Title: Samson faces political damage from water board feud
Full Citation
Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00051944/00001
 Material Information
Title: Samson faces political damage from water board feud
Alternate Title: Newspaper article by Patrice Flinchbaugh in Tampa Tribune "Samson faces political damage from water board feud."
Physical Description: 2p.
Language: English
Creator: Flinchbaugh, Patrice ( Author )
Publication Date: Nov. 7, 1985
Spatial Coverage: North America -- United States of America -- Florida
General Note: Box 4, Folder 1 ( SF BASIN BOARD CONCEPT ), Item 28
Funding: Digitized by the Legal Technology Institute in the Levin College of Law at the University of Florida.
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00051944
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: Levin College of Law, University of Florida
Rights Management: All rights reserved by the source institution and holding location.

Full Text

Samson faces political damage

"from water board feud

If Bruce Samson could not quell Of course, Graham is not without
the nearly 2-year-old battle of the Patri Flinchbaughpersonal motive for stepping into the
budgets at "Swiftmud," how would fichaug ray at such a late date. Because of
he handle real conflicts as mayor of his upcoming challenge to U.S. Sen. .
Tampa? Could the governor help Poltics Paula Hawkins, as one Tallahassee
him then? I politico noted, Graham could not af-
h e ford to appear he was taking sides.
The questions linger in the minds The longer he waited to intervene,
of political observers and some pro- the more he risked offending either
tagonists of a petty war at the South- urban governing board members or
west Florida Water Management campaign contributors in the agri-
District headquartered in Brooks- cultural community who sided with
ville. Because he was chairman of No one familiar with Florida's the local basin boards.
the district governing board, Samson tug-of-war history over rights to use Those local boards, whose juris-
will carry the onus of this long-run- water had ever seen anything like diction was carved by the Legisla-
ning turf battle into his campaign for the action at the Capitol on Monday. ture to follow southwest Florida's
the 1987 Tampa mayor's race. Gov. Bob Graham summoned his major river basins, were upset that
Perhaps the majority of city resi- water board appointees, including the parent governing board had at-
dents, many of whom were double- Samson, to Tallahassee for some tempted through the 1984 Legisla-
taxed in 1984 because of the dispute, marching orders. He demanded an ture to take away the basins' statu-
will have forgotten all about the end to the feud between governing tory powers.
bickering by Election Day. But some board and basin boards over which It was an opening salvo for which
political enemies of Samson are controlled the destiny and taxing even Samson's closest supporters
likely to remind us that this was his powers of an agency charged with admit he will be blamed; it was his
first test of leadership under pres- watching the region's water supply first bullet to the foot.
sure. and issuing permits for its use. Samson had appealed to then-
Was there, something Samson "This is no time, and Southwest House Speaker Lee Moffitt to pass
could have tacticsdone, perhaps using per- Florida is no place, for quibbling," what was billed as a housekeeping
smise? O, as some beee, as e acomo he said. measure to effect some streamlining
mise? Or, as some believe, was he a
victim of circumstance at a time Three-million residents in the re- measures at the district. When the
when special interests are deter- gion one-quarter of Florida's governing board subsequently pro-
mined to wrest control of water use population consume 1.5 billion posed doing away with the basin
from the urban-leaning governing gallons of water daily. Competition boards, the basins balked and some
board of the district? for fresh water will intensify as the legislators claimed they had been
area's population pushes 4.1 million "snookered."
Samson believes he did well to in the next 20 years. Someone has to When the board backed off and
stand up to agricultural interests ensure that water is protected and suggested keeping basins as citizen
who want water and wetlands regu- available to farming, industry and advisory panels with no taxing
lation decisions made closer to residents alike, powers, the basins filed suit. Due to
home, largely at the district's eight' Graham obviously felt it was up the overlapping nature of the 1984
river basin boards. His closest advis- to him to straighten out the district's budgets, the district ended up col-
ers say there was nothing Samson political mess before it further crip- lecting $7 million in excess taxes. A
could have done to minimize the re- pled decision-making. He gave the judge ordered the money be put in
suiting political damage. factions until Nov. 14 for a voluntary an interest-bearing account until the
But some basin board members cease-fire, threatening to deny reap- dispute could be resolved.
agreed with Northwest Hillsborough pointments if necessary. The situation deteriorated fur-
River Basin Board member Gall their in the 1985 legislative session
Parsons when she implied Graham's when some lawmakers sympathetic
intervention reflected poorly on to rural interests, particularly
Samson's administrative abilities. Brooksville Rep. Chuck Smith, at-
"Actions speak for themselves," Par- tempted retribution for what Sam-
sons said. son's board had done the previous

year. Communication was less than Graham's plan calls for volun-
amicable at that point. The emerg- tary withdrawal of the lawsuit. It
ing legislation did not resolve the basically returns life at the water
lawsuit and lawmakers were poised management agency to what was
to try again in 1986. spelled out by statute when the
Then, in a final slap, the Florida agency was formed in the late 1970s.
Senate in May failed to confirm The governing board will take care
Samson for a new term on the dis- of general, regionwide projects and
trict governing board. Graham inter- the basin boards will have their say
vened and renamed his distant and retain the right to do projects M s : i.--
cousin for a one-year term. that pertain to water resources in
Stinging from the treatment he local areas. f
received, Samson turned this sum- An encouraging sign has
mer to some early campaigning for emerged this week: The two sides
mayor, anticipating that Mayor Bob are beginning to communicate
Martinez, a candidate for governor, again. Some of the basin board
would resign in time for a special members felt the breakdown in
citywide election. communication was the biggest con-
Amazingly, Samson bloodied his tributing factor in the squabble. And
foot a second time. they hold Samson and his board
In a campaign flier, Samson wholly responsible.
clearly told voters that he sided with Meanwhile, Samson may go 4
city residents in the battle with rural down in history as the only politician
interests for water rights. The Pasco in recent memory to self-destruct as
County Commission responded by chairman of a low-profile water
asking Graham to remove Samson management agency. (Does anyone
as chairman of the district. Graham recall that Bob Martinez once was
took no action until Monday. chairman of that agency?) Support-
Following Graham's stern lec- ers of Samson believe the issue will
ture, Samson announced he strongly be moot by 1987, and Samson will be Bruce Samson's handling of
supported the governor's plan. But able to conduct a normal mayoral the feud between the water
later Samson said he cannot guaran- campaign. district management board and
tee it will end the lawsuit. The basins But then, maybe Samson is re- the smaller basin boards has
also offered no promises. loading his gun. drawn criticism.

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