More studying, fewer Bladder Busts for Crist PSC appointee?by Dara Kam | November 11th, 2009
Could Gov. Charlie Crist’s Public Service Commission appointee be trying to distance himself from the perception he’s actively involved in managing a bar where they offer “Free Beer Til Someone Pees” at “Bladder Bust” night every Tuesday? Where a flier reads, “Don’t Die Sober on Friday 13th”?
A little later, when Post on Politics asked a bartender at Rick’s for the manager, she asked, “Oh, Steve?” and dialed Stevens up.
Stevens continued to insist he was not the manager, saying that there was a day manager and a night manager and the day manager was out of town.
His main interest in the liquor store and lounge operations is the building itself, he implied.
“It’s a commercial real estate investment,” he said. “It’s being treated like that right now. Otherwise I’d be there 24/7.”
Stevens, 44, was Escambia County Sheriff’s Office chief financial officer until January, when newly-elected Sheriff David Morgan took office and brought a new management team in. According to his application papers for the PSC position, he hasn’t worked for anyone else since then.
His real estate/accounting office is across the street from the club and package store where a bar employee says he is a regular presence.
These days, Stevens said he’s prepping for his new $130,000-a-year gig on the PSC.
Crist tapped him for the regulatory panel last month. With no ties to the PSC and no prior experience with utilities, he’s part of Crist’s clean sweep of the agency blackened by accusations of conflicts of interest with the utilities it regulates.
Stevens said he is poring over about 15,000 pages of documents to get up to speed on the two high-profile rate cases before he is sworn in and has to vote early in January — a proposed $1.2 billion rate hike for Florida Power & Light Co. and a $500 million rate increase sought by Progress Energy Florida.
Can he help clean up the PSC’s image?
“Absolutely,” he said. “Any time you have new eyes and thought processes it helps.”