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Nancy Smith

SFWMD Board: Out with the Old, but ... Where's the New?

February 14, 2019 - 9:00am

After the public shaming to shoo out the old South Florida Water Management District board members as fast as they could, you'd think the new Administration would have been Johnny-on-the-spot getting their replacements appointed and cleared in time for the first meeting.

Which is today.

But they didn't, according to a Governor's Office source. And that means just four board members, thus no quorum for the only SFWMD Governing Board meeting during the month of February. Oh, board members can and will meet starting at 9 a.m, but there won't be any votes taken. A month wasted.

Not a flying start for an Administration that accuses the departing Governing Board of "delaying" Everglades restoration.

So, what happened?

Sanibel City Councilman Chauncey Goss, Gov. Ron DeSantis' first board appointment on Jan. 29, apparently didn't have his paperwork properly completed in time. Goss won't be sworn in today.

Broward developer "Alligator" Ron Bergeron, who does a lot of business with the District, won't be seated until he gets an opinion from the Senate Ethics Committee on whether he has too much of a conflict to sit on the board at all.

Meanwhile, there was major business on today's agenda. For example:

  • Major contract votes for work on some of the bigger projects, like the C-43 West basin storage reservoir, in the amount of $524 million; and
  • Approval of a near-$5 million material-hauling-and-stockpile contract for the EAA storage reservoir.

There's always the possibility that today's quorum failure was a planned event: Kill the meeting and the departing board gets no credit for the months of hard work putting together two big contracts. Maybe the Administration simply wants the new board to be able to vote on these contracts as if they're the result of the new regime's effort.

A planned no-quorum or an accident of bad luck for Goss and Bergeron, the bottom line here is the same: Expect a quick and hollow meeting as the board's old guard -- what's left of it -- bows out without the thanks and applause these members deserve.

Reach Nancy Smith at or at 228-282-2423. Twitter: @NancyLBSmith

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