A former professional football player, three state legislators and several current and former Public Service Commission employees are among 61 people who have applied for two open seats on the PSC, which regulates Florida utilities.
The PSC Nominating Council — made up of six legislators and five other business and community leaders — will vet the candidates who applied by Monday's deadline and recommend at least three nominees per seat. Gov. Charlie Crist will make the appointments, which must be confirmed by the state Senate.
The five commissioners, who are paid an annual salary of $130,036, are responsible for ensuring utilities provide safe, affordable and reliable service.
Anyone can apply for the seats, which opened up after the Senate recently refused to confirm Crist's PSC appointments, David Klement and Steve Stevens. In October, Crist said he chose the candidates, who are PSC and utility outsiders, to bring "new blood" amid criticism the agency was cozy with the utilities it regulates.
Some senators said they thought Klement and Stevens weren't qualified and others said the appointments would leave the 5-member commission without a person of color.
Consumer advocates said the legislators' decision was motivated in part by hefty campaign contributions they receive from utilities and by the newly constituted commission's rejection of record rate increase requests from the Florida Power & Light Co. and Progress Energy this year.
The new applicants include several notable current and former state government officials:
Rep. Ronald A. Brisé, D-North Miami, a Haitian-born executive at IPIP Corp. in Miami, a telecommunication company that sells calling cards and phone-through-Internet services.
Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs, was on the PSC nominating council until resigning Monday. He is chairman of the Joint Committee on Public Counsel Oversight, which was criticized earlier this year for opening up the job of Public Counsel — the state's advocate for utility customers — to someone other than J.R. Kelly, who is credited for helping defeat the FPL and Progress rate increase requests.
Curtis Kiser, PSC general counsel since December, who is a former House majority leader and state senator who was on the PSC nominating council for 17 years. He sponsored legislation to create the Office of Public Counsel and to require PSC members to wait two years after the leaving the commission before working for utilities.
Gary E. Huff, a former senior associate director of athletics at Florida State University who is now a tax researcher for the school. Huff played professional football for the Chicago Bears, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the San Francisco 49ers.
Among the other applicants who have worked in government: state Rep. Robert C. Schenck of Spring Hill; Mary A. Bane, a former executive director of the PSC; Ennis Leon Jacobs Jr., a former PSC member; Felicia B. West, a former PSC attorney; Eduardo E. Balbis, assistant city administrator of West Palm Beach; Gerardo B. Fernandez, an environmental consultant in Miami who was on the South Florida Water Management District board; Julie I. Brown, a former assistant city attorney in Tampa; Jeffrey D. Wells, city planning director of Greensboro, N.C.; Adam S. Cummings, a Charlotte County commissioner in Punta Gorda; Brian S. Hammons, Putnam County's planning director; Reginald D. Hicks, who has been an attorney for Broward County; Arthur Graham, a City Council member in Jacksonville; and Bobby A. Cooley of Pensacola, who is a former district manager for the Florida Department of Environmental Protection.
PSC applicants with utility-related experience: James S. Baumstark of Crystal River, a former executive of what's now Progress Energy Florida; Billie C. Greenlief, of Jacksonville, a former BellSouth employee; George F. Resch, who works for a group in Tampa that provides training services to utilities; Jason M. Fischer of Jacksonville who manages energy policy and utility infrastructure modernization for the U.S. Navy; and John J. Ustica, an accountant and former water utility owner in Fort Myers.
Seventeen applicants live in Tallahassee, including Jeffrey G. Porter, Darryl D. Garland, Anthony J. Spalla, Stuart W. Pollins, Regina M. Keenan, Kevin R. Neal, Mark M. Caruth, Charles R. Ranson, Peter H. Williams, Alton "Rip" L. Colvin Jr., Adriene B. Wright, Dean F. Stoddart, Patrick K. Wiggings, Kevin L. Wiehle and Brenda Robinson.
Others include: Kenrick J. Pierre of Pembroke Pines; Cheryl S. Atkins of Islamorada; Melinda J. Brown; Charles Benson of Miami; Terry W. Wallace of Dothan, Ala.; Angel M. Cartagena Jr., of Catonsville, Md.; Connie Murray of Sun City Center; William B. Martin of Winter Park; James A. Goese, a Sarasota retired accountant and business owner; Brian E. Tellier, of Fleming Island; Keith A. Fell, an engineer in Pace; Emilio Bruna II of Mount Dora; James G. Delfs, of Ponte Vedra Beach; Christopher L. Rizer of Fleming Island; George C. Goller of Monticello; Thomas J. Lane of Summerfield; Vernice Atkins-Bradley of Orlando; Oma R. Minton Jr. of Fort Pierce; Rosie Peterman-Thompson of St. Petersburg; Robert L. Nelson, of The Villages; David E. Allen of Longwood; Luis A. Aguirre of Palmetto Bay; Michael C. Green of New Smyrna Beach; and Jolie J. Davis of Cedar Key.
Julie Patel can be reached at 954-356-4667 and firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2015, Los Angeles Times