Independent candidate for governor Bud Chiles on Thursday called on Gov. Charlie Crist to aks for a grand jury to investigate the Florida Public Service Commission.
The PSC Nominating Council on Wednesday effectively ousted Chairman Nancy Argenziano and Commissioner Nathan A. Skop by not selecting them among the 18 to be interviewed for their seats after their terms end on Jan. 1. Both commissioners said their removal was payback for their questioning utility rate hike requests.
"Never in Florida's history have special interests so actively and effectively subverted the will of the people," Chiles, son of the late Gov. Lawton Chiles, said in a statement. "The message to new commissioners is clear: Side with consumers and we'll have you removed. The people have a right to understand how this travesty happened."
Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton and council chairman, said in response that Chiles' statement "doesn't bother me one iota." The council, he said, wanted to clean house of dissension and infighting among PSC members. "This is strictly a political thing on his end -- it means nothing to me," Bennett said.
The senator also responded to Skop's challenge to name who among the 18 applicants to be interviewed was more qualified than he is to serve on the PSC. In a statement, Skop, a nuclear engineer with a law degree and MBA, also said he may be among the most qualified in the United States to serve on the panel.
"That tells me this person has a severe ego problem, and his ego problem has been part of the dissension at the PSC," Bennett said. "It is not about one individual -- it is about trying to build consensus and finding a group that can work together to come up with an energy policy for the state of Florida."
Crist on Wednesday night issued a statement saying he was saddened that Argenziano and Skop were being replaced "in spite of their strong record of working to protect Florida consumers." The St. Petersburg Times today published an editorial saying the message sent to commissioners was "Stand up to utilities at your own peril."
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