Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Gov. Rick Scott, Ag. Secretary Adam Putnam, and Representative Matt Caldwell: Voters, the choice this November is in your hands ... by gimleteye

Voters have the chance this November, to remove Big Sugar's Number One Mouthpiece, State Representative Matt Caldwell. Gov. Rick Scott is readying his next move, to the US Senate, despite being the most unpopular governor in the United States. Agriculture Secretary Adam Putnam is aiming to replace Scott as governor. As the web phenomenon, Anonymous, noted this morning: it is time for Rick Scott to go.

This November will be a referendum on the corrupt policies and politics of Gov. Scott and special interests like Big Sugar. At the polls, Florida voters have the chance to point to the political exit for Rick Scott and his cronies.

Naples Daily News
Posted: May 21, 2016
By Arek Sarkissian

TALLAHASSEE — Outgoing Enterprise Florida President Bill Johnson gave no-bid contracts to a confidant for part-time consulting and speechwriting work to the tune of $158,000, according to documents obtained by the Naples Daily News.

Johnson offered his former PortMiami spokeswoman, Paula Musto, with two contracts and one extension — one in March 2015 for $68,750 and a second in August 2015 for $75,000, extended in March of this year for $99,999. That falls just shy of Enterprise Florida policy that requires contracts more than $100,000 to be scrutinized by the Enterprise Florida board of directors, according to documents obtained by the Daily News through a series of public records requests. Musto works 25 hours a week; her contract expires June 30.

Johnson also bypassed his agency’s competitive bid policy by claiming Musto’s contract fell under exemptions that include work for artistic services, academic program reviews, lectures, financial auditing, legal services and health consultation, documents state.

As of April, Musto billed Enterprise Florida $157,896 for her services. Enterprise Florida could not produce the invoices her contract requires that she submits for payment, where she’s required to detail the work she performed.

The scope of Musto’s work for the part-time contract job included developing marketing strategies, and preparing speeches and presentations.

Musto said she helped Johnson recruit marketing veteran Joseph S. Hice as Enterprise Florida’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

“My work with Bill (Johnson) was broader than speeches and presentations,” Musto wrote in an email. “I filled in the gap until (Johnson) recruited Chief Marketing Officer Joe Hice. He took over much of what I did.”

Hice was hired by Enterprise Florida in October. Efforts to reach him Friday via cellphone were unsuccessful.

Efforts to reach Johnson via cellphone, email and through his spokesman were also not successful.

When asked by the Daily News about Musto, Enterprise Florida Vice Chairman Alan Becker said he knew she was working for the agency but was not aware of her contract.

“I’m aware of the individual doing the work but I’m not entirely sure about the contracts,” Becker said. “I would have to actually look at the documents to see what they are.”

Enterprise Florida is chaired by Gov. Rick Scott. His spokeswoman, Jackie Schutz, said that the governor does not monitor the agency’s employees or its contracts.

Hearing about Musto’s contract from the Daily News drew sharp criticism from incoming House Speaker Richard Corcoran. He said Musto’s contract proved House Republicans rightly rejected Scott’s request of $250 million toward an incentive fund Enterprise Florida uses to lure companies to the state. Scott’s request was one of his top two priorities during this year’s legislative session and sent the agency spiraling toward a cost-savings review.

“This report shows that Florida House Republicans did the right thing earlier this year by refusing to waste $250 million on an agency that is out of control,” Corcoran said. “Florida House Republicans plan to aggressively eliminate corporate welfare and take on the culture of exclusion that sees government rewarding the politically connected with taxpayer money at the expense of average citizens.”

The Daily News learned about Musto’s contract during a cost-savings review that Scott ordered in March on the same day Johnson announced he would leave Enterprise Florida on June 24. At the time Scott ordered the review he wrote in a memo to Enterprise Florida board members that $23.5 million of the agency’s budget was paid by taxpayers and only $1.8 million was covered by private donations. This ratio is far from the equal public-private partnership concept designed in 1996 under the administration of Gov. Lawton Chiles.

Scott tapped former Florida Department of Children and Families Secretary David Wilkins to identify areas of the Enterprise Florida budget that would yield $6 million in savings. Wilkins revealed his review before the Enterprise Florida board of directors during its quarterly meeting in Naples on May 11, which included the elimination of 27 positions.

Wilkins’ review also found Enterprise Florida could save $450,000 by cutting or consolidating program services contracts, which is the area of the agency that pays Musto.

Both Musto and Johnson were also collecting payments from the Florida Retirement System through their Miami-Dade positions, which is allowed under state law. Musto retired from her county position in 2014 and receives $4,772 a month. Johnson had entered the FRS Deferred Retirement Option Program in July 2010 while he was with Miami-Dade, and he finished in June 2015, receiving a lump payout of $914,915. He now receives a monthly payment of $14,254, according to information provided by the Florida Department of Management Services.

Johnson’s severance package will pay him $132,500 — half his $265,000 salary — when he leaves next month, just six days shy of being eligible for $100,000 in bonuses.

Contact Daily News reporter Arek Sarkissian at 850-559-7620


Anonymous said...

Johnson brought Port Miami culture to Enterprise Florida. The Port is a cesspool of corruption and cronyism and Director Juan Kuryla, the new Carmen Lunetta has taken it to a new level. He is favored by the Giminez administration and commission because of his ability to cater to their needs, including numerous junkets to foreign locations using a Port Budget loophole. The Port budget also includes a $5million line item for payment in a legal judgment against the County for a judges ruling that the Port of Miami has a way of doling certain business permits illegally protecting incumbents -- ``creating a handful of entrenched privileged companies". The judge said evidence showed other ``established, qualified, competent and trustworthy,'' companies were denied permits even as some incumbents who didn't use their permits received automatic renewals. This is a rare surfacing of the hidden backchannel network that exists in the County for every major expenditure where privileged insiders are awarded business while those who are not tied into the system of lobbyists, commissioner aides and certain County staff are denied. Kuryla is responsible for this lawsuit due to his ability to manipulate the formal selection process.

Geniusofdespair said...

Watch the damn video.

Anonymous said...

Bill Johnson has been sucking at the taxpayers teat for 30 years. Long time County employee. Total suck up. I hope he gets indicted. Concurrently, Alice Robertson needs to go too.

Anonymous said...

The voters need to get off their collective and individual butt and VOTE!!!