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Who's in, who's out in Rick Scott administration

Last week, Gov.-elect Rick Scott revoked the pink slips for at least six of Gov. Charlie Crist's department heads and at least 400 other mid to upper-level managers while he takes his time to staff up his new administration, according to a list released by the Scott transition team Monday.

Among those asked to stay on board for 60 to 90 days is Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon, Department of Corrections Secretary Walt McNeil, Agency for Workforce Innovation director Cynthia Lorenzo, Department of Business and Professional Regulation Secretary Charlie Liem, Agency for Persons with Disabilities Secretary Jim DeBeaugrine, and interim Elder Affairs Secretary Charles T. "Chuck" Corley.

Gone are the secretaries for the Department of Juvenile Justice (Frank Peterman), the Department of the Lottery (Leo DiBenigno), Department of Community Affairs (Tom Pelham), Department of Health (Ana Viamonte Ros), Department of Management Services (Linda South) and Department of State (Dawn Roberts).

Pelham said in an e-mail to the Times/Herald Tallahassee Bureau that he submitted his resignation Nov. 8 and "would not have worked for Scott a single day, even if I had been asked to stay." He also noted that Scott has "no authority to accept any one's resignation before he takes office on Jan. 4."

Is it an inauguration or a coronation?

Folks inside Team Scott are starting to refer to Jan. 4 as the "coronation" instead of the inauguration, which is expected to exceed $3 million in costs.

Scott recently broke the $2 million threshold in mostly corporate donations to pay for the party. Now, he's over $2.5 million.

According to contribution reports posted Monday evening, new donors include the Florida Chamber of Commerce's Florida Justice Reform Institute, the Florida Chamber of Commerce's Florida Jobs PAC, Gunster Yoakley & Stewart P.A., Disney, Wal-Mart and Pfizer.

Putnam gets agriculture staff in order

Agriculture Commissioner-elect Adam Putnam on Tuesday announced some staff appointments. He tapped Mike Joyner as assistant commissioner and chief of staff. Joyner is a lobbyist whose clients in the last legislative session included the Florida Fruit and Vegetable Association, the Florida Land Council and Progress Energy. He also previously worked for the Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Farm Bureau and the Florida Forestry Association. Putnam named department veterans Marion Aller, Shannon Shepp and Jay Levenstein as deputy commissioners. Also of note: Putnam selected Sterling Ivey, who was Gov. Charlie Crist's press secretary, as the department's press secretary.

Bilirakis to chair House subcommittee

Adding to Florida's growing clout in the U.S. House, Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Palm Harbor, has been named chairman of the Homeland Security Committee's Subcommittee on Emergency Communications, Preparedness and Response. It's a good spot considering Florida is constantly under threat of natural disaster. Bilirakis will help oversee the Federal Emergency Management Agency, emergency grant programs and disaster response. "The Department of Homeland Security must continue to improve its communication and emergency preparedness, and since valuable taxpayer dollars are at stake, I will make certain it does so as efficiently and effectively as possible," Bilirakis said in a statement.

Suit names Vern Buchanan's ex-dealership

A Jacksonville car dealership formerly owned by U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan is accused in a federal lawsuit of having employees contribute to Buchanan's campaign and then reimbursing them — allowing the company to essentially skirt campaign finance limits. The complaint filed by the Federal Election Commission and first reported by the Florida Independent, alleges that Jacksonville Hyundai and its owner Sam Kazran paid employees at least $67,900 to contribute to Buchanan from 2005 to 2008. The case is filed in the Middle District of Florida with the FEC as a plaintiff and the dealership and Kazran the defendants. Buchanan, a Sarasota Republican, isn't named as a defendant. The Florida Independent reported Tuesday that a Buchanan aide said Buchanan brought the matter to the FEC more than two years ago and that his office wouldn't have any other comment on the case.

Juvenile justice ideas draw support

Florida TaxWatch chief executive Dominic Calabro says implementing some of the recommendations made by Scott's transition team on juvenile justice will save taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. Specifically, Calabro's organization and the Southern Poverty Law Center want Florida legislators to agree to the suggestion not to incarcerate juveniles guilty of misdemeanors, saying it could save $30 million annually. But what about lawmakers who want to make sure voters see them as "tough on crime"? The center's Vanessa Carroll says: "The research shows that when you put those children into residential facilities, they're going to be more likely to reoffend. So that's actually not helping public safety." As it is now, 70 percent of the juveniles behind bars are there for nonviolent crimes, and 44 percent are there for misdemeanors and probation violation.

Times/Herald staff writers Mary Ellen Klas, Michael C. Bender, Janet Zink and Alex Leary contributed to this report, which also uses information from the News Service of Florida.

Who's in, who's out in Rick Scott administration 12/22/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, December 22, 2010 7:59pm]
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