Cabinet confirms Vinyard to DEP post; Eight top vacancies remain

New Florida Department of Environmental Protection Secretary Herschel Vinyard, a former shipyard executive, was confirmed by the Cabinet Wednesday.

Vinyard thanked Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet for the opportunity to serve the state. He takes over a department that lost eight senior staff members last month when the Scott administration accepted their resignations.

Vinyard, who also served as a member of Scott’s economic development transition team, recently served as director of business operation for BAE Systems Southeast Shipyards. He also serves on the Jacksonville Port Authority board and on a DEP board that is establishing pollution reduction practices for the lower St. Johns River.

“I look forward to working with each one of you to make Florida a better place to live,” Vinyard said.

“Congratulations,” Scott said. “You’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Vinyard left the meeting immediately after it ended. In response to an interview request, a department spokeswoman later said he was in meetings.

Asked at an Associated Press forum about the availability to the media of his department appointees, Scott replied many of them had just started their jobs.

“They’re not even in the office yet,” Scott said. “They’ve got to get in the office.”

“I know the media is important,” Scott continued. “But really, their job is to fix these agencies. Herschel just got there. He’s got to go over there and figure out his team. That’s his first job.”

Top officials throughout state government were asked by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to submit resignations in November as part of the transition. The eight at DEP whose resignations have been accepted were:

Jena Brooks, director, Office of Greenways and Trails
Deborah Getzoff, director, Southwest District
Joe Kahn, director, Division of Air Resources Management
Jack Long, director, Southeast District
Ken Prest, director, Northwest District
Deborah Poppell, director, Division of State Lands
John Willmott, chief information officer, Office of Technology and Information Services
Mary Jean Yon, director, Division of Waste Management

A department spokeswoman on Wednesday said the vacancies had not been filled.

Scott told reporters earlier in the day, “I believe in giving people information. The public has a right to know. I believe the public has a right to know more than what we give them. As a governor I’m going to do that.”

(Story provided by the Florida Tribune. Story copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and Do not copy or redistribute without permission, which can be obtained by contacting