South West Florida – -(Ammoland.com)- As previously reported on AmmoLand News, the South West Florida Water Management District (SWFWMD) clearly think they are above the law and have intentionally violated the agreement and the law forged by Governor Jeb Bush, Deputy Chief of Staff Simone Marstiller, Assistant General Counsel Chanta Combs, and Director of Policy Budget for Environmental Issues Chris Flack, Marion Hammer/NRA and George Gramling, Attorney for Skyway Trap and Skeet Club and NRA.
Now a former basin Board Member backs up these claims of SWFWMD misconduct in a letter to Governor Scott. See letter below:
Subject: SWFWMD / Skyway issues
Dear Governor Scott,
SWFWMD / Skyway Trap and Skeet issues –
In my opinion, the case is actually an “eminent domain / buyer beware” situation gone wrong and Ms. Hammer's chronological series of events is the most accurate I have ever read. I was the longest serving member of any of the Basin Boards appointed twice by Bush and twice by Christ, because Brooksville staff wanted me reappointed because “I ask good questions”.
In 1975 SWFWMD convinced a judge that along with the 315 acres of cat tails they owned at Sawgrass Lake they also needed Skyway's 15 acres which was used as their “Drop Zone”. Remember, Emanate Domain is to be used for “taking”, by the government “for the good of the public”, and not necessarily “for the good of the raccoons and opossums”.
The judge in 1975 granted a “Shot Drop Zone Easement” on the land the SWFWMD insisted on taking.
Fast forward 25 years and DEP threatens to sue SWFWMD over high levels of lead coming out of the pipes draining Sawgrass Lake. There is no clear indication that the elevated levels of lead are coming from shot anymore than runoff from I-275 or surround neighborhoods.
After listening to SWFWMD “legal council” for a year and a half about how they were going to “go after this gun club” and occasionally mentioning a “shot easement”, I finally asked “How in the heck did they ever get granted a Shot Easement on OUR property, unless it was originally their's and we took in in an Eminent Domain taking and a judge granted them a Shot Easement?”
To which they sheepishly answered “Well yes Mr. England, that is actually what happened”. So I said something like “Let me see if I have this straight, we ‘took' their property from them 30 years ago, didn't do our due diligence and now want to sue them over possible lead contamination – you better hope for a bench trial because in a jury trial we are going to get our ass handed to us.”
The tenacious SWFWMD Legal staff wanted to press on, and they scoffed at me when I suggested that we swap 15 or 20 acres of some the 165,000 acres SWFWMD controls for the Skyway site, so we can clean it up and create better access to the park from US -19 rather than through the residential neighborhood and give Skyway a place to go. They said “We would never do that and we're going to make them clean it up”. I pulled them to the side and said “They are a Not for Profit Club and Judges, mayors, attorneys, sheriffs along with the public shoot out there and I don't think we should screw with them”. Legal Council's answer was “too bad we're going after them”.
A week or two later I learned that the SWFWMD director had been summoned to Tallahassee for a meeting with Governor Bush on a Friday which was out of the ordinary. That Sunday night I got a call from a SWFWMD staff member and they said “You were exactly right, the Governor ordered it ‘settled' and that he didn't need the NRA all over his ass.”
Monday morning a press release went out saying something to the effect that “A break through had been reached and that SWFWMD was going to clean up the site, build a berm of sufficient height to contain the shot on the Skyway property and drop any law suits.” – funny how that happened.
As a background, here is how I got tangled up in this mess
1) In the 1980's members of the Board of Directors at the Chamber knew I was a diver and spent a lot of time out in the Gulf
2) When Florida Power Corporation proposed a De-sal plant at Anclote River (Yes that was the first location) they sent me to the FPC dog and pony show to investigate. While there I had a conversation with then County Commissioner Todd
3) Commissioner Todd invited me to represent the Chamber at 1995 “Year of the Gulf” symposium celebrating 500th year since the discovery of the Gulf of Mexico.
4) When Leslie Waters was running for a Fla. State House seat she heard I knew a little about the De-sal issues and she hunted me down. I told her “De-sal is a bad deal, too much stuff in the water column and too much pressure need to push through the the membranes – Brackish water Reverse Osmosis would use Pinellas County a a primary filter, so no critters to deal with, a lower salt concentrate and and would operate at 125 psi rather that 600 psi.” When asked in a Public Forum with cameras rolling her opinion on De-sal she regurgitated my answer and made all the other candidates look stupid so she got elected.
5) Leslie was elected and when Jeb was looking for nominee appointments for the SWFWMD Basin Boards Leslie nominated me, I was approved by the Senate and appointed by Governor Bush.
6) I was then appointed twice by Gov. Bush, which was quiet uncommon and twice by Gov Crist. I was paroled by Gov. Scott when he was looking for ways to reduce the size of Government. See the article attached below referenced in the subject line.
7) I'm equally as happy with the positive things I was able to do on the Basin Board as I am with the the stupid things I was able to prevent SWFWMD from doing during my service. I did not always prevail in those efforts.
I suggest we encourage the governor to have SWFWMD complete the necessary shot screening at the the District's expense for Skyway's continued existence as an established 85 year old sporting clays location in central Pinellas County.
Terry England, former Pinellas – Anclote Basin Board member
IF GOVERNOR CAN ABOLISH SEVEN (7) Basin Boards, He can stat the ball rolling to abolish SWFWMD.