What's wrong with this picture? -- UPDATE | Arkansas Blog

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

What's wrong with this picture? -- UPDATE

Posted By on Wed, Aug 8, 2007 at 8:54 AM

A member of the state Public Service Commission, Sandra Hochstetter, has agreed to take a fat job with a utility. She is still sitting on the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities. The Democrat-Gazette reports on her coming departure today without discussing this clear conflict (or the law that prohibits PSC commissioners for appearing before the agency for a year after leaving) in an article that reads like a nomination of Hochstetter for the Nobel Prize. Neither the chairman of the PSC, Paul Suskie, nor the governor seem bothered by the continued regulation of utilities by a declared utility team member.

What am I missing here? If she cares so much about integrity, as the D-G quoted her about herself, she'd resign from the PSC. Yesterday.

While I'm ranting: Where's the outrage about Pulaski County Justice of the Peace Doug Reed, another upright Republican, who, as I've reported, sponsored legislation that will provide millions in taxpayer-supplied benefits to his employer, Pulaski Academy, through a tax-free municipal bond issue. Do we have an Ethics Commission in Arkansas to review acts of self-interest such as this? Is "Arkansas ethics" an oxymoron? Or am I the moron?

UPDATE: Harmonic convergence. I was talking to a power plant opponent this morning about the good old days, when a battling attorney general like Jim Guy Tucker or Bill Clinton would have gone to town on a PSC commissioner remaining at work on ratepayers' busines with a utility job in her purse. Minutes later, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel was on the phone. We were talking about his presentation at tomorrow's hearing on the coal-fired plant in Hempstead County. I asked him about the Hochstetter situation. "She should resign," he said. Yep, that simple. He added that she probably should have resigned at the point when she began negotiating for the job. Because, remember, she's been making decision after decision during that interim on a power plant in which her future employer, AECC, hopes to be a part-owner.

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