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Former utility regulator to lead St. Petersburg College think tank

SEMINOLE — A former member of the state Public Service Commission who lost his seat after voting against an electric rate increase has become executive director of a St. Petersburg College think tank.

David Klement of Bradenton recently was named head of the Institute of Strategic Policy Solutions, based on SPC's Seminole campus. Klement had most recently served as organizational development manager for Manatee County government.

"I am honored and humbled to be given the challenge of leading the institute," said Klement, who will make $73,000 a year. "It is an awesome challenge but one I am prepared for. I look forward to making it a leading forum for debate in the Tampa Bay region, and helping it achieve statewide and even national prominence."

Klement, 71, earned a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of North Texas. Later, he earned a master's degree in mass communication from the University of South Florida.

Klement's career began in journalism in 1962, when he joined the Daily Oklahoman in Oklahoma City. In 1966, he began a nine-year career at the Detroit Free Press, where he was night metro editor, deputy business editor and then photo editor. He joined the Bradenton Herald in 1975, where he served as editor of the opinion pages until his retirement in 2007.

After that, he served as director of the Institute for Public Policy and Leadership at the Sarasota-Manatee campus of the University of South Florida, a position he left in 2009 to accept appointment by then-Gov. Charlie Crist to the Florida PSC.

While on the PSC, he and four other members voted against $1.5 billion in electric rate increases. The state Senate then declined to confirm Klement, saying he was unqualified.

SPC president Bill Law, who chose Klement, described him as uniquely qualified to develop directions and programs for the new institute.

"Most of David Klement's career has involved examining and dissecting public policy," Law said. "His unique professional experience makes him a great choice to turn the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions into an important mechanism for developing good policy and involving the public in the process."

A policy institute has been part of the long-range plan for SPC for some time. Funds to establish such a think tank were approved by the Florida Legislature in 2007, and initial planning began that year.

It was intended to support a bachelor's degree program in Public Policy and Administration, a curriculum enhancement that was launched last fall. The institute also fulfills the longtime dream of veteran U.S. Rep. C.W. Bill Young, R-Indian Shores, who along with state Sen. Dennis M. Jones, R-Treasure Island, was instrumental in securing funding for the institute. The institute's headquarters will be at SPC's Seminole Campus.

The primary mission of the institute is to create hands-on educational opportunities for students enrolled in that program as well as those in such other academic disciplines as Environmental Studies, Consular Training, Business Administration and International Business.

Reach Anne Lindberg at alindberg@tampabay.com or (727) 893-8450.

Former utility regulator to lead St. Petersburg College think tank 05/17/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 17, 2011 6:35pm]

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