Public Service Commissioner Lauren “Bubba” McDonald is trying once again to have a state law repealed that requires the regulatory agency to rotate the position of chairman among its members on an annual basis.
McDonald’s action is clearly aimed at preventing the newest PSC member, Tim Echols, from becoming chairman next year as part of this mandated rotation.
In a letter to legislators dated Aug. 30, McDonald states that Echols “will be chairman of the Commission next year unless action is taken by the General Assembly of Georgia. Four of the five members of the Commission are very concerned about this and would appreciate any advice from you.”
Echols fired right back at McDonald.
“Bubba McDonald’s letter is not about any real or perceived controversy with me, but a power grab to protect the establishment,” Echols said. “I ran a campaign against the establishment in order to protect the average Georgian, not to become part of the good ole boy club or a tool for the utilities — and that has angered some.”
“I certainly respect his decades of service in state government, but Bubba has continuously worked against me, even before I was elected,” Echols added. “Changing the PSC chairman rotation would be a mistake.”
McDonald has made several attempts over the past three years to change the state law that requires the regular rotation of the PSC chairmanship. His initial attempts two years ago were interpreted as a move to prevent Bobby Baker, a consumer-oriented PSC member, from becoming chairman.
The Baker chairmanship became a moot point when Baker decided not to run for another term in 2010. Echols, a political consultant from Athens, was elected to Baker’s seat on the PSC.
Ever since his election, Echols has been perceived in some quarters as being more of a pro-consumer PSC member than the other members, who tend to be more pro-utility in their votes.
Echols has actually voted in line with the other PSC members on most issues, however. He has also generated some unfavorable media coverage because of the large amounts of money he has spent on travel expenses for himself and his family members.
In his letter to lawmakers, McDonald said he was “embarrassed by the actions of my fellow Commissioner Tim Echols.”
McDonald said that he and the other commissioners “felt that changing Chairman each year was not the best way to run the state’s business.”
New committee for Johnson
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a DeKalb County Democrat, has been assigned to a seat on the House Subcommittee on Intellectual Property, Competition, and the Internet. The subcommittee handles copyright, patent, trademark law, information technology and antitrust matters.
“I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to help foster innovation and job creation through fair and equitable copyright and intellectual property law,” Johnson said.
“As a longstanding consumer advocate, I will also be focused on whether mergers will lead to increased choices and lower prices for consumers,” he said.
Senate candidate in Coweta
Another candidate has emerged for the Georgia Senate seat that’s been vacated by Mitch Seabaugh.
Dale Pepper of Newnan, a Delta Air Lines pilot and retired Air Force officer, said he will run in the Nov. 8 special election for the Senate District 28 seat. Mike Crane and Matt Brass of Coweta County have also announced their intentions to run in that election.
Arrington to retire
Fulton County Superior Court Judge Marvin Arrington, an Atlanta city council member or president for nearly 30 years before his appointment to the bench, says he will retire as a fulltime judge in February.
Arrington, who was appointed a judge by then-governor Roy Barnes in 2002, plans to serve as a senior judge.
© 2011 by The Georgia Report