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From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Latest salvo to Crist: Senate committee refuses to confirm PSC nominees



As Public Service Commissioner David Klement stood before the Senate Ethics and Elections Committee Tuesday for his confirmation grilling, Senate Republican Leader Alex Diaz de la Portilla walked in with a special job. He called for the committee to "rise'' -- and the committee indefinitely ended the confirmation of Klement and Commissioner Benjamin "Steve" Stevens, a move that if not reversed will require them to reapply for the jobs.

Senate President Jeff Atwater then called the governor and told him he would continue to pursue the confirmations. It's a sign of the friction between incoming Senate president Mike Haridopolos, who opposes the appointments and Atwater.

Chairman J.D. Alexander said he won't be calling another meeting unless Atwater wants it.

Alexander, not a Crist fan, said he would not have voted for Klement or Stevens anyway. "I don't think they're qualified,'' he said. "I really think this populist notion that has been put forward is truly detrimental to our state. It's wrecked our insurance markets; it's put us at great risk and it's time that I have to stand up and say no."

After the meeting, Sen. Mike Fasano stormed into Atwater's office to complain. Klement deserved the courtesy of a vote, he told him. "I've never seen the Senate at such a low point and what they did is a shameless act,'' he told the Herald/Times. "The entire Senate should be embarrassed by this."

Sen. John Thrasher had seen this coming. He began the meeting asking for more time. He also wasn't going to vote for Klement anyway. "These are two critical people and we just need more time...All I've heard all session long is we've rushed things through and why are we rushing through on this."

[Last modified: Thursday, September 9, 2010 11:30am]


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