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Mark Kaplan resigns from Port Tampa Bay Governing Board

I wasn’t [there] as much as I wanted to be able to do the job I wanted.

Mark Kaplan is stepping down from the Port Tampa Bay Governing Board after serving for less than one year. He’s leaving due to scheduling conflicts with his job heading community and government relations at the University of Florida.

Former Gov. Rick Scott appointed Kaplan to the board April 2018.

“I thought it would work to be two places at once. It turns out that was a little more difficult than I imagined,” Kaplan told Florida Politics. “I was not in Tampa as much as I wanted to be to do the job I wanted to do it. I think it was time to step aside so that Governor [Ron] DeSantis could put someone on the board who could be engaged on a full-time basis.”

Kaplan was an appropriate pick for the board. He formerly served as the chief communications officer for the Mosaic Company, a Fortune 500 mining company that’s the largest U.S. producer of potash and phosphate fertilizer and has a huge presence at the port.

The University of Florida hired Kaplan as its Vice President for Community and Government Relations last May sending Kaplan back to his Alma Mater. He earned his bachelor’s degree in political science with honors. His wife also attended UF and his daughter is now a junior there.

Kaplan still serves on the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy, a post he picked up from strong ties to the Bush family. He served as former Governor Jeb Bush’s Chief of Staff during his last three years in office.

DeSantis will fill the vacancy Kaplan’s resignation leaves on the Port Tampa Bay board, but it’s not clear when that will happen. Kaplan said he hopes whoever fills his shoes will continue the board’s work of ensuring fiscal transparency and accountability within the agency.

Kaplan came on board after reports surfaced of rampant spending on entertainment and marketing that made the agency a target for former Florida House Speaker Richard Corcoran. The board, including Kaplan, has since implemented new rules about how agency funds can be expended and invested in regular budget audits to ensure compliance.

“It is a wonderful, engaged port community,” Kaplan said. “I encourage any new member to really connect with the broader community that uses the port on a day-to-day basis. Ensuring diversity in the business mix will be important. And of course, never lose sight of financial transparency and accountability.”

Kaplan tendered his resignation Monday and formally announced it during a board meeting Tuesday. That was his final meeting on the board. 

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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