a board to resign that was lawfully put in by other Florida Governors is WRONG. We should not allow a new Governor to bypass rules for appointing board members. What next? Florida Judges??? Can the next Governor fire them all and hire his buddies? Dangerous road.

Yes, yes, nothing to see here . . . . . . ignore the violation by the board of the state law requiring more adequate notice of the lease . . . . . . . . a sufficient reason by itself to ask them all to leave . . . . . . . . seems the Dangerous Road to go down (Trump Supporter) is Trump's claim of a false national emergency over the wall . . . . . . but then, we should never expect a Trump Supporter to be critical of a pathological lying President, now should we . . . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . . . . Gov. Ron DeSantis to suspend and replace Broward Sheriff Scott Israel on Friday. Sounds like this guy means business...

"A new broom sweeps clean",...soooo, CLEAN HOUSE right from the 'beginning' !

Good move! But, most will likely refuse to resign and do little more than give DeSantis a one-finger salute!

Drain the Swamp, literally... Congrats Gov. DeSantis!

This is political grandstanding. As a practical matter, Desantis will have effective control of SFWMD by March of this year. They have a General Counsel vacancy to fill and the Executive Director will be selected by Desantis appointees. So far, Governor Desantis reminds me very much of Governor Charlie Crist. Crist never delivered on his extravagent and unaffordable environmental promises and neither will Desantis.

Mast is grandstanding. He is mad because the SFWMD didn’t do exactly what he wanted them to do. The role of the board is to do what’s best for our water, not bow down to blow-hard politicians trying to improve their polling numbers. I think DeSantis’ statement on funding, Chief Science Officer, and task force are a great start if they can be funded without jeopardizing many other priorities like helping the Panhandle recovery from Hurricane Michael. I think DeSantis has good intentions and he has my full support, but please Governor, stop taking advice from Mast. Mast is more concerned about his ego instead of being focused on getting the federal government to fund Everglades restoration projects. Go back to Washington DC, Brian Mast, and do your job.

Did you teally try to suggest that approving a 16,000 acre lease is in the BEST interest of our water? Good for Brian Mast for having the courage to stand up to the loads of cash pouring in to campaign accounts from sugar and their special interests! A fresh set of eyes and minds looking at this issue will provide comfort for everyone, and the results will speak for themselves. DeSantis just might end up being the governor who can bring us all together — well, at least most of us.

Did you read the law that authorized the reservoir? The lease of the land is required. Did you read the lease? I did and it allows for termination once the land is needed for the project. You can make excuses for Mast, but the fact remains that he is supposed to represent us at the Federal level and is failing. He is creating smoke thinking his constituents will not notice his failure in DC. I agree with you about DeSantis, but the blame game never works. There are so many people that need to be at the table if real progress will be made, even the people you disagree with.

Did you read the law that required a legally noticed meeting? . . . . From 373.093(2), FS --> "Before leasing any land, or interest in land including but not limited to oil and mineral rights, the district shall cause a notice of intention to lease to be published in a newspaper published in the county in which said land is situated and such other places as the board may determine once each week for 3 successive weeks (three insertions being sufficient), the first publication of which shall be not less than 30 nor more than 90 days prior to the date the board executes the lease, which said notice shall set forth the time and place of leasing and a description of the lands to be leased." . . . . . . . I've looked in Chapter 373 and SB 10 (including LOF) and have yet to find a specific provision that overrides the above notice requirements for this specific situation . . . . . . so I hope resigning SFWMD's Brian Accardo and the Board members claiming nothing wrong can identify the specific passage in state law that contains the provision that clearly states that as was previously claimed on SSN "that because the lease extension was mandated by state statute, it did not need a series of public hearings" . . . . . . . . . . I'm really looking for such a provision to override the requirements of 393.039(2), FS, but haven't found it so far . . . . . . . . does it exist? . . . . . . . . . procedural violations involved in the lease are a sufficient reason to ask the board to go. . . . . . . to argue otherwise . . . . . . . . . PATHETIC

You are misinformed, but I know I’m not going to change your mind. Have a wonderful day, Frank.

Yes, quoting state statute language is always being "misinformed" . . . . . . . . . where's your counter-argument (and citing of state statute that boosters your point of view on the hearing requirements) . . . . . . . what, have none? . . . . thought not . . . . . . PATHETIC . . . .

Egg in Ms Nancy's face over this issue. Early articles praised what the water district did a while ago on approving this issue.

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