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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Crist picks Graham and Brise to the PSC



Gov. Charlie Crist reached into the list of eight applicants he received to replace his ousted appointees to the Public Service Commission and Wedneday choose Jacksonville City Councilman Arthur Graham, a Republican, and Rep. Ron Brise, a Democrat from Miami.

Both give him immediate political punch for his U.S. Senate campaign as he taps a popular Jacksonville Republican and a Haitian American Democrat. Both also come from two large media markets with broad appeal as Crist faces the prospect of running against African American U.S. Rep. Kendrick Meek, D-Miami, in the general election.

The decision means he also rejects former state Sen. Curt Kiser, who is now serving as PSC general counsel, and Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, who withdrew as chairman of the PSC nominating council so he could apply for the job, and Mary Bane, the former executive director of the PSC who served at the agency for 30 years.

Both Graham and Brise have utility connections. Brise is a former official with IPIP Telecommunications, a company that sells phone cards to customers in developing nations and Graham is a former executive at Georgia Pacific, who worked in selling waste energy. As a city councilman, he oversaw the city-owned municipal utility.

Brise, however, was a strong favorite of Florida Power & Light. He said he consulted with FPL Lobbyist Paul Hamilton when he was considering applying for the job. Here's the gov's release:

TALLAHASSEE – In continuing to fight for Florida consumers during these tough economic times, Governor Charlie Crist today appointed Jacksonville City Councilman Arthur Graham of Jacksonville Beach and State Representative Ronald Brisé of North Miami to the Public Service Commission.  They will succeed David E. Klement and Benjamin “Steve” Stevens, who were not confirmed by the Florida Senate.

  “Art has a great track record of public service during the past 12 years, and as a councilman, he has already worked to protect utility consumers,” Governor Crist said. “His experience in the private sector has given him an understanding of the importance of ensuring the private sector’s responsible use of resources.”

  Graham, 46, is the president of ART Environmental Consulting Services and has served on the Jacksonville City Council since 2003.  Among his duties as a council member, he helped oversee the budget of JEA, a publicly owned electric, water and wastewater utility, and chaired the Transportation, Energy and Utilities Committee.  He served on the Jacksonville Beach City Council from 1998 to 2002. Graham is also a past chair of the North Florida Transportation Planning Organization and vice president of the Northeast Florida Regional Planning Association.  He was a recovery engineer with Georgia Pacific Pulp and Paper from 1995 to 2002 and a sales engineer with Betz PaperChem from 1991 to 1995. With Goodyear Tire and Rubber, he was a regional sales manager from 1989 to 1991 and an application engineer from 1998 to 1989. Graham received his bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta .  

“Ron is known for his willingness to fight for Floridians, which is exactly what the Public Service Commission should do,” Governor Crist said. “He is dedicated to serving the people of Florida and protecting their best interests.”  

Representative Brisé, 36, has been the chief executive officer of Strategic Partner Consulting since 2009 and has served in the Florida House of Representatives since 2006, where he was vice chair of the Florida Legislative Black Caucus since 2009.  He has also been the chief operating officer of IPIP Corp since 2005. From 2003 to 2005, he was the director of development, marketing and recruitment for Miami Union Academy and was chairperson of the science department from 2000 to 2005. He earned a bachelor’s degree in science education from Oakwood College in Huntsville , Alabama , and a master’s degree in business administration from American Intercontinental University .  

The Public Service Commission is responsible for regulating the rates, services and safety of privately owned public utilities. The commission is charged with adopting energy efficiency goals and providing competitive market oversight. The appointments are subject to confirmation by the Florida Senate.

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[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 10:47am]


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