Melissa Meeker, executive director of the South Florida Water Management District, resigned on Tuesday without explanation or a departure date.
In a single-page email sent Tuesday afternoon to Herschel T. Vinyard, Jr., Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, Rachel Cone, Director of Strategic Planning in the governor’s office and to district staff, Meeker said she wanted to fend off rumors about her leaving the district by announcing “firsthand” that she had given her notice of resignation to Daniel O’Keefe, the new chairman of the district’s governing board.
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Christine Stapleton covers environmental issues for the Palm Beach Post. On Monday, she wrote about the South Florida Water Management District staff’s failure to tell its board about an appraisal for the Mecca Farms property that was millions of dollars lower than the district was about to spend for the site.
South Florida Water Management District in the news
- Jan. 20: Billboards: Water district, thanks to last-minute stealth legislation, is getting into the billboard business and gives ex-board member opportunity to build ad platforms on public land.
- Jan. 24: No-bid leases: Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet bless two land deals by the water district that award no-bid, 30-year agricultural leases in the Everglades to major farming companies despite complaints from environmentalists and a water district official that the public was neither aware of nor consulted on the deals. The district came under fire last year for its long-standing policy of renewing agricultural leases without putting them out for competitive bid.
- Feb. 6: Billboards scrapped: Amid a flood of criticism, the water district has reversed plans to allow billboards on its land and to award a contract for them to ex-board member Harkley Thornton, a former business partner of the district’s top official, Melissa Meeker.
- Feb. 27: No-interview hiring: Water district governing board member Dan DeLisi has resigned and accepted a position as the district’s chief of staff. DeLisi, 39, sent his resignation letter to Gov. Rick Scott on Thursday. On Friday, DeLisi said he submitted his application for the chief of staff position. Although he did not interview for the position, on Tuesday DeLisi was offered the job over 53 other applicants.
- March 21: Meeker cleared: An internal investigation requested by Melissa Meeker, executive director of the water district, concludes that neither she nor her staff did any wrong in awarding a billboard contract to her former business partner.
- May 20: Mecca deal: When the water district governing board voted this month to offer Palm Beach County $26 million for a former citrus grove, the same value determined by an appraiser hired by the county, the district’s board was not told of another county appraisal that had valued the property between $14.8 and $22.5 million.