Saturday, March 18, 2006

Bobby Corruption

Records surfaced yesterday which highlight yet another too-cozy relationship between the Ehrlich administration, its pawns and corporate lobbyists. "The chairman of the Maryland Public Service Commission regularly consulted with a utility industry lobbyist on how to keep an electricity deregulation plan on track in the face of a huge rate increase," the Baltimore Sun reported today.

As a 72 percent electricity rate increase liable to devastate some low-income Marylanders, and cause unacceptable financial strain on others, Public Service Commission Chairman Kenneth D. Schisler was taking advice from industry lobbyist Carville B. Collins on how to make sure the increase goes through. The Sun quotes from e-mails which make quite obvious that Schisler, a former Republican delegate appointed by Ehrlich, cares far more about boosting corporate profits than the well-being of Marylanders.

This isn't the first time an Ehrlich pawn has abandoned his public watchdog post at the behest of corporate lobbyists. In December 2005, the Sun revealed that state Department of the Environment Secretary Kendl P. Philbrick passed along a letter opposing environmental controls which was drafted by industry lobbyists. The letter put the interests of corporations ahead of Marylanders' health.

It would be quaint for us to demand that the Ehrlich administration re-examine its priorities and start looking out for citizens instead of corporations. Ehrlich is decidedly "pro-business" - and proud of it. There's no changing the Governor's mind, but there is the possibility of changing governors come November.

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