Rick Scott Replaced His Abruptly-Demoted State Parks System Chief with a Utilities Advocate

From Tampa Bay Times‘ Craig Pittman, 12/21/16

Last week, with no explanation, the longtime boss of the award-winning Florida State Parks system was abruptly demoted. Donald Forgione was reassigned to run one single park in Gainesville instead of all 171.

The Florida Department of Environmental Protection on Tuesday announced that his replacement will be Lisa Edgar, a Public Service Commission member who has been repeatedly accused of favoring utilities over customers.

“She does not do an adequate job of representing the ratepayers and consumers of the state of Florida,” state Sen. Jack Latvala, the powerful Clearwater Republican, said during a 2013 hearing on her reappointment to the commission.

Edgar’s term ends this month. She has no background running state parks.

Forgione, by contrast, joined the DEP as a park ranger in 1983 and worked his way up to director in 2010, the first person ever to do that. Forgione routinely signs his emails “Ranger First” as a reminder of that. He will now be in charge of Payne’s Prairie State Park.

One of Edgar’s longtime critics at the PSC criticized Gov. Rick Scott for making the switch.

“She took care of the utilities for the governor, and now he’s taking care of her,” said Pasco County Tax Collector Mike Fasano, who as a Republican state senator once opposed her reappointment to the PSC.

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