Gov. Scott is faced with naming a permanent leader for the DEP. The editorial in today’s Gainesville Sun outlines the choices he has: l) go with Cliff Wilson, the interim appointee, 2) pick someone to serve the needs of industry at the expense of the environment, or 3) man-up and find a true protector of our resources. The overwhelming victory of Amendment 1 most certainly points the direction in which the people of Florida want to go and that is Number 3.
“The governor, who touts his experience as a private-sector chief executive, can now do what great political leaders do: hire key staffers who inspire their organizations and implement the aspirations of the people.
We hope Scott will seize this moment to leave a legacy — for himself and Florida’s invaluable environment.”
You can read the rest of Nathan Crabbe’s fine editorial at this link, or continue reading this post for a reproduction of the article in its entirety. OSFR is grateful to Nathan Crabbe and the Gainesville Sun for permission to republish their editorials.
Editorial: Scott’s DEP hire
Herschel Vinyard, who has been secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection since 2011, recently announced his resignation.
Gov. Rick Scott asked Cliff Wilson, the deputy secretary for regulatory programs, to serve as the interim secretary. Wilson, 35, has been with the DEP for about three years. Eric Draper, director of Audubon of Florida, said: “We don’t know much about Cliff or his background. Not much has happened there to distinguish him.”
No offense to Wilson, but Florida deserves a distinguished DEP secretary. After all, Florida is on the verge of spending billions of taxpayer dollars on programs related to the environment. The state’s natural assets are legion, and many of them were acquired by the public by forward-thinking programs. Yet too many of those same assets are being stressed by development, population growth, invasions of non-native species and the effects of bad political decisions — including sweeping deregulation during the past four years.
Scott faces a decision and as governor could, for instance:
* Propose that Wilson become permanent secretary.
* Appoint a crony or a campaign contributor and charge him with being friendlier to industry than to the environment.
* Aspire to executive greatness and select a leader who has demonstrated a passion for protecting and preserving the environment — even when doing so challenges Scott’s “business first” credo.
When Scott nominated Vinyard nearly four years ago, a spokesman for Associated Industries of Florida lauded the choice, labeling the nominee “a rock-solid businessperson.”
But Floridians seldom felt as though the DEP secretary was dedicated to preserving and protecting Florida’s environmental assets, and maximizing the enormous public and private investments in them. Instead, Vinyard’s tenure seemed to be about creating a “balance” between the financial interests of business and enforcement of regulations.
Perhaps that is one reason 75 percent of voters recently favored amending the state constitution to require Florida to spend a fixed percentage of documentary tax revenue on land and water conservation, also known as Amendment 1.
Implementation of that amendment will provide billions of dollars for preserving and protecting Florida’s environment.
A DEP secretary with a solid conservation record, in addition to top-notch administrative and political skills, could help provide the Scott administration with the credibility it needs to oversee the spending.
The governor, who touts his experience as a private-sector chief executive, can now do what great political leaders do: hire key staffers who inspire their organizations and implement the aspirations of the people.
We hope Scott will seize this moment to leave a legacy — for himself and Florida’s invaluable environment.