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The Buzz

From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Movers and Shakers: The packed pre-session edition



DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard announces several leadership positions

Jon Steverson was named special counsel on policy and legislative Affairs for the Department of Environmental Protection. A Florida State University law grad, he has experience lobbying before the Legislature and was formerly the state's environmental policy coordinator in the Governor’s Office of Policy and Budget.
Jennifer Fitzwater, a DEP employee of nearly 20 years, is now the agency's chief of staff. She started out in the Office of the General Counsel and has taken on several other roles since, including federal liaison and director of the Office of Legislative and Governmental Affairs. Fitzwater, an alumna of the University of Missouri-Columbia (bachelor's), Auburn University (master's) and FSU (law), most recently worked as deputy secretary for policy and planning.
Vinyard announced a couple of deputy secretary appointments last week, too. Melissa Meeker, formerly a principal of Hesperides Group and DEP's southeast district director, will be deputy secretary of water policy and ecosystem projects. Jeff Littlejohn, who worked as an engineer for Isiminger & Stubbs Engineering, Inc., will be deputy secretary of regulatory programs. Before that, Littlejohn served as an officer in the U.S. Navy from 1993 to 2000. He starts March 14, and Meeker begins March 23.
DEP has also added Matthew Vail, a University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill alumnus, as deputy director for legislative affairs. Vail, 32, who most recently provided field work and site advance for Scott's campaign, was appointed Jan. 11.

Son of prominent U.S. Sugar lobbyist gets legislative affairs job at AWI

Christopher Coker, son of U.S. Sugar lobbyist Bob Coker, will make $55,000 a year as the Agency for Workforce Innovation's legislative affairs administrator. Read more in this Buzz post.

Longtime FHP employee gets top post

Lt. Col. David H. Brierton Jr. is the new director of the Florida Highway Patrol, Scott announced last week. Brierton, an FHP employee since 1983, was previously the deputy director of field operations tasked with troop operations, investigations, contraband interdiction, emergency operations and Homeland Security.

Republican campaigner joins online marketing group

Joe Culotta, College Republican National Committee's Panhandle field rep last year, is now a business account executive with Web Resource Management, a four-year-old service specializing in website and mobile app development, as well as online marketing services. He is an alumnus of the University of Central Florida and was also an RPOF Central Florida field rep in 2008.

Enterprise Florida gets new, Scott-approved president

F. Gray Swoope Jr., 49, of the Mississippi Development Authority took the helm of Enterprise Florida last week at the urging of Gov. Rick Scott. Scott wrote a letter to Enterprise Florida vice chairman Hal Melton requesting the board to "move as expeditiously as possible" to hire him. The governor wants Swoope to serve as head of a new state commerce department that would house all of Florida's economic development efforts.

ACLU staffer joines Tallahassee lobbying team

Maria Kayanan, associate legal director of American Civil Liberties Union-Florida, will work on reproductive freedom issues, the organization said.

Americans for Prosperity-Florida
Abigail MacIver, former chief of staff to Sen. Lee Constantine for five years, joined Americans for Prosperity in December as the director of policy and external affairs. She was born and raised in Tallahassee and had worked in the Senate Majority Office and Senate President's office.

New hires at News Service of Florida

In wake of three recent departures, the News Service of Florida has brought on a pair of new employees. One is Lilly Rockwell, who has written for Rowland Publishing's 850 and Tallahassee magazines. A University of Texas-Austin grad, Rockwell previously worked for the business desk of her hometown newspaper, the Austin American-Statesman, and covered a legislative session for the Florida Times-Union in 2005, the wire service announced last week.
Speaking of the Times-Union, Tallahassee reporter Brandon Larrabee will leave the Morris Publishing Group-owned paper for the News Service starting next week. Larrabee has reported on Tallahassee politics for two years. The University of South Carolina graduate previously reported on the Georgia Legislature from the company's Atlanta bureau for five years, News Service announced.

Session reporters are in town

You'll notice a more robust press presence at the Capitol through session's end. Keep a look out for these bylines (and alert us if we missed a few):
Jodie Tillman, St. Petersburg Times; Patricia Mazzei, Miami Herald; Aaron Sharockman, PolitiFact Florida; Jim Rosica, The Associated Press; Ryan Mills, Naples Daily News; Jonathan Mattise, Scripps Treasure Coast newspapers; Mike Synan, Fox 35 Orlando; Abel Harding, Florida Times-Union.

Don't forget to send personnel announcements to (or even via Twitter @KatieLSanders).

[Last modified: Monday, March 7, 2011 6:18pm]


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