Kick the Can: History Unfolds abroad and at home

By: Bill Whaley
27 July, 2016

(Part I)

When I watch the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia, the young Bernie faces, so passionate and engaged, remind me of the desperate days of Chicago ’68, when Mayor Daley unleashed the police riots, provoking demonstrators on the floor of the convention and in the streets. The Chicago riots focused on the opposition to Vietnam, the inequity seen in the poor people’s brigade, and the Black Panther protest.

Today we see the Bush-Obama endless wars, the culmination of the Clinton-Bush-Obama systemic corporate commodification of taxpayers on behalf of the 1%, and the rise of Black Lives Matter issue in reaction to white supremacy and police violence.

The issue of “blowback” comes to mind: the downing of the World Trade Center due to foreign policy blunders and the gunning down of Dallas and Baton Rouge Cops, due to aberrant individuals in response to cold-blooded images of execution, the increasing number of terrorist attacks throughout the first world, attacks imported from the third world, in emulation of the Palestinian Intifada.

The Bernie or Bust delegates may find solace in minor parties and throw the election to Trump. The Clinton wing seems incapable of channeling the progressive passions of Bernie’s most enduring acolytes. The crooks at the DNC give meaning to Trump’s claim that “the system is rigged.”

Some observers blame Ralph Nader for the rise of Bush II but don’t forget the intervention of the right-wing Supreme Court that made the ill-advised ideological decision to anoint Bush II in response to the “hanging-chad” caper. Now, Trump, the potential fascist and his followers, the direct result of economic policies aimed at exporting jobs and destroying the labor movement, begun under Clinton I, hangs over democratic progressives like a dark cloud. Fear is the sales tool of choice.

Recently, Chris Hedges, a pundit and Pulitzer prize war correspondent and student of “Inverted Totalitarianism,” along with Robert Reich, former Clinton I labor secretary, debated the issues: whether to walk away from democrats or work within the system and pressure Clinton II to reverse the wave of bigotry and reverse the Wall St/Corporate putsch that rules the current democratic party leadership, a replay of “Republican lite” from the past. It’s a contest between a “Fascist” and an “Oligarch.”

Hedges urges us to go out into the streets, vote for Jill Stein of the Green Party and prepare for the long decade of sacrifice necessary to change a corrupt system and replace failed capitalism with something else. Reich, like many liberals, urges democrats to fight for progressive values from within the party i.e. “kick the can down the road.” But do we have time for either alternative?

Climate change heats up the Planet, the military-industrial complex profit from fighting fires in the Mid-East, and the corporate lobbyists, representatives of fuel and finance, control the puppets of the Democratic Party. Barack Obama’s ironic and historic election, based on “hope and change,” has left little appetite for faith in a process that has continued to increase the gap between the haves and have-nots. And in a capitalist society, the bottom line, as Bernie preached is about class, a country serving the billionaires at the expense of the 99.99 %.

Make your bets, vote, and watch history unfold.

(Part II)

In tiny Taos, a tiny story unfolds as Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, Inc., in the persons of CEO Luis Reyes, the rubber stamp trustees, the attorneys and regulators, have come together to stipulate or “settle” the issues in the interests of a KCEC request for a “rate increase.” Despite the facts and recommendations of a valiant PRC staff, which made an argument for one-third the increase asked for by the Coop, the political pressure on staff has caused them to capitulate and walk back the recommendation.

While KCEC asked for something like $3 million plus and the staff recommended something like $1.5 million, back-door talks, from which the Interveners were excluded, settled on $2.5 million or so or less. Whose counting? The Interveners, a valiant few, must feel like the rest of you Pendejos trapped in Paradise. (I am one!)

The PRC Staff dived deep into the accounting methods of KCEC, discovered discrepancies galore between claims and actuals in the Coop rate request presentation, as did the Interveners during the Interrogatory process. Now Interveners are left on their own to argue against the biased process, the staff, the Coop, their attorneys, the trustees, as well as the PRC Commissioners who serve the system.

The very rules of the PRC process define what Trump means when he says the “system is rigged.” Indeed, the Staff and Interveners, allegedly, are meant by “rule” to focus on the “Black Box test year of 2014” as if the Coop debt, acquired before and after 2014 doesn’t count. KCEC’s ventures into diversification, real estate, Call Center, Command Center, Propane, Telecom, Broadband, despite the distractions for employees and the drain on Coop cash and equity, the subsequent rise of debt (over $100 million, way over), all these issues are sequestered from “reality.”

Give’em a rate increase so they can borrow more money as they spiral into more debt.

During a recent presentation to the Taos County Commissioners, who appeared to swallow the CEO’s mumbo-jumbo hook, line, and sinker, the energizer bunny denied that the Guzman-KCEC amount of $37 million paid to Tri-State was a “debt.” Yet Reyes also said that when the contract [$37 million] was paid off after six years, the rates “might” drop and solar generation might rise. Reyes mumbled and changed the subject about the implications and costs of maintaining the transmission lines and substation infrastructure acquired from Tri-State. KCEC has no employees qualified to work on high voltage lines so what do they do now?

For $37 million and a host of unknown “entailments” KCEC got what? Nobody knows. They didn’t even get an “asset” except, we think some high priced transmission lines and a bunch of substations. Course they get to dream of “renewable energy” i.e. trust in promises “of a better place” for all…down the road.

People call me cynical and negative but I have seen the color of the red ink and the back door dealings of the Coop and the PRC.

As usual, the mention of “renewable energy” and the “magic of Broadband potential” caused commissioners to go weak in the knees and smile what with all eyes focused on “economic development.” These commissioners apparently love electric rate increases from the Coop, which will cost the County an estimated “$50,000” and they love to help Holy Cross with taxpayer largesse, despite HCH’s record, and then there’s more GRT at the Town of Taos (Thanks Fritz), and higher water rates at El Prado Water and Sanitation District. Most, if not all of these increases, are due less to need and more to “mismanagement.”

The aspiring classes, especially the political class, like the big wigs at KCEC, can mismanage the enterprise or local government or the health care facility but gain clout and a free ride by letting the Coop members or taxpayers pay the freight. Like Trump they fail upward in this country via smoke and mirrors and fakery. The Governor and her supporters can stop suicides by installing phones on the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. And now the bridge is for sale, too.

The Coop has failed to deliver “economic development” (except for the few) during the last 15 years, while over-burdening members with debt, debt aimed at keeping the energizer bunny busy, the Trustees Traveling, and the Cuddy-McCarthy law firm profitable and fat.

When is a debt not a debt? When did Bill Clinton not have sex with Monica Lewinsky? When did a Trustee ever read a contract or an audit? When did the $37 million paid to Tri-State become a “contracted obligation” but not a debt?

In the coming weeks, more hearings are scheduled with the PRC Hearing Examiner, a sort of proforma conclusion to the “process.” For all practical purposes, the PRC staff rang the bell and the Interveners heard it.

But in the fantasy world of politics, your Trustees, CEO, Attorneys, PRC Supervisors and Commissioners can also pretend that nobody heard the noise. Still the Tree fell in the forest. The members, suffering from a news blackout, may not have heard the bell or the tree but several of us representative Interveners did hear it even though they told us to plug our ears.

“Get the behind me,” you devil. (I have seen the details.) The Coop like the democratic Clintonites are kicking the can down the road but some of us can hear the death rattle of democracy, a fact of life at the KCE Cooperative where the members serve management and Trustees.

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