ALERT! Former Basin Board Member Confirms SWFWMD Abusive Conduct
DATE: February 15, 2016
TO: USF & NRA Members and Friends
FROM: Marion P. Hammer
USF Executive Director
NRA Past President
Former South West Florida Water Management (SWFWMD) Basin Board Member Terry England sent a letter to Governor Rick Scott in which he confirms the deliberately malicious conduct of SWFWMD and their actions to shut down the Skyway Trap & Skeet Club.
Ask yourself: How long could the club/range where you shoot and practice survive under this kind of malicious attack?
Mr. England gave us permission to share with the letter below with you.
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, Eminent 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 the runoff from I-275 or surrounding 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 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 head 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 mess 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'."
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 once the Governor found out the truth about what SWFWMD Legal Counsel was doing.
In 1999 I was nominated by Governor Jeb Bush for appointment to the SWFWMD Basin Board and I was approved by the Senate and subsequently appointed.
I was then appointed twice by Gov. Bush, which was quiet uncommon and twice by Gov Crist. I was dismissed by Gov. Scott when he was looking for ways to reduce the size of Government. See the article attached below.
I'm equally as happy with the positive things I was able to do on the Basin Board as I am with 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 Governor Rick Scott to have SWFWMD complete the necessary shot screening at 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
Please IMMEDIATELY send an email to Governor Rick Scott and tell him, Abolish SWFWMD now, or stop them from ever again harming the Skyway Trap & Skeet Club.
In the subject line put: PLEASE ABOLISH SWFWMD
(Block and Copy his email addresses into the "Send To" box)
PLEASE DO IT TODAY. Tell Governor what you think about this conduct