Rick Scott: Fla. Recovering Under My Watch

 

BY BUDDY NEVINS

 

Gov. Rick Scott has an early Christmas present for Floridians – good news about Florida’s economy.

Scott doesn’t outright take credit for the recovery.  But the aim of this pre-holiday news release from his office is clear:

“More people are moving here, more businesses are expanding, our home prices are recovering and more people are pursuing the careers of their dreams. We have more work to do, but Florida is clearly on the right track for greater job creation,” Scott is quoted in the release.

These latest comments come two days after the governor was skewered once again in a statewide poll.

This time it was Quiunnipiac University survey which said more than half the voters didn’t believe Scott deserved a second term and even 53 percent of Republicans wanted another candidate to challenge the governor in a primary.

The survey found that 43 percent of the voters had an unfavorable view of Scott, while 31 percent had a favorable view.

Pollsters found that at this point, the Democratic race to replace Scott in two years appears confined to two candidates: Former Gov. Charlie Crist and former state Chief Financial Office Alex Sink, who lost a close race to Scott two years ago.

Crist has higher recognition, but he also has higher unfavorables:

  • Crist – 47 percent favorable; 33 percent unfavorable
  • Sink —  27 percent favorable; 14 percent unfavorable

Rich, Seiler Unknown

 When asked about two Broward pols making noise about running for governor, state voters largely had one reaction: Who?

Former state Sen. Nan Rich, D-Weston, is unknown by 90 percent of the voters, while 93 percent of the voters have no idea who Mayor Jack Seiler of Fort Lauderdale is.

Rich has been running for months. Seiler is still thinking about it.

While the Democrats plot, the governor campaign subtly.   Or maybe not so subtly.

Scott won on a job creation platform with the slogan “Let’s Get To Work”.

His news release is an effort to prove he is accomplishing what he promised.

But can Scott be credited with Florida’s improving economy?

Voters will decide in two years.

Here is the news release:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DECEMBER 21, 2012

GOV. SCOTT ANNOUNCES FLORIDA’S NOVEMBER UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DECLINE TIED FOR LARGEST DROP IN 20 YEARS

TALLAHASSEE— Governor Rick Scott today announced that Florida’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate dropped to 8.1 percent for the month of November – down 0.4 percentage points from last month and the lowest since November 2008. This was the largest drop in the rate over the month since October 1992, and was the second time it occurred this year. The November 2012 rate was 2.0 percentage points lower than the year-ago rate of 10.1 percent.  Private-sector job growth over the month jumped to more than 24,000. Since December 2010, the state’s unemployment rate has dropped 3.0 percentage points and 202,500 private sector jobs have been created.

“For many of Florida’s families during this holiday season there could be no greater gift than a regular paycheck,” said Governor Rick Scott.  “Florida’s economy continues to improve as evidenced by the more than 24,000 Floridians that filled private-sector jobs created in November, for one of the largest over the month rate declines in more than 20 years. We’re now over 200,000 private-sector jobs created in the two years since I took office with the largest drop in unemployment in the country.  More people are moving here, more businesses are expanding, our home prices are recovering and more people are pursuing the careers of their dreams. We have more work to do, but Florida is clearly on the right track for greater job creation.”

More Jobs Being Created

  • Florida job postings increased sharply in November 2012 compared to the previous November by 29,522 (an increase of 12.4 percent), for a total of 267,310 openings (seasonally-adjusted) according to the Help Wanted OnLine data series from the Conference Board.
  • Florida has experienced positive annual job growth now for 28 consecutive months.
  • Florida’s job growth month-to-month has been positive for 14 of the last 17 months.
  • Florida is expected to create more than 900,000 new jobs by 2018, according to the Florida Economic Estimating Conference.
  • The number of available online job openings in STEM-related (sciences, technology, engineering, and math) fields in Florida have sharply increased since last year, up 13.9 percent, for a total of 65,825 postings in November 2012.

Unemployment Continues to Decline

  • Florida’s unemployment rate has now declined year over year for 24 consecutive months.
  • Initial claims for Reemployment Assistance benefits were down by 7.6 percent from one year ago while continued claims were down from an average of 553,000 in December 2010 to 279,164 for the week ending December 15, a 50 percent decrease. 

 Home Sales Robust

  • Florida housing starts were up over the year in November (the most recent month available) by 60.2 percent and median home prices were up 11.2 percent over the year.
  • Home sales remain robust as the backlog of existing homes on the market is down by 41 percent from November 2011 (Florida Realtors).

 Economic Growth Trends Up Across State

  • A U.S. Census Survey reported that Florida experienced an influx of people moving into the state, with two of the top ten single destination moves, New-York-to-Florida (+59,288) and Georgia-to-Florida migrations (+38,658). Florida also led the nation in migrations from Puerto Rico with a net total of almost 15,000.
  • Florida is running a trade surplus of over $24 billion – with $86.8 billion in exports and $62.4 billion in imports in 2011, up from $73.1 billion in exports in 2010 and $53.2 billion in imports in 2010.

 Consumer Confidence High

  • Consumer confidence in Florida is near a five-year high, according to the University of Florida’s Consumer Confidence Index.

 Workforce Boards Assisting in Employment

  • In November, the state’s 24 Regional Workforce Boards reported 46,000 Floridians placed in jobs.
  • An individual who receives employment and training assistance through a One-Stop Career Center and finds a job within 180 days is deemed a placement and may be reported by a regional workforce board. Of these individuals 14,211 previously received Reemployment Assistance. Since January, more than 383,000 Floridians were placed in jobs, with nearly 98,000 former claimants finding employment.

To view the November 2012 monthly employment data visit:

www.floridajobs.org/labor-market-information/labor-market-information-press-releases/monthly-press-releases.

 

 



33 Responses to “Rick Scott: Fla. Recovering Under My Watch”

  1. NaggingWife says:

    Any improvement in the Florida economy is in SPITE of Scott, not because of him. He cut salaries and refused the stimulus which continues to hurt housing prices. Start packing Rick, your pink slip is ready

  2. frank says:

    Nagging wife is a perfect handle for a Nan Rich Democrat. Does anybody really believe voters will elect their nagging mother in law to be governor?

  3. Owl says:

    Thank you Buddy for posting this. In addition, this year there will be a $437 million surplus as spending has been cut by $2 billion since Governor Scott took office. That is a remarkable achievement in a State with no income tax. In the private sector, salaries are sometimes cut or not taken when money is tight. Government is not used to the realities of such economic hardship. Governor Scott will never be popular because he makes hard decisions, but our State is faring far better than other States in large part because of his efforts.

  4. Ha Ha Ha says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/09/07/florida-unemployment-benefits-difficult-rick-scott_n_1866356.html

    Rick Scott Unemployment Benefits Changes Make Access Difficult, Times Tough For Jobless Floridians

    [...] The state, already saddled with what critics describe as an increasingly frayed social safety net, ranks among the stingiest in the country when it comes to providing jobless benefits for the unemployed.

    The changes under Scott include an online-only application process, since the option of applying for compensation by telephone has been eliminated. And there is also a requirement that applicants complete a 45-question online exam that tests reading, math and research skills.

    The U.S. Department of Labor is investigating the changes, based on a complaint filed in May by the National Employment Law Project and Florida Legal Services.

    But new rules, from the agency that runs the state’s unemployment insurance system, could soon make life even more difficult for unemployed Floridians without easy access to a computer.  [...] the rules will require anyone registering for work or unemployment benefits to provide the state and their employers with an individual private e-mail address.  [...]

    Valory Greenfield, an attorney for the nonprofit Florida Legal Services, said the new requirement was a red flag for advocates for the unemployed. The DEO has already been “using every method in the book to trip people up” and to actively discourage them from filing for unemployment compensation, she said.

    “NOT DESIGNED TO HELP”

    “The idea that benefits might be contingent on providing this e-mail … and getting in touch exclusively by electronic means, is really what’s a concern to us,” Greenfield said.

    George Wentworth of the National Employment Law Project also voiced concerns about growing obstacles to unemployment insurance in Florida, saying the benefits system was especially deficient for people who don’t have computers or are not computer literate.

    “It seems as though it’s been designed with the specific intent of discouraging workers from accessing benefits that they’ve earned,” he said.

    James Taylor, 49, an unemployed sales and executive management professional in the state capital Tallahassee, agreed that Florida’s online unemployment benefits and job search program was anything but user-friendly. He spoke in a phone interview immediately after completing a bi-weekly online check-in with the system, recently dubbed “Reemployment Assistance.”

    “It doesn’t seem designed to help generate new jobs but to keep me from being able to collect my unemployment,” Taylor said. “The system is not designed to help the individual,” he said. “It’s just designed to fill a blank in any form.”

    Randy Brazer, an unemployed 42-year-old hospital and health care administrator based in Miami, said she too found the online benefits process cumbersome at best. “It’s a fraudulent system,” she said.

    Brazer complained she had been denied four weeks of benefit pay because of failing to meet a deadline for taking the 45-question skills test.

    “It’s truly a caveat in the system to prevent people from accessing benefits,” she added, saying she did not receive any clear notice or instructions about the need to complete the test as part of her application process.

    “I lost four weeks of money, that’s almost $1,000 of benefits,” Brazer said.

    “They’re scamming people,” added Alba Giampino, a 45-year-old administrative assistant who recently got off unemployment after finding work at a hospital in Tampa. She too said she had been denied several weeks of unemployment compensation for failing to complete the skills test, without being told she could be penalized for not doing so.

    U.S. Labor Department records show that just 16 percent of eligible unemployed Floridians receive state jobless benefits. That puts it in a tie with South Dakota for last place out of 50 states and the District of Colombia, which holds second place at 17 percent.

  5. John Henry says:

    @Ha Ha Ha

    The governor needs to put as many hoops that he possibly can for these unemployed people to jump through in order to receive benefits. I never have seen so much complaints over a “free meal ticket.”

    You shouldn’t receive a penny if your not willing to take 30 minutes out of your busy schedule of watching the price is right and judge judy.

  6. frank says:

    If you are not computer literate in 2012, you are essentially unemployable. Even cash registers at McDonalds are computers. To say that having people who are supposed to be able to work (but can’t due to no fault of theirs) shouldn’t have to know how to use a computer is insanity.
    As for the skills test, the truth people don’t want to hear is that there are plenty of well paying jobs out there. The obstacle is usually that people don’t want to or aren’t willing to retrain.

  7. Dear Owl says:

    Great insight and it is true we have have the first budget surplus in years.

    On the other side it was bound to happen when you cut school spending, programs and help for special needs kids, elderly and others as you would say comprise the 47%. All this without raising taxes, yet of course fees for everything have gone through the roof.

  8. SAM FIELDS says:

    Rick Scott claiming his policies deserve credit for the improved Florida economy is like the rooster claiming his crowing brought up the morning sun.

  9. Owl says:

    That’s just the point. Sometimes cuts are necessary. Sometimes government employees need to contribute to their pensions and when things recover, changes can be made once again. It’s easy to say cuts only affect “the 47%,” but that’s just not true. In the long run, the hope is that such cuts improve the economy, decrease debt, decrease unemployment and get more people in better positions in life.

  10. Ha Ha Ha says:

    1) Unemployment is not a “free benefit” – it is EARNED as a result of prior EMPLOYMENT during which unemployment INSURANCE premiums are paid!!!

    2) “every dollar spent on unemployment benefits stimulates $1.64 in economic demand”
    ——–
    http://useconomy.about.com/od/usfederaltaxesandtax/f/Why-Extended-Federal-Unemployment-Benefits-Are-The-Best-Way-To-Boost-The-Economy.htm

    [...] Those who are unemployed use the money to buy basics, including shelter, food, and clothing. As a result, every dollar spent on unemployment benefits stimulates $1.64 in economic demand, according to a Moody’s Economy.com study. How can $1 create $1.64? That’s because of the ripple effect. For example, a dollar spent at the grocery store pays not only for the food, but also helps pay the clerk’s salary, the truckers who haul the food, and even the farmer who grew it. They also buy groceries with their salaries, which pays more staff, and on it goes.

    This ripple effect keeps demand strong, creating an additional benefit. Stores keep their employees to supply the goods and services the unemployed need. In fact, every $1 billion spent in unemployment benefits creates 19,000 jobs, according to study by the Congressional Budget Office. Without extended benefits, demand would drop and retailers would need to lay off their workers, adding to unemployment rates. Unemployment benefits work fast.

    [...] Extended Unemployment Benefits Work Better Than Tax Cuts

    Unemployed benefits are more cost effective than other methods of stimulating the economy, such as across-the-board income tax cuts. A study done by U Mass/Amherst found that $1 billion dollars in tax cuts created 10,779 jobs — less than the 19,000 created if the same funds went to the unemployed. That’s because those who have a job will only spend half of their tax cuts. They have the luxury, because they are receiving an income, of using their cuts to pay down debts, save or invest the rest.

    Studies showed that each dollar from the 2008 Bush tax rebate only generated $1.19 in additional economic growth. Looked at this way, the $168 billion from the Bush rebates generated $200 billion in demand. One of the advantages of the Bush tax rebate was that it was sent out in checks, which people promptly spent.

    Reductions in the tax rate actually hurts the economy. That’s because every dollar in lost tax revenue only creates 59 cents in economic growth. That’s because people usually don’t even realize they’re getting a tax break until tax time. Since they are paying out money in taxes, they are less likely to spend anything extra. It just doesn’t feel like a bonus, so people are more likely to save anything they get, or use it to pay down other debts. [...]

  11. just one vote says:

    alot can happen good or bad in the next 20 months till the primary
    but highly unlikely a south florida candidate could get the party nomination let alone elected.

    stay tuned

  12. Lois says:

    And, Sam, no one knows more about roosters crowing than you do.

  13. Dear owl says:

    Please cite me 5, 4, 3, 2 ok even one instance where govt has taken something only to give it back at the same rate or more later. Your logic is the same as the concept of putting toothpaste back in the tube. Once an action takes hold i.e. the 3% on the pensions and ire dies down what is the incentive to give it back?

    I am hoping buddy will allow this story from another blog to be put on here, it highlights why major busineses have no incentive to come to this State….

    Why the GOP Cannot Attract New Business to Florida

    Posted on December 22, 2012 by Kartik Krishnaiyer

    A lot has been written about this past week’s Q-poll. But one takeaway is while Floridians may be split on cultural issues such as Same-Sex Marriage and on lean against the legalization of marijuana, the GOP has a problem on education issues. Higher education has suffered dramatically under the reforms pushed by former Governor Jeb Bush, making Florida’s colleges and universities less competitive academically and in terms of research with their counterparts from outside the state.

    The continued problems Florida has with primary and secondary education have affected the state’s ability to attract businesses. Despite the bravado of the state legislature and GOP leadership about creating jobs and attracting business they have failed.

    We constantly hear about how a positive climate for business needs to be created in Florida. The Republican majority as well as complicit Democrats constantly bring this topic up. Floridians of different political and ideological persuasions all agree that we need to attract new business to the state.

    But with the exception of the much ballyhooed Scripps facility attracted by the Bush Administration to Palm Beach County efforts to attract large companies to relocate administrative headquarters and large facilitates to Florida have fallen flat. At the same time, Florida’s public universities have faced remarkable cuts in budgets and as a result a drop in national reputation.

    Florida is the fourth largest state by population in the country but yet is home to the corporate headquarters of just 16 Fortune 500 companies. That ranks 11th in the country behind eight states with a smaller population including Minnesota and Virginia.

    For all the tax incentives and rhetoric of Republicans in the legislature and executive branch they have proven over the past decade they are consistently unable to attract business to the state. Interestingly, Republicans in neighboring southern states have fared much better at attracting large corporations to either relocate or set up major operations. That could be because the Democrats in those states have offered differing ideas or simply because the RPOF is arrogant and more into rewarding cronies than those who actually create new jobs in the state.

    Despite a tax rate lower than most states and “right to work” status which prevents unions from effectively organizing, Florida’s Republicans have failed badly.While unable to attract new businesses or foster a climate of innovation that develops successful companies the Republicans have done more damage with cuts to Higher Education that have resulted in the plummeting national reputation of the state’s top universities.

    The bottom line is this- the GOP’s rhetoric on creating business doesn’t match the actions of the legislature and Governor. Cuts to higher education and continued tinkering in the name of education “reform” pushed by Jeb Bush and others has hurt Florida’s competitive position. No amount of tax cuts or union busting can undo that damage to the state’s business climate.

    http://thepoliticalhurricane.com/2012/12/22/why-the-gop-cannot-attract-new-business-to-florida/

  14. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    Atwater is taking out Scott in ‘da Primary.

    and that’s ‘da bottom line ‘cuz Stone Cold says So!!

  15. Owl says:

    Regarding the government taking something but then “giving it back later,” there are numerous examples, but the most obvious is in property taxation. Property taxes go up as value increases but they do not stay there when the real estate market goes south. Current property taxes are far lower than five years ago. Five years from now, they are likely to be back to where they were before.

  16. Ha Ha Ha says:

    @ frank – There are many jobs that do not involve the use of computers. Roofers don’t need computers to tell them how to hammer shingles. Painters and sculptors don’t need computers to tell them how to create works of art. Custodians don’t need computers to tell them how to mop and wax floors.

    And your argument that there are “plenty of well paying jobs out there” is similarly disconnected from reality. The latest economic statistics show that in October 2012 there were 3.3 job seekers for every available job. And many of those jobs are very far from being “well paying jobs”.

    http://www.epi.org/publication/job-seekers-ratio-december-2012/

  17. Ha Ha Ha says:

    http://www.epi.org/publication/job-seekers-ratio-december-2012/

    A job-seekers ratio above 3-to-1 means there are no jobs for more than two out of three unemployed workers. To put today’s ratio of 3.3-to-1 in perspective, it is useful to note that the highest the ratio ever got in the early 2000s downturn was 2.9-to-1 in September 2003. In a labor market with strong job opportunities, the ratio would be close to 1-to-1, as it was in December 2000 (when it was 1.1-to-1).”

    “In today’s economy, unemployed workers far outnumber job openings in every sector, showing that the main problem is a broad-based lack of demand for workers—and not, as is often claimed, available workers lacking the skills needed for the sectors with job openings”

  18. Dear owl says:

    Cmon is that the best you have, property taxes. Said taxes are based on the value of an tangible item they are not rising and falling on the whim of elected officials. Call me when this legislature starts to add funding to education, services for children with special needs or the elderly. Even better when they decide people in FRS can get back that 3% they put in to “help out” through the recession. The pattern is clear, the public cries out about cuts then ultimately accepts it, after that since the people get used to less, what is the point of fully funding it again?

  19. Stone Cold's Bottom Line says:

    Hey Sam Fields,

    We need you to run for Sheriff, in 4 years! You will be a serious upgrade over the the accident- waiting-to-happen-dude, coming in!

    Broward voters, how and why?! Scott Israel, how low can we go?

    We need to recruit Sam! We need to start a petition! Sam, BSO… gotta nice ring, doesn’t it?!

    ..and that’s the bottom line ‘cuz Stone Cold says so!

  20. Owl says:

    To response 18, I don’t mind debating, but there’s not much of a point when your mind is already made up. I’ve voted for candidates from both sides and will continue to do so. But, frankly, if there was a guaranteed investment where I could put 3% in now to get back 75-100% as a pension 30 years from now in the private sector, I would do it without question.

    As far as increased education spending, Florida was near the top of the country this past year under Governor Scott but no one really cares. The following is from NPR, not exactly a pro-Scott site.

    http://stateimpact.npr.org/florida/2012/09/06/florida-2012-education-funding-increase-fifth-largest-in-nation/

  21. Ha Ha Ha says:

    And the reason no one cares is that this year’s increase in education spending still falls $300 million short of recovering what he CUT from education spending the year before! If he wants to be recognized for increased education spending, the amount being spent needs to actually be greater than the amount we were already spending when Scott entered office…

    http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/10/23/3062669/rick-scotts-education-priorities.html

    [...] Scott alienated voters in 2011 when he cut $1.3 billion from public schools, and insisted that $1 billion be restored in the current year’s budget. [...]

  22. Harvey says:

    Owl,

    Most Govt. employees have not had any salary increase in 5 years and in fact took a 3% cut with Scotts pension grab. What you may not realize or choose to ignore is that under Jeb Bush the vesting period was reduced from 10 years to 6 and the contribution rate was dropped about 1%. See what happened here yet? The Republicans were the ones who created the supposed pension underfunding and then decided to solve it by taking it out of the workers take home pay. I can only hope the Supreme court upholds the appelate decision and finds it illegal to change the terms under which most were hired under. If the legislators wants to apply the contribution to employees hired after July 1, 2011 that is fine, they knew that going in to the job. Your also ingoring how many private employers stole their employees pensions. Just because they did it doesn’t mean the Govt. can or should do it also. Then again, what do we expect from a Governor who ran the biggest Medicare scam in history.

  23. Owl says:

    Re: comment 21 (Ha ha ha), that’s the whole point. The other posters were saying if it was taken away, it would never come back. That position is flat out wrong, and education spending will increase again this year. Thank you for making my point for me.

    Re: Comment 21 (Harvey), I am a government employee after 20 years in the private sector. I made great money some months and absolutely nothing other months. But, my employees always got paid. I understand fully what the 3% is all
    about. I’m prepared to give 6% if I can get a double pension at retirement, but that’s not offered. It’s a benefit wholly unavailable in the private sector.

  24. Good Work Harvey! says:

    To put the cherry on top of Harvey’s good comment, during those years of no wage increases consumer prices DID increase very substantially, and the result of that consumer price inflation was a decline in real pay of about 12%.

    Plus the additional 3% that was stolen, which two Florida courts have already found to be in violation of the Florida Constitution that Scott was supposed to uphold, and which the Florida Supreme Court will soon reconfirm as an unconstitutional theft!

    After Scott is forced to return the stolen 3%, then it will take another 13.6% wage increase (.88 x 1.136 = 1.00) just to get back to even.

  25. Good Work Harvey! says:

    Hey Owl, think before you screech…
    ~ ~ ~ ~ ~
    Private Sector Noncontributory Pension Plans:

    1) Presbyterian Church U.S.A (Religion)

    http://www.pensions.org/portal/server.pt?open=512&objID=279&mode=2

    2) Bridgestone Americas Inc. (Tires)

    http://401k-plans.findthebest.com/l/75661/Bridgestone-Americas-Inc-Non-Contributory-Pension-Plan

    3) Ak Steel Corporation (Steel)

    http://401k-plans.findthebest.com/l/318308/Ak-Steel-Corporation-Non-Contributory-Pension-Plan

    4) Johnson & Johnson (Baby Products)

    http://www.jnj.com/responsibility/ESG/Social/Our_Employees/Benefits

    5) Boeing (Aerospace)

    http://www.boeing.com/companyoffices/empinfo/benefits/pension/seminars/A84050.pdf

    Need I go on???

  26. End Corporate Welfare says:

    White House petition to end corporate welfare here: http://wh.gov/Qa6f

  27. frank says:

    @16 ha ha ha
    roofers may not need a computer to hammer the actual nail, but to get their license they do. And to read the plans, are they written by hand? Same with a painter. A sculpter may not NEED to use a computer, but good ones will for design, etc.
    That’s like saying an engineer doesn’t need a computer because they can use a drafting board…

  28. Chaz Stevens, Genius says:

    @frank says:
    sculpter may not NEED to use a computer, but good ones will for design, etc.

    Frank.

    Are you baked?

    I’ve been in the IT business for nearly three decades… I’ve also been an artist since like forever…

    And guess what?

    All of my woodworking? Never once opened up Photoshop.

    All of my oil painting… No need to break out Illustrator.

    You Sir, are an idiot.

  29. you're an idiot Timmy Stevens says:

    next thing you know you will take credit for the Mona Lisa and Sistine Chapel..a Renaisance man you ain’t…..

  30. TB Times says:

    http://www.tampabay.com/news/environment/florida-environmental-agency-lays-off-longtime-employees-and-hires-from/1267557

    Florida environmental agency lays off longtime employees and hires from regulated industries
    By Craig Pittman, Times Staff Writer
    In Print: Tuesday, December 25, 2012

    In 2003, when a leaky gypsum stack at an abandoned phosphate plant threatened to kill a vast cross section of Tampa Bay’s marine life, Charles Kovach came up with a solution that saved the bay.

    But this month, 17 years after he was hired by the state Department of Environmental Protection, Kovach was one of 58 DEP employees laid off by the agency. Kovach believes those layoffs were designed to loosen regulation of polluting industries.

    “I’ve seen the way politics has influenced that agency in the past, but never like this,” Kovach said. “It’s not about compliance (with the rules). It’s about making things look like they’re compliant.”

    On top of the layoffs is the fact that DEP Secretary Herschel Vinyard has installed a number of new people in the agency’s upper ranks whose prior experience was working as engineers or consultants for companies the DEP regulates.

    The DEP’s deputy secretary in charge of regulatory programs previously spent a decade as an engineer who specialized in getting clients their environmental permits. Another engineer who worked for developers heads up the division of water resources. A lawyer who helped power plants get their permits is now in charge of air pollution permitting. An engineering company lobbyist became a deputy director overseeing water and sewer facilities.

    And the DEP’s chief operating officer is a former chemical company and real estate executive from Brandon. He’s not an employee, though. He’s a consultant who’s being paid $83 an hour — more than Vinyard makes on a per-hour basis — to advise Vinyard and his staff on ways to save money.

    The DEP “was never great,” said Mark Bardolph, a 27-year DEP veteran — and onetime whistle-blower — who was laid off from the Tallahassee office. “But now it’s all a political farce.” [...]

    The hiring of people from the private sector to run the agency’s most important divisions has been going on since Vinyard, a shipyard executive, was appointed to the office in January 2011 by Gov. Rick Scott. According to former employees, the hiring and layoffs reflect the Scott administration’s pro-business attitudes.

    “It’s a hatred of regulation in general and in particular environmental regulations,” Bardolph said. “It’s profit that counts.” [...]

    “The majority of positions they were eliminating are compliance and enforcement positions,” said PEER’s Jerry Phillips, a former DEP attorney. “They want to essentially turn the agency over to the regulated industries.” [...]

    Both Kovach and Bardolph said the layoffs appeared to target more experienced employees, regardless of their past achievements or the importance of their jobs.

    “They got rid of everyone with any history and knowledge,” Kovach said. The people who remain, he predicted, will be so cowed they “won’t be able to speak their minds.”

    Kovach was not known to be shy about speaking up. Nine years ago, when the bankrupt Piney Point phosphate plant began leaking and threatened to spill millions of gallons of waste into the bay, it was his proposal that saved the day: load it onto barges that sprayed it across a 20,000-square-mile area in the Gulf of Mexico.

    When his bosses told him he was being laid off, Kovach said, “they said, ‘Don’t you think it’s about time you look for a new career?’ ” When he asked what they meant, “they suggested academia.”

    Bardolph had run into trouble for speaking out before. As a state dairy inspector, he filed a complaint in 1999 alleging the DEP had failed to protect the aquifer from animal waste. As a result, he was transferred to a section that had nothing to do with permitting. Instead, he worked with people whose wells had been contaminated to help them find a new source of water. He was assisting a dozen or so when the ax fell, he said, and he was escorted out of the office with his belongings in a box.

    The people deciding who was laid off “looked at an organizational chart, but they didn’t even know what people did,” Bardolph said. “My boss was just outraged that they got rid of me.”

    Then, Bardolph said, they got rid of his boss, too.

  31. Steve Smit says:

    He said good ones timbo

  32. Plantation Working Mom says:

    Hey Governor, I have news for you. Enjoy it while you can because your time is limited. You’ll be spending a lot more time in Naples is all I’m saying…

  33. Ha Ha Ha says:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/29/floridas-long-lines-election-voting_n_2381482.html

    Florida’s Long Lines On Election Day Discouraged 49,000 People From Voting
    By Amanda Terkel
    Updated: 12/29/2012 3:57 pm EST

    As many as 49,000 people in Central Florida were discouraged from voting in the 2012 elections because of long lines at the polls, according to a new report.

    Florida took center stage in the 2012 elections, when voters around the state had to wait in line at the polls for up to nine hours. Gov. Rick Scott (R) initially denied that there was any problem, saying it was “very good” that people were getting out to vote.

    But a new study shows that tens of thousands of people were actually discouraged from voting because of the long lines…