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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Bennett blasts PSC for 'lack of oversight' in replacing top lawyer



State Sen. Mike Bennett sent an angry letter to the state's five Public Service Commissioners this week, "appalled with the lack of oversight'' in the general counsel selection process when it let agency executive director Mary Bane "change the rules as you go in order to accommodate candidates who failed to meet the deadlines.''

"With the recent bad press and unhappy climate surrounding the PSC, I would think that every effort would be made to ensure that rules are being followed and that the hiring process is fair, open and able to withstand public scrutiny,'' Bennett wrote.

He noted what the Herald/Times first reported, that the process was moved from the state's People First application process to allow for additional applications to be submitted after the deadline.

"I believe it is the responsibility of the PSC to operate in complete fairness according to a predetermined process,'' Bennett wrote. "...Such behavior lends itself to a perception of  'cronyism,' and that kind of perception does not lend itself to public trust."

He said that Bane "should have been replaced over this mess'' because the general counsel job became vacant in September and "with all the grief they are going through over there, a good general counsel probably should have advised against some of this stuff."

Bane, who retires Dec. 31, told the Herald/Times that the agency was not obligated to use the state's People First job application system but choose to use it at first. Then, "when only three [applicants] had utility backgrounds, we thought we'd re-post it,'' she said. "We routinely re-advertise positions.'' The PSC is scheduled to pick its general counsel on Nov. 30. Download Bennett letter to PSC

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 1:06pm]


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