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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Citing 'black eye,' Tampa leader urges Gov. Scott to get it right



Gov. Rick Scott is being urged to act fast to fill the vacancy on the Hillsborough County Aviation Authority caused by the resignation of Sam Rashid, a prominent businessman and Republican activist. Bob Rohrlack, president and CEO of the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, is urging Scott to find a better candidate and warns the governor: "We will be watching."

Rashid caused a furor in early September when he referred to a female public relations consultant as a "taxpayer-subsidized slut" on his Facebook account. The businessman later apologized and offered to resign if Scott wanted him to, but Scott took no action and said he "expected" Rashid to resign. The controversy lingered for weeks until Rashid finally quit on Oct. 9.

"Your previous decision has given Tampa Bay a black eye and caused unnecessary controversy in our community," Rohrlack wrote Scott in a letter dated Oct. 23. "As you consider your selection, know that all of Tampa Bay is watching."

Rohrlack cited the importance of Tampa International Airport to the economic health of Tampa Bay and west central Florida. The business leader instructed Scott to choose someone who won't use the appointment as "a platform for their personal political views or an avenue for airing personal attacks ... an appointee above reproach that brings smart business experience to providing strategic direction to one of our community's most important assets." In unusually direct language, Rohrlack told Scott: "Make the right appointment and do it quickly ... we will be watching."

Scott's office issued this response: "This five-member board oversees millions in tax dollars and Gov. Scott wants to take the needed time to find the most qualified candidate who will serve in the best interest of taxpayers and families.

Scott is not known for speed in filling vacancies to public boards and commissions. It has been nearly five months since the terms of four of his appointees to the Commission on Ethics expired, but they have not been replaced.

[Last modified: Monday, October 26, 2015 3:21pm]


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