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Governor-Elect Scott Gets Handbook of Advice

By Gina Jordan

Tallahassee, FL – If Governor-elect Rick Scott has any questions about his transition into the state's top leadership position, he now has a handbook he can refer to courtesy of those who've been there before him. Gina Jordan reports the 75-page manual is a how-to guide for the new governor and his team.

As Governor Reubin Askew once pointed out, there is no school for governors. So Florida Taxwatch has published a handbook full of advice and technical information on issues like Sunshine Laws and the appointment process. University System Chancellor Frank Brogan says they added a new section this year on emergency management.

"If you are not prepared everyday as a well-oiled machine in state government to be prepared for the big one, whatever that is, that is the issue that not only will divert your attention on a moment's notice, but has the greatest potential to have the greatest negative impact on the people who call this state their home."

This is the third edition of the guide, which had its first printing in 1998. It was compiled with the help of a steering committee chaired by Brogan, who is on Rick Scott's education transition team. Brogan served as Lieutenant Governor under Governor Jeb Bush.

"He once said that success is never final and reform is never finished, and I believe in that."

Dozens of political veterans in the public eye and behind the scenes were interviewed for the handbook. Dr. Jim Zingale, former Executive Director of the Department of Revenue, is quoted as saying, "You are now living in the Sunshine World, not the corporate world. Make sure you understand the laws that govern public records."

Eric Eikenberg, former Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist and part of the Holland and Knight law firm's government affairs team, advises that a tone for the new administration should be set right away.

"You know, the first hundred days after the inauguration includes the sixty-day Legislative session, and that's going to be a tremendous opportunity for the governor to put his imprint on the state when it comes to public policy and it comes to the budget itself."

Scott will be sworn in on January 4th. Eikenberg says he should begin to enjoy the ride, but quickly get down to dealing with the money.

"Governor Scott will unveil his budget probably at some point in February and that's going to be a critical moment. Not only that, but he's going to be setting up his government, his administration, and that transition will continue on well on into the administration."

In a very short time, Scott must fill jobs in his office, make appointments, set priorities, and recommend a budget while building relationships with lawmakers and voters. Alia Faraj, now a partner at Ron Sachs Communications, served as Governor Jeb Bush's communications director. She says Scott and his team are embarking on the most intense job in state government.

"There will be so many wonderful memories and moments, you know, as you travel around the state and as you meet with constituents, visitors. It's one of the most incredible experiences, and he will be able to touch on public policy in a way that nobody has ever been able to do; and you will be able to form the state and make it better."

The document includes words of wisdom from the late Governor Lawton Chiles, who never lost an election in four decades as a politician. He earned the nickname Walkin' Lawton for his trek across the state during a Senate campaign. His advice is to listen, saying quote: "It was lonesome when I started walking the Panhandle, and I found people would walk with me if I listened rather than talked. And I learned a great deal when I listened."

The handbook has already been delivered to Scott and Lieutenant Governor-elect Jennifer Carroll.