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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida
P: This is Julian Pleasants. It's December 15, 2004. I'm in Micanopy, Florida, with
Bob Grafton. Tell me a little bit about your background; where you grew up,
where you were educated, and your military service.
G: I was born in Cleveland, Ohio, and my family moved to Florida when I was four.
We moved to the Miami area, which was substantially different in 1931 than it is
today, and subsequently moved to the West Palm Beach area. I grew up there
really. We moved there in 1936. I grew up there and went to grade through high
school at St. Anne's High School. I graduated in 1944 and enlisted in the Navy in
October of 1944. When the war was over in 1945, I was discharged. At the time
of the bomb dropping and all in Japan, I was supposed to go on a ship over there
and it never happened, for which I am very happy.
P: Where did you serve?
G: In Bainbridge, Maryland, and was there until I was discharged.
P: Then you came back to Palm Beach and went to Palm Beach Junior College?
G: Yes. I came back to Palm Beach and went to Palm Beach Junior College, which
at that time was the only accredited junior college in the state, that is, you could
transfer your credits to an institution of higher learning. [I] received an AA degree
there in May or June of 1947 and transferred directly into the College of Law at
the University of Florida. They had a special program in those days, if you had
served in World War Two and had sixty credit hours that were acceptable, you
could go right into law school, which I did. It was a culture shock, [as] you might
imagine. I wasn't prepared for the depth of study and work that was necessary,
and had a very difficult time the first year I was there. Then I graduated in May
P: When you were there, were you married at the time?
G: No, I was not.
P: I know a lot of veterans lived over in Flavet. [a unit of student housing at the
University of Florida]
G: I was very envious of those fellows who were married and had working wives. I
was trying to subsist on seventy-five dollars a month which the government was
P: That's the GI Bill?
G: [Yes, it was] the GI Bill.
P: That's an extraordinary investment by the federal government, wasn't it, in terms
of giving people the opportunity they might not have otherwise had.
G: Probably more than half of the students would have never gone to college had it
not been for that. That is, at the time I was at the university.
P: So you get your law degree in 1950, and then you go into the practice of law.
You go back to West Palm?
G: I went back to West Palm Beach, borrowed some money, and opened my own
law office, which in retrospect, was a stupid thing to do. There were no large law
firms at that time. If you had a four-man law firm at that time, boy, that was a big
law firm, so they weren't hiring anybody. It was either find something else to do,
or go into practice for myself.
P: What kind of practice [did you do]?
G: Anything that walked in the door I could find. [Laughing] It was anything. I did an
awful lot of criminal work, divorce work, real estate work, things of that nature.
P: Then you became a city prosecutor for the city of Palm Beach?
G: Yes, the city commission appointed me city prosecutor. I think I served about a
year there. The way that came about, I had run for municipal judge. It was an
elected position then in 1952. Joe Peel [Joseph Alexander Peel, charged with
murder of Judge Curtis Chillingworth and his wife in 1955] also ran, and he
defeated me. That name may not be familiar to you, but it became a sensational
name because he was the one responsible for killing Judge Chillingworth [Judge
Curtis E. Chillingworth, murdered with his wife on June 15, 1955] down there. He
beat me. I ran again in 1954, and became the city judge. About that time, he
was beginning to get into trouble with the judges and so forth.
P: You were a municipal judge for a couple of years before you went to work with
the Flood Control District?
G: I think it was less than two years; probably a year or a year-and-a-half. One of
the board members of the Flood Control District was an old friend of my father's,
and of course I knew him because of that relationship. He asked me if I would
like to work for the Flood Control District. I told him I didn't know anything about
that business. He knew somewhat what I was doing-the type of law practice-
and he said, you might find this more interesting. So I did. I closed the office
and went to work for the Flood Control District.
P: Do you regret leaving your position as a judge?
G: No. It was a municipal judge part-time job; it wasn't a future certainly. At that
point in time, my direction probably would have been to try to go into the politics
of things, because having been elected in the city, it was a good stepping-stone
for something else. But no, I never regretted leaving that aspect of it.
P: You go to work for the Flood Control District in 1956. What was your specific
function when you began?
G: My function was, more than anything, to assist in the land acquisition business
that we were in. Acquiring lands to build this monstrous central and southern-
Florida flood control project. Of course, other related things at that time were
issues that could arise in the future that would affect the district in its land
acquisition program. But it was preparing eminent domain actions, trying
eminent domain cases, and that type of thing.
P: You started in the beginning, when you made consultant, and then you became
the district counsel. How did that evolve?
G: In December 1955, there was a trial that Bob Tylander was going to conduct. It
was an eminent domain trial, and the governing board felt that this would be a
good thing for me to become involved in. I didn't want to resign as municipal
judge until the end of 1955. So for two months, December 1955 and January
1956, they paid me a small amount and I was a consultant. That was a heady
title, but it meant very little. [Laughing]
P: When you started out dealing with legal issues, obviously right away that was the
thing you were most involved in, I presume. Was this for the canals, for
conservation land? What precisely were you purchasing? You didn't do fee
simple [also known as fee simple absolute, is an estate in land in common law]
on this, did you?
G: Oh yes.
P: You did?
G: Anytime we could, we did fee simple. Prior to my going with the district, the
acquisition of the conservation area land was the primary focus. I'll kind of
digress from your question. Many of the lands were owned by the state of
Florida under the Murphy Act. I don't know if you're familiar with that, but the
Murphy Act was a legal mechanism by which the state acquired lands on which
taxes had not been paid. During the Depression, there were many, many lands
that the owners could not pay taxes. If they were struck off, so to speak, if they
didn't pay for two years, the state acquired those lands by the Murphy Act, which
gave the state fee simple title free and clear of any liens. The Everglades
Drainage District had a similar act. Everglades Drainage District had a
combination benefits and ad valorem tax near the end of its time, but if the tax
was not paid, then those lands could be obtained by the Everglades Drainage
District in fee simple. A lot of the conservation lands were acquired in that way.
The state conveyed its interest by flowage easement to the Central and Southern
Florida Flood Control District. But anyway, the main function when I first started,
we were heavy into the levee and canal rights of ways and trying to obtain what
was necessary to really begin construction.
P: There are lots and lots of canals in that area; more so than in the rest of the
G: Oh yes. That's the principle. That's the drainage inside. It's so flat you have to
have that. Then [you have to have] pumping stations to move the water one way
or the other or both ways. I'm sure you've probably seen a map of the area which
shows all of the canals and levees and so forth.
P: One of the things you mentioned when we talked the other day was this House
Document 643. Talk a little about that and how that impacted your activities.
G: Of course. That was the authorizing document for the Central and Southern
Florida Flood Control Project by Congress. It was in 1948. It was based on a
study that the Corps of Engineers had done subsequent to the storm of 1947,
where the flooding was tremendous down in south Florida, and in the central part
of the state south of Orlando. It was to be a multi-purpose project, which was
very unusual-I think maybe [it was] the first one of the Corps of Engineers. It
had flood control, water conservation, [and] recreation in it. It had wildlife
enhancement [and] preservation. And it set forth the ground rules under which
this project would be constructed. The government, at that time, for the first
phase of the project, would contribute eighty-five percent of the cost of
construction, and the local interests, which really was the Central and Southern
[Florida Flood Control] district, would contribute fifteen percent of construction,
pay for all highway bridges, and acquire the necessary water storage lands. Well,
the state of Florida agreed to undertake the payment for the highway bridges and
the water storage lands, and make the fifteen percent contribution so the project
could go forward.
P: So the costs were somewhat split between the federal government and the state
government as opposed to local government?
G: Yes. The local government [the district] paid for all land acquisition other than the
conservation and the water storage areas, and [was responsible to] operate and
maintain the project when it was completed.
P: Talk about the Water Resources Development Account. When did that come
about, and what was that firm funding used for?
G: I'm not sure the date the WRDA, (the Water Resources Development Account),
came into being, but it was in being when I began to work there. The purpose of
that account was to assure the federal government that there was money
available to do it before they wrote a contract. It had to be an appropriation, at
that time every two years, into the account, and you had to forecast what the
federal government appropriation would be, and that was an annual thing,
whereas the water resources development account, of course, was a two-year
deal. It was a little bit tricky to do that. The only reason we were able to obtain
that money in that account was because those in control in the legislature could
see that eighty-five percent federal money, and that was a big carrot out of there.
They didn't want to lose that carrot, so they would appropriate the money. Other
than that, it would have been a terrible chore to obtain that money.
P: What percentage would you get from the state-if you could give me dollar
figures-and what would you get from the federal government?
G: The amount that the state would put in, obviously, varied in accordance with the
attempt to match the federal money. We were always fortunate enough to be
able to match the federal money, and thus the project was not inhibited from
proceeding. There were two factors that guided the movement of the project.
One was the planning and so forth by the Corps of Engineers, and the other was
our land acquisition in order for us to facilitate and begin the construction. Those
were the two factors. Our job, of course, was the land acquisition, and it was a
P: What members of the Senate and Congress from Florida would have been most
helpful to you in getting appropriations?
G: Senator Holland [Spessard Holland, US Florida Senator, 1946-1971] was a tiger.
He was really the man in the lead. He'd been there a while and knew what was
going on and how to do things. Representative Dante [Bruno] Fascell [U.S.
Representative, 1955-1993; Florida state representative, 1950-1954] served in
the House on the Rivers and Harbors Subcommittee, from which appropriations
emanated. I'd say those two. To a lesser degree, Paul Rogers, a Congressman
from the West Palm Beach area, Senator Smathers [George Armistead
Smathers, US Florida Senator, 1951-1969]. Those are the ones that come to
mind. Claude Pepper [US Florida Senator, 1936-1950], by the time I began, was
out of the picture. Senator Smathers had beaten him and he was out of politics
for a few years.
P: Then he comes back into Congress representing Miami.
G: He comes back later, but he was never really interested in the water end of it.
P: Discuss a little bit about the size of the district when you began. I would assume
that you were "the" legal counsel.
G: I was not "the" legal counsel, I was the staff attorney, and there was an outside
lawyer who was representing, ostensibly, the board. He also had some impact to
be sure the rest of the legal operation functioned as it should, and that continued
from 1956 to 1959. [In 1960,] I was appointed district council, and was the only
legal authority for both the board and the staff.
P: So you had no other lawyers working [with you]?
G: Not at that time.
P: How many individuals would have been working, overall, in the district when you
G: I would say about between 125 and 150. The majority [were] out in the field in the
maintenance and operation.
P: The first boards were five member boards, is that correct?
G: That is correct.
P: And they were appointed by the governor? So this board that you joined would
have been appointed by Charley Johns [Florida governor, 1953-1955]?
G: The board that I joined was appointed by LeRoy Collins [Thomas LeRoy Collins,
Florida governor, 1955-1961]. Of course, Charley Johns' tenure was somewhat
brief. He took over for Dan McCarty [Daniel Thomas McCarty, Florida governor,
January, 1953-September, 1953], and then had to run and was defeated by
LeRoy Collins. As soon as LeRoy Collins took office, the board changed.
P: Were these early board appointees qualified individuals? Did you get the
diversity in terms of representing agricultural interest and business interest?
G: I think so. The board that employed me, had a business man from West Palm
Beach, a business man from Miami, a cattleman and grower from Ft. Pierce, a
retired Naval officer from Fish Eating Creek, and a lawyer from Kissimmee.
P: Did you feel like they were well-versed in the objectives of the district and they
were helpful in achieving your goals?
G: They were not professional water managers or anything of that sort, but they had
a real great interest in seeing that project proceed. They worked at it and were
serious about it.
P: The key, I presume, at this point, is the Executive Director?
G: The Executive Director has always been a key player in this. While he doesn't
make policy, obviously, he can kind of guide the policies through his promotion of
what's good for the district.
P: Who was the executive director when you came to work there?
G: Turner Wallis, who had been around. He'd been with Everglades Drainage
District, and he was the Executive Director.
P: Talk about some of the other individuals that you remember from that time; a
name that came up the other day, Luther Jones?
G: Luther Jones, as I mentioned the other day, lived in Belle Glade. He had a little
newspaper out there. He was one of the hard pushers to obtain this project from
Congress and to have the state agree with it. He was a very colorful individual
who, if he had a point to make, made it very strongly. Of course, Turner Wallis,
in the Senate, had been with [the] Everglades Drainage District. Also with the
Everglades Drainage District was a fellow named B. I. Arnold, [B. I., being an
initial], and he came over to the Flood Control District also. By the time I came
there in 1956, the early organizers and the early pushers had pretty much
stepped aside and faded back a little because they had accomplished what they
had sought. In other words, they got the project going, and now they were going
to watch to see it develop.
P: What about Bob Tylander?
G: Bob Tylander was the outside counsel when I came to work. He was related to
the McCarty family. I don't know, it was through marriage somehow I think. He
was a lawyer in West Palm Beach, a fine gentleman. He had been counsel
under Dan McCarty when the Flood Control District functioned under Dan
McCarty's governorship, he had been the outside counsel. Charley Johns
succeeded, somebody replaced Bob Tylander because the board composition
changed, and after Leroy Collins defeated Charley Johns, then Bob Tylander
came back, and he stayed in that position until the end of 1959.
P: When you look back at this group of individuals, how would you assess the vision
they had for a flood control district? Was there any talk at this point about
regulating water or water quality or anything like that, or was it just pretty straight
forward flood control.
G: Yes and no. Water quality, no, that was not a function, and at that point of time,
not seen as a need really. But the regulation of water was something that was a
concern. Because we built these canals and had these rights of way, we insisted
that anyone that attempted to connect to withdraw water had to have a permit. Or
anyone who wanted to put water into the system had to have a permit to do so.
In that way, we did regulate. As the years went on, say from about 1958 on, the
amount of water that we would allow somebody to take was carefully monitored.
There was regulation of the amount of use of water.
P: These are wells as well?
G: No, not wells. We had no ground water authority, so we did not attempt to do
P: One early issue that I think was very important was a newspaper man whose
name was Bair, is that right? This lawsuit he brings against the district. Talk
G: His name was Bob Bair, and somehow these newspaper fellows were interested.
He was in Stuart, and he was, I think the owner, and at least the publisher and
editor of the newspaper there. The Stuart people were always concerned that
when we raised Lake Okeechobee, when you had too much water it had to go
down the St. Lucie Canal or out the Caloosahatchee River. When it did that,
there would be siltation that would come with it and the St. Lucie Estuary, at one
time, had been a very pristine thing. You could see the fish, see the bottom, the
typical thing, and this angered the people in Stuart. It helped mobilize a group of
people who were specifically interested, by that point in time, which was about
1960 and 1961, that were opposed to what the Flood Control District was doing.
[They were] opposed because they felt like they had no input into what was
happening. In other words, the project had been defined and we were going full
steam ahead with the project. There were no laws that required environmental
impact statements at that point in time, so when we decided we were going to go
ahead and build, we built. That was the way it was. Through the information and
influence of one of the former district members and employees, they decided
they would challenge the taxing authority. When the Flood Control District was
formed, it was formed by a general act of the legislature in 1949, with a benefits
tax in that general act. That was superceded by a special act, another act, which
was passed which said, no, the taxing would be an ad valorem tax with a
limitation of one million dollars. That's what they challenged. That it was an ad
valorem tax, that it was a tax by, in effect, the state of Florida. The state of
Florida had no right to levy an ad valorem tax. That had expired many years ago
because of the Depression and the state acquiring all those lands. It was a tough
case. It was decided in 1962 by the Supreme Court of Florida that the Flood
Control District was an agency of the state for special governmental purposes.
The contention was that we were a state agency, and the way the Supreme
Court defined it was that we were an agency of the state for special
governmental purposes; therefore, we could levy the ad valorem tax. Of course,
this had tremendous impact. Subsequently, it became of more importance when
the 1972 act was passed establishing the water management districts.
Subsequently, the question of levying the ad valorem tax throughout the five
water management districts became extremely important. The fact that in 1962,
both Flood Control District and the [South]west Florida Water Management
District or whatever they called themselves, were already levying the one million
[dollars]. The election was very heated. Because the population centers were in
those two districts, the main ones, that vote in those two districts carried it
because it was defeated in the balance of the state.
P: This is the 1976 Constitutional Amendment to give the ad valorem taxing
authority to all five districts?
P: I thought it was interesting that they challenged you, at this time, not on
environmental grounds, but they tried to take away your funding. That was the
most effective way to stop you. Environmental issues were not part of the legal
G: No, not in the lawsuit. There was a little bit of that lying behind the challenge.
One of the strong advocates of the tax, and one of the reasons the Constitutional
Amendment was approved in the legislature, was Phil Lewis, the state senator
from West Palm Beach area. He had become friends with Dempsey Barron
[Florida state senator, 1960-1988; president of Florida senate, 1975-1976;
Florida state representative, 1956-1960] and W. D. Childers [Wyon D. Childers -
Florida state senator, 1970-2000; president of Florida senate, 1981-1982] and
the other big players up here in this part of the state who had a lot of power. He
was able to convince them to allow the amendment to pass through the
legislature if the northwest area was limited to five one-hundredths of a million
P: You had opposition from other groups. One group that you mentioned the other
day were the hunters who apparently had some problems. Talk a little bit about
what their concerns were and how you dealt with them.
G: The hunters had hunted out in the conservation areas for a number of years
using what we call half-track vehicles. They were elevated so they could drive
these vehicles through the conservation areas on tracks. They were set up way
high and they could see over the foliage and see the deer that were out there
and they would hunt them. When we encircled the conservation areas to store
water-that's what we did-we began to store water out there. The net result of
that was, in periods of excess water, they had a difficult time, well it was almost
impossible-well, we did close the hunting out there when it got real high- but the
deer suffered. The deer herd would die back at that period of time. The hunters
were furious about it. [They were] absolutely terribly upset. They would take us to
court to try to get us to lower the water tables so they could get out and hunt. It
was typical of the various interests of who were affected by it.
P: But you eventually won that in court?
P: Another problem I'm sure you faced with taking land, particularly small local
communities would be opposed. Talk a little bit about the circumstances that you
faced from individual land owners as you were trying to take land.
G: It depended on the area of course. Some of the early takings, a development of
the project, were in Dade County, for instance. They were the enlargement of
smaller existing canals that had been dug by the county or by a little drainage
district or something down there. You had people who had built their homes
along these canals, so when you wanted to enlarge it, you had to impact these
homes. That was a real tragedy for the people, but it had to be done. [There was]
a lot of resistance there, but the attitude in the larger counties when you were
doing this is they took a very neutral attitude. They looked at the testimony in the
trials, and they didn't feel the emotional attachment. What they saw was, gee, let
me see, if we give a big verdict here, maybe my taxes go up. It was a help in that
way to us in the acquisition. Whereas, if we were in Hendry County, or even in
eastern Lee County, and we're enlarging the Caloosahatchee River, and there
weren't homes along the river necessarily but you were taking part of
somebody's dairy or you were taking part of an orange grove, there was a little
more attachment in the smaller counties. Not [so much] Lee, but in Hendry and
so forth, to the land itself. People didn't want to lose any land, and they knew
most of the people in the county, and so there was a little more feeling for the
people who had their land taken. It was understandable.
P: When you're doing a canal, let's say you're doing a canal that's ten miles. First,
you would have what you call land agents, who would go out and make an offer
to the land owner. How effective was that process?
G: Well, the process, of course, began with a right-of-way map done by engineers.
[There were] surveys [taken] first, engineering [next], and then we developed a
right-of-way map. We did all our own title work. We had in-house title people that
went to the courthouses, whatever was necessary, and we developed the
ownership, and the liens that might be against it. Then after we did that and put
that on a map showing the ownership that was affected, we would seek an
appraiser, and in a lot of cases, two appraisers, to appraise the parcels as you
went down this ten-mile stretch. Once we had the appraisal results and reviewed
those, then we had what you called land agents, that's what they were, they
would take the appraisal and the map information and they'd go out and talk with
the land owner and try to convince the land owner that this appraised offer was a
good offer and that they should sign up. And we were successful, especially
early on. We were successful. People were different in that day and age-- there
wasn't so much that you wanted the ultimate--[but] you took what you thought
was fair. We were pretty successful with that.
P: What percentage would you say would settle on the first offer?
G: Not many on the first offer. A lot of times the agent would come back and say,
well, I think Mr. Jones, if I could give him about ten percent more, I think I could
settle that. That would be up to me to decide whether that would be the thing to
do. Frequently we would go back and say, well, we can give you five percent. It
was a negotiation. To answer the question, I don't know, it's hard to judge.
Maybe fifty or sixty percent. I can't remember exactly. We would settle that way.
Maybe more than fifty percent.
P: The ones who did not settle, how would you ultimately get their land? Through
G: Yes. In that ten-mile stretch, lets say we ended up with fifty land owners that we
had not been able to deal with. So we would develop an eminent domain action
which included all fifty of those land owners. We would have a lawsuit that would
be two inches thick by the time we were done with it because you have to have a
legal description of every piece of the land and all of the liens or interests, plus
the ownership. It was a massive undertaking for a ten-mile strip. [We would] file
that action and then have all of the interests served by the sheriff, wherever they
were. Many times there were people who lived out of the state, and we had to
advertise in the paper, plus send that out. There were some addresses unknown
that we would come across, not particularly in owners, but of people who held an
interest in it, and that would all be advertised. In almost every instance, early on,
we'd ask the court for an order of taking after everybody was served. And
usually we tried to obtain that order of taking within thirty days because we had
the pressure of the construction needing to begin; we needed to use the money.
We'd have a hearing before the court, and the court would consider whether we
are entitled to an order of taking. What that is, is they called it quick-taking
procedure. You don't wait to go to trial. You tell the court, we've got an appraisal
that says these lands, each individual parcel are worth so much for each one,
and we want to take that money and put it in the registry of the court to assure
the land owner doesn't receive less than that. Then we want an order that says,
you've got the title, you go ahead with your work. Of course, it would be
challenged by lawyers for the land owners, and the judge didn't have to require
just the amount that we said it was worth. He could say, no, I want you to deposit
this and fifty percent more to be sure we were okay. So, that's what we would do.
Then we had the title. The question of the value from that time on until trial time,
we would settle some of these cases. It would be a negotiating process. We
would settle some of the cases, and then ultimately we would have a trial. Of the
fifty, we would maybe have a trial on fifteen or something like that.
P: Tell me a typical week with a condemnation trial. It was a jury trial?
G: [It was] a twelve-person jury trial. Typically, let's say the trial was in Ft. Myers,
Lee County. Usually I tried to use two appraisers at trial. I would have had
several meetings with them prior to the time this trial was going to start. I would
travel to Ft. Myers on Sunday, and I would meet again with the appraisers then.
We'd go over the preparation for the trial. Then on Monday morning, the judges
would have a bunch of potential jurors assembled, and we'd then start picking a
jury. The way the law is constructed, each owner had three peremptory
challenges. Then, of course, you had challenges for cause. If I had fifteen
owners in there, and each of them had three challenges, and I had equal number
to what they had, so I'd have forty-five challenges, and they each had three.
Well, the lawyers would get together for the land owners and they'd hassle about
it. It usually took all morning to pick a jury. Then we'd start the testimony. I
would have the engineer describe what the project was and the engineering
impact of it on the land. Then I'd put on the appraisers and they'd say what the
value was and why it was and so forth. The value was always based on the
highest and best use of the land, not necessarily the current use.
P: That was the real issue in the trial? The value of the land?
G: Yes. By the time of the trial, if there was any question about were we correct in
the number of acres or the number of feet we were taking, we had all that worked
out prior to trial. It was simply the value and the damage to the remainder.
P: The other day you mentioned that initially the legal fees were set by the jury?
How did that impact the trial?
G: It didn't impact the trial, but it impacted the subsequent proceedings. Well, it did
impact the trial to a degree. The testimony by the district is completed, and then
the land owners put their case on. Then they would put two appraisers on
typically for each of the land owners. Of course, the appraisals would be
substantially different than ours.
[End of side Al]
G: Their appraisals would be substantially different than ours, and then the
testimony would be completed. Then you'd give the jury the verdict form. For
each parcel you'd have the amount of the verdict, that is, the value to the owner,
whatever the owners would be paid, and then the attorney fee was underneath
that for each of these parcels. When the jury would go to do their deliberations,
they would come back with the value or the amount to be paid to the owner, plus
the attorney fee. Most of the time, I can't remember more than once that we
hadn't stipulated on the attorney fee first before [the verdict], so it wasn't on the
verdict form before they went back.
P: The jurors wouldn't give them that much money, would they?
G: The jurors were a little more careful than the judge would have been. [Laughing]
That was my feeling, and subsequently, when the law was changed and the
judge set the attorney fees, that turned out to be very true.
P: How often would the jury dramatically change the value of a parcel?
G: You mean over the appraisal?
G: It happened. In the larger counties, if the jury came back with more than fifteen or
twenty percent above our appraisal, I took that personally. I felt like I hadn't done
a good job. You'd have differences. Our appraisal would be five thousand dollars
and their appraisal would be twenty-five thousand dollars. You always had the
exposure, because what was ultimately paid was whatever the jury said. If it was
more than what we had deposited in the court, of course, we had to make it up.
P: Would you appeal that jury decision?
G: No. There would be no basis, unless somehow the judge had allowed something
unusual that would be particularly with damage to the remainder. If he had
allowed something that wasn't appropriate, then yes, but the judges were good in
P: What percentage of your time would you spend doing these kind of
condemnation proceedings and being in court as opposed to the time you'd
spend providing legal counsel for the district?
G: I was in charge of all of the land acquisition. I was director of the real estate
division that we had, plus being the district counsel. I would say that in the period
1956 to about 1964, I probably put seventy percent of my time into the real estate
aspect of it, the land acquisition. After that, it began to change-in the 1970s, it
began to change radically.
P: Talk about some of the issues you would encounter representing the district.
G: We always had issues. As I mentioned, [we had] the hunter issue. We had a
fellow that wanted to mine lime rock in the conservation area. He was an owner
of mineral rights on some of the land that was acquired there, and he wanted to
go out there and mine lime rocks. So we had a big lawsuit over that trying to
prevent that, which we ultimately did. We had a lawsuit with Coastal Petroleum.
The other day I said that the state wasn't a part of that. As I thought about it
afterwards, I know the state was a part of it because Coastal Petroleum wouldn't
have sued the trustees of the internal improvement trust fund as well as the
district. In retrospect, I know they were a part of it, it just seemed to me as
though we carried a bigger burden there. It was of more importance to us than it
was to the state at that point in time.
P: Talk about that, because that was a big issue. They wanted to drill for oil in Lake
Okeechobee? Talk about what those issues were and how they were resolved.
G: They had obtained leases from the Trustees of the Trust Fund of the state to drill
for oil off shore in the Gulf [of Mexico] and in Lake Okeechobee, and I think there
were several other lakes, but they weren't particularly important to us at that
point. They had notified us, and I don't remember the dates, it seemed like it was
in the 1960s, but I can't remember for sure. They notified us, and I guess they
must have notified the Trustees that they were ready to exercise those leases,
that they were going to drill for oil in Lake Okeechobee. That was something, at
that point, because we had raised the levees so we could raise the water level to
store more water in Lake Okeechobee, and my Lord, that was a bomb shell. So
we got busy and challenged it, and ultimately won the case and prevented them
from drilling in Lake Okeechobee.
P: What were the key legal issues in that case?
G: As I recall, it ended up being an environmental thing that really was the decisive
factor. By that point in time, environment had begun to come into play a lot more
strongly than it did early on. The courts were sympathetic-l'll put it that way. I
often wondered why Coastal Petroleum didn't take it any further than they did.
They took it to appellate court.
P: Part of this might be an attempt to just get the state to pay them off. Maybe they
didn't really want to drill.
G: They weren't in the drilling business, but they had these leases, and if I were in
their shoes, certainly I would have tried to exercise them and said, hey, they're
worth so much money, and you need to pay us. As far as I know, they still hold
them out in the Gulf. I don't know what the status is.
P: This was owned by the Buckley family? Bill Buckley?
G: The Coastal Petroleum Company was the Buckley family. Bill Buckley [William
F. Buckley, Jr.], and he had a brother. His father was the one.
P: James Buckley [James Lane Buckley, US Senator, New York, 1971-1977] was
the United States Senator. These are issues that are starting, for the first time
really, to deal with these environmental issues. Does that become a more
important part of your legal advice than it had been in the beginning of the
G: Absolutely. As I said, the Central and Southern Florida Project would probably
never have been built if you were to start it today with the laws that now are in
existence. The latter part of construction was subject to environmental impact
statements-that, of course, was federal law-and it became more and more
difficult. From the standpoint of myself and the people in the Flood Control
District it was very frustrating because we were a 'by golly, let's get this thing
done' type of organization, and you just ran into a road block. You couldn't
move. That was pretty frustrating later on.
P: That's in the 1970s?
G: Yes. When you got into the late 1960s and early 1970s.
P: Evaluate the impact and influence of the governors on first, flood control, and
later, water management. Start with LeRoy Collins.
G: Well, it goes a little bit, if you don't mind, before that. Fuller Warren [Florida
governor, 1949-1953; Florida state representative, 1927-1929, 1939-1941;
member, Jacksonville city council, 1931-1937] was one of the, I don't know
whether you could call him a leader in obtaining the project, but he supported this
federal project. He was, I would say, an ally. And from then on, the governors
all, in one way or another, supported it; some more enthusiastically than others,
but Dan McCarty certainly did. Charley Johns-my impression was he was busy
politicking most of the time and these things weren't high on his list. LeRoy
Collins was a very strong supporter. Farris Bryant [Florida governor, 1961-1965;
Florida state representative, 1946-1956; speaker of the Florida House of
Representatives, 1953] was a strong supporter, though not as much as LeRoy
Collins. In the early days they were supporters because of the amount of federal
money coming in. When I say early days [I mean] prior to Dan McCarty. Dan
McCarty saw the value of the project to the state.
P: What about Claude Kirk [Claude Roy Kirk, Jr., Florida governor, 1967-1971]?
G: Claude Kirk had Nat Reed [Nathaniel "Nat" Reed Governing Board Member,
South Florida Water Management District], I forget what his title was, but he was
very close to Claude Kirk, and Nat Reed had an interest in the water, and more
particularly, in environmental issues. There was attention paid to what we were
doing during Claude Kirk's administration.
P: Was Nat Reed, at the time, chairman of the Pollution Control Board? Is that
G: He was first some kind of environmental advisor and then became chairman of
the Department of Pollution Control.
P: There's a story you told about the other day, and I think there were two bridges,
and you took one of them down. Tell that story.
G: We were widening the Caloosahatchee River for discharge out of Lake
Okeechobee over to the Gulf. In the course of widening it, the original
Caloosahatchee Project, counties and the state had built bridges across the river
for access from south to north or vise-versa. We came to a situation when we
were going to enlarge it where there were two bridges within three miles of one
another. We decided that we'd build one big bridge and that should take care of
that problem. Well, the one at Ft. Denaud was the one we did away with. There
were owners and public that were very unhappy about it. [They] filed a lawsuit, as
a matter of fact-I had forgotten about that. Anyway, I was doing lobbying, I was
in Tallahassee, and I'd been talking with Nat Reed there, and Governor Kirk
came out while we were talking. So I'm standing there and this gentleman comes
up. He says, Governor Kirk, and of course, you have to know Governor Kirk to
appreciate this, but he turned and said, yes, what can I do for you? So this man
goes into a big diatribe about removal of the Ft. Denaud bridge. Claude Kirk said,
I'll look into it. The man hadn't moved more than five or ten feet, and Claude Kirk
is beginning to walk with Nat Reed and he says, who the hell is that guy? Loud
enough, certainly, that the man could hear it, because I could hear it.
P: You didn't mention Haydon Burns [Florida governor 1965-1967; mayor of
Jacksonville, 1949-1964], and he is the one that supported Alligator Alley. How
much damage did that do to the Glades and the environment of that area?
G: You can imagine that it split the conservation area. The district, the staff
particularly, were opposed to it. The board members were, of course, appointed.
The majority of the board, by that time, had been appointed by Haydon Burns,
so there was not any open rebellion so to speak. But we were very unhappy with
it because it created a problem. You had culverts under it and all that, but it
wasn't the same. Of course, the recreational and environmental community was
very upset with it because it was an intrusion into this natural area.
P: What impact or influence did you have on the budget? Did you get yourself
involved with drawing up the budget or going to Tallahassee and lobbying?
G: I was involved, of course, with the budgeting process at the district because we
had to have the money for land acquisition and had to have the money to run the
real estate department and the legal end of it. Starting in 1957, I was sent to
Tallahassee to lobby for the Flood Control District. Initially, a big part of that
were the funds that were necessary from the state. It was difficult. The selling
point being, if you put up this, it was fifteen percent to match the construction
money, but then you had the water storage areas and the bridges-well, the water
storage areas were pretty much passed at that point, but you had the bridges. It
was probably twenty percent that you had to have, and it was a healthy slice out
of the state budget in those days.
P: Did you submit it first in those days to the Cabinet?
G: Yes, it went to the Cabinet first. Of course, in those days, that was the big
Cabinet before it got reduced significantly. You had to impress the Cabinet and
the Cabinet members. When I first started, the Cabinet members had all been
Cabinet members for years and years.
P: Bob Gray [Robert Gray Florida secretary of state, 1930-1961] had been
Secretary of State.
G: Bob Gray, Nathan Mayo, Ed Larson, Colin English, Dick Ervin was Attorney
General. There was one other, I can't remember who it was. They were very
intelligent people and very perceptive people, and they could see what that
project would mean. To them it wasn't a case of gosh, it's so much out of our
budget, but they could see that this would cause south Florida to develop. That
was what they could perceive. We obtained the support of the Cabinet, and then
the challenge was the legislature.
P: How important was their support? Obviously, if you didn't get it, you would have
to get it sometime.
G: [Laughter] If you didn't get it, you were in bad trouble.
P: Even if you got it, you still had to fight with the legislature.
G: Sure, you wanted a piece of the pie. The pie wasn't so big, but as the years
began to go, the population and the income began to rise. That was the way you
had to balance it.
P: Plus, once you get to Baker v. Carr [A 1962 U.S. Supreme Court decision that
ruled that Tennessee's legislature (as well as other states') had an unfair over
representation of rural districts. Chief Justice Earl Warren declared this to be a
violation of the equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The Court
held that states must reapportion their election districts on the basis of
population.], one man one vote, it changes the legislature and the old pork
choppers in north Florida, rural legislators, are going to give way, in power terms,
to south Florida.
G: Absolutely. In the early days, the legislature was absolutely controlled. If you
went to a committee meeting, in those days, there would be a seven-man
committee. You'd walk in, and there would be two people there, two of the
legislators. You'd make your presentation, and of course, you'd already talked to
all seven of them, and now you're worried because there's only two there. There
was obviously no need for a quorum- whoever was there was there-you'd make
your pitch, and this fellow would pull three or four votes out of his pocket. He'd
say, okay, I'm presenting these, and that was the way it worked. It was very
P: If you could get somebody like Dempsey Barron...
G: This was before Dempsey.
P: But there had to be two or three. Bill Shands [Florida state senator, 1940-1958;
member, Florida State Highway Commission, 1929-1933] ...
G: Yes, Bill Shands, B.C. Pearce...
P: If you could get them, you could get it.
G: The banker from Monticello, I forget his name. That was it, that was what you
had to have.
P: In those days, committee chairmen or individuals really controlled what went into
G: Absolutely. The Senate president, the chairman of the appropriations committee,
and the chairman of, it wasn't called finance and taxation, but some other name,
but that committee. They absolutely controlled it.
P: Discuss your relationship with the Corps of Engineers. One of the things that I
came across in my reading was that one of the benefits of the Corps of
Engineers is they would try to do it the cheapest and most efficient way. They
would get all these canals or whatever was being built, they would get it
organized, and in many ways, that was a real help to you?
G: It was a help. Early on, before we had inadequate engineering staff at the district,
the Corps of Engineers did all the design and planning without our input into the
design and so forth. Therefore, what they would do is take the absolute cheapest
construction direction. In other words, it didn't make any difference who was
affected. If it was the cheapest to construct it this way, that's the way it was.
Then we began to develop an engineering staff, and then we had input into this
process before they developed the final plans. Our input would include the fact
that we would go out and look at the lay of the land and say, hey, wait a minute, if
you go this way we've got to take all this property that has improvements on it,
whereas if you move it a little bit, we can do it a little bit cheaper. That was a
continual struggle, because they always wanted to do it the cheapest
construction, and we always wanted to do it the cheapest land acquisition
because that was our problem. We went back and forth. Early on, they [the
Corps] were pretty inflexible when I first started. But by the late 1950s, because
of our ability to have input, they became a little more flexible.
P: You would start to meet with them once a month?
G: Yes, we absolutely met with them once a month, that is, the principle staff
members that we had and their principle staff members in Jacksonville. But in
between there were a lot of individual meetings by one of our engineers.
P: Before they could let this contract, obviously you had to have all the right-of-way
taken care of, right?
G: Absolutely. You had to have it all, and I had to go through kind of a rigorous
process for them to accept my certification that we had all the land. I was the
only one in the district that could certify that up until sometime in the 1970s. Then
one of the fellows who worked for me could do it.
P: Would you ever certify with a couple of them still not quite settled?
G: [Laughter] Well, that might have happened. No, they would notice the contract
letting and wouldn't let it until we certified it. So when we certified it they were
ready to roll, t was ready to go. But I was pretty wary of it. I didn't do it. I might
not have the thing in hand, but I knew in my own mind that we had it and we'd be
P: What would the time frame be from the time you started planning one of these
projects till the project was completed?
G: The time between when the planning started and when we had the right-of-way
and the project could start would be about a year-and-a-half. They'd be doing
their work, we'd be doing our work. We'd get it coordinated, of course. Then it
would depend on the size of the project, how long it took, the dimensions.
P: When you were doing this, you would have several projects going at the same
time I presume?
G: Yes. We'd probably have six or seven in those early days at the same time we're
working on and the Corps are working on.
P: You'd like, to some degree, to have them staggered?
G: [Laughter] We would have preferred that from the land acquisition standpoint. We
P: One of the major changes comes in 1971 with this conference that Askew called.
I think it was at Miami Beach, was it not?
G: It was on Miami Beach.
P: As I understand, this was sort of triggered by the 1971 drought. Talk a little bit,
because you were at that conference, about what that conference was about and
what was accomplished there.
G: It was a very diverse group that the governor had assembled down there. The
governor came at the very start and gave a message that indicated that he saw
not only future water problems, but present water problems, and that the group
needed to address what might happen for the future and how to deal with that.
There were papers given by various participants, primarily you had engineering,
you had economics, environment. All of the major players, Everglades National
Park gave a paper, the United States Geological Survey. It wasn't just a one-day
deal. The participants, or the attendees, were broken in, as I recall, groups of
eight. Now, it may have been six, or it may have been ten. But it was groups,
and you sat at the same table. Your group sat at the same table and you
discussed the various things. The end result that was sought was to get some
kind of consensus. I can't remember how many were there, at least thirty, but
probably more. It was a large group for this type of thing. The issues then were
framed, and then each table, as I recall, would vote on the issues as they saw
them and what to do with them. I'm probably missing something here, but it's a
while and I don't really recall it all. Then there was a consensus report of all the
groups formed and that was sent to the governor. That then resulted in the
legislation in 1972.
P: You had, I guess, some input into that process of the Water Resources Act of
1972. Discuss the importance of Jack Shreve [Served as Florida Public Counsel
from 1978 until his retirement in June 2003. Attorney General Charlie Crist
appointed him as Senior Special Counsel for Consumer Affairs to the Attorney
General.], who at that time was a freshman legislator in his committee, and how
you interacted with that committee.
G: Jack was the chairman of the House Natural Resources Committee. I think that
was the name of it at that time. This fell into his lap to mechanically work it out
once all of the input was there, the testimony. I forget his staff person's name
P: Dave Crawford?
G: No, he was a tall, slender young man, just out of college. He had taken Frank
Maloney's [Dean of the University of Florida College of Law from 1958-1970.
Interested in Water Resources Act and wrote a book and the Water Source
Code.] work, and almost totally used it, this staff member, to develop this
legislature. Unfortunately, Frank wasn't given any credit for it at the time, which
P: He was, at that time, the Dean of the law school?
G: Yes, and eminent authority in water law in the eastern United States. [He was]
well recognized; the top authority in water law in the eastern United States. It
was a real shame. Anyway, this was thrown into Jack's lap, and it got to the
point of, well, how are you going to denominate the territory of these districts?
Who's going to have what territories? Jack asked Buddy Blain and me to go and
sit down in a room and help him out. So Buddy and I sat down and we worked it
out, and we presented it to Jack. It wasn't that difficult, but we knew about where
it ought to be, but you had a little problem sometimes splitting the counties, like
Alachua County. Part of it is in Suwannee, part of it's in St. Johns, part of it, I'm
not sure now, is in Southwest. Well, it's because of the water sheds, and that's
what we tried to work with.
P: Originally, there were six districts?
G: [There were] six districts; the Ridge and the lower Gulf Coast was the sixth one.
P: What finally happened to the six districts? Because for a while they had their own
operation going on, right? They had a district supervisor?
G: Oh yes, they operated, but it had never been the intent to maintain that for any
period of time. The flow of the water was the contention on the Ridge; which way,
and at what point did it flow to the east and the south, and at what point did it flow
to the west and south? I don't remember the exact details, but there ended up
being an agreement amongst the principle players as to that. In the lower Gulf
coast, I don't remember why that was put in except that Collier County had not
been part of the Flood Control District. I guess it was a hangover from that.
P: The Water Resources Act is the administrative structure, but there are no real
regulatory rules that are written in the act.
G: No, the act had five parts, as I recall. Part IV-or part III, it's been awhile-was the
regulatory act that the authority to regulate, but the actual implementation of that
authority had to be developed by rules and enacted by each of the districts,
which the districts began to do. Our district, had the help of Frank Maloney, he
was a consultant to help us with that, and somebody else connected with the law
school at the time that was interested.
P: One of the ideas here is that if you divide according to water flow, each district is
going to have a different set of rules.
G: Yes. Well, particularly with the consumptive use of water because the availability
of water differed so much in the different districts. Southwest rules in that respect
might be more restrictive than South Florida, and certainly a lot more restrictive
than Suwannee or Northwest Florida.
P: They have plenty of water. When this is organized, they have hearings. Did you
participate in the hearings? Did you testify? Did you observe?
7: For which?
8: For the Water Resources Act as they were going through the legislative process.
G: Yes, I was lobbying for the Flood Control District. I don't remember just how
much testimony [I did]. I know I testified at a number of the legislative hearings in
P: What was your testimony primarily devoted to?
G: Of course, the legislators wanted to know, and most of them were totally
unfamiliar with what the Flood Control District was doing. They thought we were
just digging canals. Well, really we were doing some water regulation, as I
mentioned earlier, and we were doing recreational things. We were quite active
not just in flood control. They were interested in that, and of course, we were
interested in protecting our territory that we were working in, that is, the
geographical area. We wanted to make sure that the funding stayed available.
Those were all issues that were kind of up in the air at that time.
P: Who would have been in favor of the Water Resources Act, and who would have
G: There wasn't united opposition to it. Governor Askew [Reubin Askew, Florida
governor, 1971-1979], while he was not from south Florida, he still, at that point
in time, you had some northwest Florida legislators who were very powerful in
the legislature who were not particularly friendly with or have any commonality
with Governor Askew. So some of the things he proposed they looked at with a
jaundiced eye to begin with, they were not too sure about this. So if there was
opposition, it was Subrosa, but powerful.
P: Agricultural environmentalists, they would have been in favor of it?
G: Agriculturalists, definitely, because any of the water control you do is helpful to
agriculture. Environmental interest, because Governor Askew was really thought
of as an environmentalist, they had to buy in. They had no choice. Not that they
didn't support it, but they were aware and concerned.
P: With such a new idea, it's hard to know how it's going to work.
G: They would hear from their friends in the Flood Control District, and by that time,
P: Because SWFWMD had been set up in 1961, correct?
G: Right. There were some horror stories that they were hearing from the rest of the
state about what was happening and the impact on the environment. They were
really in a corner and couldn't help themselves.
P: How about developers? Did they have any input here?
G: They may have, but not openly. It wasn't a case of any of the big developers
testifying, oh, you ought to do this because it would be helpful. That would have
encouraged opposition from the environmental people.
P: Later on, and I guess there are probably some exceptions, but the Reedy Creek
[Improvement] District, [The government set up by Disney (which continues to
this day) that was originally intended to govern EPCOT (the Experimental
Prototype Community of Tomorrow) and give it the ability to live out Disney's
dream of a perfect society.] they control their own water, don't they? They
control everything as far as I can tell.
G: Here again, that came during the governorship of LeRoy Collins, and it was part
of the Flood Control District. It was a situation where our governing board pretty
much knew the position of the governor, that this was something that would be
beneficial for the state, and therefore, as far as opposing the Reedy Creek
legislation, no, we did not oppose it.
P: One of the things that's part of these bills is the funding to acquire land. Talk
about how that worked. Was that a bond issue?
G: Which land are we talking about?
P: This is part of the 1972 Water Resources Act.
G: There was a bond issue for environmentally endangered lands. That program
never really seemed to rise and function and accomplish as much as the people
or the support for it had hoped. I don't remember how much the bond issues was,
maybe it was fifty million or something of that sort. I'm not sure about that.
P: Let me get back to south Florida and the problems you dealt with in the early
years. Obviously, the major problem is flooding. South Florida had to deal with
several hurricanes, for example. Explain what you did to deal with that problem at
Lake Okeechobee with building the dike and that solution.
G: The Everglades agricultural area had, of course, started developing real early on,
possibly around 1910. They had farmers go out there, and they saw this very rich
muck land and they began to grow the winter vegetables. They had a primitive
water control method that was begun and actually completed by the Everglades
Drainage District that helped their drainage so that they could grow. There came
a time when Lake Okeechobee [when] there were no dikes-well, there was a
muck dike around it. In the hurricane of 1928, it was either 1926 or 1928, when
the most lives were lost, the wind blew the water out of the lake [and] flooded the
area. I think over two thousand people were killed, so that generated interest by
the federal government. Diking began at the northwest side of the lake under
Okeechobee Flood Control District. It was a district set up by the state of Florida
to, again, be the local sponsor for this federal project. That was the beginning of
it. With the Flood Control project, it was a multi-purpose project. It wasn't only
flood control, but it was water storage. In order to accomplish the water storage
and assure the flood control, the entire lake was to be diked. That was
accomplished with the dikes high enough to sustain a top water level of twenty-
one and a half feet. The dikes are very high in order to accomplish that.
P: This is the Hoover Dike?
G: It became the Hoover Dike when the former president came down and dedicated
P: A lot of that land, I think you told me, was acquired fee simple.
G: On Lake Okeechobee, not so much the dike land, no. When I said that, it was the
Kissimmee River I was talking about. [On] Lake Okeechobee-and we had a
strong legal action on this- much of the land had been sold by the state of
Florida to the farmers around the lake, but the state had reserved the right to
build flood control levees. It was quite a far-seeing thing, because these lands
were sold anywhere from 1905 on up. But there was a reservation, in effect an
easement, to build something like a dike. So when we told the land owners, we're
going to build the dike and the state conveyed that easement to us, the
landowners, of course, to build a forty-foot dike, the base is quite broad. We had
significant legal action involving these land owners.
P: If the dike is forty feet, the land is what elevation?
G: The land out there is probably ten or twelve foot.
P: This is a huge lake.
G: It's a huge lake, so obviously the dike had to be substantial.
P: What was done about the Kissimmee River while you were in the South Florida
G: The Kissimmee River, and the lakes that lie north of the river, all had control
structures that we put in so that the water level could be held, so they wouldn't
over drain the lakes. That was part of that. But the river itself was constructed
as a flood management situation. So when we went out to acquire the right-of-
way, I determined that we ought to acquire it in fee title. Every time you acquired
an easement, not every time, but there was always contention with the owner of
the fee as to what your rights were on through the easement. I thought, well, we'll
get fee title, and that will solve that issue, and we did. I'd say ninety-five percent
of the Kissimmee River acquisition was by fee title, which allowed us to do what
we wanted to do. The important aspect of that was when the decision was made
to change, after the project was built, after it had functioned for a number of
years, there was a decision made to change it so that there were environmental
benefits that were not attendant to the original construction. So we were able to
do that. That was after I left the district. But they were able to do it because the
land was held in fee title. If we had an easement, we did not have the authority
to acquire an easement for environmental purposes, our authority would be
restricted. It was a very important issue.
[End of Side A2]
P: Talk a little bit more about the Kissimmee River. Eventually, they're going to
straighten out the river, the Corps of Engineers. Of course, now they're going
back and trying to restore the original flow of the river. Why has all of that
changed over a period of time with the Kissimmee River?
G: Of course, the Kissimmee River was a squiggly [river], like a snake, going from
the lake up to Lake Kissimmee. The Corps project, to be efficient, was a very
wide and deep canal that went straight. Of course, you had what were called
oxbows, little parts of the original river that were cut off from the main stream. Of
course, you had culverts where that water could come in through that channel
that was dug. It functioned very well; it alleviated the flooding that occurred up in
St. Cloud and in Kissimmee. It did that. Then of course, the atmosphere
changed, and the complaint was it had caused environmental damage to the
area because of cutting off the old river. At one time, I'm told, although I never
saw them, there was duck hunting on the Kissimmee. Fishing was not ostensibly
as good with this channel because it didn't have the vitamins or whatever it is
that fish love; the type of food. That's when the idea was generated to back up
and lets take away some of the structures. There were five structures, dams,
between Lake Kissimmee and Lake Okeechobee. The idea was, lets do away
with several of those dams and back the water up and knock the levees down.
See when you dug the channel, there were little berms [A raised bank, especially
the bank of the canal opposite the maintenance beam] or whatever; knock those
down and make that water spread out over the flood plain as it used to be. As I
understand, I haven't seen that myself, but I understand that's what's been done.
P: That didn't effect the potential damage from flooding?
G: Depending on how it was operated. You'd have to ask an engineer about that, I
don't know for sure.
P: One of the things that comes out during this period of time, if you look at the
ability of the flood control district to control floods so that you have demonstrated
your efficiency and effectiveness at what you had designed to do, by, I would
say, the mid-1960s.
G: Yes. Of course, in the St. Johns, we weren't that far along. We had some parts
of it finished, but not the whole thing. But in the other part of it, yes, certainly by
P: You were performing in the excess of the cost-benefit ratio; therefore, did that
help you get additional funding?
G: Certainly. The original cost-benefit ratio was based on an expected benefit by
growth in Florida, but the growth in Florida so far exceeded what anyone did
imagine at that time that the benefits really were substantially higher than
originally estimated by the Corps and the congressional act.
P: The Corps has been accused of being environmentally insensitive. The
defenders say that the Corps just does what they're told to do. How would you
evaluate, over your career, the effectiveness of the Corps of Engineers?
G: Well, of course, they're absolutely very effective in construction. In that aspect of
it, if there's any knock on the Corps, we used to say it sometimes kiddingly and
sometime seriously, that they overbuilt. In other words, they wanted to be darn
sure that there was never a failure on what they built. So we would question it
sometimes. As far as the question of "is the Corps insensitive?" I think that's not
true. The Corps of Construction and Planning is reflective of the desires of the
people in the area and the congressional people-the Senators and
Representatives. In the original planning, for instance, of the flood control district,
the atmosphere was such that you wanted to build that project to control the
floods and store the water. As years go on, I think that-this is my perception- the
current projects, environment is a large part of what the Corps does. People will
say, well, they're required to because of environmental impact statements, but I
think that they'd be doing it anyways because that's the way it is now.
P: Discuss your involvement with the Save Our Rivers program and what your
function was in the development of that.
G: I was lobbying at the time this was in the early stage, before the legislation. The
desire was becoming apparent- I guess this was late-1970s and early-1980s-
when it became apparent that Florida growth was just going to be tremendous,
overwhelming. Then, you had the impetus to try to preserve some of the original
Florida lands. The Save Our Rivers denomination, or the catchy words, Save Our
Rivers, really wasn't, in my judgement, reflective of what pushed this thing so
much. Really it was to preserve part of natural Florida. We wanted to be helpful,
because water management saw an opportunity to buy lands that would not only
preserve natural Florida, but would help our project too at the same time. We
were very much for it. I forget what year it was, probably 1984, I became director
of the Save Our Rivers program at the district. It may have been a little earlier.
P: I have it in 1982.
G: Alright, yeah. I became the director of the program, which involved our real
estate people and our engineering people to some extent, survey people of
course. We developed a five-year plan to acquire various lands that we thought
would fit the profile of the Save Our Rivers program. We began an energetic
program to do that.
P: The funding came from a documentary stamp tax?
G: Yes. When you file any kind of a document, title of your land, you pay a
documentary stamp tax, and a portion of that you would use to fund the bond
P: That was a considerable amount of money?
G: Yes. I don't remember the exact [amount, but] it seems like one-hundred million
was the first part of it. It was designed so that you could continue to fund the
additional bond issues.
P: What part did Bob Graham [Florida governor, 1979-1987; US Senator, Florida,
1987-current] play in Save Our Rivers?
G: As I recall, he was the governor at the time, and he was instrumental in pushing
that. Bob Graham comes from a family of people who were in the area of western
P: They lived on the edge of the Glades, didn't they?
G: They sure did, and his dad was state senator at one time. Bob was familiar with
the area, with the water problem, certainly. When he was first in the House of
Representatives, I used to go to him when I was lobbying, and we would talk. He
was very nice and very congenial and helped as best he could, which was not
much at that particular point in time. When he became a senator, it was a
P: In essence, with the Save Our Rivers, you're going to be buying lands, literally, to
some degree, for preservation, environmental, recreation, and wildlife? You sort
of do it all in this program that allows you to buy this.
G: Absolutely. Just to give you one example, this was because it was so big, it's the
one that I'll describe. There was a ranch that was 23,000 acres, most of it in
Palm Beach County and a little bit in Martin County. The part in Martin County
and the northern part of Palm Beach County were right along the St. Lucie River.
It was a beautiful piece of property. I had been on it because a former board
member had owned it and I had been on it and I knew what it was. It was Florida
like you hardly ever see down in south Florida. So we managed to buy it we paid
one-thousand dollars an acre for it. It's preserved now, but it's used for
recreation. They hunt on it. It's a multi-purpose thing. That, to me, was what that
program was really designed to do. The land isn't going to change, it's not going
to be developed, it'll be there.
P: Talk about other land purchases. CARL [Conservation and Recreational Lands
Program- program set up by the state of Florida to purchase land for
conservation in 1979], for example. How beneficial was that to you?
G: [It was] not hardly at all. CARL didn't help us much. For some reason we had
difficulty getting something on the CARL land purchase and getting it elevated to
near the top of the list. I never understood particularly why that was. Really, I
can't think of a single CARL purchase that was asked or requested by the district.
P: What was your reaction to the passage of the ELMs Act, Environmental Land,
and Water Management Act?
G: We were taking fire, and everybody was taking fire because the land
development and the water quantity were not coordinated in south Florida. My
initial reaction certainly was, gee, this can't do anything but help us. What was
happening was people would come to us for a permit for water use, and after
they had the permit, they'd go to the county and say, well, now we've got these
water use permits, so now you ought to give us this development. Or they'd work
it the other way; they'd go to the county first then go the other way. We felt like it
would be very beneficial.
P: Did you participate in, I guess, what they referred to as a regional impact
statement? Did you participate in that statement from the point of view of the
water management district?
G: Well, the issues were not so much legal at that point, so my participation, I'd say,
was minimal in that.
P: But later on it does become more significant?
G: Oh yes.
P: When you look at some of the other acts, and I know this comes after you are not
so heavily involved, but I know the SWIM Act, Surface Water and Improvement
[Management], how did that impact water management districts? I guess a lot of
that had to do with salt water estuaries, is that right?
G: I'm trying to remember just what that SWIM Act [entailed]. I haven't even thought
of that in years.
P: I think they were responsible for all surface water, and that would include the salt
G: Yeah. Where that impacted us was in the Indian River Lagoon. I remember that
as having to deal with all the issues with the various parties as to preventing the
downgrading, or whatever you want to call it, of these estuaries and the Indian
River Lagoon. Our interest would have been south of Vero Beach, from Vero
Beach south. But originally, of course, it involved the entire Indian River.
P: This is a point of interest; what do you think of desalinization as an option?
G: At the time, I'm sure that the engineering and so forth, the technical information
changes, but at the time I was involved with it, there were some aspects of
disposing of the off shoot of the desalinization that was a problem. I think it's
because of the cost. Now when you say desalinization, I assume that includes-
what's that other process they use to take the salt out of the water? It's got a
name, I'm trying to think of what it is. I can't think of it at the moment, but it's the
same concept. It's not a huge plant like the original desal plants were. If you have
to come to that because of the cost, it's pretty tough, but if you have to come to
it, it's available.
P: Did you have a lot of problems or issues with waste water?
G: We had some. Discharge into our systems after our water resources act. We
encouraged the use of waste water-we called it gray water-for golf courses. That
was the result of the work we did during droughts. We were into xeriscape
[Xeriscape principles were created by Denver Water in 1982 in response to local
drought conditions. They promote water conservation and apply to all aspects of
environmentally responsible landscape management.] and all of those things.
P: It struck me that in the beginning, probably water management districts didn't
have public relations, but over a period of time, public relations and education to
the public about what you're doing would have been important. Were you
involved in any of that?
G: Everyone was involved in it. Everyone that was employed by the district was
involved in it to some degree. But no, we obtained a public information officer or
employee probably sometime in the 1960s. I don't remember exactly when, but
sometime in the 1960s. [Their] job was to present the best face possible on
P: A lot of it is education. My assumption is today, and one of the reasons for this
project, is that most people in the state of Florida have no idea what water
management does. How do you get that information to them?
G: In south Florida, if we hadn't constructed the project, they'd know a lot more
about it. [Laughing] It's difficult. The use of the news media, for instance, the only
thing they want to use is when there's a problem, and of course, they want to
play a problem. We did brochures, we disseminated them at school,
disseminated them to various [groups]-the League of Women Voters, [we] tried
to get them interested. We reached out the best we could, but it only reaches a
certain small portion.
P: SWFWMD has a series of announcements and issues presented over the radio.
G: We did some of that. We actually made little movies showing the works of the
district and so forth. The public information people would go around to schools or
whomever would listen and show them this. We really reached out, but as I said,
it's a small percentage of the population.
P: SWFWMD has several basin districts. You only had one?
G: We only had one, over in Collier County. The Big Cypress Basin I think we called
P: Was there a separate basin board?
G: Yes, they had a basin board, and they had a representative on the big board, we
called it- the other board.
P: Did you interact with them at all?
G: Sure. Our staff was pretty much, our staff meaning the big major basin, was
pretty much the staff for the other one. I don't think they called him an executive
director, they called him something that was in residence over there. There
wasn't a staff as such.
P: Discuss for me the legal issues that ultimately will lead to the passage of a
Constitutional Amendment allowing all five districts to have this ad valorem tax.
Didn't that issue come up as a result of a lawsuit?
G: The issue of the flood control district ability to levy the ad valorem tax came up as
a result of a lawsuit. I think we talked about that a little bit earlier. That was
resolved by the Supreme Court saying yes. When SWFWMD was formed, which
was right about the time that this lawsuit was in being, SWFWMD was formed
with an ad valorem tax also. I don't think the ad valorem tax was ever challenged
because of the result of this lawsuit. When the Water Resources Act was passed
and there was a Constitutional Amendment, then it was necessary, or certainly
important, to have all six districts to have the ability to levy the ad valorem tax.
P: As it seems to me, there was something in the state law that with the sixth
district, once that was incorporated, that had somehow changed the dimensions
of the district, therefore they might lose the ad valorem tax?
G: I have a vague recollection of that. I don't really have a real good recollection [of
that]. Yes, that was the motivating thing. That's probably right. I had forgotten all
P: Once you get the final boundaries set, in your view, has that system worked
effectively since then? Do you need to tweak boundaries? Have environmental
issues made changes necessarily, or should it stay as it was established in
G: The only boundary changes that I'm aware of were between South Florida Water
Management District and Southwest Florida Water Management District. It
involved a portion of that area that was originally the Ridge area. That wasn't
done primarily on a hydrologic basis, it was done on a political basis, to be fair
about it. There were people who lived in that district who did not want to be in
south Florida; they would rather have been in southwest Florida, but the original
boundaries had them in south Florida after the Ridge District was done away
with. You could make the argument that the water in that area could flow either
way; either east or west. It was a political decision. There was probably-I don't
know how many thousand acres were involved-but anyways, there was a
change that was made and that went to southwest Florida.
P: I have in here that there were legal issues over whether or not the authority
granted to these taxing districts was somehow changed when they added that
extra. That was that issue?
G: I'd forgotten about it.
P: Let me ask you about some of the people that were in the flood control district in
the beginning. Ed Dail, who was an executive director [appointed by Governor
Farris Bryant]; comment on him and his contributions.
G: When I first started, Turner Wallis was the executive director. He, because of his
political leanings and the Johns/Collins [Election of 1955- Charley Johns -
Florida state senator, 1947, 1955-1966; Florida governor, 1953-1955 versus
LeRoy Collins Florida governor, 1955-1961; unsuccessful candidate for U.S.
Senate, 1968; Florida state senator, 1940-1942, 1946-1954; Florida state
representative, 1934-1940 race], he somehow got himself involved in that. Well, I
know why, he wanted to take Fred Elliot's place, who was the director of the
Trustees, the Internal Improvement Trust Fund. Had [Charley] Johns remained
as governor-Fred was getting ready to retire, he was quite elderly at the time-
that would have been Turner's job. He wanted to go back to Tallahassee; he
really liked Tallahassee. Then came B. I. Arnold, who was director of operation
and maintenance, and became the acting Executive Director for a very short
period, probably less than a year. Then a man named Bolivar Hyde was
appointed, who was a business man. He was there for about two years. He really
was not involved in water management, he didn't really care that much about it.
He was a nice fellow, a good business man, but his wife wouldn't move from
Lakeland. Then Ed Dail was appointed. He had worked in the state, I think in the
P: He worked as a hospital administrator somewhere, I think.
G: He worked for the state in Tallahassee, I remember that. I think he had
something to do with the auditing department. He came, and that was probably
1958 or so. Ed was an organization person. He'd worked for the state, so his
function was really to develop an organization within the flood control district,
because we were beginning to add employees. We got into writing job
descriptions and all of that, that when it was a small thing, it wasn't really
necessary. So that was Ed's job. He was a very active, very energetic fellow. He,
of course, was director for quite a while. I forget when Jack came; probably in
1965 or 1966, somewhere in there that Jack Maloy [former South Florida Water
Management District executive director] came.
P: Then Bill Storch [William V. Storch] was the engineer?
G: Bill became chief engineer when Jack Telfair left, so that would probably be in
1957, or somewhere along in there.
P: That would be in the time when the engineering was doing a huge portion of the
G: [It was] terribly important, and Bill was a tremendous engineer and individual. [He
had a] very good view of the future, and a good view of not only that, but what
function the district should be in. For instance, the permitting of water from our
canals. Bill was an excellent man.
P: Bob Padrick would have been the chairman of the board during part of that time?
G: Yes. I forget when he came in, but Bob Padrick was a long-time board member.
Usually you'd see a board member for four years, possibly six years, or
something like that. Bob was probably there for twelve or fourteen years. It was
quite a while. Bob was very astute, and he was able to get along [with everyone].
He was the type that could bring the environmental people and the agricultural
people together. Bob was good.
P: The question that's always occurred to me, since there's no salary and no perks,
it's a very hard and complex job, why would anybody ever want to be on the
G: I think some people, and it may be true, have an ax to grind. I don't mean that in
a negative way. We had people from the environmental area that have served,
and they probably still are, I don't know, but they are interested in the
environment. We've had people from agriculture who served, and there probably
still are, and they're interested in that.
P: Interested as a public service, or interested in protecting their rights?
G: [They're interested in] both, certainly. And you had business people who were
pretty neutral. They didn't necessarily have any major ax to grind and they were
doing it as a public service. The governor would ask them to serve. That was
early on. I think later on, when you got into the 1980s ...
P: You had a nine-member board then.
G: You had people requesting to serve. That was because-they still wanted to do
public service-but I think they had more of an interest in certain aspects and they
wanted to have representation.
P: During your period of time, were the appointments to the board by the various
governors good appointments?
G: Yes, in the five-member board era, I don't think there was a bad appointment. By
bad I mean somebody who did not take an interest, who would not be involved;
that would be a bad appointment.
P: There have been some of those known in the districts over the period of the
G: No question it was a political appointment, and if it suited them they would come
and attend and they would listen, but they had no real interest in what was going
on. That was unfortunate.
P: Did you ever run across any conflicts of interests in a person who maybe
represented agricultural interest, voting on an issue that might effect or impact
G: Him personally?
G: No. Part of my job was to keep that from happening. I was really deeply involved
in knowing what was going on, knowing the people, and protecting both the
district and the board members. Any time I saw that there was a possibility of
that, I would tell them that you've got to decline to vote on it.
P: Should they continue to be appointed, or should they be elected?
G: You can't have elected. That would be a major disaster for the water
management districts to have elected board members. You'd have small areas
controlling. You know how the elective process works; if you run for the school
board, for instance, in the county, and have your name on the ballot, then that
gives you a leg up if you want to run for state representative or state senator
because your name has been on the ballot. You'd have people doing the same
thing running for water management who wanted to run for something higher. I
think it'd be a disaster.
P: Should there be term limits for board members?
G: The election of the governors pretty much dictates that. At one time, you had
quite a few carry-overs. As I said, Bob Padrick served maybe twelve years, so he
served under several governors. Nowadays, I think the boards pretty much
change, and that has been true for a while.
P: One of the problems is turnover. If you have a governor elected and you have a
new governor, and they change the board ...
G: That's what I meant. It pretty much takes care of itself that way.
P: That's, in some ways, a disadvantage, because people who had been on the
board and had learned what it's all about; it must take a couple years to learn.
G: Yes, but the appointments are not all the same. You have this appointment for a
period of time, then there's another one overlapping, so you have a spacing.
That's the idea of it, but from a practical standpoint it doesn't always work that
way because when the governor comes in, a lot of times the governor says, I'd
like to see the resignations of all of the board members. Now I may not act on it, I
may not accept your resignation, but I want to see it so my ideas of what water
management should be are enforced during my term.
P: In your experience, how did the board get along with the executive directors?
Was there good communication, that the executive director would try to carry out
the wishes of the board?
G: Oh yes. There was a real disagreement when I first [came]. You had a new board
come in when LeRoy Collins became governor. Turner was the executive
director, and it was really a dysfunctional situation, which ended up in Turner
resigning, but it really wasn't working. Other than that dysfunction that occurred
at that time, my observation was that the executive directors worked closely with
the board, kept the board informed. There were little variations. Near the end of
Dail's time, I felt like the board had lost some confidence in Ed, and that had
something to do with his resignation. With Jack Maloy, he had a very good
relationship with the board. Jack tended, and probably still does, to see things
and to want to get them done, and maybe didn't keep the board quite as much in
the loop because he didn't want any hindrance with what he was doing. But he
got along well with the board; they had confidence in him.
P: Would Bob Clark [served as chairman for twelve years] have come in at some
point as chairman?
G: Yes. Bob was chairman while Ed Dail was still director and when Jack came on
board. Bob was chairman for quite a while. He was one of the long-serving
P: If you would look back at the hiring procedures-you talked about that day you
were writing out job descriptions-do you think the water management district did
a good job at hiring at every level over this period of time?
G: When I first was involved, because it was a very small operation, the board had
more input into the hiring of the more important staff members. As the
organization grew, the only ones that the board really concerned themselves with
were the executive director, the legal officer, the director of operations and
maintenance, and the engineering and there was another one, I can't think of
what it was. Other than that, the hiring was all done by the various staff people.
P: For the most part, they did a good job of hiring confident people?
G: Oh yes. I would say that up until the time I left, I felt that it was an excellent staff.
P: One of the criticisms of the water management districts is that they don't always
pay attention to scientific advice. I know probably in the beginning, there weren't
many hydrologists, perhaps the broad array of scientists that they had later. Did
you find that to be the case, that scientists did not have much influence?
G: No, because if we didn't have the expertise of the staff, we used the University of
Florida's expertise as a consultant-type thing. We had a number of contracts-any
number of contracts-with various expertise up here. [We also used] the
University of Miami. I remember that very well; I prepared the contracts. So no,
we sought the scientific information. You always understand that scientists don't
always agree, and there would be a contention about it. But no, it wasn't that we
lacked scientific information. We had it.
P: Did you ever have any dealings with the Seminoles [A Native American Indian
people of Florida. They originated as members of various Indian nations,
including the Creek Nation, who were driven out of Georgia, Mississippi, and
Alabama in the mid-19th century. They were largely conquered and exiled by the
U.S. in the early 19th century when the U.S. took Florida from Spain.] or the
Miccosukees [Florida tribe of Indians that escaped capture during the Indian
Wars of the 1850s by hiding in the Everglades]?
P: What kind of issues would come up with them?
G: When we wanted to enlarge- well one was the jet port deal. They wanted to put it
in the conservation area down there originally, and Dick Judy was the name of
the director of that airport thing at the time. Of course, we aligned ourselves with
the Miccosukees to fight that, and ultimately prevailed. It was a long, bloody
process to stop that thing because there were a number of politicians and people
down in the Miami-Dade area that thought, this was great, because this would
leave all that property. It is still the current airport for development and all that. It
was a big money thing. We aligned with them on that. We had some problems
with them about the water flow. Early on, they weren't severe problems. We had
some problems with the right-of-way along the Tamiami canal. We were
enlarging that Tamiami canal, and they had chickees [Open huts with palmetto
roofs that housed poor Indians] built all along the right-of-way. We had to
negotiate to get those chickees off the right-of-way. We put some of the spoil so
they could relocate. It wasn't severe until Dexter Lehtinen [U.S. Attorney, Dade
County, 1988-1992; Florida state senator, 1987-1988; Florida state
representative, 1981-1987; General Counsel for the Miccosukee tribe] came into
the picture. He took that on as a project, and I guess now, maybe it's his principle
funding source, but as a legal type thing.
P: He was the legal advisor to the Miccosukee tribe.
P: Did you have much to do with the Everglades per se, and did you interact with
the people at the park?
G: Yes, we interacted substantially with people at the park because there was
always the flowage of water into the park issue. It was either too little or too
much. Their position was, it wasn't as it had been historically. I'm sure they're still
having a problem with that; trying to get that flow of water so that it does the most
benefit or the least damage to the estuary down there. It's just one of those
P: If it was too high the deer would die off?
G: No, they weren't worried about deer. It's just the flow of water so that the estuary
remains the same that's south and east of the park there, between the over-seas
highway and in the park.
P: I guess they'll do this later, that they'll determine water based on what the rainfall
is in a particular year. That they would release more water if it was a drought,
that sort of thing. They've got that down so it's fairly fine tuned?
G: I can't tell you about the last twelve years, but yes, rainfall obviously is a
compelling factor there. We were trying to work to the point where we'd have
water stored where we could even the flow out. When you had a severe drought,
that wasn't always possible, or when you had a severe flood, it wasn't always
possible. I don't know how to ever [do that]. Unless you have more water storage
than we ever had, I don't know how you'll ever really satisfy the park.
P: What is your view on the Everglades restoration, and understand the word
restoration is not a correct term? Did you have anything at all to do with that?
G: When I was there still, it was started quite a while before I left. There was this
momentum to change the project. It was, in my judgement, sold not on the
correct basis. By that I mean, it was sold on the basis on the quality of water, and
that really had nothing to do with it. It really, as far as I could see then, was an
environmental thing. It had nothing to do with the quality of water. At the time
Walt Dineen died -he was a biologist, environmental person-of the half a million
acres in the water conservation areas, twenty-five thousand [acres] had been
changed by the flow of nutrients from the area.
P: Sugar and agriculture?
G: Everything. Rainfall and everything. The water quality wouldn't change. Nothing
would change the water quality. It's totally an environmental thing, as far as I'm
concerned. Really, the question in my mind, was to be honest with people.
You've got to say, I'm going to spend so many billion dollars for this
environmental reason. If that's an appropriate thing to do, then that's an
appropriate thing to do, but you got to be honest.
[End of Side B3]
P: A lot of the issues about Everglades has to do with this run-off and all the
nitrogen and everything. It is how many parts per billion. So it has come to be an
issue of water quality, has it not?
G: The nutrients change the foliage or what's growing, and would eventually change
it all to something like cattails or something instead of the sawgrass. The
question really was, how much impact does that change have on water quality?
We felt that it would have been minimal.
P: How much impact did the Sunshine Law have on your activities?
G: It had some. When I was first there, we had a five-member boards. They, of
course, with five members, you become very close with each other. They met
once a month, they talked on the phone, they talked about water management
issues on the phone. They used to have what they called the 'pre-board meeting'
the night before the board meeting. I would attend and the engineer and the
executive director; the three of us would attend that. All of the issues of any
importance were pre-solved at that pre-board meeting. Then you went through
the charade of doing it again.
P: Technically that was not a violation of the Sunshine Law?
G: Oh yes.
P: It was?
G: Yes, and that had to stop, and it did. When the government UN Sunshine Law
P: Once the issues were decided, they had to be publically disseminated as well. It
had to be decided in public and disseminated in public as well.
G: The newspaper reporters always attended.
P: But you had to do the reports and things like that?
G: Oh sure. To assist the board members, more so later than earlier, there would be
reports they had in advance that went with the agendas to them in advance, that
dealt with the important issues.
P: The meetings would be publicized and all that?
G: Oh yes.
P: What were your relationships with the Department of Natural Resources and
DER (Department of Environmental Regulation)?
G: The Department of Natural Resources, I'd call it an amiable relationship with
them. They pretty much let us alone, I guess, is the way I'd put it. They
recognized that we had a staff and it was a competent staff that knew what they
were doing. The only bad aspect was they were based in Tallahassee and they
were under the microscope of the legislature all the time and they kind of envied
our position down in South Florida where you didn't have that all the time. When
the Department of Environmental Regulation came in, it began to change. I
wouldn't say it was adversarial, but we were accustomed to doing business the
way we thought business ought to be done. The politics of things had begun to
enter. The legislators, because of newspaper publicity, were paying attention to
our district budget, that is, the ad valorem tax fund; they were paying attention to
that. So DER felt pressure from the legislature to try to direct us in how to spend
money and how much money to spend. Of course, that made it tough. We had to
stand up to them and say, wait a minute, this is money we raise. We even had
legislative committee meetings down there. I can't remember the name of the
state representative from Miami, but he was in charge of the committee. They
came, met in our building, and we had sent our proposed budget up-they
demanded to see our proposed budget. We'd sent it up to this sub-committee
and they met down there. They'd had it and they'd had a chance to go through it.
This man asked a lot of questions about it, the representative. He got down to the
point of almost asking about pencils and erasers. [Laughing] It became kind of a
joke because as far as the big ticket items, there was really not much he could do
with it. If you're going to build a canal, it was going to cost you so much money,
the land was going to cost you so much money. What can you pick at with that?
P: Jack Maloy said that one of the problems over a period of time has been that as
districts have more money, the local governments and the legislature want them
to use their money to perform activities beneficial to the legislature. In other
words, the legislature doesn't want to fund it, they want to use the money that the
districts already have.
G: Yes, that's what I meant. Politics really entered into it in a strong way from about
the 1980s on the amount of money that the district could raise and the district
could spend irked a lot of people because there weren't elected board members.
Some of the legislators jumped on that issue, and that became a big issue.
P: One criticism has been of the water management districts is that they're not
supervised enough, that they're kind of these semi-independent regional boards.
But what you're saying, the legislature doesn't necessarily regulate, they tend to
interfere as opposed to regulate.
G: It varied with different legislators and legislatures. Some would be very helpful,
and some used it as a means of incurring favor with counties and some aspects
of the public. That was something you had to deal with.
P: Did it change with DER?
G: It encouraged DER to put us under more of a scope to see what we were doing.
P: Plus, DER starts working in conjunction with the districts, right?
G: Yes. The law says that DER had certain control over what the districts did. Of
course, the big issue was budget. We could work with DER fairly well on all
issues, but we felt like the budgeting process was something the governing board
was set up to handle, and therefore, we had some disagreements.
P: Any impact on your district from the cross-Florida barge canal?
G: Not really, other than it took some money. There was some money that the state
had to put into it, so that made it a little bit of a harder fight to get money at that
P: When you look back at the early flood control districts, I think it was Jack Maloy
who mentioned this to me, that that was really the first grand plan for Florida,
because you had conservation areas, you had areas set off for urbanization.
When you look back at that, what were the strengths of these early districts, and
what were the weaknesses of these early districts?
G: The strengths of the early districts, one of them, was the ability to have a plan to
do something and go ahead and achieve it. That was a strength. Because of the
authority given the districts and the lack of people opposed at that time, that was
really a big strength. It was local government on a regional basis, which was
important. If you go back to the history of Everglades Drainage District, when it
was first established, the board was part of the cabinet, was the board of the
Everglades Drainage District. That changed, I think, in 1931, but it changed
because local people were upset that they had to go to Tallahassee to have their
interest represented. Then you had a board appointed down in the area. That
was a strength, that it was a local board they could go to. They met in West Palm
Beach, everybody knew and knew when, and you could go and be represented.
P: It's regional planning isn't it?
G: Yes, it was regional planning. It was promoted and necessitated by a series of
events, but it ended up in a regional plan-not in detail for development and all. In
effect, a lot of the development would follow. And the ad valorem tax; the ability
to raise money.
P: Independent lay boards, was that a strength?
G: Yes, an independent board, the ability to raise the money and to use it for their
purposes. The weaknesses, probably the lack of authority in some areas; ground
water wells, for instance. Recreation initially. Environmental things that we
probably could have done, but there was no requirement that we do it. We were,
if anything, too focused on doing what we were told to do, what our job was.
P: As you developed, after the 1972 act, rules, did you actually go through the
process of writing these down and giving them some legal authority?
G: Oh certainly. Frank Maloney [Dean of the University of Florida Law School; very
knowledgeable about water management; wrote a book on it and then developed
a Model Water Code] we used him as a consultant to help us develop our rules,
and they became part [of our district]. They were adopted officially, notice,
hearings, all those things. Yeah they were officially adopted.
P: So you would have rules about well permitting?
P: Were you heavily involved with that end of the work as time went on?
G: Yes. I was heavily involved with it initially. It wasn't the type of thing that I enjoyed
as much as most of the other things I did. At that point in time, I hired at first one,
and then two more [people], because the legal action really was in rule
development and enforcement. Boy, it became a whole different ball game then.
You had a lot of legal action in that area.
P: That's something that intrigues me. If there is a drought, and the water
management district restricts watering to three days a week, how do you enforce
G: We'd get the counties to adopt the ordinances. The counties could adopt the
ordinances. You're talking about for an individual home owner, right?
G: We'd go to the counties and the cities, and they all collaborated. We'd say, okay,
this is the game plan. They'd go ahead and adopt ordinances on it. The cities
were the enforcement.
P: They would find someone who was violating it?
G: Yes. Well, I'd imagine there would be a warning first.
P: Was that pretty effective?
G: Yes. You know, there's always a problem. You have car wash people who wash
cars. What do you do about that? That's their business. If you stop them, you put
them out of business. There was always some conflict there.
P: That's always water management. You've got consumptive users, you've got
businesses, you've got agribusiness, you've got on and on and on. If you have to
deal with all the interests, that's really the hard part of water management, isn't
G: Oh yes. Early on, as I said, we did permitting to take water out of our canals, but
then when we got really into the regulatory area, certainly a whole new ball game
arose then. The various competition and how you address it. By the time we
really had the rules in effect and really functioning well with them was probably
1976, somewhere in there. By that time I'd been there twenty years and I had
enjoyed what I had done. I had to be involved in the regulation, but I really didn't
like it much.
P: What would you say would be your best experience with the water management
district, and how would you assess your major contributions?
G: My best experience would have to be working with some of the staff people and
the governing board members. I had the benefit of working with some very
outstanding, very competent staff people. Of course, we became very close
friends and that was a big impact for me. The board members, a number of
whom, because of the position I was in, worked fairly closely with them, and
became quite familiar with them. That and the fact that I really felt like I was
accomplishing something for the central and southern part of Florida. When you
are able to build a project like we built, and you can see the benefit of it and what
it meant to south Florida and central Florida, there was a great feeling of
satisfaction in that. I enjoyed that.
P: If you just look at flooding, you saved probably thousands of lives and untold
G: It would have been an entirely different state. Some people will argue that it
would have been better had we not, but it would have been an entirely different
P: What about the water wars? What's your view on that? Should water be moved
from one water management district to another district?
G: We had a little of that before-it wasn't a water war-but we addressed the issue
while we were still in control of the St. Johns watershed. I forget what city it was,
but we had a real severe drought. Our project hadn't progressed to the point that
we had a lot of water storage in the flood plain of the St. John's, and one of the
cities, I can't remember which one, they were really getting kind of desperate. It
was still within the district, but it was not in the same water shed. We were
looking at the Kissimmee area to take water from there and take it over to the St.
John's. There was ample water in the Kissimmee area at that time. We were
going to do it, I think, on land that we had acquired from Deseret Ranches. We
got to the point of working it out from an engineering standpoint, and we felt that
we had the interests in the Kissimmee Basin satisfied. That was difficult,
because, as today, you're taking water from my basin and taking it over there,
what am I going to do, not now necessarily, but in the future? We felt that we had
it worked out, and that's about the time that we left the St. Johns. I guess it just
evaporated. I never heard any more about it.
P: What about now? You know Governor Bush has appointed, theoretically at least,
a statewide water board. How would that impact the water management districts?
G: I don't know that he is going to do that. There's talk of it. That was one of the
issues that Frank Maloney addressed in his early writing on water management
in Florida and in the eastern United States, benefits and negatives on it. The
state water board would be composed, in his view, if you did it, of professional
people who were knowledgeable in water management. In other words,
engineers, maybe an economist, maybe a lawyer, but people who were
professional. That could have a desirable impact. It would be, again, contrary to
the concept of local people regulating the use of water. We never had to take a
position on it, we meaning the district. It never came up then.
P: It could be a political move to take control of the water management district, and
you could put political hacks on that board and have them do whatever the
governor wanted them to do.
G: Well absolutely. Despite the fact that they are professionals, the political pressure
that they could receive. SWFWMD, just to use this as an example, SWFWMD is
short on water. Let's take water from here and get it down there somehow. The
politics might be such that SWFWMD could get the pressure to do that. That
would be one of the negatives.
P: Each district is different in hydrologic terms; it changes that.
P: How did water management districts change from the time you started until the
time you left?
G: The things that occurred around them changed them more than anything else.
Water management district, the one I was most familiar with, of course, started
out as a very small organization. As the works that we built were completed, we
had to keep adding more maintenance and operation employees. As the
demands for different uses of the things that we had built became more
dominant, then we had to add staff in the office-recreation, the environmental
thing. All of that increased. Then when we had regulatory, that increased. The
district changed from a small organization which could accomplish things rapidly
to a large organization, more bureaucratic, and could not move as easily or as
quickly. Some of that were the laws that were passed that prevented us from
moving that quickly.
P: Plus it becomes much more attuned to science as you get more scientists, more
experts, and that sort of thing.
G: The scientists were always a big help in trying to develop. Early on we didn't
have as many, of course.
P: That's the point I was making. You hired them rather than use consultants.
G: Yeah. We used consultants early on, and then as the number of things and the
totality of them increased, we began to increase the staff significantly.
P: What should water management districts focus on in the future?
G: I don't think they have any choice. They have to focus on everything that is
related to water management. By that, I mean not just the environmental things;
do you build the canal this way or do you operate the conservation area this
way? I don't mean just that. They've got to somehow integrate the development
of the land and the use of water. That's a must, it's been a must for, Lord now,
over twenty years. It's been a must, and it's never been able to be totally
achieved. It's a shame, but we're getting to the point where Florida has become
so big and so developed that you've got to recognize that there is some limitation
on cheap water, and therefore, you've got to do that now.
P: So quantity of water is essential?
G: Quantity did you say?
G: Quantity is absolutely essential, and quality is part of quantity really. If the water
you have isn't usable [then it's not much good].
P: Talk about when Maloney was talking about the concept of water as a state
resource and the riparian rights and a combination of prior appropriation and
riparian rights, which I assume still is the standard?
G: Yes. Frank wrote two books that are, as far as I'm concerned, really the basis of
everything we're doing now. There was no way to be able to have any handle on
the consumption of water. If you were a riparian owner, you took as much as you
wanted. There began to be some legal authority to say it had to be a reasonable
beneficial use; you couldn't just take tons of water and do away with it. There had
to be some reasonable beneficial use. That's kind of where Frank came from to
begin his work on the water, the way we're handling it now, the law part of it.
There wasn't any ability until the first steps were taken in 1957-1 think it was-we
had Chapter 378 of the statutes enacted. That was the first tiny step, but it was a
step, and that was something that Frank pushed. He was part of the 1955 study
commission that was appointed by the governor. That was a step. Then he
recognized that the flood control district had some ability to do water regulation,
so he studied that and he helped us, worked with us. The droughts then
accelerated the progress of it.
P: That pretty much exhausts most of the questions I have. Is there anything we
haven't discussed that you'd like to talk about?
G: There's one thing that people overlook. When the state of Florida was given the
land in the Everglades area, that was a grant under the Swamp and Overflowed
Lands Act of 1850. The criteria was, we'll give you this land, and as you sell it,
you must use the money to drain and reclaim that land. We, meaning the district,
are often criticized for all this drainage. That was the condition of the original
grant of that land from the federal government, which very few people know that.
P: People like Disston and others were very enthusiastic.
G: Sure, he built the Kissimmee River and out into the Caloosahatchee to get the
water out there. He had to, until he went broke. I don't think he went broke, but
his corporation that was doing it went broke.
P: Some early governors, of course, thought that that was politically expedient to do
P: Certainly that helped the development in the state of Florida, but I guess today
people will blame water management districts for the current problem.
G: They think that this idea of drainage and reclamation was some developers idea,
when really, that was what the law required at the time. It probably still does.
That was the original idea. That's been lost in history.
P: Is there anything else that we haven't discussed that you'd like to bring up?
G: I think I mentioned to you yesterday, or Monday, that Everglades Drainage
District had what it called a little Murphy Act. If the tax wasn't paid on the
property, and wasn't paid for two years, then that property was struck off to
Everglades Drainage District- struck off meaning conveyed. That provided,
eventually, and if the land was still owned today by the successor to Everglades
Drainage District meaning the Flood Control District, that way it'd be worth
billions of dollars. What happened is, most of it was sold by Everglades Drainage
District, and whatever funds were in the Everglades Drainage District at the time
flood control came in were transferred to the flood control district. It was an
interesting thing that there was this ability to acquire the title of property that way.
I think you've probably gotten most of what I know. That's about all I can do.
P: Okay. On that note, we'll end the interview. I want to thank you very much for
G: I enjoyed discussing it; trying to retrieve these things is a little bit difficult.
P: You did great. Not for you. You did extremely well.
[End of Interview]