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Interim Chiefs Of DEP, FDLE File To Make Jobs Permanent

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TALLAHASSEE (CBSMiami/NSF) - The interim leaders of the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement both want to make their jobs permanent.

Interim DEP Secretary Jon Steverson and Interim FDLE Commissioner Rick Swearingen both submitted applications to remain in the jobs before a filing period closed this weekend.

Steverson and Swearingen were forced to reapply for the $150,000-a-year positions when they were among 16 agency heads who failed to get Senate approval during the spring legislative session. They are among dozens of applicants for the two posts.

Cabinet staff will now quickly have to weed through the resumes, many which appear to fall short of the requested job requirements.

Gov. Rick Scott and the Cabinet members --- Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, Attorney General Pam Bondi and Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater --- are expected to discuss the applicants June 23.

The deadline to apply was Sunday, and as of Monday morning 50 applications had been posted on the Cabinet website for the Department of Environmental Protection secretary position.

In an application submitted Friday, Steverson said that in his short time in office, the Department of Environmental Protection has accomplished such things as increasing recreational opportunities for the public and bolstering local economies through tourist dollars.

"Under your guidance, I am confident we can accomplish more great things for Florida's environment and economy," Steverson wrote.

Another 43 applications were listed Monday morning on the Cabinet website for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement job. Swearingen's name was not among those listed, but FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger said in an email that Swearingen had turned in the application Friday. The list on the Cabinet website was dated early Friday afternoon.

Scott recommended Steverson and Swearingen for their jobs in December, and both got Cabinet backing in January.

However, requirements for broad searches for new Cabinet agency leaders came after Cabinet members voiced displeasure with the abrupt removal by Scott of former FDLE Commissioner Gerald Bailey in December.

While the 14 other agency heads who failed to win Senate support during the legislative session were reappointed by Scott, Steverson and Swearingen were re-designated as interim leaders as the searches were initiated. Most agencies fall under the governor's office, rather than the Cabinet.

For the FDLE commissioner, the state wants someone who has served at least five years as a police executive, possesses experience in police affairs or public administration and is "a bona fide" Florida resident.

Swearingen, who had been the director of the Capitol Police since June 2013, has been with the FDLE since 1984. He previously served as an assistant special agent in charge and special agent supervisor. The Capitol Police is part of FDLE.

The desired applicants for the DEP post are expected to have knowledge of Florida's environmental laws, hold a degree in a field that could include natural science, law or business, and have 10 years of related professional experience, according to the job posting.

Steverson, who became interim secretary after running the Northwest Florida Water Management District, served in the governor's office under former governors Charlie Crist and Jeb Bush. Steverson also served as special counsel on policy and legislative affairs for the Department of Environmental Protection under Herschel Vinyard, who stepped down as secretary late last year.

The News Service of Florida's Jim Turner contributed to this report.


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