County Commissioner George Neugent: promises made, promises broken – lower Florida Keys sewer system


More email discourse with County Commissioner George Neugent,

George Neugent

in whose county voting district the entire Cudjoe regional sewer system will lie when it is completed. The first email, from me to George. contains text and pics reproduced from yesterday’s post at Then comes George’s reply, then my reply, then George’s reply, then my reply.

Subject: RE: Town Looking To Pass Maintenance Burden To Homeowners – Waterford Govern…
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2014 11:11:27 -0500

Morning, George –

I suppose if politicians talk long enough, they hang themselves. I mean, if grinder pumps are so great and reliable and cost less, why use any gravity sewering in the Keys? Why not use grinder pump sewering all the way?

Between yours of late, and my conversation with Todd German yesterday, who explained his camp’s journey through FKAA and BOCC, which was separate from Walt Drabinski’s journey, enough fermenting happened in my noggin’ to result in that question above and this below, which is part of today’s post at and, the teaser for which went out a little while ago to BOCC and FKAA folks, and quite a few civilians.

I had the most bizarre string of thoughts come to me during one of my waking episodes last night, between dreams I was having on my planet, to help me get a grip on what is going on here on this planet. The most bizarre string of thoughts had to do with a running email rumble with County Commissioner George Neugent


over the past few days, regarding the county government hiring out Florida Keys Aqueduct Authority to sewer the Keys with as many grinder pumps as possible, although FKAA preferred gravity sewer systems wherever possible.

pelican pooping

I realized between times on my planet last night, where thinking is straightforward and sensible, unlike on this planet, that I had been looking squarely in the face of what is so obvious that I was not able to see it through the fog which envelopes this planet pretty much all the time.

head up ass

What I saw through that fog was George Neugent and his brother and sister county commissioners, and their engineer Kevin Wilson, their ramrod for the sewering of the lower Keys, REALLY FUCKED UP!

Pearl Harbor lookoutPearl Harbor 1

Pearl Harbor lookout

How they REALLY FUCKED UP was by not using grinder pumps everywhere in the lower Keys! According to them, grinder pumps and their transmission lines are cheaper than gravity systems. Grinder pumps work better and are more reliable than gravity systems. Grinder pumps cost less to maintain than gravity systems. Grinder pump lines are laid shallow in the right of way, while gravity lines are laid in the middle of the road, which requires digging up the road and burying the gravity lines, then filling in the hole and totally repaving the road at great expense.

What were George and his brother and sister commissioners and their ramrod Kevin thinking? Why would they use gravity systems at all, when robust, according to Kevin at the recent FKAA Board meeting, grinder pump systems were avalailble for a lot less money and trouble? Why would they use gravity, when George and his brother commissioner David Rice have said they wish they had grinder pumps at their homes in Marathon? Why would they use gravity, when by using grinder pumps everywhere, they could free up a heap more of the 1% infrastructure sales tax the voters passed a few years back, to pay for sewering the Keys, and fixing Keys bridges, and buying the really important things the Keys need, like  privately own marinas, fixing up Seven Mile Bridge so pedestrians can continue to walk on it, etc?

Now, if I were from George and his brother and sister commissioners and their ramrod Kevin’s planet, and if I lived in the Keys and paid county taxes, I would be feeling a tad more than hugely upset right about now about all that money George and his brother and sister commissioners and their ramrod Kevin wasted by using gravity sewer systems in part of the lower Keys, instead of using the cheaper, better, longer lasting, more efficient, robust grinder pump systems throughout the lower Keys. I would be so tad more than hugely upset, that I would be passing out petitions to put a referendum on the ballot to recall the 1% infrastructure sales tax. I would be so tad more than hugely upset, that I would be passing out petitions to put a second referendum on the ballot to recall George and his brother and sister commissioners. As for their ramrod Kevin, I would give him an honorary degree in this kind of engineering to mount on his office wall.

down the rabbit hole

Subject: Re: Town Looking To Pass Maintenance Burden To Homeowners – Waterford Govern…
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2014 19:42:42 +0000

Afternoon Sloan,
Let me say up front, once again, the BOCC had no input into the system design. The BOCC, or at least speaking only for myself, has no professional expertise or education in Wastewater design so we are limited to listening to our and FKAA’s staff, or at least should be. Our staff with engineering background support the design, therefore, I do too. Or is it also?
I would equate the FKAA to a football team’s quarterback role, you either trust him to get the job done or find another. In this case the Fl. legislature, as the general manager, drafted our Qback and has in his contract, through legislation, You gotta play him.
Based on 20 years of history, with the present Qback, We have no justification to pull him.
Has he won every game? No. Fumbled the ball? Yes. However, all things considered he’s done an excellent job for the most part – keep him in the game? An unequivocal yes.
Now, for my personal opinion, I would have looked at using either all vacuum & some grinders, or all grinders in BPK, and all gravity within areas of allowable elevations in the densely identified areas of SK, C, SL. I’m sure Tom Walker could justify why he didn’t. And in your area of, “Well if grinders are so great…” Why don’t you use all grinders?  Sloan, no one that I’m aware of, as you go off on these tangential, non sequitur paths, disagrees that gravity is preferred over all else because it has less moving parts. At the same time no one disagrees that it is the most capital intensive, while at the same time saying that, and it is irrefutable, “all 3 work!”
The system designed by FKAA will work, it represents best management of $s to bring as many as possible under the umbrella of central treatment.

Sent from my iPad
Subject: RE: Town Looking To Pass Maintenance Burden To Homeowners – Waterford Govern…
Date: Fri, 10 Jan 2014 22:31:06 -0500

Gosh, George, this last email from you is quite a switcharoo from your prior emails; you no longer know anything about what you were holding forth as if you were all-knowing.

Sadly, you were approached by several of your constituents, who actually knew something, or you were forwarded emails from people who knew something, and you blew them off with various put-downs, condemnations, whines. You told Banks Prevatt in an email that what he had done, which had not set well with you, was unforgivable.
I was told that several of those constituents work for either Monroe County or FKAA, and are not willing to show their faces and have their names disclosed because they fear retaliation from their own employer. Given my experiences and observatons in the Keys, their fear is justified. 
You know, don’t you, George, that all of your emails of late on this topic were seen by a whole lot of people, most of whom are your constituents. Other viewers were your brother and sister county commissioners, FKAA officials and journalists you know. They probably will see this latest from you, which I already forwarded to Banks, with this note:
“Did George just do a 180 and declare himself a grinder pump/gravity/vacuum ignoramus, and he’s just a victim of his own staff and FKAA?”
And they probably will see this from me to you, which will be copied to Banks.
Too bad, George, that you weren’t at the FKAA Board meeting in Key West about three weeks ago, to hear your “engineer”, Kevin Wilson, try to snow the FKAA Board about grinder pumps. When he was finished, Bob Dean, Chairman of the FKAA Board, looked at the audience, all from your voting district, George, and said FKAA prefers gravity and will install it if the County Commission provides the funding. Bob Dean said before any of your constituents spoke during citizen comments, that FKAA preferred gravity to grinders. Did Kevin bring that message back to his bosses, who rely so heavily on him?
Spin it any way you wish, George. The buck for this stops with you, first, because this conflagration all is in your voting district, and with the other county commissioners second. None of you five can lay this off on Kevin, or on FKAA, or on anyone working for FKAA. The buck stops with the County Commission, period, the end, and you, of all people, George, know that. This last email from you is an insult to your office, your constituents, and to the people of the Keys, and to your Creator.
From what I have heard, FKAA wanted to maximize gravity from the beginning, but when it brought its first sewer design to the county for approval, which used grinder pumps only where gravity was not feasible, you and the rest of the where the buck stops rejected it, because it cost too much. 
So, FKAA came back with the design Todd German and Bill Huner didn’t like, and you and the other four where the buck stops gave that camp gravity wherever it was feasible, instead of telling them they were going to get grinder pumps everywhere, because they were cheaper, reliable, and as environmentally good as gravity. 
You and the other four where the buck stops did the same for Walt Drabinski’s camp, when Walt objected to grinder pumps. You did not force grinder pumps on Walt’s camp, because they were cheaper, reliable and as environmentally good as gravity.
You called those shots, George; you and the other county commissioners. Banks’ camp simply is asking for the same treatment you gave those two camps, which actually are not as densely populated in some areas as are areas above there: Summerland Key, Ramrod Key, Little Torch Key, part of Big Pine Key.
Banks and another of your constituents, who did the research, seem convinced Tom Walker lied about owning a home with a grinder system in Sarasota. 
It appears the grinder pump supplier set up an office in Marathon, where two county commissioners live, you and David Rice, about 3 years ago, and started stocking up on grinder pumps in a warehouse there, not sure when the stocking up started.
It appears the grinder pump supplier never did a project anywhere close to this big on the mainland, and is a new kid on the block in the Keys.
It appears a salesman for that grinder pump supplier designed the second sewer system FKAA presented to you and the other county commissioners, which all five of you, knowing nothing, based on your latest email, about what you were approving, approved it.
It appears FKAA has had trouble with grinder pumps installed at its own installations.
It appears grinder pumps use high pressure lines, which spring leaks that cannot be detected; thus the leaks cannot be stopped, thus the leaks go into the ground outside the lines and infiltrate the dirt and sand, and then bleed into the shallow saltwater table, and from there into the bays and ocean, which is the very thing, land and water pollution with human feces, the area of critical concern designation and sewer mandate from Tallahassee was intended to stop happening.
It appears low pressure gravity lines also spring leaks, but because the pressure in the lines is less than the water pressure outside the lines, which are buried below the water table, the lines leak inward, instead of outward, and there is no pollution of the water table, but there is saltwater bleeding into the lines. Gravity line leaks can be detected and dug down to and repaired.
It appears grinder pumps break down and then wear out in about ten years, or so, and have to be replaced.
Grinder pumps stop working when electricity goes out, and in a big storm, ie. a Hurricane Wilma-like event, when the power goes out for a week or two, grinder pumps will not work and people’s toilets, tubs and sinks will back up with human waste, and their yards might well overflow with it, as happened in a New Jersey grinder pump subdivision during/after Hurricane Sandy. 
FKAA has not the manpower to deal with anything like a Hurricane Wilma event. It barely has the manpower to take care of its gravity systems, when their pumps go out during extended power outages. And, FKAA evacuates its employees, Todd German, told me yesterday, ahead of big hurricanes.
Except for the evacuation statement above, all of the above information was provided to you by Banks and other of your constituents, and to the other four where the buck stops (county commissioners), in emails which also were copied or forwarded to me, which emails I published to, and sometimes at
I find it really hard to believe any of the above information about grinder pumps and gravity is news to you, George, nor to the other county commissioners. A project this big and expensive, everyone of you did your research, and what you did was decide to go with a lot of grinder pumps on private property, instead using gravity wherever feasible, because you didn’t want to spend that much money sewering the lower Keys. 
It appears you five where the buck stops had other projects in mind for the 1% infrastructure sales tax. 
If you five had been at the recent FKAA meeting, you would have heard Kevin Wilson tell the FKAA Board that it would be unconscionable to require the County Commission to spend the 1% infrastructure tax only on sewering the lower Keys, instead of on other things the County Commission wanted to spend that tax on. Kevin said the current sewer design was robust, it was fully funded, and that freed up the 1% sales tax for other things you five where the buck stops wanted to buy.
Maybe you should have been at that FKAa meeting, George. Maybe being there would have gotten your attention. Or, maybe the only thing that could get your attention was what I published this morning: that it was malfeasance for you five where the buck stops not to use only grinder systems in the lower Keys, because you five where the buck stops knew they were cheaper and as reliable and as good for the environment as gravity. 
Better for the environment is the only reason the lower Keys are being sewered pursuant to the area of critical concern designation and mandate.
You can’t have it both ways, George. And rest assured, how this goes from here will be how your legacy goes in the lower Keys, and throughout the Keys if you break your 2010 campaign promise that you would not [run] again. Your campaign slogan that year was, “Promises made, promises kept.” 
If you run again this year, George, all of the above is going to be told throughout the Keys, throughout the campaign season. 
It is not too late for you to do all you can to try to get the grinder mess you created in your voting district, George, when you approved it, straightened out. If you try to get it straightened out, you will be remembered for that. If you do not try to get it straightened out, you will be remembered for that, instead.
I do not believe, George, that you can trust Kevin Wilson or county staff, or Tom Walker or Kirk Zeulch.
You owe Banks and other of your lower Keys constituents an apology, George. You should know more about grinder pumps than they do. They should not have been put to having to try to school you, and you should have listened to them when they tried to do that, after it became clear to them that you needed schooling in grinder pumps. 

Subject: Re: Town Looking To Pass Maintenance Burden To Homeowners – Waterford Govern…
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2014 05:35:09 +0000

******Not true Sloan, I have only said I know pumps, not engineered sewer designs or systems beyond the lay person level. I have trained and studied pumps & rheology. In my previous life I worked with, dismantled and reassembled pumps of all kind. Pumps, electric, diesel, diesel-electric, positive displacement, high pressure, low pressure, triplex, duplex, centrifugal… and fluids – diesel, water – fresh/saltwater, Acids HCL, with inhibitors, surfactants, mud – high viscosity, high density (super saturated, weighted muds with ilmanite to 20#s per gallon), cement with additives of loss circulation material, cement with retardants so that  we could “squeeze” cement or other fluids into perforations 20,000′ below the surface under high temp and pressures of 20,000 psi, gypsum with flash setting capabilities,10,000bbls of Frac fluid to increase the permeability of oil and gas trapped in sandstone formations thousands of feet below the surface. Servicing oil & gas wells throughout the US & SA was my profession Sloan, and I did it for companies like Koch oil, Anardarko, Texaco, Gulf, Freeport McMoran, Shell, Chevron, Union, Humble, Exxon, Placid, Hunt Bros, Getty, Boots & Coots, Red Adair….  I said I understand pumps, most all pumps – including grinder pumps.*******
Sloan Sloan, do you really think that I don’t know that you share your comments with all. You receive great pleasure putting yourself into a situation of some kind of translucent “lime light”
of which fact, logic or sense has no place. I just responded to a Banks email to me. He said he didn’t want them to be public – we’ll see. If he wants to share with you he can. As you well know Sloan we are county commissioners not single member districts like KW commissioners. We represent all. I’m only one of 5 commissioners. 3 makes a majority. I do my best to provide myself to constituents to discuss the facts of the matter at hand.
Employees are protected by commissioners, law, unions, and career service.
“If” that was said, by a board member it was a cop out. The BOCC had NO input in the design of the CR System. Why would the board approve a system that they did not believe in, if they did, that would be morally objectionable. They’re appointed by the governor, completely insulated to say or do as they want with no reprisal by constituents, by anyone once appointed – why would they allow their engineers to design something they didn’t approve of? Why would they then sign off on the design without ever objecting to the BOCC? 
Subject: RE: Town Looking To Pass Maintenance Burden To Homeowners – Waterford Govern…
Date: Sat, 11 Jan 2014 06:23:57 -0500

Good morning, George 

Then, if you know pumps that well, we are back to yesterday morning’s from me to you. 
Grinder pumps are superior in every way – price, installation cost, maintenance, environment – but you, and the other four county commissioners, did not require grinders be used across the board and save a lot of taxpayer money. Knowingly wasting taxpayer money is malfeasance.
As for FKAA …
FKAA should have told you and the other 4 county commissioners that it was not going to redesign a sewer system it did not prefer, or even use in the Keys, just to get it within the 5 county commissioners perceived budget restriction. FKAA should have done nothing until you 5 gave it the money it needed to do what it felt was best. That was the duty of the FKAA Board, who were appointed by Governor Scott and served at his leisure. They were his stewards for getting the lower Keys sewered in keeping with the area of critical concern environmental mandate. They were not good stewards when they did not stick to their original design, gravity wherever feasible. They knew gravity was best, George. That’s why their first design was gravity wherever feasible. 
The FKAA board dropped that ball again at the FKAA Board meeting I attended. I asked them to tell FKAA crews to stop work on grinder systems until the county commissoners gave FKAA the money it needed to use gravity wherever feasible. The FKAA Board did not give that order. Instead, they appear to have given an order to divert FKAA workers to installing grinder systems as fast as possible, to make it harder for Banks to persuade a court to issue an injunction. That was their third ball drop.
None of it passes the smell test, George. Therefore, it is screwed up at best, rigged otherwise.
Sloanfishy smell

[Apology, there is yet another problem with grinder pumps in the Keys, which got left out when I cut and pasted from a draft into what I sent to George last night. This, too, George has been told by his constituents, as have the other 4 county commissioners. It is that grinder pumps tend to stop working if they are not used regularly. There are lots of snowbird homeowners in the Keys who leave the Keys for months at a time. When they return, if they have grinder pumps, there is a good chance they will return to a home with a non-working grinder pump.]
There is a different post today at, which you should be able to reach by clicking on that link today, and by clicking on this link anytime:

About Sloan

That's what this website is about, also and If you can't get a publisher to take on your wacky musing, you do it yourself.
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