Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Oddly immune to the fire, Brian Armstrong, new ED at SWFWMD

Brian Armstrong has just been named the next Executive Director of the Southwest Florida Water Management District.  That declaration will be followed in all the media releases that will now gush forth from DEP and SWFWMD with, "by the Governing Board." 

Brian should be congratulated, I suppose, because anyone who thinks the ED's job at a water management district these days under Rick Scott and his back channel manipulators can still do environmental good should be.  However anyone who thinks it was the Governing Board of the District that made the decision to place him there has not been paying attention.  These jobs are not left to any chance that someone not locked and chained to CEO Scott's anti-environmental mantra, or said another way, hasn't drunk the kool aid, might make the wrong decision. So it isn't likely a group of head bobbing political wannabees are going to be left for the task. 

No.  Street rumor has it that Brian's appointment is the handy work of none other than Scott's transition team sub-committee chairman on regulation and the guy who oversaw development of the committee's plan to take down Florida's nationally respected environmental regulatory protection mechanisms, Tampa lawyer and current general counsel of the Peace River/Manasota Regional Water Supply Authority, Doug Manson.

Rumor also has it that Brian, oddly immune from all the fire that was swirling around SWFWMD at the time, was under consideration for the job years ago when the first raids on district funding and staff were getting underway, but the thought was that his executive management experience was too thin.  So, he was spirited away to get that experience as assistant executive director at the DEP Tampa office when that organization was being put through a sausage grinder, and then later brought back to SWFWMD as the assistant ED in waiting.   Now that SWFWMD's most recent Scott-appointed political fodder for an ED, Robert Beltran, has been cast to the winds of rejection, for who knows why, Brian is there to take charge just as planned.  Problem is, all this has nothing to do with the fact that it's the governing board's responsibility to fill the position, not political operatives from Tallahassee who couldn't give a wit less about Florida's natural systems.  Just another reason why "locally appointed" governing boards have become a joke and are there only to protect the substantial ad valorem taxing authority of the districts without which such political plums like a water supply for central Florida could not be funded.

Now, is all this just more methane in a windstorm?  I really don't know.  It will all be denied, certainly.  But the rumor mill is churning and for the poor souls still working at SWFWMD, and by emotional extension for the other WMD's, it's just more stink to add to what will be Scott's ruthless anti- environmental legacy, like that stench rising from the Indian River lagoon.  Brian will hopefully be able to operate as he might, with the professional freedom to base his decisions on good science and not Doug Manson's political objectives, but I'm not holding my breath ... my nose, yes, but not my breath.



  1. Exactly right. The Scott administration and the voters who have put him in charge of Florida are to blame for catastrophic damage to its natural systems. Unfortunately the damage will accumulate for years to come because of law and policy changes that are now in place and that will be impossible to reverse. How in the world can people base their votes on "conservative values"???

  2. I still can't understand why there seems to be no concern by anyone at any water districts about the looming risk to our water supply by allowing the Sabal Trail pipeline to advance through the already damaged karst. If you read the proposal, their plan for mitigation is 'avoidance'. Except they make blatantly false statements about where the drilling is going to be, how close to rivers and streams and for what purpose.

  3. Is SWFWMD suddenly hiring staff again? Could it be that so many staff who entered DROP during the cuts are leaving, and there will be no one left to run the agency? They recently held a round-table meeting to find out how they could keep "millenials?" The suggestions were ludicrous and self-serving.

    1. They are so out of touch it's not even funny. Staff have the "opportunity" to transfer between departments and that is considered a "promotion"