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Governor dives into
water board dispute
By PATRICE FLINCHBAUGH The governor is inviting
Tribune Staff Writer
T rib u n St aff W t m e m b e r s o f t h e f e u d in g
Gov. Bob Graham is stepping in to try to
settle the long-standing power struggle at the water district governing
Southwest Florida Water Management Dis- board and basin boards to
trict. board nd basin boards to
In an unprecedented move, Graham has meet in his office.
invited the members of the governing board
and basin boards of the district whom he
appoints to a discussion next Monday in his
"I don't recall anything like this, not in On Monday, the governor is expected to
water management issues," said Victoria offer a plan drafted by Wehle for clearly
Tschinkel, secretary of the Department of En- delineating the responsibilities of the govern-
vironmental Regulation. ing board and basin boards.
"It came to the point where the governor The proposed settlement would firmly seat
said he wanted it taken care of," said John control of budgeting and enforcement of
Wehle, an assistant to Tschinkel. "I don't know water regulations at the governing board
that he's had to sit down and talk with a group level, while preserving the basin boards' say
of his appointees before." in water-related projects with local flavor. The
The squabble at the district erupted in governing board would be given the
1984 primarily over which group controlled ability to modify or delete basin
the budget of the little-known water manage- board projects if certain specific
ment agency in Brooksville. The governing conditions were met, Wehle said.
board, in an attempt to streamline its agency, Graham will ask the governing
had attempted to abolish a group of local board to adopt his plan in the form
water boards and take away their taxing of an administrative rule.
powers. "We will be trying to get his ap-
Basin boards, which map rivers and deal pointees to work together again,"
with local flood control, act as liaisons be- said Wehle. "The governor will be
tween the public and the parent board in getting out some of the emotional
Brooksville. issues so we can get down to sub-
The resulting outcry from basin board stance.... Unfortunately, it just got to
members and agricultural interests prompted the point where the emotions got so
a lawsuit that has yet to be resolved. The fight high that people couldn't sit down
also has spilled over to affect district chair- and discuss the issues."
man Bruce Samson, an entry in the 1987 race Tschinkel said Graham told her
for mayor of Tampa. of his desire to end the feud while
Influenced by politicians sympathetic to the two were discussing a series of
the basin boards, the Florida Senate politically upcoming appointments to the basin
slapped Samson in May by not confirming his boards. "He said it might be possible
reappointment to the governing board. to delineate the responsibilities and
Graham exercised executive powers to name make his position known. It would
Samson, a distant cousin, to a new one-year give people a chance to go along or
term. let him know they were not compat-
Then, earlier this month, the Pasco County ible," she said.
Commission asked Graham to consider Al Stone, chairman of the North-
removing Samson as chairman because his west Hillsborough Basin Board, said
mayoral campaign literature proclaimed sup- he wanted to reserve all comment
port for city Interests in the feud with rural re- about the plan until after Monday's
gions for water rights. Graham declined, meeting.
"The governor's calling the
meeting; the governor's calling the
shots," said Stone.