(Editor’s note: A phone call was made to Forlenza in August. Forlenza said he never received the message.)
I would like to clarify some information contained in the Sept. 6 printed article, “Criminal convictions at sea,” that could lead to some misconceptions. The article stated, “In the spring of 2017, Mr. Florenza, (my name is Forlenza) left his position, moved off-island and his job was eliminated. He could not be reached for comment.” (This is odd as my office had been down the hall from the Journal for 13 years, and I was the manager of their leased space. My phone number and email have remained the same even though I moved.)
Secondly, my position was not eliminated after I left the island; it was unexpectedly de-funded by the Department of Natural resources back in August of 2016. The following was received from the DNR on Aug. 24, 2016:
“We are currently holding all reimbursements, not just yours, until the end of the biennium due to an unexpected budget shortfall. At that time we will reimburse all applications for the remaining balance of our account which may not cover the whole 90 percent, if anything at all, but we will try. We understand the hardship this places on you and your organization….”
Shortly after I was notified by the San Juan Department of Public Works that I was not to perform any more derelict vessel removal activities. The derelict program was divided into two parts. The removal activities and the prevention activities. Notwithstanding the cessation of the removal program, I continued to raise private funds for the prevention program which had been selected by NOAA as a model cost-effective program for identifying vessels before they became abandoned or derelict.
I was then told by the department of public works to also cease collecting private funds. The county donated exactly $0 to this program even after it was shown to save the county and taxpayers thousands of dollars. The reasons for stopping my work on prevention remain a mystery to this day. I was compelled to donate the remaining prevention funds to the county. I did, however, get in writing that those funds would only be used for prevention activities.