Thursday, August 25, 2011

Scott's Disingenuous Letter of 8.24.11 to SWFWMD

CEO-Governor Rick Scott
In a letter dated August 24, 2011, CEO-Governor Scott lavishly praises SWFWMD for how it has reduced its budget $122.1 million and for doing some really good things over the years. 
He says, “I appreciate” the district’s cooperation in helping find ways to slash its budget.
He says, “I also applaud the district’s forward thinking in meeting the region’s water supply needs into the future.” 
He says he likes “the way the district’s partnerships ensure that people, property, and the environment remain protected without the wasteful payment of debt service.” 
He says, “Your work to sustain your cooperative funding program is laudable and public-private partnerships like FARMS program help to protect our water resources by making the district cooperator, rather than an adversary.”
He says he likes the way “Your financial engine has allowed you and your partners to construct vital infrastructure like surface water reservoirs and seawater desalination plants that have been instrumental in supporting the growth of your region over the last decade.  Without the means of increasing the quantity of reliable and affordable water resources, your region and the state as a whole would face an uncertain future.”
So what’s wrong with this picture?  Sounds like the district has done a great job over the years, right?
What’s wrong with it is that the real purpose of the letter is to reform the district, and its sister districts via similar letters, into state agencies.  He wants control to reside not in appointed boards comprised of local citizens but in himself, as the CEO, Committee of one, Chief Poobah in charge.
What’s wrong with it is that it is just more of his now-apparent policy of employing disingenuous Tallahassee-speak while doing deeds that are not in the best interest of Florida’s future. 
The questions a lot of folks are beginning to ask are, where is this guy really taking our state?  Does he know what he is doing?  Are these wanton acts of reduction really going to result in more efficient flood control, environmental protection, water quality and water supply? Is he kidding? Can he really believe people are to do as he says and ignore the inevitable inconsistencies of what he himself is doing?
Double-speak is the name of the game.  After he says he really likes the district’s forward thinking in meeting the region’s future water supply needs and not going into debt, he chastises it for using a pay as you go approach which any business person knows requires a cash reserve to meet contractual commitments.  By building cash reserves, “your well intended efforts can lead to mistrust and a lack of confidence from taxpayers,” he says.  This, from a guy who’s only claim to fame is being the CEO of a company that was fined over a billion dollars for defrauding the federal government out of billions of dollars while on his watch!  B-I-L-L-I-O-N-S!!
He admonishes the district saying, “… it is imperative that your actions, as well as your intentions, are well known by all your constituents.”  This, from a guy whose transition emails somehow got “erased, ” This, from a guy whose former chief of staff said she doesn’t use email because Florida’s Sunshine Laws require they be made available to the public?  This, from a guy who seems dumbfounded by the difference between transparency and opacity?  Excuse me?
What have we Republicans done to ourselves and our state by supporting this guy for governor?  What are we going to do further by continuing to support him?
The letter is pretty reprehensible in its disingenuousness.  It is actually a masterpiece of base political lip service designed to hide the real message which is, despite the good you WMD’s have done you are too efficient and too effective and so I’m going to transform you into a state agency so I can control what you do and make you like my state agencies.  And like I did to SWFWMD’s basin boards, maybe I’ll get the opportunity to get rid of you governing board members, as well.
I’ll say it another way for you Republicans who are not yet listening.  The letter’s real purpose is to reduce the role of the governing boards of the state’s five water management districts to nil, transfer all control of their considerable funding capacities to Tallahassee, and create a scenario that will make the districts nothing more than subsets of an existing state puppet agency (DEP) directly under the control of the CEO-governor.
How republican is it to move government further from control by the people?  How A-m-e-r-i-c-a-n is it to move government further from control by the people?  How un-American is it to remove control from the people  so control of the people can be gained?
Thus, CEO Scott’s apparent purpose is to wrest away water resource management from the locals who have done an exemplary job and place it in the hands of uninformed, ill-experienced, politically ambitious minions who haven’t a clue what they’re playing with and who think they are smarter than forty years of lawmakers, governors and some really ingenious others who put the present system in place.
The question beginning to form in my mind is, what in the world does he have against water management districts?  Why the focus on reducing their ability to do all the important work they do with no apparent reason other than to be able to say he can put the price of a pizza at Sam’s Club back into taxpayer’s pockets?  Surely that can’t be the only reason.
He mouths the environmental mantra knowing all the while he is removing the district’s ability to do what he says they need to continue doing. 
And there’s that getting back to the water managements “core mission” thing again.  Becoming more efficient is a quest we all need to assure the districts follow but what I’m hearing is not what he’s doing.  He says the districts need to get back to flood control, water supply, environmental protection and water quality (as if they had gotten away from these statute-mandated responsibilities)  at the same time he’s removing their ability to do so.  It’s nuts.
And does he realize he is dancing dangerously close to a constitutional prohibition against the state levying an ad valorem tax?  Such control of property taxes out of Tallahassee was an anathema to the founders of our state constitution.  Only local governments will have that authority, it says.  CEO-Scott is ignoring not only American doctrine but Florida’s constitution as well.  Do I smell another lawsuit on Florida’s hot summer breezes?
You can read his press release and his letters to the other four districts here:

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