Gov. Rick Scott has made some interesting environmental appointments lately. His choice for an appointee to the state’s wildlife commission was a former paving contractor who has tangled with environmental regulators in the past, and on Thursday, Scott tapped an ex-chemical exec to sit on the board of the St. Johns River Water Management District.
Scott’s appointment of Charles Roberts raised eyebrows, considering there were several other, seemingly more qualified, applicants.
Gov. Rick Scott faced a choice. He had to fill a seat on the state’s wildlife commission, and 20 people had applied.
Two had previously served on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. A third was president of an influential sportsman’s group. Among the rest were a vice president of the Florida Wildlife Federation, the operator of an animal-rescue group and a former Humane Society investigator.
Scott passed over those applicants to pick Charles W. “Chuck” Roberts III, a Panhandle paving contractor whose company has on several occasions run afoul of state environmental regulations.
“He was selected because Governor Scott and his appointments staff felt he was the best qualified for the position,” explained Scott’s press secretary, Lane Wright.
Roberts, 58, is an avid angler and quail hunter, the owner of a bird-hunting plantation and president of C.W. Roberts Contracting since 1976.
Roberts’ company, C.W. Roberts Contracting, touts its many government contracts on its website, but makes no mention of its many environmental infractions, which were turned up during an examination of state Department of Environmental Protection documents by the Times.
The Times‘ Craig Pittman reports that, while interviewing for the position, Roberts was never questioned about his company’s previous environmental infractions, which include contaminating soil by leaking diesel fuel and pumping an excessive amount of pollutants into the air.
On Wednesday, Scott announced another intriguing appointment — ex-chemical exec George Robbins was placed on the board of the St. Johns River Water Management District. Robbins is the former head of SCM Glidco Organics, a fragrance maker once called “the single, major odor producing source in the community.”
From The Florida Times-Union:
Robbins said he ended up at the water management district because he told Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard, a longtime friend, he’d be happy to help if there was someplace he could be useful.
After more talks, Scott’s office eventually invited him to interview for the unpaid appointed spot and announced his selection Wednesday.
Robbins still needs confirmation by the Florida Senate, and the term he’s filling expires in March.
Robbins sees himself bringing mixed experience – college biology major, corporate executive, regulated industry manager, waterfront homeowner – to an agency whose meetings he has never attended.