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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Scott must reappoint three state agency heads, others

The "jobs governor" was unable to get his jobs czar confirmed by the Florida Senate in the 2013 legislative session, and that means Gov. Rick Scott must reappoint Jesse Panuccio as head of the state Department of Economic Opportunity.

The Senate also adjourned without confirming two other high-level Scott appointees: John Armstrong, director of the Department of Health and the state surgeon general, and Secretary of Corrections Mike Crews.

Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, who handled confirmations as chairman of the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee, has said that the failure to confirm Armstrong was no accident because the health chief, a former USF medical school executive, alienated some senators with his attitude.

"Our committee never looked at him," Latvala said. "But he can come back next year. The governor can reappoint him. There were some issues with his relationships with some members of the Legislature and the way he interacted with them -- a little behavior management."

Crews was the most surprising oversight. The straight-talking prison boss went through Latvala's committee with flying colors and impressed lawmakers with his forthright handling of two escapes from a Largo work release center last year that resulted in rape and murder.

Crews took the snub in stride: "That's at the Senate's discretion, moving people through. While confirmation certainly would be an honor, hopefully we'll get it this next year. But it's not what drives me. What drives me is getting our agency in a position to succeed.""

Scott also must reappoint scores of appointees to boards and commissions around the state who also were not confirmed by the Senate. Any agency head who fails to win Senate confirmation in two successive legislative sessions cannot continue to serve -- an action that is exceedingly rare in state government.


[Last modified: Wednesday, May 15, 2013 10:01am]


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