Saturday, June 18, 2011

Executive Director Dave Moore Ends Tenure at SWFWMD

David Moore, CPG

After over eight years holding the reins as executive director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District, Dave Moore has been eased out the door as of Monday, June 20, 2011.  His offer to stay on after his voluntary resignation until his replacement is onboard was rejected. 
Following a half-hearted attaboy, board member Hugh Gramling moved to sever the relationship, post haste, saying when it’s over it’s best to move on.
Some board members rightfully felt two weeks was a bit abrupt, so after an hour of wrangling and multiple amended motions from Jennifer Closshey, they decided to put him on admistrative leave so he'll be available to give advice, until July 15, a totally underwhelming send off. 
William S. Bilenky
Bill Bilenky, the district's current general counsel, was named interim executive director after he told the board he would not be an applicant for the full time job.

I felt the the short shrift given Dave by his board reflects the current misapplied disrespect for all government employees.  But it really goes back decades when Sen. John McKay passed a bill specifically targeting water management district executive directors that essentially prevents them from having the kind of employment contracts enjoyed by practically every county and city manager in the state.  No five-year employment expectations or even three or two.  No grace period in the event of separation at the request of the board.  It’s, just, “see ya,” if you’re lucky, as they hold the door for you.  Sometimes a celebratory “roast” might be held, but that’s about it.

One would think that after dedicating one's life, 24-7, for 8.5 years to running a water district the size of Vermont, filled with political and technical traps and sinkholes, it would have been a happier occasion.

But having been through the “exit” process myself from SWFWMD and the St. Johns River Water Management District, and having witnessed the exodus of Don Feaster, Gary Kuhl and Pete Hubbell from SWFWMD before me, Jack Malloy, Woody Wodraska, Henry Dean and Carol Wehle from the SFWMD, Bill McCartney from NWFWMD and Don Morgan from the Suwannee district, about all that can be said of the process is that it is almost always uncomfortable and awkward.  The congratulatory departures of Don Morgan, Pete Hubbell, Gary Kuhl and Henry Dean are notable exceptions.

And so it was with Dave.  Hopefully, I judge too soon.  Maybe they will recognize him and thank him for a job well done, on a special occasion held just for that.  They should.
Afterward, Dave went to lunch with a few friends who spoke of the job and what it entails.  Despite the board’s comments that eight years is a rare achievement by anyone holding a water management district executive director’s seat, there is little doubt that most of them have no idea just how mentally and physically debilitating the job really is.  There is no quest for pity here.  It's just the way it is.
We laughed about how many “attaboys” it takes to overcome one “aw sh_t”, and surmised it could be as many as a thousand.  Maybe two.
We talked about the fact that no matter how successful one might be in doing the right thing, there are always, say, 15% who won't like it and will hold it against you personally.  Next month or next year, but always inevitably, that 15% will be placated but there will be another 15% who are not.  And so on, until 100% of all who might remotely give a damn about what you’re doing and how you’re doing it, will have at one time or another fallen into the 15% “dissatisfied” category. 
On the other hand, the euphoria that comes with successfully achieving an incredibly difficult feat ends within a very short period of time along with any goodwill that may have accompanied it.  Invariably, it evaporates, assigned to oblivion, never to be remembered or appreciated again, while the stigma of an “aw sh_t” never goes away and in fact continues to build until it becomes who you are.
Eventually one becomes defined not by all the good he or she may have accomplished for the larger 85%, but by the unavoidable "aw sh_ts" that never made more than 15 % unhappy at any one point in time.
Anything short of absolute perfection, it seems, can’t be tolerated so the marriage is usually brought to an unflattering end. It is what it is.
None of us are perfect.  We never claimed to be and never expected to be.  But we tried.  David Moore tried too and was as good as any of us at having achieved difficult things under difficult circumstances.  The bottom line is that he did his job with energy, excellence, intelligence and good sense.  He did it well in a war zone of vindictive and powerful legislators, a new governor who doesn’t yet know the potential disaster he might be wreaking upon our fair state, and board members who, with a few exceptions, are generally too eager to fill the requirements of their own egos or political agendas to see the right thing they should be doing.
Those of us who have been there will stand for Dave and declare he did a fine job.  He will go on to do more.

Everything’s good, Dave.  Let’s do lunch soon.  On me.

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