Ex-Department of Health official blasts Florida Governor Rick Scott

Jun 21, 2012

The following article was published in The Florida Current on June 21, 2012:

Ex-Department of Health Official Blasts Scott

By Bill Cotterell


The ousted Department of Health official who left behind a withering indictment of Gov. Rick Scott’s management style Thursday accused the administration of replacing experienced professionals with political “ideologues” and tolerating no questions about conservative operating methods.

The governor’s office shrugged off remarks Daniel Parker made at a news conference.

The Department of Health said it is “moving forward, not backward” and that Parker, a candidate for Tallahassee City Commission, was fired for unspecified “unprofessionalism.” DOH spokeswoman Jessica Hammonds declined to say whether the “unprofessionalism” was his lengthy email to coworkers last week, but Parker had very positive job evaluations before getting his layoff notice.
“Regarding Mr. Parker, his unprofessionalism within DOH resulted in his dismissal; he did not lose his position to budget cuts,” Hammonds said. “DOH will not assist his political campaign by dwelling on chatter lost in the past and mired in falsehood.”

Parker, who was sustainability director on the DOH Division of Environmental Public Health, follows at least 10 high-ranking officials of the agency who have resigned or been terminated in the past seven months. Some cited personal reasons and the department has cited a pending reorganization and budget cuts, but Parker said there is a climate of stifling any questioning of new methods.

“You need room in any agency, any business, to allow people to ask questions,” he said. “This is an administration that doesn’t like to be asked questions, and I think that’s dangerous.”

Parker, a 14-year employee, said veteran professionals are being replaced “with political ideologues and those that follow orders without question.” He did not mention Scott by name but cited “the ability of our state’s highest elected official to be able to con the public out of millions of dollars and get away with it.”

Scott co-founded an international hospital chain that paid $1.8 billion in fines and penalties to end a federal fraud investigation long before he ran for governor. Scott was not charged or questioned in the case, which dogged him in the 2010 Republican primary and general election campaigns.

As governor, Scott has reduced the number of state employees in each of his two legislative sessions, cut corporate taxes and repealed many government regulations. But, Parker said, “There has never been anything to show that the Department (of health) was bloated or too big, or not doing its job.”

He said several agencies have experienced severe budget cuts, layoffs and reorganization. He said Scott and his administrations have replaced long-serving, capable administrators simply “because they can,” not because new policies improved services.

He added that “to sort of depopulate or devalue these agencies like that is very detrimental and, I think, by the department’s own ethics policy, is unethical.”

Related Research: Read Daniel Parker’s farewell email.

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