Martinez to ignore
water district law
By JIM WALKER "
Tribune Staff Writer |
TALLAHASSEE Gov. Bob
Martinez says he intends to ignore a
new state law creating an expanded
overanng board for the Southwest
Florida Water Management District
and he wants the Legislature to re-
consider the bill in the coming ses-
That position appears likely to
draw opposition from legislators
representing some of the smaller
counties in the 16-county district,
which sought the measure to pro-
vide guarantees of representation
on the water management district
The measure, drafted by a coali-
tion of Tampa Bay area legislators,
would add two seats to the nine-
member board in 1990, and would
require Martinez to name appoin-
tees from specific counties.
"We want good government,"
Martinez said in an interview. "We
don't want government where in es-
sence you try to modify public poli-
cy by the addition of board
members unless it has been through
an open and complete review by the
public, which the Legislature needs
to put in place."
He called the bill a "short-term
solution by some" that "obviously
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changes the alignment" of the
board and would politicize the dis-
trict. Martinez said he prefers an
overall review of the system of wa-
ter management districts under the
state Sunset Law, which is sched-
uled for the 1989 session.
Reps. John Long, D-Land O'
Lakes; Fred Jones, D-Auburndale,
and Peter Rudy Wallace, D-St. Pe-
tersburg, worked together on the
bill, they said. It was widely seen as
an effort to bring the smaller coun-
ties out from under the dominating
shadow of Hillsborough and Pinel-
las counties in district water mat-
ters by guaranteeing them
representatives on the board.
But Wallace said the measure
"was well balanced."
"We were definitely working to-
gether," Wallace said of the Pasco,
Polk, Hillsborough and Pinellas leg-
Wallace noted that the new bill
"marginally enhanced Billsborough
and Pinellas" on the board by guar-
anteeing the two counties a total of
five seats. The existing law gave the
two counties two board members
The bill's effective date was
postponed until 1990, Jones said, so
as not to displace any appointments
Martinez already had made to the
board. Members serve staggered
Besides the five Hillsborough
and Pinellas members, the new law
calls for one each from Pasco, Polk
and Sarasota, and three from the 11
other counties in the district -
Levy, Marion, Citrus Sumter, Lake,
Hernando, Manatee, Hardee, DeSo-
to, Highlands, and Charlotte.
The current nine-member board
includes three at-large members
and six representing the river ba-
sins in the district. Jones said the
existing formula allows a governor
to skew the board to favor a certain
area, if he chooses.
Jones called Martinez's attitude
"He had every opportunity to ve-
Sto the bill and didn't," Jones said.
He said the bill was designed to pro-
Svide "one-man, one-vote equity,"
I and, "If the governor thinks that Is
wrong, I'd like to hear his explana-
Jones said he can get the votes
to pass the same legislation again as
part of a Sunset Law review.
Under Sunset review, the Leis-
lature has the option of renewing or
changing the laws. If legislators do
not act, the aw eSpires.
"I'm absolutely floored by this,"
Patricia Pieper, chairman of Paco
County's Water Advisory Council,
said of Martinez's decision. "T .
very disappointed. The Legislature .
voted in favor of (the two additional *
eats.)" Pasco County, which sup-
plies much of the water produced in
the district, "has no voice at all,"