Scott to be inaugurated without full leadership team in place

He has yet to appoint leaders for the departments of children and families, transportation, lottery, health, state and juvenile justice.


Florida Gov.-elect Rick Scott waits to speak at Forging a Path to Prosperity Reception at the Goodwood Museum and Gardens in Tallahassee on Monday.

The Associated Press
Published: Monday, January 3, 2011 at 8:03 p.m.
Last Modified: Monday, January 3, 2011 at 8:03 p.m.

TALLAHASSEE — Rick Scott takes the field as Florida's governor today with anything but a full team in place.

Facts

Scott's inaugural schedule

Today

Inaugural prayer breakfast, 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., Florida A&M University, Al Lawson Jr. Multipurpose Center.

Swearing-in ceremony, 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Old Capitol, 400 S. Monroe St. (Open to the public.)

The Governor's Let's Get to Work Leadership Luncheon, 12:30 to 2 p.m., the Capitol, 22nd floor.

Inaugural parade, 2:15 to 4:15 p.m., Monroe Street. (Open to the public.)

Governor's Mansion open house, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m., Governor's Mansion. (Open to the public.)

Celebrating Florida's 45th Governor Inaugural Ball, 7 p.m., Leon County Civic Center, 505 W Pensacola St. (Tickets can be purchased for $95 at flinauguraltickets.com/public.php.)

Scott, a Republican who will be formally inaugurated in a late-morning ceremony, has appointed only three of more than a dozen and a half top department and agency heads — the fewest to this point of any governor in recent memory.

With an ambitious agenda ahead of him — including a promise to create nearly 700,000 new jobs — the lack of a complete leadership team raises the question of whether Scott may lose some of his momentum as his first year in office begins.

The team that Scott has picked so far is also unusual in that many of the choices, including his chief of staff, served for long periods in the military. Others, including his picks to lead emergency management and environmental protection, come directly from corporations.

Former Gov. Bob Martinez, who attended some of Scott's pre-inauguration events on Monday, said Scott has "put together a good team."

But that team still has a lot of holes, including leaders for the departments of children and families, transportation, lottery, health, state and juvenile justice.

"It's not complete. But they should be able to work with the Legislature," Martinez said about Scott and his lieutenant governor, former state Rep. Jennifer Carroll of Fleming Island.

Longtime observers said most recent governors had a majority of their agency heads in place when they were sworn into office.

Ken Plante, a veteran lobbyist, recalled Gov. Claude Kirk having only a handful of appointments when he took office in 1967 — when Plante was a freshman member of the Florida Senate.

Plante, who played a key role in Gov. Jeb Bush's initial transition into office in 1999, said Scott's lack of appointments may not "matter a heck of a lot."

Scott has asked most of the major agency heads from Gov. Charlie Crist's administration to remain on the job for the next few months as he continues to build his leadership team.

"He's got people out there running the shops," Plante said. "This will give him the time to make sure he gets the right people in place."

One of the reasons for Scott's delay in naming new agency heads is that he is deliberately stepping outside the ready pool of experienced government bureaucrats to fill his agency positions. With his pledge to end "business as usual" in the state capital, Scott, for the most part, is targeting leaders with business backgrounds rather than governmental résumés.

For instance, he named a Wal-Mart executive — Bryan Koon — as the new director of the state division of emergency management, which handles the response to hurricanes and other disasters.

On Monday, Scott tapped a Jacksonville shipping industry executive — Herschel Vinyard — to lead the state Department of Environmental Protection.

"We are fortunate to have recruited Herschel from the private sector into government service," Scott said.

On Monday, Scott, who has already moved into the governor's mansion, attended a series of pre-inauguration events with his wife, Ann, and his lieutenant governor, Carroll.

He began the morning with a breakfast honoring "women in leadership" and ended the day with an "inaugural candle light dinner" with some of the supporters who helped him raise $3.5 million for the inaugural activities.

Scott also attended a luncheon tribute to his wife, honored the state's military members at an event, attended a youth concert and had a reception at an antebellum mansion near the state Capitol complex.

Today's activities will include a prayer breakfast at Florida A&M University, the swearing-in ceremony on the steps of the old Capitol, an inaugural parade and an open house at the mansion.

The inauguration will be capped off by a formal ball this evening.

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