ORLANDO, Fla. (FNN NEWS) – It’s a dark day for the Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors.
The Board appears to be in a crisis in complying with State law and agency rules. Two state agencies, the Florida Commission on Ethics and the Florida Division of Elections, seem to have trouble contacting Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Board Chair Michael Barber, Vice Chair Dawn Curtis and Supervisor Nicole McLaren on critical documents regarding their roles.
Florida Commission on Ethics Couldn’t Find Board Chair Michael Barber
According to emails reviewed by Florida National News, the Florida Commission on Ethics (FCOE) tried unsuccessfully to contact Board Chair and Supervisor Barber, who is an attorney and serves as the financial disclosure coordinator for the Board of Supervisors. The FCOE Program Specialist mailed out a time-sensitive document to his mailing address at 1150 Louisiana Avenue, Winter Park, Florida 32789 on December 25, 2019 that was returned not deliverable. She then emailed him on January 9, 10, 2020 and January 13, 2020 at his Supervisor address and the Board’s main email address to alert him of the returned documents, but got no response.
She subsequently emailed Supervisor Daisy Morales asking for help in contacting Barber. “Is Mr. Barber still on staff?” the Specialist’s January 14th email partly reads, stressing that the documents are time-sensitive.
Here’s the FCOE’s email to Supervisor Daisy Morales and her reply:
On Tue, Jan 14, 2020 at 11:07 AM Pr <PR@leg.state.fl.us> wrote:
The memorandum was mailed out December 25, 2019. The address on record 1150 Louisiana Avenue Winter Park Florida 32789. Returned not deliverable as addressed.
Is Mr. Barber still on staff? The update is time sensitive and there is a deadline to update the disclosure list.
From: Daisy Morales <email@example.com>
Sent: Tuesday, January 14, 2020 11:33 AM
To: Pr <PR@leg.state.fl.us>
Subject: Re: FW: Login Memorandum
Yes, he is. What is the deadline? You can mail Supervisor Michael Barber at the agency’s mailing address:
- Honorable Michael Barber
Seat 1 Supervisor
Orange Soil & Water Conservation District
P.O. Box 532094
Orlando, Florida 32853
Missing this deadline would put the Board in jeopardy with the State.
Vice Chair Curtis and Supervisor McLaren Didn’t Meet State Qualifications
In emails from the Florida Division of Elections reviewed by Florida National News, Vice Chair Curtis and Supervisor McLaren haven’t yet received their State-issued commission certificates declaring their official roles in public office from Governors Ron DeSantis and Rick Scott, respectively. Curtis submitted the $10 commission fee and Oath of Office form within the 30-day deadline. However, according to the Division’s email sent on December 16, 2019, her Oath of Office form “did not have a stamp or seal of the person who witnessed the signature.” Her official four-year term started on January 8, 2019.
The Division of Elections initially mailed their notices to Curtis’s P.O. box, but, like in Supervisor Barber’s case, the letters were returned.
Supervisor McLaren, who is an attorney and is the longest serving elected supervisor on the current Orange Soil & Water Conservation District Board (first elected in 2012) is worse off: Not only has the State not received her 2016 Oath of Office form at all, she is also delinquent on paying the $10 commission fee since her re-election. The State issued a final notice to her on January 5, 2017, but never received the requested materials.
The State reached out to Supervisor Daisy Morales for assistance in reaching the others.
What Happens When One Fails to Qualify for Office
According to Section 114.01, Florida Statutes, one’s failure to qualify for office within 30 days from the commencement of the term of office results in a vacancy in office.
From 2017 to now, Supervisor McLaren and Vice Chair Curtis have voted on issues that came before the Board. Based on the Florida Statutes, both seats are considered vacant.
Supervisors Morales and McLaren on the Chopping Block
Florida National News also recently learned that Board Chair Barber, Vice Chair Curtis and Treasurer Tiffany Dziekan voted during the December 2019 meeting to start a process to remove Supervisors Daisy Morales and Nicole McLaren for failing to attend Board meetings in person. The Board plan to address this issue during its monthly meeting at the Orange County Commission Chambers on Friday, January 17, 2020 at 3:30pm.
With potential financial challenges, two allegedly vacant seats and potentially nullified votes, and lack of Supervisor participation, the Orange Soil & Water Board could lose access to hold their meetings in the Orange County Commission Chambers.
Florida National News has contacted the Governor’s Office and the Secretary of State’s Office for comment on this story. We were unable to get a response. Stay tuned to FloridaNationalNews.com for this developing story.
Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | firstname.lastname@example.org