Monday, April 20, 2015

Legislators Shake Fist at PSC

Word that the Public Service Commission is considering lowering Noranda’s electric bill has brought letters from legislators on Friday.

Sen. Mike Kehoe’s letter to Jay Nixon

Dear Governor Nixon:

As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Consumer Protection, Energy and the Environment, I write to express my strong disagreement with, and disappointment in, you decision to interfere on behalf of one special interest company in a matter being considered before the Missouri Public Service Commission.

Just before Missouri regulators were set to deliberate, you issued a press release supporting a filing that would provide nearly half-billion dollar bailout for one corporate entity: Noranda Aluminum. The costs for this bailout will be paid by all other electric customers on Ameren Missouri’s system.  You actions subordinate the budgets of millions of hard-working Missourians to the bottom-line of a single company controlled by one of the largest hedge fund companies in the world: Apollo Management…

I am calling on you to withdraw your support…

Rep. Genise Montecillo letter to Robert Kenney

Dear Chairman Kenney:

I'm writing on behalf of my constituents to express my sincere concern about the nearly $25 million annual rate shift for Noranda Aluminum. My concerns are twofold. 

First, it is simply unconscionable to ask the people of my district to pick up someone else's electric bill, especially one that is nearly $25 million a year. This rate shift is unfair to my constituents, many of whom are on a fixed monthly income... The fact is that the millions of customers have had no voice in this matter and they are the ones being asked to incur a rate shift in order to leverage what amounts to an economic bailout for Noranda, and for which they receive no value.

Second, I believe that an economic development package should be under the purview of the Missouri General Assembly and I sincerely ask that you do not set an economic development precedent by voting to give Noranda a reduced rate based strictly on economic matters… If the Commission chooses to engage in this type of social engineering, then I hope you will be prepared to make similar adjustments to benefit my constituents, such as my veterans, seniors, disabled and poor, who sincerely need a break on their utility bills in order to meet their household expenses rather than bailing out CEO's receiving obscenely large bonuses….

 

Schmitt’s Muni Bill Gets Weakened in House

The House committee substitute weakens Sen. Eric Schmitt’s SB5.  See it here.  The bill deals with lowering the amount of revenue that municipalities can generate from traffic tickets and court fines.  One observer thinks Speaker John Diehl’s hand in the matter noting cynically… “Town and Country gets 15% of its revenue from fines and fees, and miraculously the House has amended SB5 to cap fines revenue at 15% rather than 10?... How about instead of collecting $2 million in fines and fees, Town and Country implements a property tax, which they don't have?..”

We’ll see where this all ends up…

Also

The House sub says that the Supreme Court must come up with conflict of interest rules for prosecutors, defense attorneys, public defenders and judges in the municipal courts system.  The Post-Dispatch has exposed the web of conflicts of interest woven into the fabric of many St. Louis County courts.  One wonders why the legislature doesn’t just enact an end to the nonsense instead of punting the issue.

 

Slow Movin Train in St. Louis County

But the real issue here is that St. Louis County pols are seemingly still in denial of their homegrown mess.  The systemic corruption of lawyers playing judge or prosecutor in various municipalities fluffing each others’ pads while the fleecing by fines of tiny fiefdoms goes unchecked is maddening.  But these problems, though embarrassing from a management standpoint, are relatively easy to solve if they want to.

The larger problems that the county faces will be much harder to handle: aging demographics, increasing pockets of poverty, deteriorating housing stock, stagnating economy.

The fact that politicians are so far unwilling to implement the relatively easy technical solutions to the small problems bodes poorly for their ability to grapple with the county’s long-term challenges.  And that will make its decline as an economic engine inevitable – which is bad news for all Missourians.

 

Bits

In the large contributions below, more checks for John Brunner.  He’s now booked over $325K since the beginning of the month…

 

Marie Ceselski says that the Antonio French MEC fine ($45) reveals that most everyone has been reporting the distribution of poll workers with sample ballots incorrectly, and must now amend their reports.  Read it here.

 

eMailbag: On English’s MEX Fine

This may be the only time in my life I will defend Keith English…. But MEC's interpretation is based on this statute: 130.033. Any reasonable attorney's fees accrued by a person who is the subject of a complaint which are used in defending such person in any matter resulting in an investigation arising from holding or running for public office may be paid out of such person's committee, as defined in section 130.011.

 

They have read that language for a number of years to then conclude that all other attorneys’ fees are not allowable. It is more likely that the legislature intended to specifically include these as allowable expenses and then to fall back to the general test in section 130.034 for other attorney fees.  

As you may know in many contexts like tax law attorneys fees are can be considered ordinary expenses.

 

Lobbyist Registrations

William Moore and Patricia Jensen added The Keil Group LLC.

Patricia Jensen added The Soccer Lot LLC.

James Bowers Jr. added Stockyards Brewing Company LLC, Houston Excavating & Demolition,

 

$5K+ Contributions

MO Beverage PAC - $7,173 from Coca-Cola Refreshments.

United Food & Commercial Workers Local #655 Elect Political Action Fund - $6,483 from UFCW Local 655.

Citizens for Steve Stenger - $10,000 from McBride & Sons Properties.

Missourians for John Brunner - $5,001 from Don Kelley.

Missourians for John Brunner - $35,000 from Jesse Bodine.

Missourians for John Brunner - $5,001 from Friends of Thomas Long.

 

Birthdays

Happy birthdays to Dem’s Amanda Latty, Noranda’s Chris Roepe (34), and lobbyist Chris Moody.