Tag Archives: campaign

Natural gas leak so bad VDT notices it

Sempra Energy’s California leak stinks so bad the VDT smelled it from 3,000 miles away. But GA Gov. Nathan Deal still can’t smell Sabal Trail over campaign contributions from Sempra and from Spectra Energy.

Brian Melley, AP, 25 November 2015, Utility plans to mask awful odor from uncontrolled gas leak,

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A utility trying to stop a monthlong leak at a massive natural gas storage facility near a Los Angeles neighborhood said it planned to use a mist to mask the sickening stench as work continues — possibly for three more months — to plug the well.

Even the 9-inch pipeline to Berrien County Continue reading

Corruption in DeKalb meets consequences

Bid rigging and kickbacks? I’m sure that’s only in Atlanta…. Anyway, it turns out it’s not so much DeKalb County that’s a slum as the county government.

Somebody at AJC wrote yesterday, DeKalb to review government restructuring,

A day after a yearlong investigation into DeKalb contracting was made public — a report that detailed a culture of corruption that permeates county government — DeKalb commissioners say they will review how the county is governed and seek changes.

A special purpose grand jury investigating contracting in DeKalb’s water department recommended the county get rid of its CEO form of government. DeKalb is almost singular in the authority it gives its CEO, a countywide elected official who runs the day-to-day operations of Georgia’s third-largest county.

That authority, according to the report, was used to steer tens of millions of dollars in contracts to favored vendors. Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis has been charged with extortion for allegedly strongarming vendors into donating to his campaign.

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May said the county will review its governing structure over the next 30 days and propose some recommendations on how to improve operations, especially contracting.

WSBTV reported Wednesday, DeKalb special grand jury recommends 12 for criminal investigation: Key county officials include former CEO and public safety director.

CBS Atlanta wrote 17 July 2013, Governor Deal Suspends Dekalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, Continue reading

4 of 5 incumbent GA PSC Commissioners accept massive utility campaign contributions

Could contributions produce influence? Neither of the incumbent Public Service Commissioners showed up for last night’s GPB debate, just as they didn’t show up for the previous weekend’s GIPL debate. Saturday the AJC examined the incumbents’ campaign finance and regulatory records, and let’s look a bit into how they’ve acted as regulators towards their biggest indirect contributors: Georgia Power.

Kristi E. Swartz wrote for the Augusta Chronicle or AP 21 July 2012, Donors to Georgia Public Service Commission members vested in decisions,

Four of Georgia’s utility regulators have accepted at least 70 percent of their campaign contributions from companies and people that could profit from the agency’s decisions, a review of five years of campaign finance records by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution revealed.

The fifth member of the state Public Service Commission, Tim Echols, campaigned on the promise that he wouldn’t take money from employees or lobbyists for businesses regulated by the agency.

Even so, nearly one in five dollars in Echols’ contributions came from people or companies whose business is affected by PSC decisions, the review found.

Together, the PSC commissioners took in nearly $750,000 in the last five years, records show. Two of them — Stan Wise and Chuck Eaton — are seeking re-election this year to their $116,452-a-year posts.

Wise and Eaton would be the two incumbents who can’t be bothered to show up for debates. Doesn’t make them look very responsive to the people, does it? Who do they respond to, then?

A review of major decisions that have come before the PSC in the past five years shows utilities have received much — but not all — of what they have asked for.

Georgia Power donors

In the past five years, for example, Georgia Power’s rates have risen 24 percent, although they dipped in June. The PSC must sign off on the company’s rate changes.

Current and former employees of Georgia Power, its parent Southern Co. and its law firm, Troutman Sanders, poured $52,650 into the campaign coffers of four of the sitting PSC members.

A Georgia Power spokeswoman argued that including Troutman Sanders and other company vendors in an analysis of spending “is false.” But critics say including them is critical to capturing the full influence of the utilities on the PSC.

Influence like this? Melissa Stiers wrote for GPB News 19 July 2011, PSC Nixes Vogtle Cost Check,

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Political Candidate Coverage Policy

This blog covers topics of local interest, and that includes people running for office. If we see you campaigning in a public place or meeting, we may video you or interview you and post it. If you want to submit something to post, we’ll be happy to look at it: see our submissions policy. For political candidates we have a few additional policies:

  1. No personal attacks, not on other candidates, and not on anyone else. “Harry smells bad” or “Sally is ugly” won’t do.
  2. Policy criticisms are welcome, including criticisms of what a candidate said or did. “Harry said he would do X and then did Y instead” is fine: if you provide evidence that X and Y actually happened.
  3. This is a blog of opinion, and LAKE and LAKE bloggers and commenters retain the right to criticise, compliment, ridicule, praise, or otherwise express opinions about candidates and their policies, although as usual we prefer opinions that are backed up by evidence.
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Underfunded ethics commission makes mistakes

Underfunding of Georgia’s ethics commission has led to numerous inappropriate fines, some of which are still being straightened out after many months. Maybe the legislature should fund the ethics commission to a working level and make it independent of the legislature.

David Rodock wrote for the VDT 29 September 2011, Transparency Confusion: New campaign contributions system leads to officials owing fines,

The Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Commission posted a seven-page list online earlier this week ethics.ga.gov of local government officials who have supposedly failed to submit their campaign contribution information this year.

According to the state organization’s website, each late filer owes fines of different amounts.

Various elected officials were quoted in that article saying the fines were inappropriate. Many of those fines had already been removed from the list by the time that article was written.

There have been calls to properly fund that agency and to make it independent of the legislature. The Columbus Ledger-Inquirer wrote 25 January 2012, Ethics panel needs funding and independence,

Continue reading