Berg­eron: ‘The most im­por­tant thing I’ve got is my rep­u­ta­tion’

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Local - By An­thony Man

Ron Berg­eron said Fri­day he wouldn’t tar­nish his rep­u­ta­tion by do­ing any­thing un­eth­i­cal as a mem­ber of the pow­er­ful board that su­per­vises South Florida wa­ter sup­plies and restora­tion of the Ever­glades.

“The most im­por­tant thing I’ve got is my rep­u­ta­tion,” Berg­eron said in an in­ter­view. “It took me 55 years to have the rep­u­ta­tion, and that’s more im­por­tant than all my suc­cess. I just look for­ward to mak­ing a dif­fer­ence in some­thing I know about.”

The some­thing is the Ever­glades, and he wants to make a dif­fer­ence as a mem­ber of the gov­ern­ing board of the South Florida Wa­ter Man­age­ment Dis­trict. Gov. Ron DeSan­tis wants him there, an­nounc­ing on Jan. 29 he in­tended to ap­point Berg­eron.

The ac­tual ap­point­ment was de­layed so Berg­eron’s busi­ness in­ter­ests

could be ex­am­ined for po­ten­tial con­flicts.

He is CEO of the Berg­eron Fam­ily

of Com­pa­nies, a group of busi­nesses in­clud­ing high­way con­struc­tion, rock pits and quar­ries, agri­cul­ture, real es­tate de­vel­op­ment, solid waste man­age­ment and disas­ter re­cov­ery ser­vices.

“It was my rec­om­men­da­tion to the gov­er­nor that I go through the Ethics Com­mis­sion be­cause I’m a busi­ness­man. My com­pa­nies are all over Amer­ica and I wanted to make sure that ev­ery­thing was trans­par­ent, and what I would have to ab­stain from,” he said.

Berg­eron said Fri­day the staff of the Florida Com­mis­sion on Ethics has com­pleted its re­view, and he is await­ing ac­tion by the com­mis­sion. The panel has a meet­ing sched­uled for April 12; no agenda has yet been posted.

DeSan­tis said on March 15 he hoped to be able to ap­point Berg­eron in April — and gave him a strong show of sup­port.

“Ron­nie is unique be­cause this guy is, he bleeds, Ever­glades. This is his life, and his pas­sion is very clear. And so nor­mally, on a nor­mal

per­son I wouldn’t have wanted to go through a screen like this. I would just say ‘Look, I’ll find some­one else.’ But I think be­cause Ron­nie is some­body who would clearly un­der­stand the Ever­glades and it’s a pas­sion of his, I just think the board would ben­e­fit from hav­ing his lead­er­ship on there,” DeSan­tis said at the time.

Af­ter DeSan­tis said he’d ap­point Berg­eron, Trea­sure Coast News­pa­pers re­ported that Berg­eron signed a con­tract for one of his com­pa­nies to com­plete an­other com­pany’s un­fin­ished work on a storm wa­ter treat­ment area in western Martin County.

Berg­eron said there was noth­ing im­proper about that con­tract.

“We bid that job three­and-a-half years ago, and we were the sec­ond bid­der. And un­for­tu­nately the low bid­der de­faulted, couldn’t com­plete the work, so he was re­moved I think some time in Novem­ber of last year. The sec­ond bid­der was my com­pany so we were con­tacted, which was proper pro­to­col, to fin­ish the job,” Berg­eron said.

Berg­eron, who lives on a ranch in western Broward, served 10 years on the Florida Fish & Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion Com­mis­sion.

AN­THONY MAN/SOUTH FLORIDA SUN SEN­TINEL

Ron Berg­eron, CEO of the Berg­eron Fam­ily of Com­pa­nies and ad­vo­cate for the Ever­glades, dur­ing an in­ter­view Fri­day in Davie.

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