True to form, new guy at SWFWMD and newly appointed executive director Blake Guillory began the now Scott-standard renovation of his new workplace by removing and replacing its old guard.
First to suffer the signature swing of Scott’s sling blade was Richard Owen, long-term planning director and, more recently, deputy director of the district’s 16-county wide regulatory program.
Street rumor has it that Richard was told last Friday he was to be “released”, even before Guillory reported for his first day at work which must’ve been Monday, 10.3.11. I don’t know how it went down but it looks a lot like the board knew beforehand what was obviously dictated from T-Town by CEO-Scott’s boy, Herschel Vinyard, and somehow, in unison, and without benefit of an “advertised meeting” must have blessed the action.
Magnanimously, Richard will be able to stay until December or January to complete his 30 years of dedicated service to the public as weel as the proper management of the state’s water resources and the preservation of its natural environment.
Maybe Bill Bilenky, district general counsel serving as interim executive director until Guillory’s arrival, will tell us how the Board blessed the action without infracting the state’s Sunshine Law. Maybe he’ll also explain, if not, why there’s even a governing board if all the shots are so blatantly being called from the methane-infused, oxygen free atmosphere of Tallahassee.
Or maybe he won’t. Guillory has given him his marching orders as well, if we’re to believe the smoke boiling from the second floor offices of the new director. No word yet on when the highly respected general counsel will pack his pictures and memoirs from over ten years of service and leave this chapter of his professional life behind.
Also mentioned in the rush of rumor and innuendo swirling around the district’s Brooksville headquarters is the departure of deputy director Bruce Wirth, another long term staffer who has been involved in the technical management side of the district’s activities for decades.
What lies ahead is most probably the further morphing of one more water management district into another state agency to be utterly and completely controlled from T-Town by Scott and his minions.
Whether that is good or bad remains to be realized. I fear it will not be good. It is myopia at its worst by a new governor who doesn’t understand what serving the public interests really means. It is more than economic development at any price. The price we will pay for the destruction and loss of this state’s natural identity will far outweigh the benefit of any new jobs Scott may accidentally generate in the next few years. The loss will be generational, perhaps for all time.
Let me say, nevertheless, that change itself is not always bad. I have talked with some of those already released from the district and urged them to think of this as an opportunity to shed any constraining views they may have had of themselves and let their aspirations fly. Despite how dark the outside looks in the job market these days, there are brighter days ahead.
Adversity brings necessity. Necessity brings creativity and courage to do things one might not have tried under different circumstances. And with successful survival during perilous times, which is a certainty knowing the noble character and profound strength of those gone and going, comes the growth of one’s self, a higher confidence and a grand realization that whatever life brings, no matter what, everything’s going to be okay.