Sunday, August 19, 2007

Eye On The Courant

Don’t Mess With Gombossy

In Sunday’s edition, The Hartford Courant’s new Consumer Watchdog, George Gombossy, brings the president of Connecticut Light & Power, Raymond Necci, to heel – with a little help from the paper’s friends.

CL&P has been unable to shed it’s arrogance as Connecticut’s former state supported energy monopoly. It could not be brought to admit that its meters might possibly malfunction and overcharge its customers. When several consumers complained to Gombossy that their meters appeared not to be working properly, Gombossy produced a front page story on the issue, the paper enlisted the help of Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, and before you could say “You’re gonna get sued,” the president of CL&P was on his knees, begging for mercy.

In yet another front page consumer column in Sunday’s edition, Gombossy pulls no punches. “CL&P and its parent company, Northeast Utilities,” he writes, “are under pressure from the state attorney general's office and the General Assembly's energy committee, which have asked state public utility regulators to investigate the utility's meter testing and customer service programs as the result of the Watchdog columns.

“I hope Necci realizes there will be uproar if he or Northeast Utilities tries to stick ratepayers with the tab for what it's going to cost CL&P to regain its credibility. That money should be coming right out of the executives' compensation and from the stockholders.”

The uproar no doubt will include some barking from the paper’s Hound of Heaven, Blumenthal. The paper and Blumenthal have enjoyed a symbiotic relationship for many years, causing some to wonder whether the paper has been lax in pointing out Blumenthal’s deficiencies – if any.

I have said before in this space that Blumenthal is little more than a consumer advocate with subpoena powers. Gombossy and the Courant, working hand in glove with Blumenthal, do not need subpoena power; they have Blumenthal. Or he has them, as he case may be.

However, should it be shown that the Courant is favoring its favorite Connecticut politician, perhaps someone could convince Gombossy to intervene on behalf of the Courant’s consumers, who rightly expect an even-handed approach to all its politicians, including those who work in concert with the paper to produce news stories.

Rove’s College Pranks

Sunday’s edition of the Courant also includes a column written by Bill Curry protesting Karl Rove’s college pranks. Mr. Curry was an advisor to the more sober and serious President Bill Clinton at a time when the president was entertaining Monica Lewinsky at the White House, though he certainly was not privy to any of the frat house scenes.

Out With The Old, In With The New Old

Robert K. Schrepf, who succeeded John Zakarian as Editorial Page Editor of The Hartford Courant, has now been replaced by Carolyn Lumsden. According to a puff in the paper, “Lumsden, 53, came to The Courant from Massachusetts, where she had worked for the Associated Press and the Holyoke Transcript-Telegram. She was an editorial writer until 1995, when she became editor of Commentary, The Courant's Sunday opinion section, and of the daily op-ed page.”

Bill Curry, one of the more elegant writers at the Courant, once an advisor to former President and putative First Husband Bill Clinton, joked on the occasion of Ms. Lumsden’s elevation, "'The first question that comes up for me is, "Who will write my column now?" Curry joked Friday. Lumsden first invited Curry to write specific op-ed pieces; later, when he began a weekly column, she became his primary editor. It fell to Carolyn to teach me how to do this, for which I'm grateful. She is smart, principled and meticulous."

But, is she conservative Bill? ..."perchance to dream. Aye, there’s the rub."


watchdoggpg said...

I would like to point out that the Watchdog had a very critical story on Blumenthal failing to properly investigate Sage Advice herbal business.

Don Pesci said...

Someone named "Lucy," apparently no friend either to Blumenthal or CL&P, produced this gem on the Courant's commentary site. Some sort of investigation would seem to be appropriate:

"Years ago, when the Courant had an interlocking directorship with the Utilities and Insurance companies, the Utilities were able to mislead, and brainwash the consumers and get away with it, as the Utility Advertising money in the Courant also played a major role in the Justice of the matter.

"When the Electric industry in Conn was urging and building contractors to build the "Golden Madalion Home" they were giving the contractors all kinds of bonuses and freebees.

"The contractor was not allowed to install an oil tank or a chimney in the house. Before this new scam by the light companies, the rate for an average consumer was about 3 cents a KW delivered to the house. The rate was raised to 6 cents a kw, and the rate for the All Electric house became 1 cent a KW. So the average consumer was subsidizing the all electric home. However when the electric
industry had overloaded the system that created a larger demand, they blamed the consumer for wanting more electricity, a deal created by the money interests in the Utility industry that created the need for the Nuclear industry, that created another SCAM.

"In the Ritter and Attorney General Blumenthal Sponsored Deregulation Bill, the Utilities have are collecting what is called the STANDED COSTS that is being paid by the consumers. How much of this money is being channeled to connected lawyers and lobbyists -- it is after all many millions of dollars -- that no consumer can see or understand that he is paying for it through the rate structure?

"The faulty Meters are something the consumer can see and experience. The CRRA, MDC, Dibella Scams are simply to well hidden for the average consumer to understand or see in his light bill; they have no choice but to pay and pay.

"It was some thirty five years ago, after some lengthy
hearings in front of the PUC, where proof was submitted to the Agency that the Utilities were violating their charter and the rules of regulation. The PUC ruled that the interveners were correct, the Electric industry was wrong; however
they ruled that "In the long run it would end up in lower rates." The Watchdog Agency of the COURANT has opened up a can of worms for the Electric Industry, and the Genie is out of the bottle. Now all we need is for the Attorney General of Connecticut to admit he made a mistake in his endeavor to Promote Deregulation of Electricity and ask all the Attornies General in the other states who deregulated and encourage them to sue all the people who knowingly worked to deregulate, a system invented and promoted by the people who are in jail today, namely ENRON.

"Necci the Head man at CL&P is simply trying to head of this new development called faulty meters at the Pass. Utilities could never stand for criticism, they even threatened in the past to sue anyone who exposed them for what they were. It's a matter of fact."

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