Florida Department of Corrections manager Ronay abruptly resigns
Oct 7, 2011
The following article was published in the Tallahassee Democrat on October 7, 2011:
DOC manager Ronay abruptly resigns
By Bill Cotterell
The high-ranking Department of Corrections manager who warned of an unbudgeted $25 million privatization cost that could “cripple the agency” abruptly resigned Thursday, saying “circumstances” made it impossible for him to remain.
Assistant Secretary Dan Ronay had been brought to Florida by ousted DOC Secretary Ed Buss, who was forced to resign in August amid a series of disputes with the governor’s office. Ronay had been top deputy to Buss in the Indiana prison system.
Without consulting the department, the 2011 Legislature enacted budget language requiring privatization of prisons in an 18-county region of South Florida. After legislators adjourned, Ronay had an exchange of messages with the governor’s budget office, in which he warned that the cost of annual leave and other payouts for nearly 4,000 prison employees losing their jobs in the privatization could be $25 million.
Ronay said the Legislature was informed of the potential cost but did not budget for it. He said absorbing such a hit in leave payouts could “cripple the agency” in the current fiscal year.
Circuit Judge Jackie Fulford last Friday put the brakes on the privatization. DOC spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said Thursday the department has not decided whether to appeal her ruling that the Legislature illegally made substantive changes in the law through proviso language in a one-year budget.
Ronay gave no reason for his resignation, in a brief letter to DOC Secretary Ken Tucker. Plessinger said Thursday was his last day at the agency, but he will use accrued leave through the end of the month.
“I came to Florida committed to being a member of Gov. Scott’s administration and assisting in leading the Florida Department of Corrections toward increased efficiency and success,” he wrote. “Circumstances are such that I am unable to continue in that role.”
He praised the “many professional and loyal staff” of DOC.