Thursday, June 2, 2011

New E.D. at SFWMD,"... necessary change in how we do business."

The new Tallahasse chosen-one for director of the South Florida Water Management District, Melissa Meeker, has arrived!  In her first communication to district staff she announced yesterday that stern changes are ahead for the 19-county organization which is responsible for the management of the huge, plumbed system known as the Florida Everglades and for supply of drinking water for much of south Florida's Gold Coast.  Here's what she had to say:

From: Meeker, Melissa 
Sent: Wednesday, June 01, 2011 4:03 PM
To: all_groups
Subject: Announcement from the Executive Director

All Staff:

It is my privilege and honor to begin working today as your Executive Director.  While this is a time of new beginnings, there is no doubt that we have a tough road ahead, which will require tough decisions and a necessary change in the way we do business.

In line with Governor Rick Scott’s priorities for lowering taxes and growing the economy – and with policy direction from the Governing Board - we will develop our most austere budget in over a decade. We owe it to the taxpayers to limit spending, eliminate unneeded bureaucracy and refocus the agency on its core mission.

We will no longer take on responsibilities outside of our purview or operate with inflated budgets and salaries. Instead we will reorganize the agency around its statutory responsibilities, flatten the management structure to be more in line with the rest of the state and get on with the business of water management.

These changes will begin at the top with the District Leadership Team. As attached, I am restructuring the executive management of the agency to ensure we place the greatest emphasis on mission-critical functions with fewer layers and lower salaries. I have asked the following to serve on my leadership team: 

·         Bob Brown will serve as my Assistant Executive Director overseeing regulation, water resources and administrative services. His nearly three decades of experience will help me guide the agency in a new, fiscally-conservative direction.
·         Tommy Strowd will serve as Director of Operations, Maintenance and Construction, overseeing flood control operations, land management and capital construction projects.
·         Terrie Bates will serve as Director of Water Resources, overseeing our water supply, science and modeling functions.
·         Sharon Trost will assume the role of Director of Regulation
·         Doug Bergstrom will serve as the Director of Administrative Services overseeing our budget, business and mission support functions.
·         Ernie Barnett will take on the newly-created role of Everglades Policy Director to refocus and reshape our role in ecosystem restoration.
·         Deena Reppen will serve as my Chief of Staff and oversee our external affairs.

In the days ahead, the new leadership will be meeting with you to discuss these organizational changes. We will then start the difficult work of reshaping this agency to both reflect our new financial framework and to deliver the core services this organization was created to provide.  We are embarking on a new course, but it is a course that will rebuild our reputation and lead to our long-term success. 

Melissa Meeker

Attachments:   Executive Management Organizational Chart
                        Leadership Team Bios

Melissa Meeker

Best wishes, Melissa.  You and the district do, in fact, have a tough road ahead.  Be consoled by the fact, however, that it'll be no different than the way it's always been down there.  It's a very complicated world south of Lake O, probably more so than with any of the other water meanagement districts because of all the divergent and powerful interests perennially at each others' throats.  Staying true to the district's core mission will require you to first identify what that is.  Once found, and if you achieve resetting the district back to that point in time, your greatest challenge will be keeping it there.  Please don't lay the difficulties you'll face entirely upon your staff.  "Mission Creep" is a game the legislatuire either allows or constrains depending upon how its own whimsical interests are served.  Governors, too, have been known to participate in this little game, the outcome of which inevitably will be laid at your feet.  It's not if.  It's when.

Good Luck!  Seriously.


  1. Interesting introduction, I'm intrigued. Do you have the email/memo that she sent?

  2. Sonny,

    Well said!
    The first and last priority of these miscreants is to hurt government employees. As of 5:00 Fiday afternoon I am officially retired.
    The information in the District library is at risk.
    No new information will be added as Iam not to be replaced.

    The so-called leadership don't think they need or want a librarian.

    Good luck finding anything,

    Chuck Tornabene

  3. Sorry about not having the full report on the new ED at SFWMD for awhile yesterday. Am still learning the tricks of using the Blogoshere. The post had Melissa's email to her staff at first but it somehow bacame lost in subsequent updates ... all a mystery to me, but I'm learning.

  4. This woman (Melissa Meeker) scares me as much as our new CEO. Anyone who supports Rick Scott for the sake of Rick Scott is not doing the citizens of Florida a favor. Brain washed is as brain washed does. Our State is going down the toilet. By the way Rick, don't forget to flush! Take Melissa with you. What a joke! That would be you.

  5. I have a question about privatization of water. With the push to destroy the water districts; Is Gov Rick Scott gunning to privatize our water? What is preventing the legislature from privatization? Can we initiate a constitutional amendment to stop this?

  6. 1) "rebuild our reputation" : in whose eyes?

    2) "lead to our long-term success" : how is she defining success?

  7. The same people remain, the sfwmd is still the same bad organization it always was. The upper management needs to go. Stop making cuts from the bottom (needed positions) and make cuts from the useless positions at the top.