What does the Commission on Ethics do? Apparently not much when they focus on water management board members.
We recall the stinky, smelly case of John Miklos of St. Johns River Water Management District which went away only when Miklos was ready and finally decided to leave the board on his own and not under pressure. And some say he went away richer because of his presence on the board.
Read the complete article here in TC Palm.
Comments by OSFR historian Jim Tatum.
– A river is like a life: once taken,
it cannot be brought back © Jim Tatum
Florida ethics panel dismisses charge against SFWMD board member ‘Alligator Ron’ Bergeron
July 30, 2020
The Florida Commission on Ethics has dismissed a complaint against South Florida Water Management District board member Ronald M. “Alligator Ron” Bergeron Sr.
It’s the second time the commission has dismissed a conflict-of-interest complaint against Bergeron, despite his company having a $48 million contract with the district.
The ethics panel found “lack of legal sufficiency” during a closed-door session July 24, it announced Thursday.
The review was limited to “questions of jurisdiction and determinations as to whether the contents of the complaint are adequate to allege a violation,” according to the announcement. There was no investigation into the facts, and the commission’s conclusion does not “reflect on the accuracy of the allegations.”
“This isn’t over,” said Miami attorney Rick Yabor, who filed the complaint as head of the South Florida Anti-Corruption Task Force Corp.
Yabor had not seen the commission’s ruling Thursday morning, but said he has made public records requests for all communications among other board members and district staff concerning Bergeron’s construction company, Bergeron Land Development Inc.
“I’ll look at what the ethics commission is saying and follow up with a second complaint,” Yabor said. “A district board member shouldn’t have millions of dollars of contracts with the district. The law is clear on that.”
New or old contract?
Yabor claimed Bergeron’s company “entered into” a $14 million contract with the district in December, seven months after Bergeron was appointed to the board.
That was not a new contract, but an addition to a previous $25 million contract Bergeron had with the district, Bergeron’s attorney, Ed J. Pozzuoli, told TCPalm at the time of the filing. The state ethics commission previously ruled that was not a conflict of interest.
ozzuoli could not be reached for immediate comment Thursday morning.
In addition to the $14 million extension in December, the district board agreed in June to pay Bergeron’s company another $9 million, bringing the total amount of the contract to $48 million.
The district “has not taken a position on the issue,” said spokesperson Randy Smith.
First ethics commission ruling
Conflict-of-interest questions have swirled around Bergeron since Jan. 29, 2019, when Gov. Ron DeSantis said he wanted Bergeron on the water district board.
Nine days later, the district awarded Bergeron’s company a $25 million contract to finish building a 6,300-acre wetland as part of the C-44 Reservoir and Stormwater Treatment Area, a project to store and clean water in western Martin County.
The district had fired the original contractor, Blue Goose Construction Inc. of Fort Pierce, the previous November.
In April 2019, the ethics commission ruled the contract was not a conflict of interest because Bergeron had not taken his seat on the board when the contract was inked.
Hours after the commission’s decision, Bergeron was officially appointed to the board….