Excerpt from The Sierra Vista Herald (8/13/15): “Utility regulator wants change in public records law”
State utility regulator Bob Burns wants lawmakers to tighten up the state’s Public Records Law, possibly setting up a “gatekeeper” who would have to approve — and could deny — requests.
Burns, a former state Senate president, said his concerns started with the ongoing battle for the text messages of fellow commissioner Bob Stump. The Checks and Balances Project is questioning a series of texts just ahead of the 2014 Republican primary.
Burns said that what already is known about the pattern of Stump’s tests “certainly looks a little bit strange” and may merit the kind of requests made of the Arizona Corporation Commission for the contents.
Excerpt from Arizona Eagletarian (8/14/15): “Does the Arizona Legislature DARE to attempt limiting Public Records access?”
Once looked to for sound reasoning in the ongoing saga of Trash Burner Bob Stump and his dubious (and clandestine) communications with Koch-addict Sean Noble, Arizona Public Service president Don Brandt and Brandt’s newest wholly-owned corporation commissioners Little and Forese — Bob Burns now says it’s time to shut down public records access for pains in the government bee-hind like the Checks and Balances Project.
Excerpt from The Arizona Republic (8/15/15): “Elected official: Keep the sunlight out”
As reported last week in the Arizona Capitol Times, Corporation Commissioner Bob Burns is exasperated after fighting for three months with a Washington, D.C.-based open government group seeking another commissioner’s telephone text messages.
So, rather than just give the Checks and Balances Project what it wants, Burns proposes the opposite approach: Require the courts to approve public-records requests.
In other words, he wants to require search warrants.
Burns should step back, take a deep breath and consider that worthy adage warning that “hard cases make bad law.”
Excerpt from The Arizona Republic (8/15/15): “New Arizona utility regulators to face first APS case on solar rates”
The changes would affect only new solar customers, not those who installed solar before the fees were approved in 2013 or those who pay the 70-cent fee today. They also would not affect solar water heating, only solar electric.
Controversy surrounding the issue increased dramatically last year when Republicans Tom Forese and Doug Little won election backed by $3.2 million in advertising by independent political groups supporting them and opposing the other Republicans in the race.
Forese and Little’s Republican primary challengers were backed by the rooftop-solar industry.
APS has declined to answer repeated questions about whether it was funding those campaigns.
Excerpt from 12 News (8/16/15): “Solar vote tests APS’ clout over regulators”
Almost two years ago, the Arizona Corporation Commission approved a controversial plan by APS to raise rates on solar customers.
Since that vote in November 2013, the elected officials who regulate the state’s largest utility, and the utility itself, have come to be seen in a very different light:
* Utility monopoly APS as a political gorilla in Arizona with untold and undisclosed cash to spend to elect the five members of the commission that sets its rates — and ours.
* The all-Republican Corporation Commission as a captive of APS. One current Corporation Commissioner – Bob Stump — and a former Corporation Commissioner — Gary Pierce — are being investigated by Republican Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office over allegations they got too cozy with APS.