Crist awaiting names to revamp, again, the Public Service Commission
Within the next couple of hours, the Public Service Commission nominating council will name their suggested list of replacements for the PSC's Nancy Argenziano and Nathan Skop. The two Crist appointees were rejected by the legislatively controlled council in June and the group is now interviewing 18 candidates, to come up with a list of six nominees to send to Crist.
All but two of the candidates have been interviewed before to replace Crist appointees David Klement and Benjamin "Steve" Stevens. More than any appointments in Crist's term, the governor's picks to the state utility board have encountered the most political backlash. The state's largest power companies, especially Juno Beach-based Florida Power & Light, mounted a campaign to oust his choices after the PSC unanimously voted against the $1.3 billon rate increase request sought by the company. After today, only one of those commissioners remains.
The Senate then rejected Klement, a former newspaper editor, and Stevens, a CPA, because they were either not minorities or not deemed qualified. The nominating council replaced them with Arthur Graham, a Jacksonville city councilman and environmental engineer, and Ron Brise, a state legislator and telecommunications consultant.
Here's the list, in order of appearance before the council today:* Gary E. Huff -- a former NFL quarterback and now controller at Florida State University. His contract with the company ends in July.
* Charles E. Ranson --Tallahassee lawyer whose clients include telecommunications companies.
* Reginald D. Hicks -- assistant county attorney for Broward County who does not want to resign from his job if appointed.
* Gerardo B Fernandez -- president of Fernandez Consulting Group who worked for 19 years with FPL. He said in his application that none of his clients "has direct ties to public utilities regulated by the Commission." He is a former member of the South Florida Water Management District and is being privately pushed by FPL.
* Kevin R. Neal -- lawyer and workforce services director at the Agency for Workforce Innovation, formerly was a staff aide to Gov. Jeb Bush and was deputy executive director at the PSC.
* Jolie J. Davis -- a Cedar Key real estate attorney. (Interviewed for the first time)
* Mary A. Bane -- recently retired executive director of the PSC.
* Julie I. Brown -- lawyer with the First American title insurance company and former assistant city attorney for Tampa.
* Charles E. Moes -- former assistant vice president for Assurant in Miami, an actuary for Allstate in Jacksonville and briefly with the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation. (Interviewed for the first time)
* Peter H. Williams -- inspector general for the Florida Agency for Health Care Administration; appointed statewide prosecutor under Crist from 2002-2006; former assistant attorney general in antitrust section.
* James S. Baumstark -- nuclear engineer and retired vice president of Consolidated Edison's central engineering in New York. He was employed by Progress Energy at its Crystal River nuclear plant from 1996-98. He resides in Crystal River.
* Connie L. Murray -- a lawyer and rate case consultant for Ameren Union Electric company and former member of the Missouri Public Service Commission from May 1997 through June 2009 who owns a home in Sun City Center.
* Felicia Banks West -- a lawyer and legislative consultant with Clyburn Consulting in Washington, D.C. She was previously recommended by the PSC but rejected by Crist because of her previous work as a staff attorney at the PSC. This will be her third interview before the nominating council.
* D. Lee Constantine -- state senator, resigned as chairman of the PSC Nominating Council to apply for the job.
* Kevin L. Wiehle -- legislative analyst for the state Senate Committee on Communications, Energy and Public Utilities.
* Eduardo E. Balbis -- an assistant city administrator of West Palm Beach, is also being nominated for the first time. The director of the county's water utilities division, Bevin Beaudet, is a member of the nominating council and has negotiated water use agreements and partnerships with FPL.