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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Dueling statements: Fasano challenges Bishop to debate



Sen. Mike Fasano wasted no time lashing back at Associated Industries chief Barney Bishop today over the Public Service Commissionj. In a statement released to the media, Fasano calls Bishop a "spokesman and advocate for the utilities" and questions his right to challenge Fasano's call for an impartial resolution to the rate cases pending before the PSC.

Bishop late Monday accused Fasano of political interference. Here's Fasano's full response:

“Barney Bishop is a highly paid representative for utility companies throughout Florida.  Mr. Bishop states that I am interfering in the due process that Progress Energy and Florida Power & Light are entitled to as the Florida Public Service Commission considers billion dollar rate increase requests.  As anyone versed in the most elemental aspects of law should know, due process entitles one to face his or her accuser.  Since Mr. Bishop, and Associated Industries of Florida, has stated that my involvement in this case is inappropriate, I challenge Mr. Bishop to publicly debate me on this issue.
“The consumers of Florida are entitled to be served by a Public Service Commission that is impartial and able to weigh the facts of any case before them. Recent disclosures of ex parte  communications between members and staff at the Commission and the utilities they regulate bring into question the impartiality of some of the sitting commissioners.  Mr. Bishop, as a spokesman and advocate for the utilities, is hardly an unbiased witness.  This fact begs the question; what is his own standing to accuse me of interfering in this process?
“I look forward to the opportunity to debate Mr. Bishop and AIF at any time that is mutually convenient on the merits of his position on this issue and mine. The people of Florida deserve no less than the opportunity to hear why Mr. Bishop and AIF, believe that the consumers do not need someone such as myself, or any other elected official, speaking out on behalf of utility customers from all corners of the state.”

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 2:21pm]


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