Monday, January 16, 2012

I hear the Fat Lady warming up off stage

Four years ago this month I was invited to a meeting with other community leaders to hear our Washington EMC Board and Chamber of Commerce leaders introduce Dean Alford, the spokesperson for Power4Georgians (P4G). Dapper Dean, as we have so fondly come to call him since watching him operate, told a stunned group about Plant Washington, which was presented to us as a "done deal." Alford did add that he expected some environmental groups to oppose the plant, but that would be dealt with summarily and they would move on with this project.

Four years later, Dwight Brown, the former Cobb EMC CEO who organized P4G, has been indicted on 35 counts which include racketeering, theft, making false statements (in layman's terms, lying) and intimidating witnesses. Cobb EMC members are taking back their co-op by electing new board members who are committed to operating with the members' best interest at the forefront of their decisions. Along the way Brown funneled millions of Cobb EMC co-op dollars into Allied Energy Services, lead by Alford, which tidily secured a no bid contract for the coal plant. Later this month Dapper Dean is scheduled to make a presentation to the Cobb EMC Board in what should be a last ditch effort to keep his project on Cobb EMC's financial life support.

Cobb EMC Vice-President Sam Kelly told the Marietta Daily Journal last Thursday what so many people have suspected for a long time: there is no pro forma plan for Plant Washington. All we've heard up until now is essentially this is a good investment "because we said it is good." Can you imagine telling a bank that they should loan money "because I said it is good"?

Alford is quoted in the same article saying that Cobb's recent request for power proposals is "no big deal." Well Dean, it is a big deal. And we also know that Plant Washington isn't a "done deal." And that's a big deal too. I know it, you know, and now everyone else knows it.

For a long time I wanted to believe that Washington EMC, Chamber of Commerce, appointed officials, and elected leaders had been hoodwinked into a bad deal. Now that we know without a doubt that there never was a pro forma cost estimate the questions get even tougher.

Did they blindly agree to this project (in which case we all need to think about how much confidence we can have in them about anything else) or did they simply not tell us the truth when they answered our questions? It was a big deal then. It is an even bigger deal now.

The Fat Lady hasn't sung yet, but I can hear her warming up off stage. It sounds like she is rehearsing a funeral dirge for Plant Washington.

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