To no one’s surprise, PSE’s campaign has distinguished itself, not only for the sheer brazenness of its misinformation, but also by its unprecedented spending.
Prior to this campaign, the most expensive ever run in Thurston County was Kevin O’Sullivan’s failed bid for a County Commission seat. He spent around $110,000. PSE’s front group, the Alliance to Protect Thurston Power (APTP), will have spent more than five times that amount be election day.
PDC reports as of Oct. 18 show that APTP has amassed a warchest of $538,877, and has already spent well over $400,000 of that. (PDC reports here and here.)
PSE itself has provided the bulk of that money, with smaller amounts donated by other for-profit utilities in the state, and an affiliated business group.
Not one dollar has been contributed by a human being, and not one dollar has come from any person or group in Thurston County.
Voters must ask themselves: Is our democracy for sale? Can we afford to allow any corporation to have this much influence on our local political system?
A Grays Harbor PUD Commissioner back in the 1950′s was interviewed about the effects of bringing public power to that county. His answer surprised the interviewer. He didn’t cite lower rates or better service or local control as the biggest effect. He said the most important effect was “getting those S.O.B.s out of our local politics,” so they could no longer buy city councils, county commissioners or local legislators.
A YES vote for Proposition 1 is a vote for democracy!
Mayor Harding’s lack of support is misplaced because Proposition 1 has nothing to do with his concerns about rates, cost estimates, or not having enough information.
A vote for Proposition 1 authorizes the Public Utility District (PUD) to provide electric service to Thurston County, yet does not obligate public officials to choose a PUD.
When Proposition 1 passes, a complete a feasibility study will then be conducted to determine where and if public power will benefit the people of Thurston County.
Of course Mr. Harding does not have enough information, because the voters have yet to authorize the full study that comes after approval of Prop. 1.
Based on information provided from that study, local government representatives (City Councils, County Commissioners) will then choose the best option to serve their constituents, negotiate with the chosen provider, and reach an agreement to provide electricity.
Mayor Harding said he is really “concerned that enough factual information is getting out to the public.”
I am really concerned that the boatload of money being thrown against Prop. 1 by a multinational corporation who owns our area’s 100-year-plus monopolistic electric supplier has affected our misread elected officials, muddying the waters of public opinion with their misinformation.
Proposition 1 is a referendum on public choice for electric power supply – the feasibility study, cost comparisons and public debate will come once the voters approve Prop. 1.
John D. Pearce, Chair of the Thurston Public Power Initiative (Prop. 1) said best:
“Voting “Yes” on Thurston County Proposition 1 is the only way you will ever have a choice of who supplies your electricity. It starts the process of self-determination and gives us the option to get out from under PSE’s monopoly.
Isn’t it better to have a choice?”
Parallel University show (KAOS 89.3 FM Radio):
Public Utility Districts: Then and Now with Grays Harbor PUD Commissioner Tom Casey
This is a recording from Thursday 18 October 2012, originally broadcast on KAOS 89.3 FM radio program, Parallel University. Thank you to Grays Harbor PUD Commissioner Tom Casey, KAOS Radio, Parallel University, and Molly Gibbs, Olympia Move to Amend, for hosting the show while Kim Dobson was away on other business.
Grays Harbor PUD Commissioner Tom Casey was interviewed at the Sept. 27th League of Women Voters forum at the Washington Center. He very succinctly and powerfully explains the historic importance — for the entire state — of the Thurston Public Power Initiative.
As Thurston County reels under an unprecedented onslaught of campaign advertising and misinformation, one remark Commissioner Casey makes is especially timely. When surveyed about the effect of bringing public power to Grays Harbor, a commissioner in Grays Harbor in the Fifties answered simply, “We got the SOBs out of our politics. They no longer elect the city council, the county commissioners, the state legislators.” Casey added, “See how powerful that is?”
What kind of democracy can we expect, when corporations buy elections? We have a tremendous opportunity, not only to take control of vital community infrastructure, but also to strengthen our democratic system, and ensure the blessings of liberty for our grandchildren, and for theirs. Vote YES on Prop. #1!
John Pearce, chair of the Thurston Public Power Initiative, made the following remarks to the Gateway Rotary of North Thurston on Oct. 10:
A “Yes” vote on Thurston County Proposition 1 is a vote to give Thurston County residents a choice: another option besides the foreign-owned monopoly we have now. It’s simply a vote for alternatives.
Publicly-supplied electricity already works well and serves 55% of Washington State residents with lower rates and more reliable service than we get from PSE. It works well in Mason, Lewis, Grays Harbor, Clark, Clallam, Snohomish, and in 16 other counties. It also works in Tacoma, McCleary, Centralia, and Seattle.
As a volunteer member and Chair of Thurston Public Power Initiative, my goal is to see that Thurston County residents get a choice. When approved, Thurston County Proposition 1 gives us a possible alternative to PSE’s 100+ year electric monopoly. It allows any local government approving body—the County Commission or any of the City Councils—to consider public power on behalf of their constituents.
Do you agree that the #1 responsibility of any government body is to work in the public interest? Then vote “Yes” for Proposition 1 and make sure your government has the ability to choose what is best for you.
Upon approval, Thurston County Proposition 1 authorizes the Public Utility District (PUD) to provide electric service to Thurston County, but does not obligate them. They will then research and complete a feasibility study to determine where and when public power might benefit the people of Thurston County.
Local government representatives (City Councils, County Commissioners) will then choose the option best suited to serve their constituents and negotiate with the chosen provider and reach an agreement on a franchise (permission and rights) to provide electricity.
This will be paid for with revenue bonds which are backed by the electric revenues to be collected. There is no additional debt to the residents. Your current electric bill includes payment for PSE debt, so it would be like switching from renting to buying the system, because public power systems are owned by the residents.
There are many places for residents to weigh in along this path, both at the public PUD meetings and at your local government’s public meetings. We of the Thurston Public Power Initiative will be there with you, supporting what is best for Thurston County—even if it means waiting on public power.
Voting “Yes” on Thurston County Proposition 1 is the only way you will ever have a choice of who supplies your electricity. It starts the process of self-determination and gives us the option to get out from under PSE’s monopoly.
Tom Nogler’s outstanding letter to the editor to The Olympian can be found here. We’ve reprinted the text below:
Profit-taking makes PSE a bad corporate citizen
TOM NOGLER | Olympia • Published October 11, 2012
I urge voters to beware of the many distortions presented by Puget Sound Energy and their hired operatives in their efforts to defeat Proposition 1, the public power initiative.
PSE greatly inflates the price of its system in Thurston County to frighten the public. The Washington state Department of Revenue reports the total appraised value of PSE’s Thurston County assets at $131.2 million. If PSE’s assets are truly worth what they claim, they are paying less than their share and taking away funds from Thurston County schoolchildren, police and firefighters.
PSE is not a good corporate citizen. It is owned and run by a large multi-national corporation that sucked $17 million in profit out of Thurston County in 2011. They then brag about donating 0.003 percent of this profit to charities. PSE wants you to believe that the public is not ready for public power, that the economy is not strong enough to make an investment in public power.
When the economy is struggling, we can’t allow corporate monopoly prices to make families struggle to pay higher rates year after year. A locally elected commission is more likely to hold down power rates and solve environmental problems than an out-of-country conglomerate focused on profits. Don’t let professional political mercenaries with money scare you with their distortions about public power.
Well-known local musician, producer, business owner — and Chamber of Commerce member — Calvin Johnson recently penned an excellent article on his company’s (K Records) website. The article addressed both the short-sightedness of the Chamber’s decision, and the importance of local economic sustainability, which the Proposition 1 campaign represents.
We’ve reprinted the article here on our website, though of course we encourage you to visit the K Records site, where you can read the original — and check out one of Olympia’s most dynamic and creative businesses.
Olympia, WA—The Thurston Public Power Initiative is calling on Governor Chris Gregoire to take a second look at Thurston County Proposition 1, the public power initiative.
“We’re perplexed.” stated Initiative Chair John Pearce. “We respect her concern for State Government. So why is she against saving millions of dollars for taxpayers?”
On Monday, October 08, political consultants for Puget Sound Energy released a statement from Washington Governor Christine Gregoire where she stated her opposition to Thurston County Proposition 1. This measure will be on November’s ballot. If passed by voters it would allow Thurston Public Utility District (PUD) to enter the electric utility business.
Proposition 1 does not mandate any particular use of that authority. However, Thurston PUD recently released a report on three possible options for using cheap federal power to provide limited service in Thurston County. One option called for providing service to the Olympia core area, including the Capital Campus.
“Thurston PUD’s study shows that they could provide service to the State and save over a million dollars per year. The Governor’s statement makes no mention of this. Did she read the report? We know the Governor is busy, so we wonder if she’s studied both sides of this issue. We are asking Governor Gregoire if she’d be willing to take a second look before drawing conclusions.”
The Governor’s statement mentions last January’s sever winter storm. “We agree that power crews face difficult and dangerous situations. We applaud their commitment and dedication wherever they work across the state, whether publicly or privately employed.” said Pearce. “The Governor is concerned about risk” he continued. “PUDs provide reliable power to almost a million customers in 23 counties. Proposition 1 makes no commitments, so there is no risk.”
The Governor says that PSE has “has helped to facilitate the transition away from coal.”
Pearce responds: “Again we are perplexed. PSE generates over half their power from coal, and they announced last July that they’ve signing a long-term commitment for even more coal-fired electricity. How is this moving away from coal?”
Pearce concludes: “A “Yes” vote for Thurston County Proposition 1 opens the possibility that Puget Sound Energy will finally have a Thurston County competitor, bringing us fair rates, local control, reliable service, sustainable and renewable energy sources. We will at last join the 55% of Washington and the rest of southwest Washington with public power and a new energy future.”