Florida's New Wingnut Governor Invites The Foxes Into The Henhouse

Ah, Florida! Too many houses, too many foreclosures, too many people unemployed, very little fresh water left. Maybe it's not such a good idea to elect a right-wing businessman who defrauded Medicare, will privatize everything he can get his hands on, degrade what's left of the environment and let developers have their way with anything they want!

TALLAHASSEE — In a move with the potential to unravel decades of growth management and environmental policy, Gov. Rick Scott has named two agency heads who have strong ties to the state's development industry.

Scott, who has promised to rid the state of "job-killing" regulations, named Billy Buzzett, a land-use lawyer who has worked for one of the largest developers in Florida, to lead the state Department of Community Affairs, the state's top agency for regulating developers.

Scott has also indicated his support for diminishing the role of the DCA by merging its responsibilities with those of several other agencies, including the Department of Transportation.

At the Department of Environmental Protection, which is involved in issues including restoration of the Everglades and oil drilling, Scott tapped Herschel Vinyard, a lawyer and executive with a Jacksonville ship-building company. Vinyard has previously represented businesses in environmental cases.

The appointments, which drew praise from some business groups like the Florida Chamber of Commerce, are an indication that the new administration may be ready to significantly scale back growth-management and environmental regulations, such as laws requiring developers to pay for new roads or requiring major developments to go through a regional-impact review.

Growth-control advocate Dan Lobeck calls Buzzett's pick to lead DCA a "radical" choice, arguing that a developer should not be in charge of development regulations.

"If there ever was a case of the fox guarding the henhouse, this is it," Lobeck said. "This is a full-scale abandonment of growth management in Florida."


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