1. Opinion

Editorial: Scott's terrible choice for Public Service Commission

Published Oct. 5, 2017

Appointing a new member of the Florida Public Service Commission should not be that difficult. You look for a candidate with at least some expertise in the field, and someone who does not have a history of snuggling up to the state's utility companies. Gov. Rick Scott failed that simple test — on both counts — by nominating former legislator Ritch Workman to the PSC.

Workman is the perfect example of the politics-as-usual shenanigans that Scott used to criticize when he was an outsider candidate for governor in 2010. There is absolutely nothing in Workman's resume that indicates he is qualified for the highly technical job of regulating utilities. He is merely a loyal Republican foot soldier who is being rewarded for past acquiescence.

It would be bad enough if this was simply a high-paying state job ($131,000 annually) with little responsibility or authority. But a PSC member is supposed to watch out for Florida residents who are at risk of being steamrolled by utility companies who routinely curry favor with politicians through large campaign donations. Guess where Workman fits in that puzzle?

During his eight years in the Florida House, Workman received campaign contributions from all the major power companies in the state. His political committee also got a sizable contribution, and Workman seemed to use those committee funds for ample dining and socializing purposes in Tallahassee.

His most high-profile excursion into energy policy does not bode well. As chairman of the House Finance and Tax Committee, Workman effectively blocked a constitutional amendment that would have allowed voters to decide whether businesses could get a property tax exemption for installing solar panels. Naturally, the utility companies were against the proposed amendment. It eventually reached the ballot two years later and was overwhelmingly approved.

After the five-member PSC denied a massive rate increase in 2010, the retribution was swift and unapologetic. The Senate refused to confirm two PSC members, forcing them out. Two other PSC members, who had applied for second terms, were simply left off the list of candidates by the nominating council later that year. The message was clearly received. Since then, the PSC has typically followed the wishes of Tallahassee's ruling class.

This is not the first questionable personnel decision Scott has made. He seems to prefer inexperienced job candidates who are loyal and now indebted to the governor for these huge career breaks. That does little for Floridians who are paying the salaries and expecting some level of competence.

It's now up to the Senate to reject this charade. The Senate has proven to be a valuable safety net for other dubious Scott appointments in recent years. Jesse Panuccio, the head of the Department of Economic Opportunity, stepped down in 2015 when it looked like support in the Senate was wavering. Surgeon General John Armstrong was forced out earlier this year when the Senate did not even hold a vote on his confirmation. The Senate should recognize that Workman has no business serving on the Public Service Commission and make it clear he will not be confirmed.


  1. A business man and woman holding a sign depicting their political party preference. SHARON DOMINICK  |
    Here’s what readers had to say in Monday’s letters to the editor.
  2. Leonard Pitts undefined
    Don’t wall ourselves off from contradictory opinions, writes Leonard Pitts.
  3. President Donald Trump, right, and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse in Nov. 2016 in Bedminster, N.J.
    Here’s some interesting commentary from the opposite poles of the political spectrum.
  4. (left to right) Nupar Godbole, medical student at USF, and Tiffany Damm, medical student at UCF, take part in a papaya workshop at the University of South Florida Medical Students for Choice Second Annual Florida Regional Conference held in the Morsani College of Medicine on February 24, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. Some of the instruments used in abortions, like the manual vacuum aspirator, are used in an exercise with a papaya, to simulate an abortion. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Here’s what readers had to say in Sunday’s letters to the editor.
  5.  LISA BENSON  |  Lisa Benson -- Washington Post Writers Group
  6. Exhaust rises from smokestacks in front of piles of coal in Thompsons, Texas. [Associated Press]
    A proposed rule masquerades as transparency when it actually is a favor to polluters.
  7. Using a tool provided by NOAA, this map shows what parts of the Tampa Bay region would be underwater if sea levels rose 8 feet, which could happen by 2100. NOAA
    The real-world impacts of climate change are accelerating for us in Tampa Bay.
  8. An architect's rendering of a foster care village proposed for Lake Magdalene. Ross Chapin Architects
    Here’s what readers had to say in Saturday’s letters to the editor.
  9. Campbell Park Elementary School is one of the seven schools included in St. Petersburg City Council member Steve Kornell's plan to help homeless students in the school system. SHADD, DIRK  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The City Council appears poised to help homeless families find places to live more quickly.
  10. Kimberly Clemons, 41, a resident of the Kenwood Inn, St. Petersburg receives a free Hepatitis A vaccination from Fannie Vaughn, a nurse with the Florida Department of Health Pinellas County, Tuesday, October 22, 2019. The health department has issued a state of emergency over the hepatitis A outbreak in Florida.  SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    The strategy regarding vaccinations is working and benefits all residents.