Crist gets seven new names for PSC, most with utility ties
The Public Service Commission Nominating Council selected many of the same line-up of candidates to send to Gov. Charlie Crist in their quest to revamp the utility board he had shaped, including his appointees Nancy Argenziano and Nathan Skop.
Half of them have close ties to the utility industry. Crist has 30 days to pick two of the seven candidates to serve on the Public Service Commission, a four-year job that pays $130,000.
Argenziano and Skop the were rejected by the legislatively controlled council in June and the group spent Thursday morning interviewing 18 candidates, to come up with a list of at least six nominees to send to Crist.
Three of the nominees were included on the list sent to the governor to replace Crist appointees David Klement and Benjamin "Steve" Stevens.
The Senate refused to confirm 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.
Included on the list to replace Argenziano and Skop are:* Former PSC executive director Mary Bane, who presided over the agency at the time the governor said that the ethical breaches involving utility officials and prompted him to "clean house.'' It is the second time the nominating council, which is dominated by legislators, named Bane as among the most qualified, a statement to the governor that they disagree with his assessment of the agency.
* Sen. Lee Constantine, an Altamonte Springs Republican and clean energy advocate who is retiring this fall because of term limits. He resigned as chairman of the nominating council to apply for the job and was previously nominated by the council.
* Julie I. Brown, a former assistant city attorney in Tampa, did not previously make the short list.
* 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.
* Kevin L. Wiehle, a legislative analyst for the Senate's utilities committee, who also made the short list in the first round.
* James S. Baumstark, a former executive at Progress Energy Florida, who is being nominated for the first time.
* Connie Murray, a consultant for a Missouri utility and a former state legislator who served 12 years on Missouri's Public Service Commission. She made the short list in June.