Archive for the ‘Public Service Commission’ Category

Your morning jolt: Handcuffs and a backseat ride for ex-Cobb EMC chief

Roy Barnes is mightily ticked off.

His client, retired Cobb EMC chief Dwight Brown, was re-indicted on racketeering charges last week. Shortly afterward, on his way to his lawyer’s office, Brown was stopped by a sheriff’s deputy, handcuffed and taken to jail in the back of the cop car.

From this morning’s Marietta Daily Journal:

“He said, ‘I’m not going anywhere, why did they have to do this?’” Barnes said. “Dwight Brown has had a very distinguished business career, starting with Georgia Power. He does not believe, and neither do I, that he has committed a criminal act. He is befuddled and upset at the fact that this has come down and he’s become a punching bag for everybody that’s dissatisfied about everything.”

Barnes said he believes that the district attorney’s office notified the sheriff’s office on Wednesday that an indictment could be forthcoming and that District Attorney Pat Head, or someone in his office, told deputies they wanted Brown arrested.

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The president of …

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Stan Wise says he’s not a candidate to head Cobb EMC

Stan Wise, chairman of the state Public Service Commission, just killed talk that he was leaving. His statement, via my AJC colleague Kristi Swartz:

“In recent days there has been much speculation over my possible candidacy for Chief Executive Officer of Cobb EMC. I am not a candidate for CEO of Cobb EMC. The next CEO faces tremendous challenges, but I am convinced the organization’s leadership and dedicated employees are capable of restoring public confidence.”

The Marietta Daily Journal reported last week that Wise was on a “short list” of candidates to replace EMC head Dwight Brown, who has been re-indicted on racketeering charges.

- By Jim Galloway, Political Insider

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Your morning jolt: An outsider’s view of the APS cheating scandal

We don’t usually begin the day with video, but ever since the days of Henry Grady, Atlanta has always been more than sensitive when it comes to how outsiders perceive the Southern metropolis.

The Atlanta Public Schools cheating scandal is drawing attention from every quarter. Here’s the heartburn that ABC News gave the Metro Chamber last night:

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State Rep. Ralph Long, D-Atlanta, on Wednesday held a news conference at the state Capitol to blame the APS mess on Mayor Kasim Reed, who as a state senator backed legislation that – Long maintains — strengthened the hand of the Atlanta school superintendent at the expense of the board of education.

Reed says the legislation was necessary to attract top-flight talent for the job of superintendent, and said human beings rather than legislation were to be blamed for the cheating scandal. Long and Reed have a history of disagreement stemming from the 2009 race for mayor.
The video from Aaron Diamant at Channel 2 Action News:

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Citing Japan disaster, green groups want NRC to suspend Vogtle reactor licensing

The unfolding situation in northern Japan has had another repercussion in east Georgia. From the Augusta Chronicle:

Environmental groups opposed to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s plan to license two new AP1000 reactors to be built at Plant Vogtle filed a new petition Wednesday asking the commission to suspend the licensing process until more is known about the evolving Japan disaster.

“It is apparent that while little is known definitively about the cause and impacts of what occurred at Fukushima, many aspects of the accident have grave consequences for U.S. nuclear plants, including the AP1000 reactors,” said the petition, filed by the AP1000 Oversight Group, comprised of 12 environmental groups.

Southern Nuclear, which plans to use the Westinghouse reactor design at Vogtle, risks potential cost overruns if it moves ahead too quickly on the $14.8 billion project, said Sara Barczak, the program director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

- By Jim Galloway, …

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Tim Echols: ‘Let’s privatize handling of nuclear waste’

China is subjecting Japanese tourists to radiation tests, and Germany has sworn off nuclear power. But Tim Echols, a member of the state Public Service Commission, has a more interesting response to the nuclear debacle in Japan: Increased privatization.

From his op-ed piece in today’s Athens Banner-Herald:

The nuclear plant crisis in Japan threatens to chill any nuclear renaissance in the United States. One reason is that it appears the Japanese have procrastinated with regard to the disposal of nuclear waste, just as we have in this country.

I believe it’s time to demand that our government turn nuclear waste management over to the private sector. As Heritage Foundation nuclear expert Jack Spencer recently testified, America’s disposal strategy has failed…..

This country has more than 60,000 tons of high-level nuclear waste stored at more than 100 sites in 39 states. The country’s 104 commercial reactors produce approximately 2,000 additional tons of used fuel annually. While …

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House defeats PSC chairmanship measure

Just before noon, I ran into an elated Tim Echols, the rookie member of the state Public Service Commission – who had just learned that he’ll be the PSC’s next chairman.

Tim Echols, a Republican elected to the Public Service Commission last November. Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com

Tim Echols, a Republican elected to the Public Service Commission last November. Bita Honarvar, bhonarvar@ajc.com

The House had surprised everyone – including Echols – and defeated HB 216, a measure that would have set the five-member PSC free to name its own chairman by majority vote. Republicans split on the measure, sinking it with a 60-103 vote.

The measure had been pushed by PSC members Doug Everett and Lauren “Bubba” McDonald – both former House members, whose connections many thought would carry the day. McDonald or Stan Wise of Cobb County were likely to have been named the permanent chairman.

Instead, the PSC will continue its policy of rotating leadership on the panel. “I will be the next chairman,” said Echols, who has been an advocate of encouraging the use of compressed natural gas in fleet …

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Your morning jolt: The video that has Sanford Bishop steamed

From Washington, my AJC colleague Bob Keefe has this:

Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop called Internet insinuations that he was somehow involved in fraud surrounding last year’s settlement between the government and African-American farmers “one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever heard.”

Videos featuring two Georgia farmers that are being circulated on the Web by conservative commentator Andrew Breitbart hint that Bishop, of Albany, may have known about possible fraud in last year’s so-called “Pigford” settlement between the government and black farmers who claimed that a Department of Agriculture farm loan program discriminated against them.

Read the rest here. Below is one of the videos at issue. It’s pretty thin gruel:

Keefe also offers up this reminder:

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Conservation and conservatism: How to be ‘green,’ but without the word

It’s not easy being green. Especially if you can’t bring yourself to use the word.

One of the biggest surprises of the summer primary season was the victory of Christian conservative activist Tim Echols of Athens in the Republican race for a seat on the utility-regulating Public Service Commission.

From left to right, Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, member of the Public Service Commission; U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson; and Tim Echols, Republican nominee for PSC at a unity breakfast following the August runoff. John Spink/jspink@ajc.com

From left to right, Lauren "Bubba" McDonald, member of the Public Service Commission; U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson; and Tim Echols, Republican nominee for PSC at a unity breakfast following the August runoff. John Spink/jspink@ajc.com

Echols’ opponent in the GOP runoff was veteran state Sen. John Douglas of Social Circle, who enjoyed strong support, financial and otherwise, from members of the Legislature and two of five PSC members.

Echols’ church-based, grass-roots experience gave him some advantage. He is the founder of the nonprofit TeenPact, an organization that introduces kids — often home-schooled — to the workings of government and political campaigns.

Echols also, for a time, …

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When an endorsement isn’t an endorsement

On Monday, we passed on reports from Tim Echols, locked in a Republican runoff contest for a seat on the Public Service Commission, that he’d been endorsed by a number of people — including Randy Hicks, president of the Georgia Family Council.

This morning, Hicks reportedly posted the following on his Facebook page:

To my Georgia friends: Contrary to what was reported in the Atlanta Journal Constitution’s Political Insider yesterday, I have not endorsed anyone in any race. Could I? Yes, as an individual. But I choose not to because the issues GFC deals with transcend parties and candidates. But I HAVE already voted in today’s runoff election and so should you!

Echols conceded the point in a note this morning:

Technically speaking, Randy Hicks’ statement on my website is not an endorsement (since he doesn’t do endorsements), but only as a testimony to our relationship over the years.

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Karen Handel finishes like she started — and Sarah Palin slams Georgia Right to Life

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks during a rally for GOP runoff for governor candidate Karen Handel. AP/John Bazemore)

Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin speaks during a rally for GOP runoff for governor candidate Karen Handel. AP/John Bazemore)

If the tone of Karen Handel’s campaign of the last three weeks has surprised political veterans, perhaps it is because it has violated an unwritten rule – that frontrunners should present themselves as good cops.

 Let the underdog play bad cop, and make the attacks.

But if Sarah Palin’s visit to Atlanta this afternoon did anything, it made clear that Handel would finish the runoff campaign as she started it – with a furious volley aimed at Nathan Deal and members of the state Legislature who back him.

Said Handel, after climbing the stage to appear with her husband Steve, Palin and her husband Todd:

“Governor Palin was underestimated, too. She took on the powerful career politicians. And no one thought she could win, but she did. And she pushed through real ethics reform that had the political elite screaming in their smoke-filled backroom. And that’s …

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