2B ST. PETERSBURG TIMES a WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3, 1985
"Water wars' begin
early with move to cut
size of regional board
By ROBERT BARNES
St. Peterburg Times Poitical Editor
TALLAHASSEE The Legis- REP.
lature is back and that means at CHUCK
least three things: SMITH
i The hotels are booked solid.
"V The bars are packed.
W The water wars have start-
Nearly every year there's a tus-
sle between those Suncoast coun-
ties that have water and those
that don't. This year, the first shot
has been fired in record time.
Legislators had been formally
called in session only hours when
the House Natural Resources REP. RAY
Committee approved a bill that STEWART
would cut in half the Pinellas and
Hillsborough representation on
the regional board that controls
the Suncoast's water supply.
"It's the old water politics,"
said Rep. Peter Rudy Wallace,
AND EVEN worse to the law-
makers from Pinellas was that Although it was on the agenda,
they felt hoodwinked. Haben said Smith told him it
The bill, sponsored by Reps. wouldn't be considered until to-
Charles "Chuck" Smith, D- day, when Smith has another bill
Brooksville, and Raymond Stew- on Swiftmud scheduled for a
art, D-Zephyrhills, would limit Pi- hearing. Dunbar said the Pinellas
nellas and Hillsborough to one and Hillsborough members of the
member each on the board of the committee didn't lobby their col-
Southwest Florida Water Man- leagues because they didn't ex-
agement District, commonly pect the bill to come up for a vote.
called Swiftmud. Currently, four
of the nine members may be from "HE (SMITH) has hurt his
those two counties. credibility and you know how im-
portant that is up here," Dunbar
Smith's argument was that no said.
county should be allowed to have Smith didn't return a message
more than one member on the to relate his side of the story.
board, especially not the counties But the Pinelas lawmakers
without the water. But the Pinellas lawmakers
pulled some fast footwork of their
But Wallace and Rep. Peter own. Sensing that the bill was
Dunbar, R-Crystal Beach, count- going to pass by a 9-8 vote, Pinel-
ered that Pinellas and Hillsbor- las Rep. Wallace voted for the bill.
ough are under-represented even He then moved that the vote be
under the current system. reconsidered a member must
More than half of the popula- be on the prevailing side in order
tion of the district resides in those to do that and left it pending
two counties. But the four mem- until the next meeting.
bers from Pinellas and Hillsbor- That gives Pinellas and Hills-
ough are a minority of the board. borough legislators time to try to
But even worse, in terms of leg- change votes or to lobby those
islative etiquette, is that Dunbar, committee members not present
Wallace and Swiftmud lobbyist at the time of the vote.
Ralph Haben said they were told "The rules protect us from the
that the bill wouldn't be consid- train moving too fast," Dunbar
ered Tuesday. said.