Title: Newspaper editorial in St. Petersburg Times "Water wars."
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00051951/00001
 Material Information
Title: Newspaper editorial in St. Petersburg Times "Water wars."
Physical Description: 1p.
Language: English
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
General Note: Box 4, Folder 1 ( SF BASIN BOARD CONCEPT ), Item 35
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00051951
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

AJ r -

"'The policy of our paper is very simple merely to tell the truth.
Paul Poynter, 1875-1950 Nelson Poynter, 1903-1978
-------------- .-~~Y~

Water wars t
alkan history holds nothing to compare Alafia River Basin Board.) It might also have 'i
with the Southwest Florida Water Man- noticed that those twto were egged on by Florida A
agement District commonly called Citrus Mutual, which is an agricultural lobby, for U
Swiftmud and its subsidiaries known as and which is a co-plaintiff in the case despite a anot
basin boards, which share responsibilities for somewhat shaky claim to legal standing. But the
the conservation, management and regulation the Legislature did nothing to rein in the n eg
of water in a 16-county area. Theoretically, boards, thus allowing the expensive lawsuit to
Swiftmud is in charge, but that concept was continue. our
challenged when'two of the boards went to One result was a court order under.which disp
court last year to force Swiftmud to taxpayers throughout the district were taxed a ta
rubber-stamp the property taxes they wanted twice for the same projects, with the excess of fight
to levy. $8.5-million put in escrow. Swiftmud wanted to glove
Curiously, there was no disagreement over use some of the escrowed money in place of new m
how the money would be spent. The boards and taxes this year, but with the suit still pending com
Swiftmud would spend it for the same pur- the rural interests objected and the court last goti
poses. Swiftmud, arguing that the projects week said no. nei
would benefit the entire 16-county district,
undertook to finance them with a district-wide d g tt se hT arre ingcien Ct of all ca
tax. The boards wanted to pay for them with during that same hearing, when Citrus Mutual Da"
loctax e s. Swiftmud's action would have had and its co-plaintiffs asked the court for a gag b
local taxes. Swftmud s action would have had order under which Swiftmud officials would be pa
the effect of lowering taxes for the rural con- barred from "further public comments dispar- in
stituents represented by the boards and requir- barred from "urther pus ic comments dispar- ti
ing urban residents to pay more. But the aging this Court, its officers or other parties" a
boards didn't want that, which should have (emphasis supplied) meaning, of course, the 1s,
boards didn't want that, which should have basin boards and Citrus Mutual. In so many "B
been enough to warn the Legislature that words, attorneys for the basin boards which 19
what's really at stake is power, not money are public agencies were demanding that the g
power over the scarce water supplies for which are pubic ences d ission of a series
ano court censor public discussion of a serious o
agriculture, industry and the cities compete. public issue. Circuit Judge L. R. Huffstetler Jr., p
THE BASIN boards are fronting for the denied the motion on the ground that it was not
THE BASIN boards are fronting for the timely filed. ft
agricultural interests that used to dominate the Those two basin boards are so far out of line d
central Switmud board. The board is now that Gov. Bob Graham should be looking to see i
fairly balanced between rural and urban mem- I
bers. Having lost control to the governor's new how soon he can appoint new members. In the
appointees, the rural interests want to win it Legislature, meanwhile, the delegations from
back in court or, failing that, create a smoke- Pinellas, Hillsborough and other urban coun- i
screen behind which the Legislature might be ties need to take warning and act on it. The I
screen behinto selling outch the majority of tLeslhe basin boards have outlived their usefulness to i
cajoled into selling out the majority of the ^ ^ ^ agricultural lobbies that
population served by Swiftmud. everyone except the agricultural lobbies that
population servedregard water as private property rather than a
For clinchers, the Legislature might have state resource. If it is politically necessary to
noticed that the other six boards refused to join retain the boards, the law should make clear,
the two that filed suit. (Those two were the beyond any possible dispute, that the boards
Northwest Hillsborough Basin Board and the are subsidiaries of Swiftmud, not vice versa.

An agreement; now what?

he unity pledge signed last week by the clear. On another there is a small army of
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