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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Alex Sink's top adviser leaving her policy foundation



Jim Cassady, Alex Sink's longtime right hand man, is leaving her recently created non-profit policy foundation, Florida Next, where he had served as president and CEO.

Sink, the Florida's former chief financial officer and Democratic gubernatorial nominee, told Buzz that Cassady helped get the think tank set up and on "sound footing," but much of the fundraising duties fell to her. "I'm just anxious to transition to a more traditional non-profit role" for the executive director. Also, it was hard for Cassady to regularly commute from his home in Tallahassee to Tampa, where Florida Next is based.

"He's going to still be involved in the foundation, but I really want to have an executive director who can be here at out headquarters here in Tampa," said Sink, brushing off chatter that the organization has faced financial problems. At least two fundraising staffers have left since she formally kicked it off in September. Cassady previously had served as a top adviser in her campaigns for governor and CFO, and as her chief of staff when she was CFO.

Widely seen as a vehicle to elevate her profile in advance of another gubernatorial run, Florida Next aims to promote entrepreneurship and small business growth in Florida, though it has had a relatively low profile to date.

Sink, who lost the 2010 governor's  race to Rick Scott by one percentage point, also voiced disgust with the legislature, particularly Florida Senate budget chief JD Alexander, proposing to cut University of South Florida funding by nearly 60 percent. A friend called this from New York to ask what in the world the legislature was thinking.

"It's like entertainment to see what craziness Florida is going be up to next...It makes us look like a bunch of damn fools," she said. "In some respects a lot of damage has already been done because it's a branding issue for the state. That doesn't send a good message to companies that want to expand here or relocate here or grow their business here."

[Last modified: Tuesday, February 14, 2012 5:03pm]


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