Florida Keys News - Islamorada/KL Free Press
Wednesday, January 9, 2013
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Sewer board back up to five with Scott's OK

KEY LARGO -- Following a months-long dispute with Gov. Rick Scott's office, the Key Largo Wastewater Board is welcoming back David Asdourian to fill the fifth seat on the dais.

The district has been down a board member since the Nov. 6 election, when attorneys for the governor's office said Asdourian's appointment by the board was no longer valid and a special election should be held.

That election was estimated to cost district ratepayers about $35,000, something no one on the board wanted.

The board then appealed to state Rep. Holly Raschein, R-Key Largo, to begin talking with Tallahassee leaders to push the appointment through.

"We had a wonderful conference call with the governor's chief of staff," Raschein said.

To validate the appointment, it took several emails and phone calls, Raschein said.

Board members Norm Higgins and Robby Majeska both lauded the work of Raschein, who the district also hopes to lean on to secure state grants.

Though it appears everything will go through for Asdourian, he is cautious about the appointment until he is back on the dais.

"Until we see something black and white from the governor, I want to be careful, but I've been assured by [board attorney Ray Giglio] that I'll be back on the board," Asdourian told the Free Press last week.

Asdourian was expected to take his seat during the board's Tuesday, Jan. 8, meeting, which took place after press time.

In a three-page letter to the district, Jesse Panuccio, Scott's general counsel, wrote that the appointment complies with the charter because the board attempted to get the vacancy on the election ballot.

Asdourian, who has lived in Key Largo since 1993, recently retired from AT&T, where he worked on aerial and underground cable installation.

In August, board member Susan Hammaker resigned her seat with two years left on her term. Hammaker purposely waited until after the county elections supervisor's Aug. 7 deadline to put her seat on the Nov. 6 ballot in hopes that the board would tap Steve Gibbs to fill her seat.

Gibbs expressed initial interest in an appointment, but later bowed out and won a seat on the board as the top vote-getter in the Nov. 6 election.

According to Panuccio, the entire controversy could have been averted.

"In any event, this situation could have been avoided if Ms. Hammaker had been advised to resign in advance of the Aug. 7 deadline," Panuccio wrote.

jgore@keysnews.com

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