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Politics

Littlefield may not have job after all

By MOLLY MOORHEAD and ALEX LEARY
Published January 11, 2007


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Ken Littlefield described his legislative record as "consumer-oriented" while he waited for a verdict this week on his tenuous appointment to the state Public Service Commission.

Gov. Charlie Crist echoed those very words Wednesday - in citing his reason for pulling Littlefield's name from consideration.

"I'm looking for as much of a consumer-oriented member of that commission as possible," Crist said.

Apparently, he didn't think Littlefield fit the description.

A 2003 vote to ease regulation of telephone companies influenced Crist's decision.

"It certainly was a factor," Crist said Wednesday.

Littlefield, who was sworn in as a commissioner Tuesday, was not the only official in Tallahassee facing a questionable job future.

In all, Crist on Wednesday recalled all 283 pending nominations made by Gov. Jeb Bush for various boards and commissions, including another Bush PSC appointee, South Florida businessman Isilio Arriaga. The governor could make appointments to the PSC as early as today; other selections will come in the weeks ahead.

Littlefield dropped out of a sure-win bid for re-election to the Florida House in September when Gov. Jeb Bush tapped him for the PSC, a four-year appointment paying $132,690 annually. The commission regulates utilities in Florida.

Littlefield had served in the Legislature since 1999, along the way taking thousands in campaign donations from numerous utility interests. Last year, he chaired the House Utilities and Telecommunications Committee and was a member of the Water and Natural Resources Committee.

In 2003, he voted for a controversial bill easing regulation of phone companies and clearing the way for unprecedented rate hikes for customers.

He also supported repealing a portion of the law last year, but that 2003 vote may have been the tipping point with Crist.

When told Crist's comments about the rate hike playing a factor, Littlefield would not comment, saying he would need to hear directly from the governor. But he lamented the possibility of losing the job he was sworn into just a day before.

"It would be disappointing if something like that were to happen," he said, "but I don't see myself of deserving any special treatment over anybody else."

Crist also withdrew nominations to the Pasco-Hernando Community College board of trustees, the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council and the Withlacoochee River Basin Board.

State Sen. Mike Fasano said he's well within his rights to do so.

"He's the one that's going to be held accountable and responsible with the decisions these appointees are going to make down the road," Fasano said.

Gubernatorial appointments require Senate confirmation to become final, and Fasano said he'll vote for whomever Crist chooses.

"He's being a responsible governor by doing what he's done," Fasano said.

Pasco Republican Party Chairman Bill Bunting, a firm Littlefield supporter, did what he could Wednesday to intervene on the former legislator's behalf.

He left a message on the governor's cell phone.

"He's paid his dues, he's given up that (House) seat, he's the right guy for the right job and he's worked hard for you on the east side of the county," Bunting later recalled saying in the message.

After Crist's announcement, Bunting said he expects the governor's office to seek input from county and party leaders when considering new nominations. He's hopeful Littlefield will still be among them.

"I don't see a hatchet job coming down the pike," Bunting said. "I think we have to be called. I think our input has to be there, and we should be fine."

Times staff writer David DeCamp contributed to this report.

Other Pasco nominations being reconsidered by Gov. Charlie Crist

District Board of Trustees, Pasco-Hernando Community College:

Jeanne M. Gavish (Hernando County)

Judy R. Parker

Philip H. Chesnut

Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, Region Eight:

Charles D. Waller

Withlacoochee River Basin Board, Southwest Florida Water Management District:

Patricia Nathe

49/63 (0.0)

37/56 (0.0)

43/64 (0.0)

44/68 (.05)

Other Pasco nominations being reconsidered by Gov. Charlie Crist:

District Board of Trustees, Pasco-Hernando Community College:

Jeanne M. Gavish (Hernando County)

Judy R. Parker

Philip H. Chesnut

Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, Region Eight:

Charles D. Waller

Withlacoochee River Basin Board, Southwest Florida Water Management District:

Patricia Nathe

[Last modified January 10, 2007, 22:05:15]


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