Bredesen Names 5 New Commissioners, Announces Safety Merger

Nashville (AP) -- The State Safety Department will absorb the Homeland Security Department.

That's one of the cabinet changes Governor Bredesen is putting into action.

Bredesen has appointed retired FBI agent David Mitchell, who has been the Homeland Security Director since 2005, to head up the combined department as Safety Commissioner.

The Safety Department has been without a permanent commissioner since Fred Phillips resigned in December 2005 amid allegations of political favoritism and corruption in the agency. Transportation Commissioner Gerald Nicely has been filling in since Phillips left.

Bredesen Monday named Reagan Farr to lead the Revenue Department, Susan Cooper as the top official at the Health Department and Leslie Shechter Newman to run the Department of Commerce and Insurance.

Bredesen also appointed Greg Gonzales Commissioner of the Department of Financial Institutions. Gonzales had been the acting commissioner at the department since December 2005.

Bredesen also says former Congressman Harold Ford Junior will work on unspecified projects for him, but isn't being named to a salaried position. The governor also says he's decided not to name a chief of staff, something he'd been considering.

Copyright 2007 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.