Saturday, January 15, 2011

Why Don't We Just Remove "Consumer Counselor" From Its Name?

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor gave its blessing to the transfer of Indianapolis' water and sewer utilities without any conditions to protect utility consumers, who are being raped to finance Mayor Greg Ballard's re-election year public improvement spending program he calls ReBuild Indy. Apparently the office thinks it is the duty of the utility consumers to pay for expenses with the payment of their water and utility bills that have absolutely nothing to do with the utilities' operation. The Ballard administration tacked on hundreds of millions of dollars to the sale price of the utilities in order to finance a bunch of election year street and sidewalk projects to boost his re-election chances, which the plan calls for utility consumers to pay in the form of higher utility rates. As the Star's Jon Murray reports on the consumer counselor's "looking for a job with a utility" favorable recommendation:

"The conditions we recommend will help ensure that customers of the Indianapolis water and sewer utilities receive safe and dependable service at reasonable costs going forward, while helping to make sure the transaction is as transparent as possible," said a statement issued by Consumer Counselor David Stippler.
Does Stippler have a job in his future with one of the utilities like almost every other person who previously served in his position? Duke Energy's James Turner used to hold the same position before he joined the utility industry. He was forced to step down from his job at Duke Energy when e-mails were revealed disclosing an embarrassingly too cozy relationship with the state's top utility regulator, former IURC Chairman David Hardy, and his chief legal counsel, Scott Storms, who also took a job with Duke through the assistance of Turner before the embarrassing e-mail surfaced showing Hardy and Turner joking about the lack of transparency in Indiana's ethics review of Storms' hiring. Why don't we just abolish the Consumer Counselor's office? It obviously doesn't represent consumers. It has stood watch while the nation's most corrupt utility commission has operated for decades without raising any public concerns. What a joke. The public should be demanding Stippler's resignation. His office has done nothing to stop tens of millions of dolllars from being paid to Veolia to operate the water company over the past decade, including incentive payments it never earned. Hell, he didn't even raise concerns. He clearly does NOT represent consumers.


Citizen Kane said...

I just sent a letter indicating similar sentiments to the UCC, Nuvo, the Star, the IBJ and the Recorder. Let's see who prints it - then let's see who gives a crap.

Unigov said...

Stippler is a puppet. From the OUCC website:

"Before joining the OUCC, Dave spent six years with the Indianapolis law firm of Bingham McHale, LLP where he represented utilities and municipalities on a wide range of legal and regulatory issues affecting their business activities. He also served for 17 years as in-house corporate counsel with Ameritech Corporation and SBC Communications. "

Gary R. Welsh said...

Again, if we had a real prosecutor in the U.S. Attorney's office, their would have been a bunch of utility regulators, lobbyists and utility commission employees sitting in prison right now, but this is Indiana. Come one, come all. There is no better state in the country to ply the public corruption trade than right here.

Marycatherine Barton said...

I am glad that at least you, Gary, and your faithful readers are angry about the failures (to put it mildly} of the post of consumer counselor here. There is way too many pod people who are 'letting' the Democrats and Republicans push them around, at great cost.

Melyssa said...

I've noticed that government agencies usually call themselves the opposite of what they do.

1984 doublespeak.