An Opinion By Jan Bergemann 
President, Cyber Citizens For Justice, Inc.

Published July 13, 2010


Not too long ago Florida's consumers were happy to read headlines like: "Progress Energy rate hike rejected; will FPL lose too? Consumer groups cheered while financial analysts worried after state regulators turned down the first of two requests by electric utility firms for rate increases." [Miami Herald January 13, 2010]  -- or "Tighter rules sought for utilities, Florida regulators" [Miami Herald March 2, 2010].


Many consumers already forgot about it, despite the fact that these decisions kept their bills down and helped all of us. Nancy Argenziano, chair of the Public Service Commission, warned that there is a price to pay for the commissioners who dare to turn down requests for rate increases. Argenziano said she has watched legislators attempt to influence Public Service Commission decisions by threatening commissioners with the prospect of not being confirmed. "You can't be independent if you have to worry about the threat of legislators coming after you,'' she said (Quote from Miami Herald). The Public Service Commission nominating and confirmation process "is a moneymaker'' for legislative campaigns that collect millions of dollars from utility companies.


And Nancy Argenziano was right: The revenge from the public utility companies was swift. After two consumer-friendly commissioners were already booted by the legislature, the industry  --  with the help of their stooges (a.k.a. "Florida legislators") on the Nominating Committee  --  ousted the two commissioners, who had been appointed by Governor Charlie Crist and were outspoken opponents of huge rate increases: Nancy Argenziano and Nathan Skop.


The actual vote at the public meeting of the nominating committee (CLICK HERE TO LISTEN) was just a farce. Clearly, the decisions were made behind closed doors, by the lobbyists of the public utility companies, much to the delight of Chair Michael Bennett, a Republican state senator known for his pro-industry leanings. This year he sponsored among other anti-consumer bills S 2270 -- the "Nonjudicial Foreclosure Act." The rejection of these consumer-friendly commission members was definitely another rainmaker for Bennett's political committee named "Committee Supporting Utilities and Competitive Commerce.'' Personally, I can never understand why voters elect such a legislator, who clearly works against the interest of his constituents. I can only repeat what I said last spring: "I wouldn't vote for Bennett even if he would only run for county dog catcher!"


Let's face it: The only member on the nominating committee that stood up for us consumers was Senator Arthenia Joyner (D-Tampa).


In case you are interested to know which Republican legislators sold out Florida's consumers, here is the list:

  • Senator Michael Bennett (R-Sarasota)                                                                                   [Out by Term Limits 2012 - Hail to Term Limits!]

  • Senator Steve Oelrich (R-Gainesville)                                                                          [Candidate State Senate District 14]

  • Representative Stephen L. Precourt (R-Orlando                                                         [Candidate for State Rep. District 41]

  • Representative Dave Murzin (R-Pensacola)                                                               [Candidate State Senate District 2]

[CLICK HERE FOR THE COMPLETE LIST OF MEMBERS. Some of the members actually work for the utility companies.]


Those legislators would rather collect campaign donations from the industry instead of protecting their constituents. These are the kind of legislators who are at fault that Florida is in such bad shape. And some of them even think it's funny to sell out their constituents -- Just listen to the votes against NANCY ARGENZIANO and NATHAN SKOP. DISGUSTING!



This year we have Amendment 4 on the ballot -- the last line of defense for us citizens against greedy developers and corrupt elected officials. It is imperative that we all VOTE YES ON 4.


Michael Mayo, columnist from the Sun Sentinel, suggests we need another amendment ..........

 Hometown Power Play 

After utility commission purge, is it time for consumer uprising?