Georgetown City Council cites “misunderstanding” to keep local group from speaking. Via Re-Energize Texas, Georgetown Council Snubs Students Over Nuclear Power.
SEAK’s charismatic President, Connor Hanrahan, went to the mic and spoke politely about hoping to form a positive “working relationship” with the city as they discussed aspects of the energy plan and in particular a provision to purchase 30% of their electricity from nuclear power plants.
“We are not here to protest nuclear,” he said, “but want to discuss new information that affects this plan.”
And then the Mayor dropped a bomb. Citing a “misunderstanding” about City Council procedures, he informed Connor and the group of students and allies he’d brought with him that they would not be allowed to speak at the meeting that evening. To his credit, Mayor Garver did make an effort at conciliation by offering Connor the opportunity to nominate 2 members of his party to speak for 3 minutes apiece, but the notion was quickly rebuked by Councilwoman Pat Berryman, a known proponent of nuclear power.
Does this sound familiar to anyone? Think Pedernales Electric Coop and CPS Energy. These two major electric utilities in Texas have been recently embroiled in controversy over failure to provide information, give the public access to speak, and making bad, even corrupt decisions from positions of power. As a result, reform candidates have been elected to the PEC Board of Directors and two of its former members face multiple felony indictments. At CPS, two executives have been placed on leave while its board investigates why the utility failed to disclose new cost estimates to the public and the San Antonio City Council.[...]
The Georgetown City Council should know that this kind of stonewalling can only hurt them. PEC stonewalled its customers and got one of the biggest utility scandals in Texas history. CPS did a little better regarding the public but nevertheless erred on the side of closed-door-meetings and non-disclosure and has put itself on very thin ice with the City Council and the public.
Being open and transparent is not as much of a hassle as you might think, and especially not in a small town. Had the City Council bothered to listen to its own residents, they might have learned that programs aimed at efficiency could save residents money. They might have learned that nuclear power is generally the most expensive form of energy commercially available. They might have learned that reliable alternatives such as solar power with natural gas back-ups cost far less than energy from new nuclear reactors. Those crazy environmentalists with their fiscally responsible approach to energy policy!
The members of SEAK, Mr. Foster, and representatives from Public Citizen and ReEnergize Texas will be back in two weeks. We will jump through the new hoops City Council has erected, or we’ll just ask Councilwoman Patty Eason to represent the students of Southwestern, who live in her district, by making the energy plan a Council Action Item or whatever terminology they need it to be in order to sit through the unwanted babbling of their own citizens. But beware, City Council. That babbling has had a strange way of coming true lately, particularly when it comes to nuclear power, and if the CPS experience is any indication that’s one train you don’t want to get hit by.
That sure doesn’t reflect well on the Georgetown City Council.