Business regulation chief to quit volatile post Aug. 12

Diane Carr is the state department's third leader in five years to leave.

Article Courtesy of The Florida Times Union
Published July 30, 2005

TALLAHASSEE -- Florida's business regulation agency lost its third leader in five years Thursday.

Diane Carr, secretary of the state Department of Business and Professional Regulation, resigned effective Aug. 12 and spread the news in an internal e-mail to her staff.

Carr's department licenses 1-in-16 Floridians across 200 categories of occupations, yet its leadership has one of the higher turnover rates in Gov. Jeb Bush's administration. A former lawyer and counsel to two of the state's biggest business lobbying groups, Carr succeeded former Secretaries Cynthia Henderson and Kim Binkley-Seyer, whose tenures were both marked by problems in Tallahassee.

Carr's e-mail to her staff and resignation letter to Bush cited successes, however, such as reducing the threat of unlicensed contracting after the 2004 hurricanes and streamlining and organizing state licensing procedures and records.

"I have greatly enjoyed my time at DBPR and am proud of what we have accomplished," wrote Carr, who said she would be returning to the private sector.

Carr took over the department in January 2003 after serving as counsel to Associated Industries and the Florida Retail Federation, which represent big business interests in Tallahassee.

During Carr's tenure, the department most notably led efforts to enforce Florida's new anti-smoking law in workplaces and mediate disputes between condominium associations and residents. In April a legislative audit ordered by former Senate President Jim King, R-Jacksonville, reported that a division within the department was handling complaints from condominium residents belatedly and weakly.

Jan Bergemann, a DeLand-based consumer advocate who led efforts to reform the department's attention to condominium concerns, said the agency still remains lackadaisical.

"The DBPR has made it an art to avoid responsibility," Bergemann said. "They're more busy writing form letters that say 'We can't help you' or 'It's outside our scope' than in helping people."

Tallahassee attorney Bill Reeves, who represents the whistle-blower group We The People, said the department's problems predated Carr but continued under her. Specifically, he said complaint processing has failed to improve.

"There are major problems there going back to the beginning of the Bush administration," Reeves said.

The Florida Chamber of Commerce praised Carr's fairness and approach to regulation.

"We knew before she was over there she was going to be good," said Mark Wilson, senior vice president of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. "She was fair, and we've always considered her pro-business."

Comment: This is exactly what we said all along: The Secretary of the DBPR should be fair to all citizens -- not just "pro-business"! Hopefully we get now a new Secretary who will create an even playing field for all citizens, not just being "pro-business"! 

Businesses need regulation, citizens need protection -- that should be the trademark of the DBPR!