Saturday, June 11, 2011

Note to Governing Board Member Todd Pressman

Note to Governing Board member Todd Pressman who cast the lone vote against the resolution disbanding SWFWMD’s Basin Boards.

Thank you for your lone vote against the now infamous Resolution 11-10, Todd.  As you know, I believe it was a mistake to disband SWFWMD’s basin boards and unceremoniously fire the board members who were appointed by the governor. 

To hopefully help the governing board get through what I believe will be a growing point of contention for the you and the governor, the board should develop a strategy to reverse the problem and direct staff to pursue it vigorously with the full assistance and participation of all board members. 

If the problem is truly the governor’s refusal to appoint basin board members, for example, the strategy could be to act affirmatively to fix that problem instead of simply listening to staff and rolling over with much wringing of the hands.

Board members can call the governor’s office as concerned individuals, send a delegation of governing and basin board members to see the governor (invite the press), call their politically-connected friends, visit editorial boards of the St. Pete Times, the Trib., Citrus Chronicle, Sarasota Herald Tribune, etc., etc.  Further, out of respect for our tough economic times, when you go to see the governor, don’t fly, drive, and vow not to charge the district travel costs.

Afraid this will stir the ire of the governor?  Don’t worry.  I would hope the goodwill that would result in his favor after he “gets it” would take care of that.  If he doesn’t see the political value of having over 40 of his own appointees who reside in dozens of communities throughout a district the size of Vermont who would be ready stand up for him when he needs it, he probably won’t be re-elected anyway, and from recent polls this should be a matter of concern for him.

The view that the administration of the basin boards is an unworthy waste of time and money is the purest of bureaucratic thinking that reflects judgment as poor as I’ve seen in a while.  These are the eyes and ears of the district that provide it a direct link to the communities it serves.  No other water management district has this extraordinary benefit.  Getting rid of them and thinking staff can replace the goodwill these unpaid volunteers bring to the district as tax-paying members of dozens of communities while being gubernatorial appointees is ludicrous. 

Think about the millions the district pays for “education” and “community relations” and the half million spent for administration of eight basin boards becomes miniscule.  The district pays these folks nothing yet they’re a hundred times more effective.  The staff attitude, if it exists, that having to deal with these people is bothersome and unnecessary is unwise in the extreme. 

Basin board members should be nurtured and educated about their importance to the proper functioning (and control) of a very powerful and important government agency, not discarded. 

Thank you again for your wise vote.  Please help change this situation to something positive.

Best regards,

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