May 17, 2020

Public misled in electric issue campaign – Opinion – The Pueblo Chieftain

Public misled in electric issue campaign - Opinion - The Pueblo Chieftain


I sure hope the four of you, Councilman Flores, Councilman Schilling, Councilman Atencio and Councilwoman Winner, aren’t high-fiving yourselves, smug in your victory.

It is a hollow one … It is one thing to let the public know of your concerns about leaving the franchise with Black Hills. A true concern for your constituents is good and what we hired you for.

However, to campaign against this amendment with misinformation is not acceptable. Not to me, nor anyone.

The four of you knew very well throughout this entire campaign that it was NOT a government takeover but a legal option written into our franchise agreement, signed by the City and Black Hills Energy.

And, you definitely knew that it was NOT going to be a city run utility. In fact, I recall at the City Council meeting on Feb. 11, Councilman Schilling expressed his relief that you wouldn’t have to run it.

At that same meeting, Councilman Atencio grilled Mr. Clayton and Mr. Rudolph about how the new utility would operate. You knew very well City Council would not be in charge.

Yet you aided and abetted that untruthful scenario by allowing it to fill the airwaves and mail slots in this community, scaring your constituents, not conveying your concerns to them. Instead you urged them to be afraid to change. Afraid to venture into unknown territory—one with little risk I might add. We could have turned back at any time.

… You, Ms. Winner, and you, Mr. Flores, allowed those predators to use you. The public trusts you and you betrayed that trust. And you let PuebloCares make City Council look utterly foolish.

Brochures in which a variety of canines proclaimed: “Can’t run a dog pound, Can’t run a utility!” were sent to every household in this town. Are you still so proud of yourselves, letting them make a mockery of you? I was actually embarrassed for you.

I was also resentful that allowing City Council to look like incompetent fools may have reflected poorly on Councilman Aguilera, Councilman Aliff, and Councilman Brown, who stood up for Pueblo and Pueblo’s future. Those three brave councilmen who weren’t afraid to cry out in defense of their constituents and their city, tired of our utility’s stranglehold on us. I surely hope your misguided deeds didn’t besmirch their good judgment and reputation.

The four of you should be ashamed. You have now seen to it that Pueblo will continue to struggle attracting new business with Black Hills’ draconian electric rates. Plus, who knows how many businesses can survive the Covid-19 set backs and still pay outrageous electric bills? How many will close their doors instead?

Our visionaries, Councilmen Aliff, Aguilera and Brown wanted to put Pueblo on the map as a leader in our energy future. The whole country was watching, many with their fingers crossed for this feisty, independent steel town trying to reinvent itself.

Instead, you four have assured Pueblo’s place in ignominy. I do not call you councilmen and councilwoman because you are no longer worthy of this respected title.

This was Pueblo’s opportunity to shine and you snuffed it out! Why did you do this? Why have you assured that Pueblo remains a diamond in the rough?

Roz de Lizarriturri is the president and co-founder of the Renewable Energy Owners Coalition of America (RECOA), a solar owner and renewable energy advocacy group.



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