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Government, Politics & Issues

Nixon taps Kenney to Public Service Commission, among several notable appointments

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 9, 2013 - Gov. Jay Nixon has appointed Bill Kenney to the Missouri Public Service Commission, a move that could end a temporary logjam for the powerful entity that regulates the state's utilities.

Kenney is a former Republican state senator from the Kansas City area who most recently served as Lt. Gov. Peter Kinder’s chief of staff. He is perhaps best known for his tenure as a quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs.

“As a former two-term state senator and Senate majority floor leader, Bill Kenney has the experience and knowledge necessary to be a valuable member of the Public Service Commission,” Nixon said in a statement. “I am confident he will put those skills to effective use on behalf of Missouri families, businesses and communities while serving on the PSC.”

Nixon’s move was important because Republicans may have blocked PSC Commissioner Steve Stoll’s nomination without a corresponding Republican appointment. Stoll is a former Democratic state senator.

The Associated Press reported last year that GOP senators had no problem with Stoll’s nomination but wanted the governor to fill a vacancy caused by the departure of Republican PSC Commissioner Jeff Davis.

Kinder – who served as Senate president pro tem when Kenney was in office – released a statement praising the move. He called Kenney “a distinguished public servant who served honorably as the majority leader of the Senate and has been an asset to the lieutenant governor’s office.”

“I am pleased that Gov. Nixon appointed my chief of staff, Bill Kenney, to the Public Service Commission – the second time a Democratic governor has selected my chief of staff for this important governmental body,” Kinder said. “Gov. Bob Holden appointed Jeff Davis from my office in 2004, and now Gov. Nixon has picked Bill Kenney as Jeff’s replacement. … I wish him well in his new position.”

The Public Service Commission is responsible, among other things, for deciding utility cases and for the promulgation and enforcement of administrative rules. Kenney’s appointment must be approved by the Missouri Senate.

Nixon names others to boards

The governor also tapped several prominent Republicans and Democrats for other key board posts that also will require Senate confirmation.

In the St. Louis area, Nixon nominated to two prominent figures -- Bruce Sommer and Zane Yates -- to the St. Louis Regional Complex and Sports Authority.

Sommer, a Democrat, is a former St. Louis alderman and most recently spent 18 years as the senior vice president of the Saint Louis Convention and Visitors Commission and as director of America’s Center. Sommer retired in 2009. His proposed tenure on the sports authority would run through May 31, 2018.

Yates, a Republican from Oakville, was a GOP leader during much of his six years in the state House from 1990-1996; he currently is the senior director of business development for the Centene Corp. Yates' proposed term on the authority would end May 31, 2016.

And in southwest Missouri, the governor nominated Joe Carmichael of Springfield, Mo. -- a former longtime chairman of the Missouri Democratic Party -- to the Missouri State University Board of Governors for a term ending Jan. 1, 2017.

Carmichael already serves on the State Highways and Transportation Commission. He, the president and law firm manager of Carmichael and Neal, has practiced law in Springfield for almost 40 years.

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