Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Arizona Energy at the Crossroads -- Part II

One of the most interesting panel discussions of the day, on Saturday, featured Debbie Dooley, founder of Conservatives for Energy Freedom and state Rep. Rusty Bowers, a Mesa Republican who serves on the House Energy, Environment and Natural Resources committee. From the Yale Environment 360 newsletter,
Debbie Dooley’s conservative credentials are impeccable. She was one of the founding members of the Tea Party movement and continues to sit on the board of the Tea Party Patriots. She also serves as chairperson of the Atlanta Tea Party. 
But on the issue of solar power, Dooley breaks the mold. To the consternation of some of her fellow conservatives, she has teamed up with the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, first in Georgia and now in Florida, to form the Green Tea Coalition. It’s an unlikely mix of conservative, environmental and other groups whose focus includes campaigning against the maintenance fees that utility companies charge solar customers. In Florida, the group is working to get an initiative on the ballot that would allow individuals and businesses to sell power directly to consumers.
Dooley's straight talking perspective was refreshing and enlightening. She is not an academic. Many of the other speakers at the conference were. Nevertheless, she made clear points that were readily communicated and absorbed. Okay, maybe I'm just not smart enough to appreciate the academics.

One of her first points, perhaps the most salient of the day by any speaker, is that Distributed Generation (DG) is a matter of national security concern.

Bowers, on the other hand, is a pompous creep. His claim to credibility at the conference, other than being vice-chair of the House committee, is that his ranch is six miles from the nearest point that he could connect to the electrical grid. Therefore, the ranch, at which he practices his art (as a sculptor), is completely energy independent and hence, off-the-grid. That's where his common ground with anyone at the conference seemed to begin and end.

To respond to Dooley on the national security concern, he asked who in the audience were national security experts. Not surprisingly, nobody raised their hands. He then proceeded to, dismissively and condescendingly, simply not even acknowledge that DG could make Arizonans far less vulnerable to terrorist attack.

From an undated paper (apparently written not long after a widespread August 2003 blackout) posted to the Clean Energy Group website,
Disruption of electricity has been a weapon of war in Iraq. Throughout the past summer, following the cessation of active combat operations by the United States, looters or saboteurs in Baghdad destroyed long distance power lines, stole valuable parts of the electrical system, and destroyed dozens of 100-foot electric towers.
Residents suffered in heat up to 120 degrees, huge backups of sewage resulted because of the failure of electric pumps, and damage to local electrical lines made it impossible for farmers to irrigate their fields, with tensions at a fever pitch.1 During the recent blackouts in the U.S. and Canada, many Iraqis gloated, making statements like: “Let them feel our suffering” after their months of life without electricity.2
Imagine that happening in desert cities and rural areas in Arizona. Go ahead, imagine it.

Dooley also cited the problems of crony capitalism as rationale for her teaming up with Sierra Club to start the Green Tea Coalition. She's right on the mark on that issue.

But Bowers apparently doesn't care whether it happens to you or me. He's in the legislature to represent lobbyists including utility lobbyists, not for enhancing security of Arizona citizens. Bowers also dismissively thumbed his nose (figuratively, not literally) at Dooley's suggestion to "follow the money." Which is ironic because I vividly remember Bowers, during his previous legislative service, arguing the merits of lobbyist gifts (dining and entertainment in particular) and saying that rather than ban gifts outright, just have enhanced reporting of those items lobbyists spend on lawmakers to influence them. In the 1990s, Rusty was all for allowing people to follow the money... because that's better than keeping our representatives from enjoying the bounty of their labors in selling influence.

Of course, we now know, from the research of Robert Cialdini, that the web of control that attaches to candidates who whore themselves out to lobbyists like Bowers does, is very real and absolutely tangible. It seems the acclaimed sculptor didn't realize there was scientific documentation of how those gifts work.

The bottom line with Bowers is that he was there to make a stand politically, for his puppetmasters, even though it seemed conference organizers had hoped for an intellectual discussion of actual issues related to the future of energy infrastructure and use in Arizona.

The bottom line with Dooley is that she's embarked on the strategy outlined in Unstoppable: the Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State. As long as she stays focused, eventually she (and we) will succeed.

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In its November 9 issue, Yellow Sheet Reporters validated what I posted on Saturday evening about Susan Bitter Smith demanding that NO MEDIA be allowed to listen to her keynote speech that morning.
One source who attended the conference said Bitter Smith cited Corp Comm rules in kicking the media out. Meanwhile, citing a source in attendance, Muratore wrote that Bitter Smith mentioned that, as a commissioner, she acts as judge and is therefore not allowed to speak in such forums with reporters present. She also warned the attendees not to talk to the media about her remarks, Muratore’s source said.
Bitter Smith did not answer a call from our reporter, but Corp Comm spokeswoman Angie Holdsworth said what occurred is being “twisted up” by the anonymous sources. She said Bitter Smith did not cite any commission rule and it was not the commissioner, but the forum’s organizers, who kept the media out. However, she acknowledged that Bitter Smith wanted to keep reporters from hearing what she had to say on the advice of her counsel. “There was no citing of commission [rules]… She did not kick anybody out because of any commission rule,” Holdsworth said. She said Bitter Smith had spoken with Holohan before her speech and expressed her desire, based on legal advice, not to have reporters present. “She said she wanted to have a candid conversation and felt it was probably better not to have the media there, but it was Mark [Holohan]… who was the one who did not let this Steve [Muratore] in and kept the media out from there,” Holdsworth said.
Bitter Smith alluded to her counsel’s advice in the first part of her speech, a source confirmed this afternoon. “She got up and said, ‘I’ve been advised by my attorneys that I can’t give this talk with media in the room’ or something like that,” the source said
It seems to me that former journalist and now FLACK Angie Holdsworth is the one who was doing the twisting. Might she be uncomfortable with her first gig as a paid public relations minion?

According to the YS, Bitter Smith DID tell the AriSeia president that she didn't want any media people in the room, but then she (or her mouthpiece) denied that she was responsible for it. In another absurd development, YS reported,
Later this afternoon, Holdsworth also said Bitter Smith preferred no reporters be present because she didn’t want the context of her speech to be “overshadowed or sandblasted.” Also, she probably wouldn’t have a problem with Muratore listening to her speech. “But that was the organizers’ call who decided who was media and who wasn’t, basically,” Holdsworth said.
Translated into English, Bitter Smith reconsidered and now says it would have been fine for me to hear her speech. I find that statement superbly disingenuous.

Obviously, I stirred up a hornet's nest with the Saturday evening (blog) post. Bitter Smith now is trying to suggest she doesn't know who I am? Really?

I appreciate that Yellow Sheet staff did some digging and asked some good questions. However, they still use language that gives the plutocrats the benefit of the doubt, but this was good for keeping the issue on the front burner. The fight for integrity in Arizona government continues, especially related to the problem of corruption in utility oversight.

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