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Politics

New PSC member takes seat, but may lose it today

Gov. Crist may remove Ken Littlefield from the regulatory post then-Gov. Bush gave him.

By ALEX LEARY
Published January 10, 2007


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TALLAHASSEE - Even before he slid into the black leather chair Tuesday morning, Ken Littlefield looked very much the newest member of the Public Service Commission.

His framed photograph hung next to those of the four other commissioners in the lobby of the PSC headquarters here, and five parking spots outside were reserved for "Commissioner Littlefield" and family.

But the celebration may be short-lived for the former Republican state representative from Pasco County. As early as today, Littlefield's appointment could be stymied by Gov. Charlie Crist.

Littlefield said he is focused on the future, not what may or may not happen. "I think this is standard issue when a new administration comes in," he said.

As part of a broader review of late appointments made by his predecessor, Gov. Jeb Bush, Crist can decide not to send Littlefield's name to the Senate for confirmation or pass it on and ask that he not be confirmed.

The new governor has also said he wants to review the selection of Isilio Arriaga, sworn in for a second term Tuesday.

"We'll talk about that soon," was all Crist would say Tuesday when asked about Littlefield and Arriaga.

He recently signaled that he expects to recall a number of appointments by the middle of this week. The governor has planned an 11 a.m. news conference today.

Both of the commissioners played down the possibility. "I accepted an oath of office today to fulfill the duties of a public service commissioner and will do that starting today," Littlefield said.

Littlefield, who dropped his re-election bid after being tapped by Bush, said he had already contacted Crist's office and was prepared to answer any questions.

The longtime lawmaker chaired the House Telecommunications Committee last year and was a member of the Water and Natural Resources Committee. During the 2006 campaign, he took at least $5,000 from groups representing utility interests, mostly electric companies.

And he voted in 2003 for a bill that loosened regulation of phone companies, setting the stage for the largest rate increase in state history. Crist, as attorney general, fought the increase, though it was upheld in court.

Littlefield defends his record. "I have been consumer-oriented," he told the Times.

Perhaps trying to hammer home his allegiance to the governor, he noted that he was among the first lawmakers to sign onto Crist's campaign.

Arriaga, a former lawmaker in Venezuela who went on to a business career in South Florida, said he did not plan to contact Crist.

Times Tallahassee bureau chief Steve Bousquet contributed to this report. Alex Leary can be reached at aleary@sptimes.com or 850 224-7263.

 

 

 

[Last modified January 10, 2007, 06:09:16]


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