State Representative, Joe Gibbons, follow the article.
St. Petersburg Times
Ethics bill for PSC stalls in House By Mary Ellen Klas and Steve Bousquet,
Herald/Times Tallahassee Bureau
TALLAHASSEE — A bill aimed at tightening the ethics rules at the Public Service Commission flew through the Florida Senate Wednesday and then became snagged by a House committee, which raised red flags about some parts of the measure.
With no debate, the Senate passed the bill aimed at ending improper communications between commissioners or senior staff members and the utilities the agency regulates.
The vote was 39-1 with Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, the lone no vote.
Senate President Jeff Atwater applauded the measure's sponsor, Sen. Mike Fasano, R-New Port Richey, for championing the issue. The Senate made the issue a top priority by approving the bill on the second day of session.
The bill would ban private conversations between commissioners or their staff aides and anyone with a pending rate case. Last year, PSC staff members and commissioners communicated through text and BlackBerry messages with Florida Power & Light representatives as they were awaiting PSC rulings on several issues. A PSC lobbyist also attended a Kentucky Derby party last May hosted by a Florida Power & Light executive.
Fasano called the episodes "egregious violations of the public trust."
The measure doesn't prohibit all communication between commissioners and staffers with utility officials. Instead, it requires that any conversations that take place must be written down and posted within 72 hours.
The bill also requires commissioners to apply the same ethical standards as judges when ruling on a rate case, and it would ban senior staffers and commissioners from leaving the agency and going to work for a utility company within four years.
Minutes after the Senate vote, the House Energy and Utilities Policy Committee debated but did not vote on the companion bill by Rep. John Legg, R-New Port Richey, as well as two other PSC-related bills.
Several House Democrats led the opposition to the four-year employment ban in Legg's bill. The ban would not affect current PSC members or staffers but would apply only to anyone hired after July 1.
"We're going to run people out of the industry or run people out of state," said Rep. Joe Gibbons, D-Hallandale Beach. "By making it four years, we make the industry less attractive."
Legg argued that when commissioners or key staff members cross over and work for utilities they once regulated, it smacks of "consumer exploitation."
Another PSC-related bill by Rep. Tom Anderson, R-Dunedin, would ask voters to approve a constitutional amendment to make commission seats elected positions rather than appointed. State law now requires a nominating council to recommend candidates to the governor, who selects from that list to choose appointees to the five-member commission.
The measure would also ban candidates from accepting campaign contributions from regulated utilities. Florida had an elected PSC until the 1970s.Also Wednesday, the rate case was back in the news as the First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee overruled the PSC's order to force FPL and Progress Energy of St. Petersburg to disclose employee salary and benefits packages as part of their rate case requests. FPL's rate case ended with the company getting $75 million of the $1.3 billion it requested. Progress got none of its $500 million increase.
See also, Sansom wants Rep. Joe Gibbons off panel, from
The Buzz politics blog of Feb. 15, 2010
Way to bring attention to yourself, Gibbons!
Another sad and pathetic example of the Hallandale Beach ethical taint,
writ large, as yet another Akerman Senterfitt consultant shows his
version of thinking 'big picture' -creating jobs for pals, cronies and
For me, this recalls so many exasperating Hallandale Beach City
Commission meetings I've attended in the past where, rather than
do what was right, Gibbons continually tried everyone's patience
and credulity by trying to simultaneously appear both publicly
above-the-fray, yet also a savvy insider and wheeler-dealer,
the latter role of which he was eminently laughable in.
(Not unlike present-day HB Commissioner Anthony A. Sanders'
recent attempts to appear savvy and demanding with the Westin
Diplomat Resort & Spa over their preposterous LAC proposal
rubber-stamped and wink-winked by the HB City Commission.)
In Gibbons' particular case, his two-faced strategy was never more
obvious or absurd than in his long-winded attempts at HB City
Commission meetings to gain concessions or some small handfuls
of sugar from Magna Entertainment's Gulfstream Park
Race Track & Casino.
Instead, all Gibbons accomplished was looking like a two-faced
pol who argues not over matters of principle, but rather over price
-Where's something for me and mine?
Honestly, why do ethical issues continue to be such a serial problem
for my State Representative, Joe Gibbons?
Per my blog post here on Saturday, February 27th,
Missing voices in Broward County's ethics debate are ignored
by South Florida news media. It's our old media friend:
Mr. Lack of Curiosity!
discussing last month's very important Broward Legislative Delegation
meeting at the downtown Fort Lauderdale campus of FAU/BCC
on Las Olas to discuss State Rep. Ellyn Bogdanoff's common sense
ethics proposal for an IG for Broward County, Gibbons, just like
State Sen. Chris Smith and State Rep. Perry Thurston III,
were no Profiles in Courage, though Gibbons at least voted for it
in the end, unlike the other two, though doing himself no favors with
his comments or attitude.
Plus, Gibbons has always been perceived as an apologist for
Hallandale Beach mayor Joy Cooper and city manager
Mike Good serial incompetence and has consistently looked
the other way when unethical and anti-democratic things
happened either right in front of him, or in his district,
as continues to this very day.
Seriously, when was the last time Gibbons publicly spoke-out
against what everyone paying serious attention knows has been
taking place at Hallandale Beach City Hall for years?
The answer is that Joe Gibbons NEVER has.
Whether coming or going, as a Hallandale Beach City Commissioner
or State Representative, Joe Gibbons has never ever been a
Profile in Courage.
He is imminently replaceable in the State Legislature, even if he doesn't
quite have the good sense to realize it.
Fine -all the better.
If a candidate with integrity and smarts ran directly at Joe Gibbons
and his dismal track record, I'd vote for them in a heart-beat and
so would most of the well-informed people I know and respect in
Southeast Broward County.