Make us your home page

Key Rick Scott job adviser quits six months into the job

TALLAHASSEE — Doug Darling, executive director of the state's main agency for job creation, resigned abruptly from his own job this week, six months after Gov. Rick Scott appointed him.

In a concise letter to Scott, Darling said Thursday he was leaving his post as executive director of the Department of Economic Opportunity for "personal reasons" and that his last day would be Tuesday.

The circumstances surrounding Darling's resignation were still unclear Friday, and lawmakers said they had no reason to expect the sudden departure.

"My experience with Doug Darling has always been positive and professional," said Sen. Don Gaetz, R-Niceville, who passed legislation in 2011 creating the agency. "I was surprised to learn of it."

Darling's office faced some criticism in November after it released several documents indicating private businesses had failed to create thousands of promised jobs, despite receiving financial incentives over the past 15 years. Additionally, some information had been omitted from the release, and lawmakers and media outlets had requested more details.

Darling, 58, did not respond to calls seeking comment. Cynthia Lorenzo, director of the state's Agency for Workforce Innovation, has been named his replacement on an interim basis.

A month ago, the department released its first annual report on economic development, as well as a detailed study of the state's multimillion-dollar business incentive program. That report, published by DEO's private-business partner, Enterprise Florida, sought to clear up misconceptions about the original release.

Gray Swoope, president of Enterprise Florida, has spent the last few days responding to legislators who expressed concerns about the return on investment of the state's incentive dollars. He acknowledged that some of the companies failed to create the jobs they had promised but said those businesses had returned money to the state.

"In business, it's hard to predict where you're going to be in six years on a job projection, on investment projection or on wage projection," he told a group of business leaders Thursday during an Enterprise Florida board meeting. "And if you miss one of those thresholds, by the way the laws are set, then the (incentive) program stops."

Sen. Paula Dockery, R-Lakeland, who has been critical of state incentive programs in the past, said Darling had been trying to bring some accountability to the practice.

"He was trying to be more transparent about what deals had worked and had not," she said. "I'd hate to think that was the reason he was let go."

Key Rick Scott job adviser quits six months into the job 01/27/12 [Last modified: Friday, January 27, 2012 9:44pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Airbag maker Takata bankruptcy filing expected in Japan, U.S.


    DETROIT — Japanese airbag maker Takata Corp. has filed for bankruptcy protection in Tokyo and the U.S., overwhelmed by lawsuits and recall costs related to its production of faulty air bag inflators.

  2. Federal agencies demand records from SeaWorld theme park


    ORLANDO — Two federal agencies are reportedly demanding financial records from SeaWorld.

    Killer whales Ikaika and Corky participate in behaviors commonly done in the wild during SeaWorld's Killer Whale educational presentation in this photo from Jan. 9. SeaWorld has been subpoenaed by two federal agencies for comments that executives and the company made in August 2014 about the impact from the "Blackfish" documentary. 
[Nelvin C. Cepeda/San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS]
  3. Legalized medical marijuana signed into law by Rick Scott

    State Roundup

    TALLAHASSEE — Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed into law a broader medical marijuana system for the state, following through on a promise he made earlier this month.

    Gov. Rick Scott signed legislation on Friday that legalizes medical marijuana in Florida.
  4. Line of moms welcome Once Upon A Child to Carrollwood


    CARROLLWOOD — Strollers of all shapes and sizes are lined up in front of the store, and inside, there are racks of children's clothing in every color of the rainbow.

    At Once Upon A Child, you often as many baby strollers outside as you find baby furniture and accessories. It recently opened this location in Carrollwood. Photo by Danielle Hauser
  5. Pastries N Chaat brings North India cuisine to North Tampa


    TAMPA — Pastries N Chaat, a new restaurant offering Indian street food, opened this week near the University of South Florida.

    The menu at Pastries N Chaat includes a large variety of Biriyani, an entree owners say is beloved by millions. Photo courtesy of Pastries N Chaat.