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Former Conservation Chair Eric Rollings Clashes with Current Chair Daisy Morales Over Sunshine Law

ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – The Orange Soil & Water Conservation District, a little-known state agency, was entrenched in verbal fireworks and threats Friday, February 8, 2019 through former Board Chair and Supervisor Eric Rollings, who clashed with current Chair and Supervisor Daisy Morales over her compliance with the Florida Sunshine Law. The board’s monthly meeting was scheduled for 3:30pm in Orange County Commission Chambers.

Chair Morales and Seat 1 Supervisor Michael Barber were present and seated in the chambers ten minutes prior to the board’s designated meeting time Friday. Others present included Jacques Werleigh, strategic engagement coordinator with Orange County Environmental Protection Division (EPD), who wished to speak, USDA-NRCS District Conservationist Chuck O’Rourke and State Senator Victor Torres aide Debra Booth.

At 3:30pm, Chair Morales asked Supervisor Barber if the meeting was properly noticed to the public according to the Florida Sunshine Law. Supervisor Barber said he didn’t know since Seat 5 Supervisor Tiffany Dziekan, who was elected Secretary by the Board during its January 2019 meeting and responsible for providing proper notice of the meeting to the public, was absent from the meeting.

(l-r) Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Board Vice Chair and Supervisor Daisy Morales, Board Chair and Supervisor Eric Rollings, and Supervisor Dziekan attend a board meeting April 12, 2017. Photo: Willie David/florida National News.

(l-r) Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Board Vice Chair and Supervisor Daisy Morales, Board Chair and Supervisor Eric Rollings, and Supervisor Dziekan attend a regular board meeting. Photo: Willie David/florida National News.

Supervisor Barber was Secretary prior to the January election.

With Vice Chair and Seat 4 Supervisor Dawn Curtis and Seat 3 Supervisor and Board Public Relations Representative Nicole McLaren also absent, Chair Morales and Supervisor Barber noted that there was no quorum and Chair Morales announced that due to no quorum and no proper public notice, the board will next meet March 8, 2019 at 3:30pm. She and the other attendees, except Supervisor Barber, departed five minutes later.

At approximately 3:40pm, former chair Eric Rollings, who appeared outraged and frustrated, stormed into the County Commission chambers to speak with Supervisor Barber. “Daisy has no right to do this. She has no right to adjourn anything!” he told Supervisor Barber and Florida National News, which was on hand to cover the meeting and interview Supervisor Barber.

Eric Rollings submitted his letter to resign as Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor and Board Chair in June 2018 to run for Orange County Commissioner, District 3 in the 2018 mid-term election. He lost the election to Mayra Uribe and his resignation took effect December 4, 2018, at which point Vice Chair Daisy Morales became Chair. Photo: Willie David/Florida National News.

Eric Rollings submitted his letter to resign as Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Supervisor and Board Chair in June 2018 to run for Orange County Commissioner, District 3 in the 2018 mid-term election. He lost the election to Mayra Uribe and his resignation took effect December 4, 2018, at which point Vice Chair Daisy Morales became Chair. Photo: Willie David/Florida National News.

Rollings slammed Chair Morales for her quick departure, stating that she could have waited for Vice Chair Curtis to arrive in order to have a quorum. “I’ve waited as long as thirty minutes to have a quorum to start a meeting,” he told Florida National News. He accused Chair Morales of not complying with state law and attempted to cite an Attorney General Opinion that challenges her decision to leave on the basis of public notice. “She’s crazy. She’s trying to manipulate people.” Rollings said that he would file a complaint against Chair Morales and blast the incident across social media.

“You can report on that, too,” Rollings repeatedly told FNN News.

Vice Chair Curtis arrived a few moments later. She too expressed frustration at Chair Morales’s departure. “This [departure] was deliberate,” she said.

Supervisor Barber said Rollings’s behavior was unnecessary. “It wasn’t that serious.”

Chair Morales told Florida National News in a phone interview that Rollings accosted her in the parking lot as she was leaving and prior to entering the chambers. “I was backing out, and he approached my car and knocked on my window,” Morales explained. “I rolled my window down and he said, ‘What are you doing? You can’t do this! You have no power, Daisy!'” She told Florida National News that she didn’t answer him and instead left to avoid further harassment and bullying.

According to Chair Morales, all Supervisors were given notice roughly 20 days prior to the meeting to arrive timely in order to have a quorum.

 

THE PUBLIC NOTICE ISSUE

According to the February 2018 meeting minutes, Supervisor Dziekan proposed changing the meeting time from 3pm because it presented a challenge for her to arrive to the meetings on time. Chair Rollings suggested 3:30pm could work as the new time, which was accepted by the board, effective from March 2018 forward.

While the board agreed to the new time, the meeting information listed for the public on the Orange County Administration’s message board still had the old time listed–3pm, which caused EPD’s Werleigh to arrive at that time.

The Orange Soil & Water Conservation District meeting schedule (pinned on the left sheet, right column, fourth from the bottom) is posted on the Orange County Administration message board. Photo: Florida National News.

The Orange Soil & Water Conservation District meeting schedule (pinned on the left sheet, right column, fourth from the bottom) is posted on the Orange County Administration message board. Photo: Florida National News.

According to the Florida Sunshine Law, conservation district meetings require three supervisors physically present to have a quorum and a minimum seven days’ advanced public notice in order for a meeting to proceed.

Rollings’s admission of waiting thirty minutes to have a quorum appears to be a violation of Florida Sunshine Law. A thirty-minute delayed start warrants a new meeting, which could not satisfy the Florida Sunshine Law’s required seven-day minimum to notify the public.

Chair Morales told FNN News that she wants to ensure the Orange Soil & Water Conservation District is in compliance with rules and state law to better serve the people of Orange County.

 

2 comments

  1. Mrs. Trini Quiroz Reply

    It appears to be a total lack of respect and unacceptable the manner in which Rollins confronted chair Morales.

    Perhaps…He like many others feel is ok to disrespect Hispanic elected officials.

    It was mentioned to me by that he has disrespected Chair Morales OC highest vote getter ever in previous occasions.
    Are deputies assigned for order keeping at these meetings?

  2. Jay Reply

    If they want to be in compliance, why don’t they have a website?

    FS 189.069(1) Requires all special districts to maintain an official separate website.

    FS 189.069(2) Sets the minimum guidelines for information on the website. Some of those items are:

    · The public purpose of the special district
    · A listing of all taxes, fees, assessments, or charges imposed and collected by the special district
    · A code of ethics
    · The budget of the special district in accordance with FS 189.016
    · A listing of its regularly scheduled public meetings as required by 189.015(1)
    · At least 7 days before each meeting, the agenda of the event. This information is to remain on the website for a minimum of 1 year after the event.

    http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?mode=View%20Statutes&SubMenu=1&App_mode=Display_Statute&Search_String=189.069&URL=0100-0199/0189/Sections/0189.069.html

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