Dozens of people are trying to influence Gov. Rick Scott's upcoming appointment of a new tax collector in Pasco County, as it appears another week will end Friday without a decision. Scott must choose a replacement to serve through November 2014, when the post will be up for election.
At the Times/Herald's request, the governor's office released a stack of letters promoting various candidates, especially Eileen Ferdinand, a top deputy to Mike Olson, the long-time tax collector who died June 26 at the age of 68. Ferdinand's fans include Pasco Clerk & Comptroller Paula O'Neil; Hernando County Tax Collector Sally Daniel; Louis Hollander Jr. of New Port Richey, a long-time employee of state driver license bureaus; Christine Hollander, a teacher; Charles Hirth, the tax collector's human resources manager; Joan Brannick, a human resources consultant to the tax collector's office; and Pasco residents Paul Fricchione, Annette Fricchione and Kimberly Gorman.
Scott also got a letter from Frederick Mack, a retired New York City police detective from New Port Richey, calling Ferdinand "organized, motivated and enthusiastic," and who showed strong leadership as the former mayor of Port Richey. "She took a city council that was a joke in the Pasco Times and turned it into a respected board of government," Mack wrote. "Mrs. Ferdinand's record speaks for itself."
Ferdinand switched her political party affiliation from Democrat to Republican on June 27, the day after Olson died.
Another candidate for the post, Rep. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, received endorsements from Pasco Commissioner Ted Schrader; Hugh Townsend, a civic activist and former county Republican Party chairman; and former Republican state Sen. Curt Kiser of Dunedin. "No legislator has a better reputation for being sensitive to consumer interests," Kiser wrote of Fasano.
Others have different opinions. Pinellas-Pasco Senior Assistant Public Defender Thomas Hanlon urged Scott to pick Ed Blommel, the Republican who lost to Olson in 2012. Also in Blommel's corner is Randall Evans, a retired law enforcement officer who ran for a Pasco County Commission seat last year.
Scott also received an anonymous letter asking that he not "reward" Fasano "due to his lack of respect for the governor's office." The lawmaker has on numerous occasions been publicly critical of Scott. The brief, typewritten letter was signed, "Concerned Citizens of Pasco County."
-- Steve Bousquet