Public servants hard at work avoiding the public they're supposed to serve

Sue Daugherty
Mar 23, 2010

 

In my work at Serving Our Seniors to help low to moderate income senior citizens make sure they can afford to heat their homes, I've learned a thing or two about the energy industry. Admittedly my experience is limited, but one thing's for certain, this is a complicated industry in which not all public servants who are able to prevent consumers from being scalped by high home heating prices want their constituents to have a better understanding of how the energy industry works.

Consider all the public service organizations and administrations involved in calculating the cost of heating fuel and energy. PUCO, (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio), FERC (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission), the SEC (Securities Exchange Commission), the OCC (Ohio Consumers Counsel), our Ohio legislators and our U.S. legislators all play a part.

While putting together this upcoming public forum, “Affording Home Heating: What's In Our Future - Part II,”  2 p.m. Sept. 8, at the Sandusky State Theatre, I found out how hard it is to get some of these public servants to actually publicly discuss the future cost of home heating and the role they are playing in serving the public's best interest on this issue.

In early June I invited the PUCO commissioners and a representative from FERC to speak at the forum.  Here's what I got — none of the five PUCO commissioners bothered to accept or reject the June invitation to be a panelist for Sept. 8 meeting. So I wrote each of the five commissioners again in July, extending the invitation again. The response was the same — nothing.

I did hear from FERC, State Relations, Office of External Affairs in Washington, D.C. They had a staffer call to say that they couldn't accept my invitation. So I asked if they had an expert who could participate by speaker phone. Their reply was that they were not able to participate in the forum by speaker phone because if they did it for us, they would have to do it for others.  Hmmm.  I'm not aware of a groundswell of public forums on affording home heating taking place across the country. Are you?

The suspicious side of me makes me wonder why they wouldn't want a better informed constituency.  Could it be that if we don't understand what they do then we'll have nothing to gripe about? Now that's public service at its best!

Despite the lack of participation by two of the most prominent regulators in the energy industry, a fascinating panel of  private entrepreneurs and public servants is assembling and will be speaking on the following topics: 

Ohio Senator Mark Wagoner – “Legislative Reform on Electric Generation”

Mark Cironi, president, Green Energy Technologies – “Commercial Urban Windmills (the ‘WindCube’)”

Wilson Gonzalas and Chris Verich, The Ohio Consumers Counsel - "Net Metering" (getting paid for electricity you generate and feed back into the grid)

Bob Martin, engineer -  "Heating Your Home with a Greenhouse"

Ken Beck, senior vice president, Lake Erie Electric - "Can the Grid Support A Move to Alternative Energy”

Consumers don’t have to feel like they’re at the mercy of the utility industry and bulk fuel providers. But only when we know better, can we expect better and do better. 

I hope you will attend.

What: Affording Home Heating: What's In Our Future - Part II 

When: 2 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8

Where: Sandusky State Theatre

Comments

Anonymous

Preach on Grinderman. I hear your sarcastic comments. People in this country expect everything to be handed to them, when people like me had to do good old fashioned hard work. People like Blackjack or Brokeback Bill that instantly want healthcare for gays or legal gay marriage. Pay your dues, I served my country to earn my right I am a moral citizen of this community. Its time we start putting the foot down against everybody who automaticalley expects a handout.

Gulliver

The point of this blog is not to further the cause of subsidizing heating bills. TO THE CONRTRARY!! The point is how hard it is to get those public servants to publicly discuss the future cost of home heating and and what are they doing to serve the public's best interest on this issue.

These public servants are paid 6 figure salaries.... and they can't see fit for their constituents to gain a better understanding of their role as it relates to the high cost of home heating.

I suspect their is a method behind their madness...Keep the public you serve ignorant on the issue, and they can never hold you accountable for the work that you do -- or fail to do.

Anonymous

Thanks so much, Sue, for scheduling this meeting at a time where anybody with a job CAN'T attend unless they're willing to pony up vacation time to do it. Sure, I know you're working with the elderly, the vast majority of whom are retired. But nothing will change when ONLY the elderly are working for it. It's going to take more of us, maybe even MOST of us, and your schedule has made it impossible for those who might be interested to attend.

The greenhouse topic sounds quite interesting to me, but on September 8, I'll be working to get a paycheck to pay my utility bills.

P.S. In all of the things you've mentioned, I've yet to see the single most energy-efficient measure discussed here, and that's the notion of building underground. Even the most passive of what might still be called geothermal heating/cooling is efficient. I knew a family in Arizona whose home was built in large part in a cave. Their electric bills were all but non-existent because the ambient temperature of their home was kept steady year 'round by the surrounding rock. Skylights, half-stories, and more make underground living comfortable AND attractive. As long as it's all about the status quo, nothing will ever change.

P.P.S. Okay, there's one way they're likely to change. All too sadly, Grinderman is right and Barack Obama is getting set to help make it so.

Anonymous

How interesting Sue talks about energy, could formy boy be far away?

Rick Studer

What the hell is going on with this blog? I take a week off to enjoy “Circus of the Fools”, the Republican National Convention and when I come back it’s been infested with queens, fairies and anger management class dropouts.

All the priceless dopes like Re Sues Blog and Mr. Ed have been silenced and replaced by mindless mental laxatives like Art Vandalay , Mr. blackjack and erieman (foamy man is his name, not formy man you idiot).

Every blog has a general theme including this one. To the CONRTRARY of current opinion, this blog is NOT about fist fighting or Gay Bars or how badly one can butcher the English language.

This blog is about three things. The struggles of the ever aging and struggling middle class and ways they can seek to maintain or improve their existence, the impoverished senior citizens trying to maintain a modicum of quality in their everyday life and medical struggles, and the continuing quest to find gainful employment for Mr. Foam.

These are the topics. If one wants to be part of and participate in a successful blog they need to stick to these subjects.

If the local market truly needs and will support a gay blog contact the Sandusky Register. I’m sure they would consider it.

Perhaps Mr. Foam could moderate it, while his writing style is similar to that of a Shaklee salesman he is more than sufficient in grammar and punctuation to do a fine job.

Remember… Stay on subject!

Anonymous

Rick when you took a week off where did you go? Answer, the land where time forgot. What a self righteous fool! You and your 12 cats that you live with must find it difficult to cope with the rest of the real world. Call your nurse and take your medication

Anonymous

Erieman:

People with attention deficit disorder issues will often act out in order to get noticed.

Mr. Studer's attempts at verbal bullying and intimidation are merely an indication of larger mental health issues, perhaps OCD. He needs professional help.

In behavior modification, one accepted way to extinguish such behavior is to simply ignore it and thereby not reinforce it.

When my daughter was young and acted out, I found that by merely sending her to her room and thereby isolating her more often than not corrected the behavior.

Therefore, my advice to all concerned is to ignore Mr. Studer until at such time he decides to ‘play nice.’

Anonymous

Ms. Daugherty:

One of the thoughts that came to me as I read your blog was the explosive worldwide growth of bureaucracies.

We as a nation tend to believe that if we vote for the ‘correct’ politician that our lives will somehow improve. This is and probably always was mostly fallacious.

Once laws are passed, bureaucrats are given the job of executing the policies. Hence there are people whose jobs exist only on the continuation of those sometimes misguided policies.

Therefore, our day-to-day lives are regulated and sometimes controlled more by bureaucrats than by the politicians we vote for. Technically, they have no constituency. They are paid employees.

For the most part, the continuation of a bureaucrat’s paying and benefit rich job is not dependent on either a positive or a negative outcome of the situation. Why would this bloated system not tend to ferment apathy?

I’ve read and heard horror stories about the difficulty in dismissing an under performing civil servant. I tend to believe what I’ve heard and read.

Anonymous

Whew! Silly us. We can all quit worrying about the economic health of Ohio.

Gov. Strickland and Lt. Gov. Fisher have written a piece entitled:

‘Don't Believe the Doomsayers.
Ohio's Economy Is Doing Fine.’

Read it here:

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB...

Rick Studer

Well… Seems Mr. Ed and friends have sent me to the corner room of the castle. I can only hope it has a window, so I can watch the twinks, fairies, thinking challenged and pseudo physiologist of this blog for entertainment.

Maybe Sleeping Beauty will come to my mirror and misspell a word for me… I’m at a loss for words, time to queue James Brown….

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H...

Rick Studer

Well I’ve been censored again, I guess foam bored is too fragile to step on…

Anonymous

Well Studer maybe you were censored because people are tired of hearing you ramble on about nothing. Ok,Ok Studer rambles on that doesnt mean that he should be censored by probably the worst news outlet the United States has ever seen i.e. The Sandusky Register. I know what your thinking Art why attack the thing that offers a free blog to express your opinions? Quite simply put, I could spend 50 cents on a roll of Scott toilet tissue and get a better read. Anyway back to the blog and its comments. Its free loaders like Rick Studer, Blackjack, Democrats, Elderly, Gays etc. that expect a free handout. Constanly I hear elderly complain Im on a fixed income but they tool around in a Cadillac, or order water with there meal at a resturant because they seemingly can't afford the extra dollor for a beverage. Its time people of this country start polling them selfs up by the bootstraps and earn your right to live here.

Rick Studer

Thanks... I guess...

Rick Studer

Mr. Vandalay, I just reread your post and I must say I think your heart is in the right place. Too bad your brain isn’t…

Anonymous

Thanks Sue for what you do! I feel bad for the low income/disabled and elderly. The bills are just going to get worse. My father makes to much to qualify for any assistance. He lives on $1800 a month. That is alot to live on according to the State/Federal Government. I guess those nice people sitting at desks making that a day do not know what it is like to live in Sandusky.