Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My Voting Guide for November 2012: Part 1

Hey, we're almost down to a month before Election Day! The voting guide I did for the primary was such a huge help, especially for the local races, I'm going to do it again!

I'm going to skip over the Presidential election for now. We can come back to that later, if we have time. I want to focus for a bit on those easily-missed races, the state and local offices and the ballot questions. Those offices are much closer to home than the Presidency, and all too often we just don't give them the attention they deserve.

Let's start with the Georgia Public Service Commission. We have two seats up on the ballot for this race. For the primary, I voted for one incumbent, and against another. I'm going to do so again this time around. Here's why:

For Public Service Commissioner
(To Succeed Chuck Eaton)

CHUCK EATON - (Incumbent) Republican
BRAD PLOEGER - Libertarian

First, let's look at Oppenheimer. He's raising a scare that cost overruns at the Vogtle plant expansion will be passed on to consumers. He's raised a complaint about rising energy costs. And, he wants to promote "free market" solar, wind, biofuel, and other "alternative" energy sources as a solution to energy costs

Eaton has written an answer on Vogtle (not directly to Oppenheimer, but in response to newspaper articles carrying the same concern.) His statement is that cost overruns have to be covered by the shareholders at Georgia Power. His editorial is available here:

As for Oppenheimer's other points: First, he places the blame for rising energy costs completely on the PSC. But, he's supporting a President who has waged a regulatory war on the coal industry. This same President predicted back in 2008 that under his plans, energy rates would "necessarily skyrocket". Then there's his idea of "green energy" as a solution. Sure, I like the idea of getting rid of any regulations that might be giving Georgia Power or any other company an artificial monopoly. But, that's under the condition that this "green energy" wouldn't be propped up artificially by burning through taxpayer "green". Solyndra, anyone?

Eaton has talked about his position on solar in another column: Oppenheimer calls it a "battlefield conversion", but I think Eaton makes a solid point for "a good move today would have been a bad move yesterday".

For Ploeger? I've checked his web site, his LinkedIn page, his Facebook account, and everything else I can find. All I can see is:
1) He's a lawyer and a community activist in housing and LGBT stuff. None of which disqualifies him, but it doesn't show any specific qualification or interest in this job either.
2) He ran for state legislator in 2010 against a Democrat incumbent and lost. In a district which should have been supposedly very friendly to his politics.
3) He says he'll stand up against Georgia Power and other companies that he'll be regulating. That's just "the script" for anyone running for this job as a challenger, I think.

Add those points together, and it looks to me like maybe he's more interested in the political ladder than in this particular job. I could be wrong, that's just how it looks to me.

Meanwhile, I've learned in researching Chuck Eaton that even though he seems to know his stuff well (see those editorials he's written above), he's getting additional post-grad legal education on his own time and on his own dime to do his job even better. I respect that. This round goes to Eaton.

For Public Service Commissioner
(To Succeed Stan Wise)

STAN WISE - (Incumbent) Republican
DAVID STAPLES - Libertarian

In this case, I think Wise is just too comfortable. He got a huge donation from Georgia Power's top attorney two days before making a significant vote in GP's interest on that Vogtle cost overrun thing. He apparently has family working for Georgia Power. He's said that he won't vote against rate increases, because he doesn't want to be "unfair" to Georgia Power. I just think he may have the wrong perspective on his job.

On the other hand, you've got Staples. He makes an "open market, no subsidies" argument for solar. I like his engineering/technology background for a guy who would be regulating an engineering/technology industry. Like in the primary, this is going to be a "stir things up" vote for me. This time I'm a lot more comfortable with it than I was with Pam Davidson, whose credentials were pretty shaky.

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