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GOVERNOR APPOINts 3 to water board

July 22, 2009

Dear PURRE Members:

Gov. Charlie Crist has made three appointments to the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District, as detailed in the below newspaper article. PURRE would like to commend Gov. Crist for making these important appointments and looks forward to working with the new board members to improve water quality in Southwest Florida. We will be sending the new appointees information about the PURRE Water Coalition and look forward to meeting them. We believe these new members will be a positive force in moving the US Sugar deal. As we have discussed, this purchase is critical to the success of Everglades restoration and improving the flow of water from Lake Okeechobee and the Caloosahatchee River into our estuary. We welcome your comments and would love to hear from you.

Michael J. Valiquette                                         Dan Wexler

Chairman                                                          Public Policy Director

July 20, 2009

Crist names three to fill vacant board seats at South Florida Water Management District

Palm Beach Post Staff Writer

With his massive sugar land purchase in the balance, Gov. Charlie Crist today named three relative unknowns to fill seats on the water board overseeing the Everglades restoration and South Florida's faucets.

The nominees, to the governing board of the South Florida Water Management District, are:

• Joe Collins, 41, a Sebring engineering manager with agricultural giant Lykes Bros. He takes the seat vacated in June 2008 by Malcolm "Bubba" Wade, a senior vice president at U.S. Sugar Corp.

• Gladys Perez, 38, a Miami lawyer who worked as an assistant general counsel under Crist and former Gov. Jeb Bush. She succeeds Paul Huck Jr., a former top adviser to Crist, who resigned in March.

• Indiantown real estate firm partner Kevin Powers. He succeeds Melissa Meeker, a Stuart environmental consultant, whose term expired in March.

The appointees take office immediately but will require Senate confirmation when the legislature returns to session next spring. Perez's term would last until March 2012, while the other two would serve until March 2013.

Eric Draper, policy director for Audubon of Florida, said his group recommended Collins for Wade's old seat.

"We have always found him to be a very straight shooter," said Draper, who is running for state agriculture commissioner. "There needs to be a representative of the agricultural community on the district governing board, and we think he forms a good bridge between the environmental and agricultural communities."

A spokeswoman for the Sugar Cane Growers Cooperative of Florida also lauded the choice, saying he would bring an understanding of the district's need to balance water supply, agricultural and lake management issues.

The spokeswoman, Barbara Miedema, also lamented the governor's 13-month-long delay in replacing Wade.

Wade stepped down immediately after Crist announced the state's huge land deal with U.S. Sugar, which in its current version would cost the district $536 million for 73,000 acres aimed at helping restore the Everglades. The deal has drawn criticism from some lawmakers, who say it would destroy farming-related jobs in the rural counties around Lake Okeechobee.

Some suggested the delay was "curious," as Draper put it, or political, as the attorney for the Miccosukee Indian tribe asserted.

"Some of these vacancies were there during the (legislative) session, and he just didn't want to have to face confirmation hearings," said tribal attorney Dexter Lehtinen. "He waited until after the session, and they'll be able to vote his way until they face Senate confirmation."

With Wade's seat vacant, and Huck unable to vote on the land deal because of a conflict of interest, the U.S. Sugar transaction squeaked to approval in a 4-3 vote of the district's board last year. The deal faces further votes by the board.

Collins, an engineer, has experience in design, permitting and operation of large drainage systems for agriculture, mainly for production of cattle, citrus, sugar cane and timber. He served on the district's Water Resources Advisory Commission and the Lake Okeechobee Advisory Committee.

Powers, a partner at Indiantown Realty, also has been a citrus grove owner and produce company sales manager. He has been active in community organizations, including the Stuart/Martin County Chamber of Commerce, Martin County Taxpayer Association, Economic Council of Martin County and United Way of Martin County.

Neither Collins nor Powers could be reached for comment this evening.

Perez, based in Miami since January 2008, was assistant general counsel in the Executive Office of the Governor under Crist and Bush, where she handled Everglades and other environmental matters. She also was counsel to the Florida Land and Water Adjudicatory Commission.

"From the perspective of environment, water issues and the Everglades, I'm somebody who has familiarity with the issues coming in," she said.

PURRE Water Coalition

New Address:

2340 Periwinkle Way, J-2

Sanibel, FL 33957

239.472.2703 ... FAX 239.472.2365 ...


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"We must build a peace in South Florida - a peace between the people and their place, between the natural environment and man-made settlement, between the works of man and the life of mankind itself. "
~ Florida Gov. Reubin Askew ~