Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Jennings still not respected by governor’s office despite all he’s done to help Scott

Now that Rick Scott is the governor of Florida, Bill Jennings has resumed the role he played for the governor’s office during the Jeb Bush years.

Back in 2001, Jennings was the top sidekick of Jeb crony Jim Corbin as he attacked former President Frederick S. Humphries. In 2012, Jennings is working side-by-side with Rick Scott crony Rufus Montgomery to fulfill the governor’s goal of seating a new FAMU president who is more to his liking.

Jennings has done everything that Scott wanted in order to try and create a path for the appointment of a new FAMU president who will go along with the agenda of the governor’s office. He fought hard to try and suspend former President James H. Ammons like the governor desired and rallied support for a vote of no confidence against Ammons.

But Rufus made a point to publicly bash Jennings during the July 11 teleconference meeting of the FAMU Board of Trustees instead of celebrating his loyalty to the governor’s office. Rufus did not mention Jennings by name, but he loudly criticized the “former chairman” of the board for negotiating a 2007 presidential contract that made it hard to pressure Ammons out.

Rufus specifically referenced the super-majority clause that Jennings recommended be placed in the original employment agreement. The deal was negotiated back when Charlie Crist, a governor who was friendly to Ammons and FAMU, was in office. Jennings was just going along with where political winds seemed to be blowing at the time.

Jennings did not make any attempt to defend himself against Rufus’ comments on July 11. He just kept his mouth shut and showed deference to the governor’s go-to trustee at FAMU, as usual.

Rufus needed Jennings’ help again when it came time to fight against the motion to appoint Provost Larry Robinson’s as interim president on July 16. Rufus threw a fit when he couldn’t bully the majority of the board to consider potential candidates other than Robinson. Jennings, of course, supported Rufus, but conceded that there weren’t enough votes to stop Robinson from getting the job.

While Rufus rambled on in an ineffective fashion, Jennings introduced a successful amendment to force Robinson’s appointment to undergo a final “confirmation vote” at the board’s next on-campus meeting. The move gives him and Rufus one last chance to try and get enough votes for an alternate interim presidential candidate who will be enthusiastically embraced by Scott.

Rufus still didn’t publicly thank Jennings. Jennings isn’t part of the new youthful face of the southern GOP like Rufus and Torey Alston. He’s a tired empty-suit who isn’t bringing any new money or voters into the Republican Party. That makes him completely replaceable and a laughingstock among the party’s younger rising stars.

Jennings had more than a decade to turn his seat on the FAMU board into a springboard to become somebody in the Florida GOP. But he was never talented or smart enough to get the job done. That’s why Scott and the FAMU trustees who are closest to him give Jennings very little respect.

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