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two people who are totally unacceptable and another unknown and I have no references. As far as I’m concerned, I’m not prepared to make a decision based on that. I’m not about to throw $85,000 at anything when I don’t know how good the people are.” Cassin, however, stayed with MGT saying: “I think MGT is the only one we can go with if all others have conflicts. So we just have to check them out and hope we can document them as being good or else we’re going to have change our definition of the kind of conflict that is going to knock people off.” Within a month, Cassin had changed his mind: “I guess anything we do is a close call,” he said at a January 11 administrative meeting. “. . . I am impressed that the staff did rate Price Waterhouse higher, and Deloitte, than Peat Marwick. But the Chairman has such good experience as I understand it with Peat Marwick, at least I haven’t talked to her about it but she’s said that here on the bench and that means a lot to me . . . the personal relationship she has with Peat Marwick, I think, will help the Commission get more work and better work out of Peat Marwick than perhaps the others. So I concur in her motion.” Despite Campbell’s dissent, and her concern that Peat Marwick would be “carrying out Chairman Greytok’s agenda,” the contract was awarded to PMM by a 21 vote at an emergency session. “The report,” Campbell wrote of the final management audit. “has an anticonsumer slant which results in adverse implications for the citizens of this state.” Campbell took issue with several conclusions in the report. Most egregious, she contended, is the recommended reduction in discovery time for intervenors. Campbell explained that utilities take months to prepare for rate cases to be heard by the commission. Intervenors, usually cities, do not respond until after the rate cases are filed and then they must often wait until a city council formally decides to respond. Reducing the time allowed for discovery the process by which parties in disputes file written requests will allow intervenors to obtain very little information. Getting information sufficient to present a successful case often requires several rounds of requests. So cities and consumer groups in the name of efficiency will be handicapped in gathering information. Campbell also disagreed with recommendations that would allow commissioners to circumvent the open meetings act, either by establishing a six-member commission or by giving the Chair the authority to make administrative decisions, rather than deliberating them in public. She criticized the pooling of agency staff, arguing that when the majority controls staffing decisions, they can control the diversity of viewpoints brought to the decision-making process and undermine the independence of individual commissioners. Another concern she voiced concerned the privatization of PUC staff functions by contracting work out to consultants. The consultants, Campbell argued, would move easily between work in the regulated industry and working for the commission, thus allowing the utilities to gain control of the commission. The audit report, according to Greytok aide Tipton Ross, is “a starting point for discussion . . . an attempt at more efficient organization and strategic planning to the commission. It will thrash around in public for a while . . . But no one said anything in it is sacrosanct.” According to Ross, and Greytok, what is most needed is a larger appropriation for the agency. “Money and peace,” Marta Greytok told the members of the committee studying the PUC, “are all that the PUC needs.” But consumer activists feel that once the PUC is placed on the agenda of the November 14 special session, the Legislature could enact major reforms. “On-third of the problem [William Cassin] with the commission has retired,” Public Citizen Director Tom Smith told the committee reviewing the PUC. “It may surprise you that I suggest letting the existing system work. Let the Governor appoint a new member, the Senate review the appointment during the special session, and ask the Legislature to move up the sunset process to 1991.” The Peat Marwick report, tossed into a special legislative session, is not the formula for reform. “The press,” former commissioner Al Erwin told the committee convened in the Old Supreme Court Chamber, “has an informal role . . . they basically tell people what we’re doing.” Erwin; a writer who now works with._ a group called the Texas Media Alliance, made an eloquent appeal for keeping the process open. And the problem is not’ with the media’s preoccupation with personalities,’ as commissioner Greytok suggested, and as was reported in Dallas Morning News story in February when she said: “The news media always find it attractive when two women of strong minds disagree.,” The problem is a result of a fundamental disagreement over the process for setting telephone and electric rates in the state. That disagreement began to come into focus when the commission deliberated the management audit. By the time the commission began to debate the selection of an auditor for the $9 billion in cost overruns at the Comanche Peak Nuclear Plant, divisiveness threatened the existence of the Public Utility Commission. \(Note: The following issue will include an account of the dispute over selection of an auditor for the Comanche Peak Nuclear Power Plant and excerpts from the commissioners’ remarks before the Special CommitI s ORGAN ic “The Texas Observer’s commitment to truth and justice is as rare as hormone-free steak tartare. Plus, it’s more palatable and a lot less expensive.” Jim Hightower . 0541 TEXAS server TO SUBSCRIBE: Name Address City State Zip ri $27 enclosed for a one-year subscription. Bill me for $27. 307 West 7th, AUSTIN, TX 78701 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 21