DEP deputy administrator lacks environmental experience
Three months after Gov. Rick Scott named Jon Steverson the new secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection, Steverson hired a man with nearly zero environmental experience to serve as one of his top administrators.
Before getting the $125,000-a-year job as deputy secretary in charge of state lands and parks, Gary F. Clark had no prior experience working for DEP, or for any other state agency, much less managing Florida's state park system.
He holds a bachelor's degree from an online university in business administration, not biology. He has been vice president of a rural electrical co-operative, director of a bank, co-owner of a dozen Subway sandwich shops, a college trustee and chairman of the Washington County School Board. He has seldom traveled far from his Panhandle hometown of Chipley (population: 3,600).
But Clark, 47, does own and operate what's billed as "Northwest Florida's premier bobwhite quail hunting preserve."
"He must have been brought in to oversee the introduction of hunting to the state parks," said Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney who heads up the Florida chapter of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a group that's frequently critical of the agency.