Rick Scott Defends Herschel Vinyard over Permitting Suspension

By: Jim Turner | Posted: May 31, 2012 3:55 AM
Herschel Vinyard and Connie Bersok

Herschel Vinyard and Connie Bersok | Credit: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers - Flickr

Gov. Rick Scott defended his top natural resources watchdog over the suspension of a wetlands expert who refused to issue a permit to a North Florida company that wanted to use its land to offer businesses wetlands credits.

Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary “Herschel Vinyard has done a great job,” Scott responded Wednesday, when asked if he is satisfied in how the matter was handled.

Scott said he was updated on the case by the DEP through a report or verbal presentation.

“He’s done a real good job making sure we care about the environment, but we make sure the jobs keep going,” Scott added of Vinyard.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, DEP wetlands expert Connie Bersok claimed in a May 9 memo that the business, Highlands Ranch, wanted wetlands credits for preserving land that isn’t considered wet. Two days later she was suspended by Deputy Secretary Jeff Littlejohn.

Read more here.

FDEP Press Secretary Jennifer Diaz confirmed on Wednesday that Bersok has been put on administrative leave with pay and that an investigation is ongoing.

“I do not know when the investigation will end or if it will end up in a report,” Diaz said.

Vinyard, previously the director of a Jacksonville shipyard and an attorney who practiced environmental law, was part of Scott’s Economic Development Transition Team before being tapped to head the DEP in January 2011.

Reach Jim Turner at jturner@sunshinestatenews.com or at (772) 215-9889.

Comments (4)

The Truth Shall Out
9:00AM JUN 8TH 2012
The Investigator General's very brief summary memo states unequivocally that the trumped up charges against Ms. Bersok were baseless. So, Governor Scott, still want to stand by the your corrupt "top natural resource watchdogs", who don't seem to have any idea what the rules actually state?
10:08AM MAY 31ST 2012
Three people agreeing on the appropriateness of state wetland policy who have no scientific understanding of the wetlands they are constitutionally charged with protecting - Jeff Littlejohn, Herschel Vinyard and Rick Scott.

Don't trust the scientific expert who was hired to provide this guidance, trust your own political idealogy to promote development over the protection of the environment - trust instead in Mad Hatter Tea Party politics of the Big Lie where science doesn't matter, is discounted, muzzled, and even punished for being truthful and ethical.

Hopefully someone will challenge the resulting permit as violating state law (see, that was the real argument that Connie Bersok was making - the new proposed allowance for credits would violate existing state law). Of course, any such finding by the court would just become another excuse for Scott to try and pack the court with his own idealogical clones.
9:56AM MAY 31ST 2012
Gov Scott needs to go!

Please go and sign the Petition below! and pass it on to everyone you know.

If the address below does not work go to Google and type in: Signon Florida Right of Recall.

steve johnson
8:59PM JUL 9TH 2012
Gov Scott is protecting the illegal and corrept actions of the Florida Department of Enviromental Protection Agency and putting citizens in danger

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