New Public Counsel for Florida

That office represents you the consumer when utilities push for rate hikes. Now, consumer advocates are questioning why the man who's been doing the job didn't make Friday's interview process.

Every time you turn on a light or make a long distance call you're spending money, and the rates are set by the public service commission. Your best friend at the PSC is the public counsel who fights the utilities on behalf of consumers.

Harold McLean, who's worked in the office of public counsel for ten years, will now be taking over the job.

"My job is to advocate on behalf of consumers to see that their interests are observed."

Telephone companies are now asking for the biggest rate increase instate history, so consumer advocate Mike Twomey was paying close attention to the selection process. Although he's pleased with McLean, Twomey can't understand why the man who's been doing the job, Charles Beck, wasn't even considered.

"Charlie Beck was head and shoulders above everybody else except McLean," says Mike Twomey.

Lawmakers who selected the new public counsel all seemed to want beck to stay with the office, but Sen. Charlie Clary didn't feel beck was qualified to lead it.

"I was looking for someone that had a little private sector experience," says Clary.

Lawmakers offered a variety of reasons for leaving beck off the list, but there's one explanation they don't want to hear. The utilities don't like Beck because he cost them money, and the utilities donate millions to politicians. When asked about the phone rate increase now under consideration, McLean said he doesn't think the telephone companies have proven their case.