Governor Scott was elected to a second term as Florida’s governor, and four of his directors of state agencies have given their resignations. There is nothing unusual about directors wanting to leave their positions, when the governor, mayor or presidents begin a new term. But in Florida it appears that theses directors are leaving, because there are scandals, and problems in their departments.
The four heads that are stepping down are Michael Crews of the Department of Corrections, Ananth Prasad of the Department of Transportation, David Wilkins of the Department of Children and Families, and Hershel Vinyard of the Department of Environmental Protection. In every state Department there are always problems, but in Florida it appears that most of these leaders were doing a bad job, and they are being forced to leave.
In politics, the governor will usually put out a press release, thanking the Department head for all his hard work, and the new policies they have initiated in their department. But to find out the truth, it is important to go behind the public relations talk and evaluate their record.
When we start with Herschel Vinyard of the DEP, for the last three years Florida’s ecosystems are collapsing with fish kills, algae-choked waters, and no one is saying anything. The Scott Administration has cut money for spring protection, gutted the state’s water management districts, and there were a number of companies polluting the environment that the DEP was suppose to protect. There were obvious problems in this department, and it was time for Mr. Vinyard to go, but that does not mean that things will get better.
David Wilkins’ head of Department of Children and Families is stepping down as a rash of recent child deaths have been in the news. Last month, 8 year-old Cherish Perrywinkle was murdered after being kidnapped from a Jacksonville Walmart. The agency has added 100 new agents, but a 10 year old girl was killed by her foster parents and her twin brother was tortured. There was a 2 year old beaten to death, and a 1 year old dies after being left in a hot car — even with more funding, the agency must improve its record.
The publicized retirement of Michael Crews as head of the Department of Corrections, happens as inmate gangs led by prison guards take over a prison in the Pandhandle. There have been multiple inmate deaths throughout the state from sadistic guards, and Mr. Crews is retiring among corruption, and a cloud of scandals.
Finally there is Ananth Prasad head of the DOT whose departure is linked to a major scandal with Orlando’s Expressway Authority. Board member Scott Batterson has been indicted on three bribery-related charges, and his friends and department head Ananth Prasad were trying to use the $300 million budget to their advantage. It is always easier for a management head to retire than to be fired.
Governor Scott and his administration will be forced to play musical chairs and get the right people in the key departments’ positions. Things are starting somewhat rocky for our governor’s second term, and I wonder how many other heads of state departments are writing up their resignations.
Roger Caldwell, a community activist, author, journalist, radio host and CEO of On Point Media Group, lives in Orlando. His book, The Inspiring Journey of a Stroke Survivor, details the story of his recovery from a massive stroke. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.