Rick Scott's decision to appoint a pro-business corporate executive to the South Florida Water Management District's governing board is not exactly stunning. This is the governor, after all, who declared Florida "open for business."
But Timothy Sargent, an at-large member who now represents Broward, Palm Beach, Miami-Dade, and three other counties on the water board, is no ordinary businessman. He's a chief financial officer for Huizenga Holdings Inc., the real estate conglomerate founded by billionaire Wayne Huizenga that owns marinas and yacht-related companies in Florida.
Coincidentally, a Huizenga-owned company, Rybovich, is planning to build a yacht-repair center in Riviera Beach and needs to dredge the area to make room for megayachts. The dredging will require permission from the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers -- government
agencies that work closely with the water management district.
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Now that Sargent sits on the board of a major environmental agency -- the water management district -- will Rybovich get special treatment? Will Sargent's rulings on water issues impact Huizenga's other marina deals?
Only time will tell. But one thing is clear: Appointing a real estate developer to the board that protects South Florida's water resources is akin to putting a tobacco exec on the board of the American Cancer Society. Somewhere along the line, comparisons to foxes and hen houses are inevitable.