Thursday, November 30, 2006

Letter to the editor on GVEA

I posted this as a comment on gvea.blogspot, my verbatim submission to the News-Miner:
I attended the presentation by GVEA staff at Noel Wien Library Nov. 15 about the proposed G&T. We were told that, as GVEA was currently set up, we had to keep $750 on hand for every $1000 loaned to us, but that the G&T would only need to keep $100 on hand, a considerable savings in margins. This is where that $30 million figure comes from. This was stated in Ruralite and in the ballot information (“[GVEA] must collect an additional $750 to satisfy lenders.”) But this isn’t the minimum required, it’s the amount desired: “GVEA chief financial officer John Grubich did say that banks require only $250, but he said GVEA maintains the higher buffer, or margin, to obtain a lower interest rate on debts” (FDNM, Nov. 23). Fine, but this isn’t what GVEA staff told us. They said we MUST have this margin, not that we SHOULD have it. The staff have lied by omission to GVEA’s members.

When members asked why only three public meetings, the staff protested that there had been 12. I wondered why I hadn’t heard anything about them, and the next week asked where they were. It turns out that 7 of the 12 meetings had been for staff, not the public, and the other three apparently for specific groups. This isn’t the same as a public meeting: once again, GVEA was not honest with us.

The final disturbing tactic was the use of emotional arguments: the example of the single mom who couldn’t pay her electric bill, or the framing of the question as whether we trusted the GVEA board. The issue is one of structure, and member control. It is not about our personal relationship with the board. We give thousands in scholarships from unclaimed capital credits every year; surely we could take some of that and provide emergency funds for people who need help with their GVEA bill?

If this was as good a deal as the staff has made out, I don’t think they’d feel the need to twist the facts. I’ve voted no on the G&T.
What is worse is that it was Tom Irwin who presented this information to us, the same Tom Irwin who resigned from Murkowski's administration over an issue of ethics, who resigned because he felt that he could not support unethical behavior. I am disappointed.


Jeffrey A. Rogers said...

Margaret and I voted NO!

Deirdre Helfferich said...

I just noticed that I can't count. There were 7 meetings for staff, 2 at senior citizens' centers (Salcha & North Pole--these might have been public, but it's not clear), and three for specific groups, among them a builders' association and the Transportation Committee of the Fairbanks Chamber of Commerce. (I forget the 3rd group.)

Jeffrey A. Rogers said...

So far, everyone I've talked to at work, in the stores, out in Ester, and everywhere else I go has told me they have voted NO!