Florida Public Service Commission Chairwoman Nancy Argenziano says Senate talk of beefing up educational requirements for the PSC is aimed at getting her off the panel.
Gov. Charlie Crist in 2007 appointed Argenziano, a former state senator, to a four-year term. The Miami Herald reported today that Sen. Mike Haridopolos, R-Melbourne and Senate president in 2011, said he wants education requirements for the PSC to be beefed up.
"Don't kid yourself -- that is about getting rid of me," Argenziano told FloridaEnvironments.com. Argenziano said she attended Broward Community College but left after seven months because she was trying to raise her child as a single mother while working three jobs.
"Perhaps Senator Haridopolos should be beefing up the qualifications to be Senate president and to be in the Legislature," she said late Thursday.
Haridopolos cited the reported backgrounds of David Klement and Ben A. "Steve" Stevens III, who were appointed by Crist in 2009 and could face Senate scrutiny in their confirmations. Klement was director of a policy institute at the University of South Florida and Stevens is an accountant.
Argenziano joined the commission majority in voting down utility rate increases last month and shehas questioned PSC staff members on their approaches to some issues. As a senator, she butted heads with some lobbyists and powerful business interests.
Speaking Wednesday night on the Florida Public Radio Network's "Florida on the Line," Argenziano predicted she won't be reappointed in 2011.
She said being truthful is more difficult than not speaking out.
"I have had opposition sent my way in elections," she told one caller who praised her candor. "And in my estimation, I probably won't get reappointed to the position."
Asked later by program host Margie Menzel what Argenziano will do if her PSC career goes "down in flames," the chairwoman responded, "I'm going to predict that today. I've already predicted it."
She also said a bill is needed this year to replace the Public Service Commission Nominating Council, whose members are appointed by the House Speaker and Senate President. She said a new nominating process is needed to remove the influence of campaign contributions from regulated utilities to legislators.
Argenziano also talked about creating a statewide government watchdog organization after she leaves the PSC. But she said she didn't want to go into detail because she didn't want to give her political enemies "a heads-up as to what I may do."
(Copyrighted by Bruce Ritchie and FloridaEnvironments.com. Do not copy or redistribute without permission.)