Gosh! Try to be discreet about your power deals

March 19, 2006|By DAN RODRICKS

I wonder if the power is with them. Power-industry lobbyist Carville Collins and Public Service Commission Chairman Ken Schisler know about cell phones. All the kids do. For modern communicating, e-mail is, like, so lame - and it leaves a trail that can be embarrassing. So do IMs. (That stands for Instant Messages, you geeze!) Cell calls are much cleaner.

If I'm a Republican lobbyist trying to deftly influence high-ranking state officials on, say, the deregulation of the electricity market in central Maryland, I'm making a call on my cell. I'm not exchanging e-mails. I'm not IMing. As Napoleon Dynamite would say: Gosh!

If I'm chairman of the PSC, and I'm considering huge increases in consumer electric bills that my pals in the industry declare are inevitable, and I'm not really sure how to make this happen politically, I do what I likely learned as a Republican back-bencher in the House of Delegates - I ask a lobbyist. But I don't exchange e-mails with the guy. Are you cracked? That's potentially ... evidence! I don't want the public knowing that I'm taking my cues from industry lobbyists. Gosh!

Had simple cell calls been made, Sun reporters probably would not have been able to find a record of how Schisler consulted with Collins via e-mail on how to avoid political quicksand as the PSC considered a humongous electric bill increase - 72 percent - that now has 'sploded like a big water balloon all over an election-year session in Annapolis.

On the other hand, what else is new?

The power industry's fingerprints smear the brief and the sordid history of energy deregulation in America. (Can you say Enron?) In 1999, when the Maryland General Assembly considered deregulation of the electricity market, industry representatives essentially wrote the bills that were filed and, according to a Sun report at the time, utility lobbyists were personally involved in revisions until the final vote. Gosh! Democratic legislative leaders consulted with lobbyists, even by phone during floor debates in the House and Senate. Few legislators read the bill but, of course, both bodies voted it into law by significant majorities.

Readers have been asking for a look at that vote, from April 1999. Here's a list of how current Maryland legislators voted in 1999.

Maryland senators who voted in favor of electricity deregulation:

Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, D-Prince George's; John C. Astle, D-Anne Arundel; Richard F. Colburn, R-Dorchester; Ulysses Currie D-Prince George's; James E. DeGrange Sr., D-Anne Arundel; John J. Hafer, R-Allegany; Larry E. Haines, R-Carroll; Andrew P. Harris, R-Baltimore County; Patrick J. Hogan, R-Montgomery County; Paula C. Hollinger, D-Baltimore County; Robert J. Hooper, R-Harford; Nancy Jacobs, R-Harford; Philip C. Jimeno, D-Anne Arundel; Edward J. Kasemeyer, D-Howard; Gloria G. Lawlah, D-Prince George's; Nathaniel J. McFadden, D-Baltimore City; Thomas M. Middleton, D-Charles; Alex X. Mooney, R-Frederick; Donald F. Munson, R-Washington; Ida G. Ruben, D-Montgomery; J. Lowell Stoltzfus, R-Somerset; Norman R. Stone Jr., D-Baltimore County; Leonard H. Teitelbaum, D-Montgomery.

Another 11 senators - three Republicans and eight Democrats - voted for the bill but are no longer serving in the General Assembly. Hogan switched parties, to Democrat, in 2000.

Senators who voted against the legislation:

Joan Carter Conway, D-Baltimore City; George W. Della Jr., D-Baltimore City; Roy P. Dyson, D-St. Mary's; Nathaniel Exum, D-Prince George's; Jennie M. Forehand, D-Montgomery; Brian E. Frosh, D-Montgomery; Leo E. Green, D-Prince George's; Ralph M. Hughes, D-Baltimore City; Delores G. Kelley, D-Baltimore County; Paul G. Pinsky, D-Prince George's.

Three other Democratic senators voted against the legislation but are no longer serving in Annapolis.

House members who voted in favor of deregulation:

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