How about some real "governance"?
Governor Ted quickly folded the state's hand the other day in the high-stakes poker game surrounding the future of Portland General Electric. He made it clear that he isn't going to let the state get too involved in trying to wrest ownership of PGE from private hands. In his current view, the City of Portland is the best potential public buyer for PGE. And since the PGE customers out in the sticks are worried that the city will behave like -- well, like the City of Portland always has, placing New York Times-worthy "big ideas" and foolish PC doctrine above all else -- the state promises that it will exercise control over the "governance" of the company after the city buys it.
The guv's announcement takes the wind out of the sails of State Sen. Ryan Deckert's plan to form some sort of state entity to take over the Enron subsidiary. Ryan's still acting like there's something to talk about, but the last time the governor invited him over to the office to chat, I guess Ryan didn't notice that ornate veto pen set on Chief K's desk. It's over, dude.
Ted's playing this one pretty smart. Now that the cronies of his hero, Neil Goldschmidt, are out of the picture for a private bid, he's suddenly fine with public power. And he's not naive enough to put a cent of state money on the line for it. Let the geniuses at Portland City Hall front all the expenses (many millions), and take all the risk. If they fail, it's the city's, not the state's, millions down the drain. If they succeed, the state can come in and keep the city in check through "governance."
If you don't think this is a Team Goldschmidt comeback to Portland Commissioner Erik Sten, then you haven't been paying attention.
How sad. Governor, if the state is so interested in "governance" of PGE, then why doesn't it immediately undertake some serious reform of Oregon's public utility laws? Why doesn't the state make it illegal for a future private owner of PGE to pull the outrageous stunts that Enron inflicted on the consuming public in Oregon? Why doesn't the PUC adopt rules that clean up the sordid mess that public utility finance appears to have become in this state? Why don't you appoint a set of public utility commissioners who will call private owners of utilities out if they attempt more outrageous ripoffs?
If we had rigorous state "governance" of PGE to begin with, we wouldn't need the city to take it over. Having the fiscal wizards at 1221 SW Fourth become the owners of PGE, and then suddenly "governing" the heck out of it, is closing the barn door after the horse has run out.
Let's let Enron's creditors have PGE. And let's get some real "governance" in place, over them. There's no time like now to start some real regulatory reform.