Friday, October 26, 2012

Our Stand: Choose substance over pure politics in PSC race

  Voters have a clear choice November 6 in the race for the presidency of the Alabama Public Service Commission. One candidate carries a solid record of laudable service to state taxpayers and the other is merely a political opportunist.

  Lucy Baxley has compiled a well-respected and hard-earned record as a public servant. From her tenure as Alabama’s State Treasurer, Lieutenant Governor and in her first term as president of the PSC, she has proven to be a tireless advocate for the responsible use of state dollars and as a fighter for Alabama’s citizens.

  As President of the Public Service Commission, Baxley has been a tireless worker, overseeing four major Alabama Power rate decreases, notably the massive 7.5% reduction late in 2009. She has also strongly supported the Time-of-Use rates measure, which has benefitted customers and utility companies, and was instrumental in refunding $25 million to Alabama Gas customers in 2010.

  Baxley’s opponent Twinkle Cavanaugh got her start as the shamelessly divisive chair of the Alabama Republican Party, during which time she was known for her abrasive, low-brow and often bigoted rhetoric. Instead of articulating the party’s platform, Cavanaugh’s contribution to the party consisted solely of demonizing – often through brazen mischaracterization and misleading information – the opposing party’s candidates and leaders. Cavanaugh only seemed to operate in the proverbial gutter as the spokesperson for the Alabama GOP.

  But her dirty work was rewarded with a political payout by sitting Governor Bob Riley. Though he announced a hiring freeze on state workers, Riley nonetheless appointed Cavanaugh to a cushy position in which she only had to “attend meetings.” She did not start work until after the freeze had been instituted.

  Cavanaugh parlayed this sliver of arguable “public service” into getting herself elected a PSC commissioner. Most Alabamians know little of Cavanaugh’s time on the commission – because it is unremarkable - other than her very public difficulties with the law.

  Earlier this year she was busted for driving without a license or proof of insurance in her possession after running a stop sign. A municipal judge reduced the charge, and Cavanaugh admitted she hadn’t sent a required form after a previous accident. She had to have her license reinstated, and somehow the charge of driving without evidence of insurance was dismissed. And she was issued another ticket for driving on a suspended license, but it too somehow got dismissed.

  We simply shouldn’t trust someone with Alabama’s utility rates who can’t even be trusted to manage their own personal transportation and legal obligations as a driver.

  Cavanaugh has used her time on the PSC to do little more than wage a misguided rhetoric-based war on the federal Environment Protection Agency. We cannot make sense of why Cavanaugh would be so hostile toward clean air, water and soil, but regardless, we don’t believe it’s in Alabamians’ best interest.

  The primary role of Alabama’s Public Service Commission is that of a watchdog, dealing with utility rates and serving as an essential buffer between these companies and Alabama’s consumers. We deserve a proven public servant, not a political opportunist with a thin, spotty record.

  We strongly endorse Lucy Baxley for PSC President in the November 6 election.

Copyright © Capital City Free Press

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