Saturday, May 16, 2015

Scott yanks SWFWMD Headquarters from Hernando County

Hernando County should be real proud of the fact that after 53 years as the designated headquarters of the 16-county Southwest Florida Water Management District, Rick Scott has decided the District’s head office should be moved from Hernando’s regional airport to Tampa. Brooksville’s historic patriarch, Alfred McKethan - the fellow responsible for it being located here in the first place when the district was formed in 1961 - is probably seething (may he rest in peace).   

While the move has been in the tea leaves for anyone concerned to see, it is still a jolt.  Or, is it?  Knowing what I knew then, I asked former County Commissioner Dave Russell a few years ago if he knew about what was happening and if there was concern that a very significant employee base was about to be taken away from Hernando County (based on Scott’s slingblading of district staff and basin boards) and the response was basically no response.  As if to say, who cares? 

This current and actual turn of events revealed late Friday afternoon in the email below to all district employees from district staffer Robert Beltran raises several questions. 
For one, I wonder what role Blaise Ingoglia’s little skirmish with Scott over the Republican State Committee chairmanship played in this embarrassment for Hernando County, Ingoglia’s home county.  Ingoglia is our state House member as well as the state Republican Committee Chairman.  You’ll recall how he unceremoniously yanked that appointment away from Scott’s favored son a few months back and assumed the mantel himself, much to the embarrassment of State CEO Scott.  Such quid pro quo, screw me and I’ll screw you, mentality is common in Tallahassee, where ethics are as ephemeral as flatulence in a windstorm and foul play is fundamental human behavior.  Though it will surely be denied, it would not surprise me one wit.  Our boy Blaise, under any circumstance, should be red-faced PO’ed. 
Blaise, was this on your radar?  Where are you? 

I wonder if Senator Wilton Simpson, Hernando’s fair-haired rising star of the Florida Senate was aware this was going to happen, and did he bless this diss of one of his most important district counties?  If he did … wow!  Says how important he believes his political future depends upon being on the in with the folks in Tallahassee and that his constituents back home can go pound sand.  Hopefully, on the other hand, if he did not know, he will start raising sand instead, and lots of it, QUICKLY! 

Wilton, say it isn’t so! 
With all the talk by the Hernando County Chamber of Commerce and County Commissioners about Hernando’s lagging economy and the need to bring in new blood (jobs and money), I wonder how indignant the Chamber and the Commissioners are going to be when they learn one of the more significant payrolls in the County is leaving for Tampa.  Don’t be misled by Beltran’s attempt to deflect the reality by saying there will be no staff reductions here.  He can say that because it has already happened right in front of the Commission’s noses over the last three years and without a peep from the Chamber.  Additionally, his email is glaringly contradictory.  On the one hand he suggests the employment base is in Tampa and that’s a main reason to move the district there, while on the other he claims doing so will not impact staff numbers here.  If there’s no impact, why do it if not just to stick it to Hernando County/
Is this local reaction a ploy by the Republican Party in Hernando?  To bow low and say nothing in order to not appear disloyal to Tallahassee and spotlight the mounting incompetence of Rick Scott and the potential collusion of our two state legislators whose sights may be beyond any loyalty to Hernando County?  Everyone in the County should be outraged that this is happening, especially the County Commissioners, the county’s legislative delegation and the Hernando County Chamber of Commerce.  Will they not now say something?  Anything?
So far, the silence is deafening.  Guess all us unqualified and unavailable Hernando County country yayhoos should all just go pound sand.



Subject: FW: Message from the Executive Director: Resolution Designating the Tampa Office as the District Headquarters

From: Internal Communications
Sent: Friday, May 15, 2015 1:22 PM
To: All_Users
Subject: Message from the Executive Director: Resolution Designating the Tampa Office as the District Headquarters

Dear Staff, 

I wanted to let you know that based on the findings in the District’s Business Plan, there is a presentation and resolution on Tuesday’s Governing Board agenda recommending that the Tampa Service Office be designated the District’s headquarters or principal office 

The Business Plan, which was developed by staff, has identified an immediate need to begin planning for staff succession and recruitment to ensure our future success.  This is due to retirements and potential turnover within the next 10 years. As you are already aware, the District has consolidated Regulation and Legal staff in Tampa. Most of the Governing Board meetings and all of the Advisory Committee meetings take place in Tampa. One of the main reasons for this is that the Tampa Office is the most centrally located District office, and provides better operational efficiencies and accessibility to our customers. Looking to the future, the Tampa Bay region has the largest labor pool and a highly educated labor force to recruit from. 

The District is not anticipating closing any offices and there are no immediate plans to move additional staff to Tampa. In addition, there will be no changes to the level of service provided to any of the District’s regions. 

In fact, most staff and external stakeholders won’t notice any differences as a result of this change. If you have additional questions or concerns, please discuss them with your manager or bureau chief. 

Robert R. Beltran, P.E., BCEE
Executive Director
Phone: (352) 796-7211, ext. 4605
Fax: (352) 754-6874




  1. Tall trees, short ropes and nervous horses. Free rides to the mendacious occupants of the Florida statehouses.

    Step right up....

    I fear I am developing a very poor attitude. Over the course of my life I have witnessed the destruction of Florida's once pristine waters and this has occurred for all the wrong reasons, a progression of slow motion disaster that nearly defies comprehension. And the games continue despite 75% of the voters telling the state what to do in very plain language. It is appalling in the extreme.

    Successive House Speakers who need a useful path in life, far from Tallahassee. Boys, are you so arrogant as to think you are dressed? Please, there are women and children afoot!

  2. Assurances were made in the past that staff positions were safe from cuts. We all know how that turned out. As to moving to be nearer a "highly educated labor force" - for what positions could they be hired? Perhaps Mr. Beltran is unaware of the rounds of terminations that took place in the last few years. Staff members in Pasco, Hernando and Sumter Counties would have to face driving into the Tampa gridlock of traffic. Some wouldn't want to face that daily horror. The result would be more staff cuts without the obligation of severance pay. I believe this is just one more step in an ongoing process to reduce the accomplishments and cohesiveness of the agency. Machiavelli couldn't have done it more effectively.

  3. This isn't the first attempt at moving the headquarters, it was tried in 1988. Other than the investment made in the property and the impact to the Hernando economy, being in Hernando hasn't made sense since the 80s. Having said that, what does the "business plan" show for economic reasons for the district? The business world has changed. The need for face to face meetings has been replaced with computer GoTo meetings and other internet options, so the need to be located more central and near the professional "pool" is not a valid argument anymore. having worked at SWFWMD for many years, getting to the Tampa office took longer than Brooksville and it was half the distance. Try getting through the USF area at rush hour. The field staffs that serve the central and southern portions of the District are already in Tampa. If you really want to take a hard look at the economics, the cost of staff in Hernando is and will always be cheaper, particularly the administrative staff and support level staff because the cost of living is cheaper in Hernando. Opps sorry, they got rid of all the admin staff. bottom line is, this is another Carlos Beuruff "business" plan. How absurd to say it was a staff plan. The main author was James Fine a former private sector low level environmental scientist turned business expert. The report was reviewed by Beruff and adjusted to his position before it was made available. You have to ask, where are the northern Board members in this? What about Bronson? Or has he extracted enough from Hernando. Professional, some, used to work long term for the District because it offered something different in terms of working environment, now you have to compete with the surrounding professional businesses that hired the same type of people, but SWFWMD doesn't want to pay the competitive salaries, has reduced benefits, doesn't give meaningful raises (bonuses so that it doesn't count against FRS retirement) and what you get is professional talent that can't cut it in the private sector and lack high level skills. THe FDEP model that has bee in place since the 70's.