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.