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Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker loses his chief of staff

Florida Corrections Secretary Ken Tucker must launch a search for a new chief of staff, now that top aide Steven Ferst has resigned. Ferst's last day on the public payroll will be Friday, May 11. He earned $120,000 a year.

For any state agency head, the chief of staff is a key appointee who interacts not only with agency officials and other agencies, but with Gov. Rick Scott's office, too. Ferst, 54, was one of Tucker's first hires and was considered an expert in purchasing issues when he worked for the Department of Education. In the past few weeks, the agency chose two vendors to privatize all inmate health care, but that award requires approval by the Legislative Budget Commission. 

Reached at his Tallahassee home Thursday, Ferst declined comment. Tucker said Ferst's departure was amicable. "Steve just indicated to me that he wanted to pursue other options," Tucker said. "I can't tell you much more than that about it. It was a personal decision. If that's what he wants, I'd prefer to have somebody in that position who wanted to be there."

-- Steve Bousquet