Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Florida Senate panel refuses to confirm Swiftmud chief

In what board members of the Southwest Florida Water Management District are interpreting as a political power play, a key Senate committee this week failed to confirm the water board's executive director.

The Senate Ethics and Elections Committee confirmed the executive directors of the other four state water management districts, but not Dave Moore, who for five years has been executive director of the agency commonly known as Swiftmud.

Moore, facing the possible loss of his $194,000-a-year post, did not respond to a request for comment Friday.

The committee's chairman, Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, said Moore's confirmation was being held up at the request of another senator, but he didn't know who.

"It was a request of the fourth floor — the senate president's office," Constantine said. "They said a senator had requested it."

Water district board vice chairman Neil Combee said the freeze on Moore is a signal that someone in Tallahassee is displeased with Moore.

"Sometimes messages are sent, and sometimes they're subtle or not so subtle," the former Polk County commissioner said.

But Combee said he wasn't sure what the message was. He also said he has not discussed the matter with Sen. J.D. Alexander, R-Lakeland, a close friend a political ally.

Alexander hung up on a reporter who called for comment.

Another board member, former Manatee County Commissioner Pat Glass, blamed "a hidden agenda" by state Sen. Ronda Storms, R-Plant City, involving the deal Tampa is trying to cut to sell its reclaimed water to phosphate giant Mosaic and Tampa Electric Co.

"It certainly is a twist on the usual political machinations," Glass said. "It's not too clever."

Storms did not respond to several requests for comment.

Water district board chairwoman Judith Whitehead of Brooksville said she wants the board to vote next week to rehire Moore. That way he could at least keep his job for another year, and then he could try again for Senate confirmation in 2009. Combee and board members Todd Pressman of Clearwater and Ronald Oakley of Zephyrhills said they would support such a move.

"He will without a doubt be confirmed next year," Combee predicted.

The 13-member water district board, a state agency that collects taxes and oversees water supply planning for a 16-county area, meets in Tampa on Tuesday.

Moore, 51, of Odessa was hired by the board on a 7-3 vote in 2003. A geologist who had worked for Swiftmud for 20 years, Moore's initial hiring for the top job was held up because of opposition from Tallahassee. The then-head of the state Department of Environmental Protection, David Struhs, objected that the board was rushing its decision.

Since then, Moore has won high marks from the board. He had already been confirmed by the Senate Environmental Preservation and Conservation Committee on a 5-0 vote last week.

Florida Senate panel refuses to confirm Swiftmud chief 04/25/08 [Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2008 10:23pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Looking Back: St. Petersburg does the Calypso with Jacques Cousteau (July 15, 1975)


    This story appeared in the pages of the St. Petersburg Times on July 15, 1975. What follows is the text of the original story, interspersed with photos of the event taken by Times staff photographer Weaver Tripp.

    Jacques Cousteau (center), Sen. John T. Ware, R-St. Petersburg (left) and an unidentified man (right) speak to the media about potentially moving the Cousteau Society to the city of St. Petersburg.

TIMES | Weaver Tripp
  2. Hernando commissioners question sheriff's accounting of federal inmate dollars

    Local Government

    BROOKSVILLE — As Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis and his staff presented his proposed 2017-18 budget earlier this month, county Commissioner Steve Champion threw out an unexpected question.

    Sheriff Al Nienhuis and the county fought over his department’s budget last year.
  3. Unused county property in Pasco could soon sprout community gardens

    Local Government

    NEW PORT RICHEY — Unused property in Pasco County may soon sprout community gardens that beautify neighborhoods and promote healthier lifestyles among residents, thanks to an ordinance passed unanimously Tuesday by the County Commission.

    A new Pasco ordinance allows the public to build community gardens and farms on county-owned property and also provides design, operations and maintenance standards for them.
  4. Treasure Island city manager search to start from scratch

    Local Government

    TREASURE ISLAND — City commissioners, disappointed with the number and quality of applicants for city manager, decided Tuesday to start over and hire an executive search firm.

    Treasure Island Commissioner Ken Keys thought adding former Madeira Beach city manager Shane Crawford to the pool would "bring a little too much drama.''
  5. Family escapes fire that destroys New Tampa home


    A family is safe after an overnight fire destroyed a single-story home in New Tampa on Thursday, according to Tampa Fire Rescue.

    An overnight house fire destroyed a home at 10265 Estuary Dr in New Tampa on Thursday. The family's smoke detectors helped everyone get out of the house safely, fire officials said. [Tampa Fire Rescue]