Bill Johnson, Miami-Dade's former ports chief, got tapped for a big, high-profile state job on Thursday: the top corporate recruiter for Gov. Rick Scott as the new CEO of Enterprise Florida.
But among the insiders in Miami-Dade County, the bigger news was the reset of leadership in the county's lucrative contracting system.
Johnson current job is head of the Water and Sewer department, a post he took last year on his way to a mandatory retirement date this summer. He's credited with resolving a bottleneck for a management contract of an upcoming $1.6 billion upgrade of the sewer system.
With the actual sewage work still up for grabs, Water and Sewer remains a top target of the county's lobbying industry as contractors maneuver for the business. Mayor Carlos Gimenez took no time naming Johnson's successor, announcing on Thursday he would shuttle veteran administrator Lester Sola over from Internal Services to Water and Sewer.
The move shut down any pressure that might have built to conduct a national search for Johnson's replacement, and installs a sewer chief who is already close with Gimenez and elected commissioners. And he's plugged in with the big players in the county's legal and lobbying circles.
Sola's transfer sets up the next closely-watched hire: his replacement at Internal Services. The department manages the county's facilities (including downtown's civil courthouse, target of a heated debate over how to replace it) and also the procurement process for outsourcing county services. The lobbying industry largely revolves around procurement, so the Internal Services appointment has high stakes for certain insiders.
It took a day for names to start circulating for Sola's successor. Among them: Kevin Lynskey, deputy director at Port Miami; Miriam Singer, a Sola deputy who frequently appears before commissioners as the county's chief procurement officer; and Tara Smith, an assistant director at Internal Services.