Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

So, Bitter Smith thinks if she's forceful in her denials, people will believe her?

The next step in the ongoing saga of As The Corporation Commission Turns emerged over the weekend when Commissioner Bitter Smith exhibited high levels of chutzpah during a television interview with Channel 3 political editor Dennis Welch.

After having witnessed the Channel 3 interview Sunday evening, former Corporation Commission staff attorney Lee Poole, wrote a letter to the editor of the Arizona Republic, published today (Sept 30).

Of course, if Bitter Smith projects sincerity with enough emphatic conviction, when declaring that Cox's cable operation is a separate accounting entity (corporation) than Cox's telephone service provider operation, perhaps she thinks nobody will notice. Despite her indignant declaration of the independence of the companies, the ownership/equity of both companies is either on the books of the other, or the stock of both companies is held essentially by the same people or corporation or holding company. Therefore, according the Bitter Smith, she has no conflict of interest because there is no connection between the two companies.

Personally, I don't buy it. And apparently, neither does (Tony West) whistleblower Lee Poole, who stated it thus,
The (seemingly transient) considerations of corporate structure and tax advantage must override the will of the electorate (as expressed in the state Constitution) and the rule of law (as expressed by the state Supreme Court). 
Would that be a fair summary? Just askin'.
A.R.S. 40-101 doesn't parse the situation quite the way Bitter Smith does.
A person in the employ of, or holding an official relation to a corporation or person subject to regulation by the commission, or a person owning stocks or bonds of a corporation subject to regulation, or a person who is pecuniarily interested therein, shall not be elected, appointed to, or hold the office of commissioner or be appointed or employed by the commission...
She can squawk and squeal all she wants but who really can she convince that has even the slightest amount of critical thinking skills? Just because the two (or more) companies in the Cox Communications conglomerate are distinct accounting entities (as claimed by Bitter Smith), does that mean those companies are at all disinterested in how well the other(s) perform financially... or pecuniarily?

Should one assume that Susan Bitter Smith must be interested in how well Cox Cable performs financially (since she gets paid handsomely to advocate for the company)? If so, how reasonable could it possibly be to figure she's NOT interested in the company's overall performance?


By the way, another item showed up today about the ACC clusterf*ck. Phoenix-based IO Data Centers LLC submitted a 5-page letter supporting the commission implementing rules requiring public service corporations (PSCs, namely the regulated utilities) disclose election related spending.
IO submits that, as a threshold matter, the Commission has the authority-and, indeed, the obligation-to require the disclosure, by PSCs or other affiliated entities (e.g., parents, subsidiaries), of their expenditures in Commission elections. The Commission should exercise its authority in two ways: (1) issue a subpoena so that the Commission may inspect the books and records of PSCs to determine their spending activity (on Commission elections) in the last election cycle (2014); and (2) promulgate a rule that would require such disclosure by PSCs on an ongoing and prospective basis. 
The stakes are high. Simply stated, under existing law, a regulated PSC can spend unlimited amounts of money, anonymously, to influence the election of the members of the very regulatory body that oversees the PSC. This situation-an unintended consequence of recent changes in the law-erodes public confidence in the Commission’s process and decision-making and undermines the Commission’s ability to fulfill its constitutionally imposed duty to protect “the public interest through regulation of [PSCs]”. To discharge this critical duty, the Commission must be free from both actual and perceived conflicts of interest. And to determine the existence of those conflicts, both the Commission and the voters of Arizona require information about election spending by PSCs on Commission elections.
As a certain Vice-President might say, this is a BFD.

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