Saturday, August 20, 2011

SWFWMD Sheds Staff At Scott's Direction

Similar to what’s happening at other water management districts, CEO-Governor Rick Scott has ordered from the methane-thinned air of T-Town that SWFWMD shall shed employees.  This unpleasant task fell to Interim Director, Bill Bilenky, who developed a plan in the absence of Dave Moore who resigned from the ED seat recently. 
It’s never easy to tell folks they're on the chopping block so the plan allows them a few alternatives that would theoretically ease the pain of being told to leave during one of the worst recessions in this country's history.
The plan seems reasonable, but when you’ve given years of your life to something you believe in only to have it cast you off like a snake shedding so much dead skin, no plan is going to make you feel real good.
So here’s how to get rid of folks you used to say were doing a great job.  This is the memo from Interim Director Bilenky to his "interim" staff probably with much sadness and misgivings about the impact it will have on those who most certainly are friends:
August 9, 2011
A Message From the Interim Executive Director
As you may know, the District had a plan in place to reduce its staffing levels through attrition to reach a goal of 770 employees (combined FTEs and contractual staff) by October 1, 2012. However, the District has been directed to achieve its goals by the end of this fiscal year. To meet this new deadline, a staff reduction of approximately 30 positions will have to be accomplished by that time.
At its August 2 meeting, the Governing Board approved the staff’s proposed Separation Incentive Program. While no plan for a reduction in workforce is “fair,” staff believes the plan that has been devised is the best approach for the District and the majority of District staff.
District management, in conjunction with HRD, will review and re-prioritize positions and employees based on a number of factors including such considerations as:
·        the specific needs of each department,
·        how critical each position is to the District’s/Department’s business processes,
·        how efficient and effective incumbent employees are within those positions; and,
·        employee work and performance histories.
The District will offer a Separation Incentive Program in lieu of separation through a Reduction-In-Force to approximately 30-40 employees. Under the Separation Incentive Program, employees will agree to resign effective October 3, 2011, and will remain in the District’s employ until then. In return for their resignation and Waiver of Claims/Release, participating employees will receive:
·        six weeks of pay (in addition to their usual salary or wages through October 3),
·        health insurance benefits through the end of the calendar year,
·        accrued annual and sick leave payout in accordance with the provisions of Personnel Guideline 009, Attendance and Leave.
·        Employees may elect to take the six weeks additional pay in the form of an increase in their bi-weekly pay checks or payments into their 457 deferred compensation plan, or some of each.
·        Participating employees will be ineligible for rehire for 12 calendar months.
Employees declining to participate will be separated in the Reduction-In-Force in accordance with the District’s normal separation procedures. Those discharges will be effective September 14 – 16, 2011. Management is not expecting to have to make any additional reductions at this time.
These are difficult decisions to make and we will make information available to you as soon as possible regarding this issue. Individuals who will be offered the Separation Incentive will be notified no later than the end of August. In the meantime, should you have any questions, please direct them to your manager or Department director, or to HRD.
Bill Bilenky
Interim Executive Director


  1. Incentive? Really? A few extra weeks of pay and your health insurance paid through the end of the year. Oh, and you have to sign away your legal rights.

    If you get the pink slip, it's either resign or be fired. Wow! That's not much of an incentive program. Thanks Rick.

  2. I don't know how many times I heard the board comment on the fact that staff was the greatest asset of the District. We now see what total BS that was. I have to believe in karma and hope these heartless goons get a taste of their own medicine.

  3. I love Rick Scott's strategy of improving the economy by firing people. Let's get to work! Except for 30-40 of you.

  4. I think 30-40 of us is just the beginning. What we see here is the systematic and intentional dismantling of the WMDs that in the past may have stood in the way of someone's pet project by virtue of our regulatory authority. This paves the way for those in the current administration to see a future of profit for themselves and their cronies. No one spends millions of dollars of one's own money without a plan for making that back many times over.

  5. Bill Bilenky is now himself terminated. In the years he was at the PSC, I found him a talented and compassionate manager. Rick Scott, on the other hand, is a bumbling buffoon who believes -- probably accurately -- that he can pay back government for curbing his many excesses, the last of which nearly and probably should have sent him to jail.

  6. I think the process and the final decision on Mr. Bilenky's replacement is interesting. Although, the individual might be very capable its interesting that the job was never posted and the official announcement to staff was not made by Mr. Guillary, but by the head of HR. Its also interesting that the individual worked for the firm that was involved in the Governor's transition and they had written a paper about the District's hurting business and forgot to mention the Districts efforts to protect and preserve the environment.