Coakley Takes One Step Forward, Two Steps Back

In what must be the newspaper equivalent of the full Ginsberg the Boston Herald has three stories about our Attorney General today.

Starting with the good, AG Coakley takes National Grid to task for fleecing its customers:

“During the course of (reviewing National Grid’s rate-hike request), we found at least $300,000 worth of expenses that are outrageous and clearly provide no benefit to Massachusetts rate payers,” Jill Butterworth, spokeswoman for Attorney General Martha Coakley, told the Herald. “(And) we only scratched the surface.”

National Grid recently asked the state Department of Public Utilities to approve a $106 million-a-year rate hike for the company’s 850,000 Hub-area gas customers. That would raise ratepayer bills by about 4 percent to 11 percent, depending on where they live.

Some of the charges National Grid passed on to consumers:

$35,700 to send a senior vice president’s two daughters to the private British School of Boston

$30,000 for an executive’s personal medical bills

$4,363 for an employee’s trip to President Obama’s inauguration

$4,000 for company Christmas cards

$1,602 to matte and frame pictures for Grid President Tom King’s office

$1,433 for Rubik’s Cubes used in a team-building exercise

$1,254 to ship a wine collection across the ocean for a British employee who transferred stateside.

No employee expense was too small, with National Grid even passing on costs for $2 coat-check fees and $3.50 bottled waters.

Thank you Martha Coakley. Not only is the arrogance of National Grid executives a thumb in the eye of hard-pressed consumers, but the rate jump they are requesting isn’t supported by the state of our economy. Sure winter is coming, but the economy is in big trouble, which means that natural gas supplies shouldn’t be stressed, meaning prices should remain relatively stable. Even Obamanomics can’t eliminate the basic rules of supply and demand. Natural gas futures fell slightly today.

Now for the odd:

After last week’s jailhouse suicide by accused Craigslist killer Philip Markoff – before he could be tried for the murder of erotic masseuse Julissa Brisman – Coakley reversed her earlier stance against interfering with the Web forum and demanded that Craigslist take down adult ads.

Coakley said the only reason for running the sex ads is to make money. “Craigslist should end the hypocrisy between its words and its practices,” Coakley wrote.

So, our AG is fine with the ads when a woman is murdered, but when her murderer takes his own life she changes her tune? Craigslist’s popularity is based on the fact that it’s free to the general public that are looking to post ads to sell a car, find a roomate, post a job etc. Without the revenue Craigslist makes from the adult themed ads, they will either need to start charging to post non-adult ads or go out of business. I’m sure the Globe wouldn’t shed any tears if that were to happen.

I wonder when AG Coakley is going to go after “alternative” newspapers like the Boston Phoenix. After all, they make their money selling adult ads too. Maybe if Craigslist had a few reliably left-wing reporters on staff that could be counted on to write favorable stories about Martha, the AG would agree to continue looking the other way?  

Finally, Jay Fitzgerald covers the downright indefensible:

Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office is withholding key details from the public about how she arrived at her Cape Wind rate-cut deal.

Coakley – whose office recently negotiated a 10 percent reduction in how much Cape Wind and National Grid can charge customers for wind-generated electricity – submitted a report late last week full of blacked-out pages related to wind-project price comparisons associated with the multibillion-dollar Cape Wind project.

The report, which was Coakley’s official justification of her rate settlement with Cape Wind and National Grid, includes “redacted” words, numbers, sentences, paragraphs and charts. It even blanked out a question asked of an energy expert hired by Coakley’s office – and the expert’s response was also crossed out, records filed with the Department of Public Utilities show.

This is a project that will cost between $2 billion-$2.6 billion when it’s all said and done. The public has every right to know all the details. We’re the ones that will be paying for the over-priced electicity generated by this green boondoggle. What are the proponents of Cape Wind afraid of?

About Paul Breau