St. Petersburg Times Online: News of Florida

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Gov. Bush settles on picks for 3 top jobs

Department of Management Services, DOT and Florida Lottery get new secretaries.

By MICHAEL SANDLER, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 6, 2003

TALLAHASSEE -- Rounding out his executive team, Gov. Jeb Bush on Wednesday appointed a veteran liquor executive, an engineer and the state's former film commissioner to lead three state agencies.

The appointments completed a second-term transition that replaced six agency heads.

William Simon, 43, a regional executive for Diageo, the world's largest producer of alcoholic beverages, was named secretary of the Department of Management Services. He replaces Cynthia Henderson and will be paid $115,000 annually.

Rebecca Dirden Mattingly, 36, the state film commissioner, was named secretary of the Florida Lottery. She replaces David Griffin and will be paid $110,000 annually.

Jose Abreu, 48, who ran the South Florida division of the state Department of Transportation, was named secretary of DOT. He replaces Tom Barry and will be paid $120,000 annually.

The three take over state agencies as Bush is proposing hundreds of millions of dollars in budget cuts, including nearly $200-million from the transportation budget.

Nonetheless, Bush was upbeat as he introduced the three appointees during a news conference.

"With this team, I'm confident that we will get through any of the bumps that are currently in front of us," Bush said.

Simon joins the public sector after overseeing the largest North American unit for Diageo, a manufacturer and importer of brand liquors such as Johnnie Walker and Tanqueray. He is also a lieutenant commander in the Naval Reserve and might have to leave at any moment if there is a war with Iraq.

"I'm ready to go, but it's not top on my list," Simon said. "I'm ready to serve the governor right now, and if I get the call, I'm ready to go."

Diageo North America contributed nearly $51,000 to the Florida Republican Party in the last election cycle and $15,000 to the Florida Democratic Party.

A spokesperson for the governor said the contributions had no impact on Simon's appointment.

Mattingly was praised by Bush for building strong film industry relationships and luring new jobs to Florida. He said she also established a good reputation with lawmakers.

Bush, who considers Miami his home, introduced Abreu as his "homeboy" and said his appointment "makes absolute sense" because he has been a part of the DOT's management team since 1995.

-- Times staff writer Steve Bousquet contributed to this report.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.