ElectriCities

Taxpayers Against ElectriCities (TAEC) continues to gain momentum with more people becoming interested in these issues. The response has been amazing. We have a donation of a website with donated development to be up soon. And we have contributions for payment of public records since we expect our request to be met with a fee for copying.

For those of you who have emailed:

All meetings of the Board and any Committee have be open to the public and we intend to have people there to observe. Thank you to the employees who continue to let us know when the meetings are held since we understand the public calendar was shut down at ElectriCities because employees were providing information to cities and taxpayers. How democratic. There is a requirement of public meetings but the employees cannot see the calendar. A little late since an employee mailed copies of certain calendars months ago.

We are working toward a request of Public Records via several legislators but we expect there to be a charge so we will continue to collect donations toward this effort. It will be interesting to see if there is a charge to legislators. We are contemplating just requesting to go there and inspect everything.

We intend to pursue with key legislators changes to the statutes regarding confidential records. There is a lot of interest in this area.

Yes, we have had a great response from elected officials in cities who want answers and agree they will pursue those answers. Likewise with legislators.

Meanwhile the ElectriCities folk seem to think we are not allowed to speak and ask questions or raise issues. And I guess the public documents employees sent out were in fact "secret." How interesting that we have reports that they think we are not who we say we are. Not sure why it is relevant any way. Either these are issues or they are not. It does not matter who raises the issue. They would be amazed at the level of distrust within their own organization and the number of copies of emails we have.

All of these efforts are ploys to divert from the true issue. We understand that they think that our information is wrong. We fully expect them to split hairs and try to deflect from the true issues. That has been their history. For example, whether someone got a 16% salary increase or a 15% increase that took their salary to $240,000 or $250,000. Split hairs all you want but the numbers are still way up there and unreasonable. We found most large city managers make nowhere near this amount. Slice it however you like but the CEO and staff of ElectriCities are not like the CEO and senior staff of Progress Energy or Duke - those entities are investor-owned not taxpayer funded. They operate complex nuclear, coal and peaking plants, serve millions of customers in many states, own and operate transmission to name a few differences. ElectriCities, through its power agencies own parts of plants but they do not operate them. The jobs simply are not comparable and we do not believe anyone thinks they are. Not one city official we have spoken to is willing to back that concept. The salaries are not comparable, should not be comparable and will never be comparable. If the staff demands these salaries, they need to go to work for Progress Energy or Duke. If the cities represented on the board think they are comparable, they are out of touch and should be replaced. This is an issue of effective and efficient government. There is no way these people should make more than the Governor of NC.

We understand ElectriCities' management ignore the reports of these same issues that come from their employees, requiring them to read books and submit comments as to how to make "things better." How unfortunate that staff question double digit increases and bonuses for a few and get shut down. That is what caused this problem. For the public who lives in the cities and pays the rates and even for those who do not since this is a public entity, we have a right and obligation to speak out and to QUESTION excessive raises, salaries and expenses. It is the business of the public. I for one think we need to do more of this in government. And we certainly have a right to ask our elected officials and legislators to investigate. If our information is wrong (and we don't think so since it came from their own accounting records) they should speak up and prove it is wrong.

We think it is possible that ElectriCities is contemplating millions of dollars of public relations assistance like they did in deregulation to help them roll the boulders back over the snakes we uncovered. They did that in deregulation to get help responding so they could avoid and spin. We think that is a real possibility and have enlisted our own pro bono services of several political experts to help us keep the story alive, focused. They think this is personal but it is not. It is business - the public's business. When electric rates are as much as 20% higher in some cities than those rates of cooperatives and Progress, we know we have an obligation to examine every angle.

I, for one, think this model is flawed and outdated and these cities fund basic services on the backs of their electric customers. And, based on the feedback, think others believe likewise.

Comments

Thanks, Alman

They always think it's personal. They wonder, "How could X be so upset about a bunch of rich guys getting richer?" But it's not personal. It's about fairness, pure and simple.

I really appreciate your work, alman.

You're asking very pertinent, very important questions that deserve respectful answers from those who can provide them.

I'm a member of the public who pays ElectriCities rates in my little NC town. I understand that none of this will change the rates I'm paying. I live downtown because my kids and I get intangible benefits from living downtown. I love living a few blocks away from our central retail area. There is stability, charm, security and all kinds of diversity here that no new development could ever capture or match.

Still, alman and TAEC raise questions that deserve answers. For my part, I'd feel at least a little better about the professional salaries of ElectriCities' management if I could see them handling this issue in a more professional manner.

I would respectfully call on the officers of ElectriCities to begin moving toward establishing some trust here. Open a dialog with the rate paying public by answering TAEC's questions. Here's hoping the ElectriCities management team changes their collective mind about ignoring TAEC. Here's hoping they find a way to come to the table openly and honestly. Then maybe we can all chalk this drawn-out stumbled beginning up to a simple misunderstanding.

"They took all the trees and put them in a tree museum Then they charged the people a dollar 'n a half just to see 'em. Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone? They paved paradise and put up a parking lot."

Under the Dome - Pertinent Issue related to public Information

Submitted by ryanteaguebeckwith on November 26, 2007 - 2:21pm. Tags: Amanda Martin | blogs | N.C. Press Association | public records | Under the Dome

Attention bloggers: Public records do not have to be on the Internet.

It came to Dome's attention recently that state agencies can legally decide not to make any information available online under the state's public records law.

"It is strictly discretionary with any public agency what they put online," explained press law expert Amanda Martin.

Many do, however. You can find voter registrations, lobbyists' filings and reports on state taxes, among other things. (But sadly, not much from the State Ethics Commission.)

The law will likely stay that way for the foreseeable future as well.

The N.C. Press Association has focused its efforts on strengthening public access to personnel records, among other fights, and so far bloggers have not organized an online records effort.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

so far bloggers have not

so far bloggers have not organized an online records effort . . .

Sounds like a project worth pursuing.

As an employer

I would fight the attempt to put personnel records online. I can see board minutes, etc. But not personnel records.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Agreed.

Individual personnel records should be held confidential. Aggregated information should be (and often is) easily available.

okie dokie

Thanks for the clarification.


Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I kind of disagree, James.

I understand that privacy is critical issue, but so is accountability.

If an individual is in the employ of the state, or if they're a private contractor being paid with state funds, that means they work for me (as a taxpayer).

I need to be able to (easily) find out who they are, what they do, how well they do it, how much they're paid for doing it, and if they receive any (additional) compensation from other sources which might generate conflicts of interest.

Here's a for instance, which ties into another diary here which recently saw a lot of activity: was anybody else here aware that Sen. David Hoyle is on the Board of Directors for the Shaw Group, the huge Louisiana Iraq/Katrina firm which recently landed the 1.5-2 billion dollar contract to build the new Cliffside coal plant?

It's interesting, and possibly not even relevant, but I can't dig any deeper than I have thanks to the lack of transparency in our state government. He's not one of the sponsors of the REPS bill which reinstituted baseload construction funding, but I have no idea if he wielded any influence to have that modification inserted.

For those who think I shouldn't even speculate about something like this without "solid" evidence, you're probably right. But I'm going to do it anyway, so get used to it.

I agree scharrison and can share what I know

The individuals at ElectriCities are essentially local government employees - they are on the local government retirement system so they work for the taxpayers in the cities that are part of the group. Their attempts to cast themselves like the big electric utilities are just plain wrong. Their salaries are our business and the increases they give that contradict what they say they are giving are our business. The city officials who "supervise" are failing if they are not making sure the salaries and increases are within bounds. Do they have any sense of reality? People in eastern NC have lost jobs, lost homes, pay huge electric bills. Therefore the salaries public servants are paid should be scrutinized. But on to the issue of REPS ... David Hoyle certainly exerted influence over it. He is a friend of the utilities and their go -to guy so whatever benefits they got, he was behind the scenes pulling the punches. That bill was a give a way to the big utilities with some REPS tossed in for good measure and those REPS measures will cost the cities in ElectriCities even more simply through economies of scale. One more blow. And then if this crazy transmission buying deal goes anywhere, there is another cost. You can pull the information at the State Board of Ethics on boards, income, but you have to go there to do it. And while I am on that subject, Board members for ElectriCities should have to file these reports as well. Sorry, got carried away.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

Scotland Neck - one of the ElectriCities

News and Observer Under the Dome - See Comments on their blog

The Halifax County Board of Elections has dismissed an election protest by Scotland Neck Mayor Robert Partin, who claimed voter fraud in a predominantly black precinct in town.

Partin was defeated by James Mills, who said he will be sworn in as the first African-American mayor of Scotland Neck. The board did find one questionable provisional ballot and two voters who voted twice—once by absentee ballot and once at the polls on Nov. 6, Jane Stancill reports.

But those votes were not enough to throw the final result into question, the board said in a written decision filed this afternoon after a hearing Monday. The decision said "the protest should be dismissed because there is not substantial evidence of any violation, irregularity, or misconduct sufficient to cast doubt on the results of the election."

Partin sought a new election with his protest, which contended that more than 70 voters used inaccurate addresses. He could appeal the board's findings to the State Board of Elections, but had not filed notice as of this afternoon.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

Consulting

An employee has told us that the CEO spent money on consultants to "back up" his huge salary increases for certain staff but erred because he had to go through quite a few firms and spend quite a bit of money to get to results he wanted. This was couched in "succession" planning and then the CEO did not follow the results of the succession planning and promoted someone not on the "list" and gave this person a salary increase. The same employee told us that employee concerns are ignored, always have been.

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run

Intersting Post on Talking About Politics

It is not a secret that employees at ElectriCities provide much of the information. Apparently some have kept good files for quite some time. But this new post today peaks my interest even more. Sounds like there is more information to come. s

Anonymous Post 12/16:
"I can assure all of you that accounting has "leaked" information about all types of things that some may view as heresay but will easily be proven accurate with documents, other records and wtinesses. Should be interesting to see how many levels are convinced/pressured/persuaded to lie to protect the one where all of this garbage eminates, the CEO. Because this place has been this way so long, many people got wise along the way and collected the goods for safekeeping. The CEO keeps sending notes to employees about how he will improve the culture - Why do you think there needs to be a culture improvement, why do you think there have been emails and meetings about "improving" - simple, he knows he has the support of very few and he is hiding the complaints employees have provided from him board, several of whom are in cohoots with him.

If some of you have soft stomachs, grab some pepto because there is a lot more to this than what has been mentioned so far.

The CEO has lived a lavish lifestyle on ElectriCities tabs - trips in fine suites in fine hotels, huge expensive meals. Board members preview places and enjoy the same fineries. All without any concern for working people in eastern NC, working second jobs to pay their bills, including their electric bills. Some of those board members who think they are immune are not and may find their city councils don't appreciate their behavior.

Extravagant meetings in luxurious surroundings where of course senior management had to spend the night - like Fearrington. Expensive wine, drinks, accommodations, food. Why? So the CEO could enjoy himself. All while promoting new ways to get new salary increases from the board. Will these expenses be discovered? Not entirely because there are creative ways for them to be covered and reimbursed by consultants. So the trips occurred but the expenses will be buried at another locale and if you think they were "gifts" think again.

And then there are individuals' expense accounts - milking the place for all they can and then some. It will be interesting to see what is actually "produced" and what memos and copies disappear so as to not cause embarrassment and to cover things. That is when it will be essential to bring out the "goods." Let them lie and then see their own handwriting right back at them."

Al Manning, retiree, native of eastern NC and proud of it, plenty of time to read, research and get annoyed about the lack of accountability in elected leaders these days. Married to a real southern lady and we live with two labs and two airedales who run