TALLAHASSEE — The Florida Public Service Commission spent part of its internal affairs meeting Wednesday struggling with how to search for a new executive director while meeting Florida's open-meeting laws. The answer: assign one commissioner, Julie Brown, the job of searching for applicants so her meetings don't have to be held in the sunshine.
The PSC accepted the resignation of Timothy Devlin, a 35-year member, on Tuesday. Devlin had been asked to resign by PSC Chairman Art Graham. Graham did not offer a reason for why he sought Devlin's resignation except to say it was a "private matter."
Brown said Wednesday that she would accept the position but asked "whether a single commissioner is appropriate. … I don't want to be the sole determiner sifting through applications."
PSC general counsel Curt Kiser responded that the state's open-meetings laws can be difficult to navigate when seeking job applications. "It's really difficult to imagine any kind of configuration that allows for even the slightest bending of that Sunshine law. … The wisest course is to simply have one commissioner have as many meetings as you want."
The commission agreed to let Brown move forward on her own, but all records would be subject to the open-records law.
Graham added that "this process needs to be as open as possible even though sunshine may not apply," adding that all applications should be open to the public.
PSC Commissioner Lisa Edgar said: "We need to remember and be sensitive to the fact that we are actively asking people to put their names in the process and that can have impact on their current situations. … As part of that transparency, we all need to be sensitive to those factors. People can get caught up in trying to create some drama and intimate there is some conflict."
Meanwhile, the commissioner appeared to back off Graham's appointment of Kiser as the interim executive director after Brown and Commissioner Eduardo Balbis raised concerns that he might be stretched too thin doing both jobs.
Instead, they designated Kiser as head of external affairs and put the administration of the public information office under him. Because of $2 million in budget cuts the agency must take in the next year, that office has been reduced by six staffers.
Deputy executive director Charles Hill will handle all internal affairs matters until a new executive director is named.