Government

PSC Commissioners Can Still Serve Despite Scott Recall

By: Keith Laing The News Service of Florida | Posted: February 4, 2011 3:55 AM

Four sitting Florida Public Service commissioners whose nominations were pulled back this week by Gov. Rick Scott can continue to serve through the legislative session and beyond, as can 164 other appointments that were withdrawn.

“The withdrawn appointments will continue to serve until a successor qualifies, and they can vote,” Scott spokeswoman Jenn Meale told the News Service Thursday.

Meale added that the withdrawn nominees aren’t precluded from re-applying for their positions, including the PSC commissioners.

The window for the Crist appointees to serve lasts until 45 days after the forthcoming legislative session, Meale said, unless Scott makes appointments of his own. If he doesn’t, the positions currently held by PSC commissioners Ronald Brisé, Eduardo Balbis, Julie Brown and chairman Art Graham will officially become vacant and new applications will be solicited.

However, the chairman of the panel that vets PSC applicants for the governor said Thursday that he did not think those positions would ever get to that point.

“I don’t expect him to fire all four of them,” Sen. Mike Bennett, R-Bradenton, said. “I expect him to say ‘everybody on my management team, I want to know who they are.’”

Still, Bennett said Scott “may make a change or two.”

A former PSC commissioner said Thursday that Scott may have overstepped his bounds by pulling back Graham and Brisé, because they replaced commissioners who were not confirmed, not regulators whose terms were expiring.

“The governor’s office may have exceeded its statutory authority in recalling the appointments of the four Public Service commissioners,” former Commissioner Nathan Skop said in a statement.  “The statute clearly states that appointments made to fill a vacancy occurring due to the expiration of the term can be recalled under specific conditions.  In contrast, the statute does not expressly address recalling appointments that were made to fill an unexpired term.”

Bennett said he was also not sure the governor could legally recall Graham and Brisé, but lawmakers probably would not challenge the decision.

“I think he’s going to move so quickly (to make new appointments) that it’s going to be a moot point,” he said. “We’re not in the mood to make a fight as much as we want to make sure that everything and everyone is legal.”

Bennett added that fighting over Scott’s ability to withdraw all four of Crist’s final PSC picks instead of just the final two would leave the important utility regulation panel unable to function.

“The concern in the Legislature is that it would be too disruptive to the process,” he said. “You’d have only one commissioner who has any seniority. Graham is the chairman, so the timing would be difficult.”


Comments (9)

Lilly
10:48PM FEB 8TH 2011
If Rick Scott needs to switch out the people in various positions, then that's what he needs to do. Why are people getting so upset? The state is not going to fall into the sea.
TeaMan
10:34PM FEB 8TH 2011
There are way too many other things thatScott has to worry about then these people giving him a hard time about the stupid appointments. I saw his budget, and I think we're in for a real shake-up. Scott got the right ideas, let's sit back and enjoy the ride.
Capt. America
1:34PM FEB 7TH 2011
These jokers should just grow-up. They are whining because now they're going to have to get a real job, where they have to do something are get fired. They're also just trying to give Scott a hard time. We got your back Ricky!
Shirley
10:39AM FEB 7TH 2011
"Disruptive to the process"! Good! Disrupt the process as much as possible. All they know how to do up there is figure out new ways to get my money.
Manny
10:31AM FEB 7TH 2011
We are so deep in the crap, why is this even a story? Who cares fire them all! Rick is making the best he can with a state that is screwed. All we need to do is Support him.
Derek
10:24AM FEB 7TH 2011
Well, just get those old people out of there so Scott can get down to business. Go Scott, Go. The Tea Party and the people are with you.
Maria
12:31PM FEB 7TH 2011
teabagggers and the biggest Teabagger Rick Scott will ruin this state and the country.
Sonny
10:14AM FEB 5TH 2011
Sounds like Scott is just trying to shake things up. Which is good. People in public office get to comfortable in their sweet little gigs, so we gotta keep'em on their toes. Nothing wrong with that.
John
10:12AM FEB 5TH 2011
Oh please, people are just moaning and crying like little babies because they got their positions taken away! Last time I checked Rick Scott is a businessman, which means you have to earn your keep, or get packing.

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