There are many commissions, agencies and
departments that do their part in making the Special
Interests system work. In a brief treatment, only two
are mentioned as being representative: the Ethics
Commission and the Public Service Commission, the PSC.
They have oversight responsibility of their
respective areas: utilities for the PSC, with the
purpose of protecting consumers from abusive pricing
and all other misuses by the great power these
companies possess. The Ethics Commission oversees the
conduct of those serving in government to protect the
citizens from unethical behavior. With such missions,
the cooperation of these two commissions with Special
Interests is very ironical.
Complaints by incensed citizens filed with
the Ethics Commission involved them in the activities
of Hank Sanders just discussed. After several months
of investigating - with how much diligence is unclear
- the Commission ended its probe in recent days with
no charges of misconduct by the Senator. Such an
outcome confirms the opinion of many good people that
the Ethics Commission is worse than useless because it
gives a stamp of approval to Special Interest
wrongdoing. Its history suggests the Ethics
Commission is part of the corruption problem instead
of being a part of the solution. Once he was cleared,
Sanders sought revenge by announcing he would push
legislation to dissolve the Ethics Commission. This
is one time, and I am sure the only time, that I agree
with ol' Hank. Get rid of the thing.
The numerical description of "double" is
woefully inadequate for the kind of dipping Senator
Sanders has practiced. Some advanced algebra is
needed to calculate an accurate name. The facts give
a clear picture of blatant abuse of his position and
the power it gives him. That power is granted by the
people of Alabama to be used for the public good.
Sanders has stolen it from them to use for selfish
personal ends. If what he has done is not unethical,
if his conduct does not deserve even a formal censure,
then it is hard to imagine anything that does.
I discovered during preparation for this
book that many long time observers share a decided
belief that the Public Service Commission is
controlled by the utilities, especially Alabama Power.
I will not try to prove the truth of that belief for
a couple of reasons. To make it more readable and to
help its chances of being more widely read, this book
is committed to brevity. Convincing evidence would
make it too long. It would require lots of details,
and, also, the plain truth is that too many details
are simply boring. However, the truth that this is a
common belief among insightful veterans of state
politics can be easily verified for any who wants it.
Two incidents support the claim. One was
learned from a man in his third decade of state
employment. Governor George Wallace was so frustrated
by the utilities' strong grip on the PSC that he
sought to break it by forming a public task force made
up of Public Service Commission staff. Its charter
was to fight rate increases on the public's behalf.
The utilities took the action to court and a
sympathetic judge abolished it as illegal. The
inescapable conclusion is that the utilities wanted to
protect the status quo where all power was in the
hands of the Public Service Commission, because they
felt no threat to their goals from that power. That
gives a good indication of where its allegiance lies.
The second incident took place in 2004.
To comply with environmental mandates, Alabama Power
would incur almost 2 billion dollars in clean-up
costs. To recover this, they filed for a rate
increase with the PSC. The responsibility of the
Commission is to protect consumers while providing
businesses a fair rate of return. There was nothing
wrong with Alabama Power seeking to recover costs by
an equitable means. In the end the PSC allowed the
company to recover the whole amount through increased
rates to its customers. The Commissioners voted 2-1
in favor of this solution, with Commissioner George
Wallace, Jr., opposing it. In a written dissent,
Commissioner Wallace makes his case against the
decision. In reading it, one can understand why some
knowledgeable people believe that the PSC, as one man
put it, "is in Alabama Power's hip pocket."
Here are the salient points. The decision
results in an annual increase for customers over the
next nine years, a considerable financial burden for
many. In making their decision, the only option
analyzed and considered in detail was the one proposed
by the power company. TheCommission's staff was never
told to research and provide analysis of other
options, including the obvious one of sharing costs
between the company and its customers. Moreover, the
deadline for settling the issue was not until November
30th, but the Commission rushed to a decision on
October 5th, almost two full months before it was
necessary, time that could have been used to carefully
study and prepare alternative proposals.
The PSC is required by law to notify the
public of its meetings. Of course, there are
different kinds of meetings. Those about procedures
or technical points do not much interest the public.
Those that deal with rate increases do. Commissioner
Wallace points out that the public notice process was
flawed for this issue. Notice, he said, mainly was by
e-mail to those on the e-mail list. Also, the
description of the meeting in the notice obscured the
fact that a rate increase for each of the next nine
years was at stake. The notice also implied a
decision would not be reached until November. Besides
inadequate inclusion of the public, the process left
out the Attorney General. In several meetings between
PSC staff and Power Company officials the Attorney
General was excluded even though Alabama law requires
him to represent Alabama consumers before the
The Commission's report of its proceedings
indicates all possible options were considered and all
procedures fully followed. It leaves the impression
that their decision was reached after thorough and
exhaustive consideration of the matter. In light of
Commissioner Wallace's facts, it is difficult not to
conclude such a report was intentionally deceptive.
Now, put down the book and go to bed.
Sleep the sleep of the safe and secure. For,
remember, your guardian angel, the Public Service
Commission, is watching over you, and your welfare is
in its hands. On second thought, maybe you better
take a sleeping pill.
Good Health is promised to those who keep the 10 Commandments
And said, If thou wilt diligently hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, and wilt do that which is right in his sight, and wilt give ear to his commandments, and keep all his statutes, I will put none of these diseases upon thee, which I have brought upon the Egyptians: for I am the LORD that healeth thee.
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Roy Moore - Alabama brings you Weekly Christian History Lessons
April 14, 1759:
George Frideric Handel, composer of the oratorio Messiah, dies at age 74 in London.
April 14, 1775:
America's first society to abolish slavery organizes in Philadelphia.
April 15, 1415:
Jerome of Prague, a friend of Bohemian reformer Jan Hus, is seized by church authorities meeting at the Council of Constance. Under duress, Jerome recanted his Wycliffe-influenced beliefs and accepted the authority of the pope. However, when a crowd was assembled to hear him repeat the recantation, he changed his speech and eloquently defended both Wycliffe's teachings and the recently executed Hus. Jerome was subsequently burned at the stake.
April 15, 1452:
Italian painter and scholar Leonardo da Vinci is born in Florence, Italy. Among his most famous religious works are the Virgin of the Rocks, The Last Supper, and St. John the Baptist.
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