Scott Gets Advice; Still No Appointments

By: Kathleen Haughney, The News Service of Florida
By: Kathleen Haughney, The News Service of Florida

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, December 16, 2010 --

Gov.-elect Rick Scott has been getting plenty of advice from interest groups, fellow politicians and policy wonks over the past few weeks, but with three weeks to go until his inauguration, he has not announced a chief of staff, any potential agency heads or other advisers.

Scott was in Tallahassee Thursday for hours of budget briefings from the current governor’s budget staff, while his transition teams continued to meet, discuss ideas and potential hires that could shape the next four years in the state of Florida.

But little picture has emerged of who will be helping run the show in the Scott administration. Four years ago, Crist had already named campaign manager George LeMieux his chief of staff. His predecessor Gov. Jeb Bush also named a number of staffers and agency heads ahead of taking office.

“Nobody’s been named, but that should not be construed to mean there’s not work being done on the issues,” said State University System Chancellor Frank Brogan, who is serving on the transition team.

In public at least, Scott’s transition team has been focused on big-picture policy ideas without getting into the nitty gritty process of running the state on a daily basis.

The governor-elect took a statewide tour to talk about jobs with his new constituents. The education transition staff, Brogan said, has spent roughly 30 hours in conference calls trying to synthesize ideas to formulate an education plan for Scott.

A spokesman said in the next few weeks he will be speaking to the heads of the various policy-area transition teams as he formalizes positions, makes hires and prepares to take office.

“I think the biggest question is who hasn’t he been talking to?” said Scott spokesman Trey Stapleton.

Department of Children and Families Secretary George Sheldon said that he knew that he and predecessor Bob Butterworth were being appointed to run the department weeks before their positions were formally announced. The transition staff chose to keep it under wraps at first. That might be the case with Scott, as well.

“He’ll be fine,” Sheldon said. “He’s got some very bright people. I’ve been impressed with the staff that I’ve met who’s with him.”

Meanwhile, everyone in Florida politics wants their moment with the new governor to ferret out who will be doing what. Scott has been meeting with members of the Florida Legislature throughout the past few weeks as well as different policy advisers.

Florida TaxWatch President Dominic Calabro said that for Scott, “the learning curve is a lot sharper” because he does not have a background in state government and that it may take time to fill out his staff.

“They’re being very picky, which is not particularly a bad thing,” Calabro said.

Florida TaxWatch, a tax and spending watchdog group, released its third Governor’s Transition Decision Handbook Thursday, a publication designed to give the new governor and his staff advice on how to govern the state. The book details several policy issues that Scott will face upon taking office and provides advice from former governors and other elected politicians in the state.

Scott ran his campaign as an outsider, criticizing Tallahassee insiders throughout the summer and fall and implied during the campaign that he would rely heavily on outsiders to run the state. Current and former agency heads have largely been longtime state government employees or elected officials.

Scott’s pick to run the transition, D.C. lawyer Enu Mainigi, is virtually unknown to Floridians, but is a longtime Scott confidante.

Calabro noted that there are good things about bringing an outside perspective in and that Scott had “executive written all over him,” but urged Scott to also rely on insiders who are intimately familiar with the process and the issues.

“If you want to change something, you have to know what you’re changing,” he said.

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  • by J Timney Location: Tallahassee on Dec 18, 2010 at 11:14 AM
    HOPE AND CHANGE got us a 12% unemployment in Florida. LETS GET TO WORK!
  • by anon Location: here on Dec 17, 2010 at 12:59 PM
    The first thing he should do is get businesses and companies to hire workers. We need to have jobs before tax cuts, vouchers, revamp schools, privitizing state agencies. Every unemployed property owner and mortage holder who pays real estate taxes need to call his office DAILY and ask "where is my job" ? Don`t anyone come back and say "just get any kind of job". There are still 4 people applying for 1 available job now. We need to boost the ability of residents to continue to live here, not be concerned about what conservative policies need to be enacted into law or how to preserve a Republican majority. Yes, I too am waiting to hear his "list" that he eluded to have already made and already had plans to enact the first week in office. I`m sure there will be a few suprises and likely a lot of disappointments comming for the working middleclass of the state.
  • by whiners Location: you libs on Dec 17, 2010 at 11:26 AM
    I think yall should go lay in the middle of I-10 and protest.
  • by Anonymous on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:32 AM
    Selena, He may just be holding onto those decisions. I thought he had all the answers already and would be getting to work quickly. It looks like he is still formulating the answers.
  • by Billo Location: Tally on Dec 17, 2010 at 10:23 AM
    Let those Liberal Obama supporters keep hating, everyone else WILL GET TO WORK!!!
  • by Selena Location: Tallahassee on Dec 17, 2010 at 09:49 AM
    It's refreshing that he's out talking to the constituents, trying to "get the job done". Instead of handing out appointments right and left (i.e. rewarding those he's beholden to regardless of qualifications), he's finding out what needs to be done and seeing who is the most qualified to do it. Now THAT'S change we can believe in!
  • by mls Location: tallahassee on Dec 17, 2010 at 09:12 AM
    He's a nut.
  • by innocent bystander on Dec 17, 2010 at 08:44 AM
    Dave, you sure got that right. Just look at the White House. "Hope and change", "hope and change".
  • by Anonymous on Dec 17, 2010 at 08:23 AM
    Is that a majority of Floridians, or a majority of those who voted? Many people I know chose not to vote in this last election because they did not support any candidate for Governor. Their disapproval of any candidate should be at least acknowledged although it won't be counted.
  • by Dave Location: Tallahassee on Dec 17, 2010 at 07:43 AM
    Actually it was a plurality and it will take more than silly slogans to govern the state.
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