Did Crist cross the line with PSC threat?by Dara Kam | September 16th, 2009
Gov. Charlie Crist crossed the line when he threatened two utility regulators’ jobs if they vote for a proposed $1.3 billion Florida Power & Light Co. rate hike, a Palm Beach Post editorial opined today.
“I think it would be nice to reject the increase. I’m trying to appoint members that would be sympathetic to the people and the economic challenge that they’re facing. So that’s a factor,” Crist said Monday.
Here’s an excerpt of today’s editorial:
“Imagine that the governor said: ‘I will base my decision on whether these commissioners approve what FPL wants. The company is very important to Florida, and its rates are the lowest in the state. FPL needs this money to make its plants more efficient, saving customers money and providing the electricity Florida will need to rejuvenate the economy.’
Hearing that, most people who don’t work for FPL or have a connection to the company would say, “How dare he?” And they would be right. Which is why it was just as wrong for Gov. Crist to say on Monday that he would reappoint Commissioners Matthew Carter and Katrina McMurrian only if they reject that $1.3 billion annual increase FPL wants.
The governor’s comment wasn’t just political grandstanding; it was borderline demagoguery, because it played on the public’s ignorance of the facts. When a seat on the Public Service Commission – which regulates power and phone companies – comes open, a 12-member nominating council accepts applications. The council screens and interviews those applicants, and recommends finalists. The governor must make his pick no more than 30 days after receiving the names.”