Sunday, June 13, 2010

Choice: 9/11 Hero, Lobbyist, is Stark, Crystal Clear

Birdwell, Sibley, a contrast between GOP, Southern Demos

A man on a fixed income opens his TXU electric bill to find
that his rate has gone up from a dime per KW/hr to 14 cents.

Under the averaging plan he had been on, his monthly bill
will now be slightly more than $200, where before it had
been a little less than $140.

What to do?

He shops for a better rate, as former State Senator David
Sibley has suggested at numerous candidate forums during the
long campaign to fill the unexpired term of State Senator
Kip Averitt.

Ignite Energy offers a return to the rate of .10 and he
signs up.

The resulting final bill from TXU is shocking.

It's $637, which includes a $200 disconnection "fee," more
than $400 in "differential" compensation for the averaging
plan, and a true electric bill of slightly less than $100.

What to do?

TXU offers to waive the $200 disconnection fee if he will
return to the fold and works out an installment payment plan
for the remaining bill of more than $500.

Such a deal!

As a consumer, if he's late on his payment to TXU, the
credit bureau will put in a blip on his record, something
that will automatically trigger higher auto and homeowner
insurance rates, higher interest on note payments on secured
and unsecured debt, and affect his financial posture for
years to come.

David Sibley engineered the system of deregulation that
allows these practices during his 11-year tenure in the
Senate. As a lobbyist, he represented 11 power companies,
including TXU.

He has told consumers, including his Democratic opponent,
Baylor Political Science Professor Dr. Gayle Avant, that if
they will shop, they can find rates of about .08. That's
what he pays at his Austin home.

The glitch in that argument is that he obtains his
electricity from a co-op and no one can select a co-op such
as Pedernales Electric or Brazos Electric unless they live
in the co-op service area. It's not an option.

As with the telephone deregulation scheme he worked out, Mr.
Sibley defends his record by saying that he rescued the
consumers from the clutches of the monopoly. In the case of
telephone deregulation, the bill netted the State of Texas a
huge windfall in the form of the Telephone Interchange
Franchise Fee, which accounts for almost half of phone rates
on land line and cell calls.

Mr. Sibley has told the story of his appearance at a Rotary
luncheon in Hillsboro, where conservative Southern Democrat
Will Bond, a scion of a pioneer hardware, insurance and real
estate family, asked to make a remark or two before Mr.
Sibley gave his pitch as a Senatorial candidate.

It is well known that Lt. Governor Bobby Bullock was raised
in Mr. Bond's home following the breakup of his parents'
marriage. He was a political protege of Mr. Bond, who
served on various state commissions as an appointee of
several conservative Democrat governors.

"This is Bobby's man," is all he said. It was all he had to
say to the conservative Southern Democrats there assembled.

"And I won the Hill County vote by something like 60
percent," Mr. Sibley has recalled.

In another often recalled piece of political lore, Mr.
Sibley figures in the tale of the lost weekend he and five
other State Senators spent locked up in the Lt. Governor's
private apartment behind the President's Rostrum in the
Senate chamber. They were told no one got out of there
alive until they arrived at a compromise legislation in the
reform of Worker's Compensation coverage.

Mr. Bullock often told people that Mr. Sibley was the best
man he ever worked with in the Legislature.

In various insurance deregulation bills introduced or co-
sponsored by Mr. Sibley, carriers have been granted the
right to pass through costs of unprofitable investments to
consumers, something that has driven the rates sky high, as
high as any in the nation.

Mr. Sibley's lobbying practice included representation of
insurance carrier State Farm, which applied for and got two
insurance rate hikes on homeowners policies in the same

Finally, the Brazos River Authority, which he represented as
a lobbyist before he decided to run for the unexpired term
of Senator Kip Averitt, who as a State Reprentative often
wrote House versions of insurance and electrical
deregulation bills Senator Sibley authored, took the Possum
Kingdom hydroelectric power station off the grid by shutting
down the sluice gates and penstocks.

This deprived the customers of the Brazos River Electric Co-
Op of electrical power their organization had negotiated to
purchase for $500,000 per year and immediately removed 24
megavolts of green, environmentally clean, renewable energy
from the power grid. It will be replaced, presumably, by
coal-fired plants and the addition of two new TXU nuclear
power plants at Glen Rose.

This is the subject of a lawsuit to be decided in the 414th
District Court in Waco.

The Authority's Board Chairman, Chris DeCluitt, who with Mr.
Sibley spurred the "Keep Kip" campaign which resulted in the
veteran Senator's re-nomination when he really did not wish
to serve, told people he made the decision because it's not
economically feasible to maintain the electrical power
generators that first went on line in 1942 and have been
approved by the Federal Electrical Regulatory Commission
without a hitch since then.

Mr. DeCluitt, an attorney, lost his seat on the State
Republican Executive Committee to Waco refuse hauler Jimmie
Kerr by more than 20 votes in the Senate District 22 caucus
yesterday afternoon at the Texas Republican Convention in

This could be a bellwether indicator of whither goest the
Senate District in the runoff election.

Retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. Brian Birdwell of Granbury, a
town hard hit by the BRA's decision to shut down Possum
Kingdom's sluice gates, garnered slightly more than 10,000
votes in the primary, the first runner up to Mr. Sibley's
16,000 votes, forcing a runoff for the nomination between
the two on June 22.

He has pointed out that Texas Ethics Commission records
indicate that Mr. Sibley has made numerous contributions to
"liberal" Democratic candidates during his tenure as a

Badly burned in the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, Col.
Birdwell is stumping the 10-county area with a pitch for
fiscal responsibility, pro-life, "jobs and economic
prosperity," the second amendment, "standing up for the
constitution" and a State of Texas defense inititative
against illegal immigration.

He is endorsed by Dallas GOP luminary Bill Crocker, the
Republican National Committeeman for Texas.

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