IURC misunderstood

January 28, 2012

It was with disappointment that I read Julia Vaughn’s column in the Jan. 9 Forefront. The “rotten culture” that allegedly exists at the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission is fabricated. As a former executive director of the agency, I can attest to the continuing high quality of people and procedures.

Vaughn appears to believe that electing commissioners would improve the quality of commissioner, or their ethical standards. Only 13 states elect their public utility commissioners. The remainder have an appointment process similar to ours.

The winners of these elections have consistently talked about the fundamental flaws in that scenario. On what platform should a prospective utility commissioner run? Regulating utilities, specifically setting rates, is by definition a bad news job. Trust me, in my time at the IURC, I don’t recall any outlet celebrating the difficult decisions the commission made. I do recall countless examples of people appreciating the commission’s place on the hot seat of the day, but that does not inspire any electorate. As a result, these jobs are crying out to be filled by appointment.

Further, there is no legitimate evidence that the process in Indiana lacks a deliberative approach, is performed outside of the public arena or is unique when compared to other states’ approaches.

As government processes evolve, and in most cases improve, it is always important to remember that the people of government are exactly that: people. In this case, a person made poor choices, and the hiring authority, Gov. Daniels, responded accordingly.

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Michael Leppert
owner, Leppert Inc.
 

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