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Gutting Consumers’ Counsel will cost Ohioans in long run



Published: Fri, September 23, 2011 @ 12:00 a.m.

Everybody wants to cut the cost of government, but what Gov. John Kasich and the General Assembly did to the budget of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel is even worse than penny wise and pound foolish.

Look at the numbers compiled by Consumers’ Counsel Janine Migden-Ostrander for the last seven years when she was at the helm. Her office spent $50 million in that time and by the agency’s account, it saved Ohio utility consumers $8.2 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a B, and while we suspect there are critics who dispute some of the accounting, there is no question that consumers got what they paid for from Migden-Ostrander’s office — many, many times over.

And here’s the kicker, when Kasich and Republican legislators cut the Consumers’ Counsel’s budget, they didn’t save a dime toward balancing that $87 billion deficit we were all told was staring us in the face. The Consumers’ Counsel gets no general fund money; it all comes from a special assessment on utilities.

But cut the budget the boys in Columbus did — nearly in half. In fact, the first proposal was to more than halve the budget, but then they had to add in $1.5 million to cover severance and other costs of 30 displaced employees. The effect will be that utility customers will be buying out the very employees who have been saving them hundreds of millions of dollars and providing a counterbalance to the squadron of lobbyists that utility companies send to Columbus. Those lobbyist will continue to be paid, at least indirectly, by the utility companies, but now the sound that will be heard from the opposition will be diminished, if not silenced.

She’s outa here

Wednesday, Migden-Ostrander did the principled thing. She retired rather than bend or bow. This is no financial sacrifice for her, because she is a lawyer with 30 years of experience in a specialized field and her training, intelligence and passion make her a strong candidate for any number of jobs. The job she decided to take was as a consultant to the Regulatory Assistance Project, a global nonprofit group based in Vermont.

But while she is not the loser in this, the people of Ohio will be eventually.

“She is a very talented advocate and represented her clients very strongly,” Anthony Alexander, CEO of Akron-based utility FirstEnergy, told the Columbus Dispatch. Those clients are all 4.5 million utility customers in Ohio.

Those clients are also in most cases the voters of Ohio, who should be asking their elected representatives how their interests were best served by slashing the resources of an important advocacy office, eliminating the jobs of 30 Ohioans and forcing the resignation of a ”very talented advocate.”


Comments

1fd6636(255 comments)posted 3 years ago

Another prime example of this socialist state goverment trying to take yet more of our rights away so big buisness can charge us what THEY want with no recourse at all from YOU the tax payer. Sounds like the private verson of SB5 don't it!!! And you, the idiots who continue to support and back this idiot and his band of baffons: YOU GETTIN FED UP YET??? how much more proof do you need to prove that its not about the budget, but total capitalistic, socialistic control over your lives as residents of what used to be the great state of OHIO! How much more clear does this Idiot have to be to you??? WAKE UP!!! Start by taking back ohio from the capitalists, VOTE NO ISSUE 2!! Don't think for a second that SB5 won't affect the ordinary citizen, it already has. YOU HAVE NO VOICE IN THE ENERGY DECISIONS THAY YOU USED TO HAVE. YOUR GOVENOR HAS TAKEN THEM AWAY FROM YOU. YOU WILL PAY WHAT THEY WANT YOU TO PAY! KEEP SUPPORTING THIS IDIOT, YOU WILL SEE....................

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2fd6636(255 comments)posted 3 years ago

Even the vindicator, who loves this guy and his socialist views on the middle class workers are starting to question your Govenor and his one sided goverment, and they aren't very smart to begin with! His supporters have NOTHING to say cause it cost the state budget NNOOTTHHIINNGG!!!!
JUST PROVES, AGAIN, STATE GOVERMENT RAN BY REPUBLICANS TRYING TO TAKE OUR RIGHTS AWAY!! VOTE NO ISSUE 2, AND VOTE THESE RATS OUT OF OFFICE WHEN THEIR TERM IS UP!! J.C., HOW MANY MORE EXAMPLES DO YOU NEED BEFORE ITS TOOO LATE!

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3PAborn(21 comments)posted 3 years ago

The Ohio Consumers Counsel cost Ohio households $1 per year through the special assessment. This is public information available on the web.

Isn't having a voice against mega-utilities worth $1 per year?

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4PAborn(21 comments)posted 3 years ago

The Ohio Consumers Counsel cost Ohio households $1 per year through the special assessment. This is public information available on the web.

Isn't having a voice against mega-utilities worth $1 per year?

My mistake - the assessment was on the utility companies.

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