Update: Missing document found. See here.
There’s no question that Monroe County spending on Cudjoe Regional is out of control. That project now costs over $22,000 per EDU. (An EDU is equivalent to one single family home.) But Cudjoe Regional wasn’t the county’s first wastewater project to go so far off the rails. That would have been Big Coppitt, which cost over $21,000 per EDU. In both cases, county-wide taxpayers were expected to come to rescue. We taxpayers financed almost half of Big Coppitt and over 60% of Cudjoe Regional. I’d say we’ve certainly earned the right to ask questions and have those questions answered truthfully. Wouldn’t you agree?
The over-spending is bad enough. But, as it turns out, Big Coppitt has also had ongoing problems meeting effluent requirements. Citizens report sinking trenches throughout the collection system. The Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority (FKAA), the county’s “partner” on the wastewater projects tries to keep these issues quiet. But the documents available at the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) provide lots of information that you will never hear from the FKAA.
Richard Toppino of Charley Toppino & Sons was recently appointed to the FKAA board. It was an odd decision by Governor Scott. You see, Charley Toppino & Sons does business with the FKAA quite regularly. Richard Toppino was very forthcoming about that fact on his application. FKAA staff, however, lied about how much business the Toppino companies have actually done with the FKAA. I haven’t even gotten to the bottom of all that yet, but I will.
Charley Toppino & Sons, in fact, did well over $9 million worth of work on the Big Coppitt project, the project which is now having trouble meeting effluent requirements on a regular basis.
Here’s another strange thing about Big Coppitt. It was bid twice. The first bid took place in January 2007. All bids were rejected. The January 2007 bid tabulation was never made public. At no point was it included in any FKAA agenda back-up. Very unusual. I recently submitted a public records request asking for that document. I was told it no longer exists.
Subsequent to that, Robert Feldman, FKAA’s attorney said this to the press in response to concerns that FKAA was improperly deleting emails.
“We do now and will continue to retain every document, every email, and every record,” Feldman said.
If that’s true then the rejected Big Coppitt bid should still be available. So I resubmitted my public information request. We’ll see what they say. I predict that my email will either be completely ignored, or there will be some legalistic tap dancing. It’s very clear to me that the FKAA and the county would both like to prevent this particular document from seeing the light of day. I wonder why.