St Petersburg Times: Letters to the Editor

March 27, 2011-  St. Petersburg Times

Gov. Scott made poor choice for PSC

Gov. Rick Scott recently appointed Art Graham to the Florida Public Service Commission two days after withdrawing Graham's appointment. The commission regulates your utility rates and has been heavily criticized regarding the unethical conduct of commissioners and for being too cozy with the utilities that they regulate.

Gov. Scott's poor choice in Graham quickly became apparent days later when Commissioner Graham engaged in an ex parte conversation over cocktails with Aqua America executives at a Washington hotel for nearly an hour during a pending rate case in which he serves as the prehearing officer. Ironically, Commissioner Graham did not attend any of the customer meetings held by the Florida Public Service Commission regarding the proposed rate increase for Aqua. More than 700 Aqua customers took their time to attend these meetings and waited hours to express their concerns regarding the proposed rate increase and the quality of service provided by Aqua. Adding insult to injury, Commissioner Graham is paid a state salary of approximately $130,000 per year to serve on the commission.

Given the state budget deficit, it is truly amazing that Commissioner Graham has the audacity to sit down for cocktails with Aqua during a pending rate case while traveling at taxpayer expense. The unethical conduct and failed leadership of Commissioner Graham further undermines the lack of public trust and confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the commission. How are ratepayers supposed to get a fair shake when commissioners exhibit such a brazen disregard for consumers and fraternize with the utilities?

Gov. Scott clearly made a poor choice in appointing Art Graham and should focus on changing the culture of corruption at the commission. We now know who to blame when our utility bills go up.

David L. Bussey, Zephyrhills

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