The governor’s failure to appoint board members to the Suwannee River Water Management District Board in a timely manner resulted in one postponed monthly board meeting and a budget meeting which failed due to a lack of quorum.
The board meeting was to be held at 3 o’clock Wednesday September 18, with the budget meeting following. Emails were sent announcing the postponement of the board meeting, but the budget meeting convened, with the result seen in the above photo by Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson.
Present were seven staff, including Executive Director Hugh Thomas, Board Chairwoman Virginia Johns, Attorney Tommy Reeves, and two citizens, one of whom was Merrillee.
The shortage on the board was the result of some members being removed because they were Rick Scott appointees and others because their terms had run their course. Why DeSantis failed to act during the proper time frame is unclear.
Water governing boards recently have been notorious for being stacked with water users such as ranchers, developers, and farmers and devoid of environmentalists. When called out on this fact, the standard answer is that all agricultural water users are “great environmentalists and stewards of the land;” some of these being those who believe that agricultural fertilizer is not a factor in river pollution.
Shortly after this day of failed and cancelled meetings, it was announced that two former members of the board, Charles Keith and Richard Schawb, had been reappointed, and thus the board can now function with a quorum.
We were not able to determine all of those in the pool of board candidates, but we do know that OSFR board member Merrillee Malwitz-Jipson, Florida Spring Institute director Bob Knight, and hydrogeologist Dennis Price were among them.
Common sense tells us that people of this ilk are what we desperately need on the water boards. Yes, we know that DeSantis appointed Jacqui Thurlow Lippisch to the SFWMD, but time has shown that this was a token move, politically motivated, and a disingenuous action not reflective of the governor’s policies and true concerns.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
-A river is like a life: once taken, it cannot be brought back-