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Argenziano doesn't even get interview

State Sen. Nancy Argenziano, a Crystal River Republican who has a reputation as a thorn in the side of utility companies, was rejected by the nominating panel assigned to name candidates for two positions to the state's utility board, the Florida Public Service Commission.

The Public Service Nominating Council selected 19 candidates to be interviewed on March 9. Argenziano received only four of the five votes needed to make the cut. AARP chairman Bentley Lipscomb voted for her. Senate colleague and commission chairman, Sen. Mike Bennett of Bradenton voted for her, and he votes last.

Gov. Charlie Crist created the openings on the panel after rejecting the two nominees former Gov. Jeb Bush made before his left office, Isilio Arriago and Kenneth Littlefield. Crist will choose from the list of nominees the panel selects. He has called the PSC a "lapdog'' and, as attorney general, used his office to challenge telephone rate increases and fought power companies attempts to pass on storm damage costs to consumers. He has said he will select a person who is a strong consumer advocate.

Some of those who made the cut: Philip Nowecki and Jeremy Susac, two candidates whom Crist appointed to the post on a temporary basis after rejecting Bush's nominations; former Sen. Lesley Miller, a Tampa Democrat and former Democratic leader who served with Crist in the state Senate; Stephen Stewart, a former lawyer in the PSC's public counsel office; Joe McGlothin, a lawyer now serving the PSC's public counsel's office; Pat Wiggins, a utility lawyer; Bev DeMello, director of the PSC's consumer affair's office; Michael Palecki, a former PSC commissioner; Kevin Neal, former aide to a PSC commissioner; and Manny Arisso, a lawyer.