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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 Commission.

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

Exodus 15:26
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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