Barbara Palmer to replace Mike Hansen as APD Director

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Mike Hansen, a longtime legislative staffer who has served the past year as director of the state Agency for Persons with Disabilities, submitted his resignation Friday and will be replaced by APD Chief of Staff Barbara Palmer. Hansen said in a resignation letter to Gov. Rick Scott that he has accepted a job in the Senate, though he did not detail the nature of the position. Hansen has held a series of budget-related jobs during his career, including serving a stint as director of former Gov. Jeb Bush’s Office of Policy and Budget. He said in the letter that his resignation would be effective Aug. 20. “Serving as your APD director has been a tremendously rewarding public service opportunity,” Hansen wrote. “I have been deeply moved by the courage our customers and their families demonstrate on a daily basis as they strive to overcome sometimes overwhelming challenges.” Palmer, who has been APD’s chief of staff since last year, came to the agency after working as an assistant secretary for administration at the Florida Department of Children and Families.

APD, which serves people with developmental disabilities such as Down syndrome, autism and cerebral palsy, has grappled with a series of budget problems in recent years. The agency has run repeated deficits in its largest service program, causing Hansen and other officials to look for ways to hold down costs. Hansen’s resignation comes little more than a year after Scott appointed him to head APD. After taking office in 2011, Scott replaced then-APD Director Jim DeBeaugrine with former state Rep. Carl Littlefield. But Littlefield quickly resigned amid questions about his previous oversight of a controversial Tampa-area group home. Bryan Vaughan served as an acting director of the agency before Hansen was appointed.

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.