Friday, September 19, 2014

Another example why a vote for Gov. Rick Scott is a vote for disaster: the Florida Public Service Commission … by gimleteye

Yesterday Gov. Rick Scott appointed state representative Jimmy Patronis to the Public Service Commission, where he will receive a $131,036 salary despite having no qualifications for the work supervising Florida's massive electric utilities. Well actually Patronis does have one qualification: he took on the leadership of running anti-environmental bills through the legislature.

Patronis is also Florida chairman of ALEC: the Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC has served has a shadow government, promoting bills that are devised in Washington DC conservative think tanks and cut and pasted into Republican led state legislatures across the country.

Here is just one example how screwed up the extremist conservative GOP is; using the example of Patronis. One of the key tenets of the Florida GOP -- and one that took flight when Jeb Bush became governor -- was strengthening local county and municipal government by eliminating government decision making at the state level. For example, land use planning was seen by the radicals as a "take-over" by the state of a function that properly belonged to local communities.

In Miami-Dade, county commissioners decided in the early 1990's -- in a very controversial vote -- to add the provision that changes to local land use maps could be subject to a supermajority vote and not a simple majority of the county commission. (I know, because I was a leader on the civic engagement side of that battle.)

The developers and their lobbyists -- including the Latin Builders Association -- hated the measure. (Javier Souto cast the deciding vote.) In fact and spirit, adding a higher level of protection against big zoning changes at the local level is consistent with conservative values.

Except … except that Representative Jimmy Patronis introduced a bill in the state legislature, during the last session, to prohibit local counties and municipalities from requiring super-majority votes. To understand how cynical this is, just take one further step to understand that GOP legislators supported the supermajority requirement to change the Florida constitution.

The Tampa Bay Times editorial board wrote today: "To make sure the game remains rigged against ratepayers, Scott appointed to the PSC Republican Rep. Jimmy Patronis of Panama City, who has no utility experience and has never seen a wetland that could not be drained and paved over by a developer. No current legislator is more hostile to environmental regulation and friendlier to industry and agricultural interests. His legislative record suggests he will be just as friendly to utilities as a PSC member."

Cronyism is not just alive and well in Florida Republican politics, it dominates. That's the message from Gov. Rick Scott who wants four more years to inflict his cronyism and insider-dealing on Florida voters and taxpayers. Enough, already. (For more on Patronis, type his name in the search bar on our blog.)

Gov. Rick Scott appoints lawmaker to Public Service Commission
09/18/2014 3:40 PM 09/18/2014 8:40 PM

Four years after the state Senate rejected two of former Gov. Charlie Crist’s appointees to the Public Service Commission because they had no industry experience, Gov. Rick Scott has appointed state Rep. Jimmy Patronis to the same board, even though he, too, has no industry experience.

Patronis, 42, is a Panama City Republican who announced last year that he will step aside as a candidate in 2016 for the state Senate seat held by Senate President Don Gaetz, making room for Gaetz’s son, Matt Gaetz, to be the heir apparent. Patronis was also an early supporter of Scott's campaign against former Attorney General Bill McCollum.

Patronis, who is term-limited out of office this year, fills a seat now held by Eduardo Balbis on the board that has the power to approve utility rates in Florida. Balbis surprised observers in May when he announced that he would not seek a second term after being appointed to the post by Crist.

Balbis got the job after legislators sided with electric companies in 2010 to oust Crist appointees David Klement and Benjamin “Steve” Stevens, both of whom rejected controversial rate increases sought by Florida Power & Light and Progress Energy, now known as Duke Energy Florida.

On Thursday, Scott also announced the reappointment of Tampa lawyer Julie Imanuel Brown, 39, from a list of six candidates sent to him by the legislatively-controlled PSC Nominating Council.

Commissioners are paid an annual salary of $131,036 and the appointments are subject to Senate approval.

Patronis is the vice president of Captain Anderson’s Restaurant in Panama City Beach and listed no utility experience on his application for the job. He earned his bachelor’s degree from Florida State University and was an early and avid supporter of Scott's first campaign for governor in 2010.

Scott held a rally last Friday at Patronis’ Panhandle restaurant with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Patronis is also a member of the panel evaluating the finalists for the FSU presidency.

Brown, 39, of Tampa, has been a PSC member since 2011 and is a University of Florida graduate. The two four-year terms begin Jan. 2, 2015, and end Jan. 1, 2019.

Among the candidates Scott rejected was former state Rep. Dave Murzin, R-Pensacola, and Patrick Sheehan, director of the Office of Energy in the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Scott's appointment of Patronis shows how far he has shifted from being the outsider, who said in his 2010 Republican primary victory speech that “the deal-makers are crying in their cocktails.”

“Representative Patronis has faithfully served Florida families during his years of service in the Florida House of Representatives,’’ Scott said in a statement. “I am confident that Jimmy will make an excellent addition to the Public Service Commission as he continues to put Florida families first.”

Mary Ellen Klas can be reached at and @MaryEllenKlas

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I don't trust Scott or Crist. I will not be duped this time. I am voting for Adrian Wyllie.