Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Meanwhile, back at the Change Machine!

On Sunday night, we considered the notion of change including contemplating cognitive, social and cultural inertia.

There is plenty to contemplate with numerous great people to look to for inspiration on how we each can fulfill our calling to BE the LEADERS we've been waiting for. Notably, we must learn from two of the most important 20th Century icons, Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr.

In the meantime, we can examine some causes for cognitive and cultural inertia and identify how to apply the necessary force to overcome the inertia.

In the case of the op-ed penned by Glenn Hamer and Steve Macias, identifying likely causes of their cognitive inertia may not be very difficult.

The Arizona Republic identifies Hamer as the chairman and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Macias chairs the Arizona Manufacturers Council.

The Arizona Manufacturers Council is an arm of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

Quite a bit of the verbiage on the Chamber's website is in code. Public Relations code, that is. Also known as ALECspeak (okay, maybe I just now coined that expression, but hopefully you get the idea).

Here's what you can easily take at face value: both the Chamber and the Council are all about providing a strong voice for their members at the State Capitol.

Here's some of what you have to take with a grain of salt: Hamer's professional experience as executive director of the Solar Energy Industries Association; Macias' page on the Arizona Commerce Authority website having icons for and links to the Arizona Solar State website and the Arizona Innovation Challenge. Neither is at all interested in advocating for solar energy development. Their op-ed demonstrates blatant cognitive inertia regarding solar. Why can't they challenge their prevailing assumptions about solar given the our state's overwhelming competitive advantage?

Come on! What happens when there is a solar energy spill in Arizona? Isn't it just considered a NICE DAY?

According to his bio, Hamer has been CEO of the Chamber since 2006. Before that he served as chief of staff to former [and now current] Congressman Matt Salmon, executive director of the Arizona Republican Party and legislative assistant to Sen. Jon Kyl. Hamer's Chamber bio says his work with the Solar Energy Industries Association was before he came to Arizona. In other words, an ancient time as far as solar technology development is concerned. Since then, he has been FAR removed from advocacy for alternative energy and related issues.

Now, why did these two BIG business lobbyists write an op-ed revealing their clients to be threatened by the idea that Nancy LaPlaca may become a Corporation Commissioner? Or at least being threatened by the reality LaPlaca set forth in her op-eds?

The Chamber's website recognizes six BIG corporations that "participate in the Corporate Membership program at the 'Arizona Trustee Level.'" They are: Apollo Group (parent of the University of Phoenix), Arizona Public Service,  Cox Communications (cable, internet and telephone provider), Freeport McMoRan* (mining conglomerate), Salt River Project and Southwest Gas.

The membership fee schedule is on this page. There are increments based on the number of employees in the member organization. For corporations with more than 500 employees, the form simply instructs the prospective member to call the office.

Reasons for joining the chamber are spelled out:

Your Voice. The Arizona Chamber is your voice on state and federal issues. We are the only full-time, business-oriented public policy organization fighting anti-business government policies and promoting positive economic development on a statewide basis. Our experienced team of lobbyists ensures the voice of Arizona business will be heard loud and clear during legislative sessions and ballot proposition campaigns.  
Your Resource. Through our programs, events, and committee meetings, you have direct access to the government policymakers whose decisions affect your bottom line. We arm you with the facts through timely and informative newsletters, policy papers, political analyses and action alerts. We also track and analyze political, societal, and economic trends to bolster our public policy agenda.
Your Bottom Line. The legislative and regulatory measures that impact your profit centers are at the core of our public policy advocacy efforts. Your participation in our policy making committees ensures that the voice of Arizona business is heard. Through your participation in our comprehensive policy agenda process, you help us develop an agenda that focuses on the needs of your business. We also help your bottom line with human resources and environmental education programs developed by top experts in their fields. 

The Chamber bills itself as a strong voice AND claims to be the "only full-time, business-oriented public policy organization fighting anti-business government policies..." "...you have access to the government policymakers whose decisions affect your bottom line." "Your participation in our policy making committees ensures that the voice of Arizona business is heard."

In other words, they claim to be like ALEC only better.

APS, SRP and Southwest Gas have major interest in utility issues in our state. SRP as a whole is not directly regulated by the ACC, but transmission line siting is. SRP is an owner and the operator of Navajo Generating Station. LaPlaca's op-ed pieces/guest blog posts go to the very heart of the issues regarding NGS.

The Chamber's website does NOT publicly disclose the cost of membership at the trustee level. But you have to figure it is likely the highest membership fee level. Therefore regardless of how much the Big Business lobby wants to claim it's about innovation, what Hamer and Macias did by writing that column was bold and brazen resistance to change. It certainly also demonstrated a profound lack of vision as well as a gap in understanding economic development issues.

Without either candid public disclosures from the Chamber or tedious pursuit of open records related to rate cases and required disclosures made to the ACC, I can't get any more specific about the monetary amounts at stake in this situation. But we already have adequate information to make reasonably informed inferences about the motivation behind the cognitive inertia displayed by Hamer and Macias. Their statement was an awkward and unsuccessful effort to undermine LaPlaca's call for visionary leadership to address Arizona's energy future.

There can be no question Hamer and Macias intended their op-ed to be a pre-emptive attack on a potential LaPlaca candidacy. I'm not sure they realize how magnificently they failed. Knowing LaPlaca as I do, I'm confident she relishes the opportunity to address these issues before voters throughout Arizona.

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*Some perspective on Freeport McMoRan: Today's Arizona Republic ran a brief story based on a press release the company (New York Stock Exchange: FCX) posted on May 20, 2013.

Freeport-Mc MoRan Copper & Gold Inc. (NYSE: FCX) and Plains Exploration & Production Company (NYSE: PXP) today announced that the shareholders of PXP approved FCX’s acquisition of PXP at a special meeting held today. A majority of the outstanding shares approved the transaction.
The transaction is anticipated to close on May 31, 2013. Following completion of the transaction, there are expected to be approximately 1,038 million shares of FCX outstanding.
Upon closing of the merger, FCX will be a premier U.S.-based natural resource company with an industry leading global portfolio of mineral as sets, significant oil and gas resources and a growing production profile. FCX is the world’s largest publicly traded copper producer.
The Republic's story said (print edition, page B6):
After being promised addi­tional $3 per share dividends, shareholders of Plains Explo­ration and Production Co. ap­proved an acquisition by Phoe­nix- based Freeport-McMoRan Copper and Gold Inc. on Mon­day.
Freeport announced an ad­ditional dividend for Plains shareholders before the vote on Monday, and also said if the deal with the Houston company was approved, it would pay an additional $1 per share divi­dend to all shareholders.
That comes on top if its more than 31-cent-per-share quarter­ly dividend.
Freeport announced the ac­quisition in December, along with a separate deal to acquire McMoRan Exploration Co. of New Orleans.
Freeport-McMoRan said it will pay $17.2 billion for Plains and $2.4 billion for McMoRan in cash, stock and the assump­tion of debt.
With FCX acquiring significant gas production capacity, might there be incentive for the Chamber's "trustee level voices" Glenn Hamer and Steve Macias to develop vision for developing a natural gas generating unit at NGS? Just sayin'.

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