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Crist loses one agency head, hires four others

Governor-elect Charlie Crist on Thursday announced that his choice for the Department of Management Services, Kevin Hyde, has asked that his nomination for that post be withdrawn. In Hyde's place, Crist chose Linda South, who is currently serving under outgoing Gov. Jeb Bush as director of the Agency for Workforce Innovation.

Crist also announced that Leroy Collins Jr., the son of one of Florida's most famous governors and who himself ran for the U.S. Senate, would be executive director of the Department of Veterans Affairs, while State Rep. Holly Benson, a Pensacola Republican, would give up her House seat to become secretary of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Crist also named Leo DiBenigno, deputy secretary of the Florida Lottery to take over that agency. DiBenigno is married to Arlene DiBenigno, who worked for the Crist campaign as policy director and has been named as Crist's deputy chief of staff.

Benson's decision to step down will create a need for a special House election in the Pensacola area, although Benson was unsure when she would file her letter of resignation. As for Hyde's departure, Crist said that family and business consideration prompted Hyde to change his mind. Crist said it had nothing to do with the fact that Hyde's law firm is representing Convergys Corp., the company that the Bush administration put in charge of human resources and personnel operations. Convergys has come under fire for its handling of that work, including the fact that a subcontractor sent personnel information overseas.

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Hyde would have been sorely missed in Jacksonville, where he has a reputation as an incredibly hard worker with integrity who is greatly admired among all with whom he has contact.

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