If a public official writes in a diary that’s fallen off the front page, does he make a noise?

There’s been a lot of activity here lately, but I think this deserves some attention.  Recently, Jack McCullough penned the piece Burlington Free Press calls out O’Brien’s partisanship.

In it, Jack notes that:

Dave O’Brien didn’t have much credibility to begin with, but the key is that the whole world is now seeing that Dave O’Brien’s loyalties are to the Douglas/Dubie administration and their wealthy friends, and not with the people of Vermont.

O’Brien chose to respond, without actually responding:

So I do not have any close wealthy friends, nor do I do the bidding of any.  I have no affection or loyalty to Entergy, they just happen to own this facility that is so integral to the state.  I defend the idea that the facility should continue to operate, and in my role as a consumer advocate I have seen Senator Shumlin and many others distort the record and many people are taking what they say to be the whole story and that is unfortunate.

Note that O’Brien doesn’t actually respond to what Jack said.  He pretends that Jack made reference to O’Brien’s wealthy friends, without seeming to understand or care that the “wealthy” reference was to Douglas’ friends.  O’Brien claims to have no loyalty to Entergy, but the issue was not about Entergy as much as it was the Douglas administration and a partisan agenda.

I’m going to quote another snippet of O’Brien’s comments:

The science of the tritium release is entirely the opposite.  The Health Dept has not once found any indication of a threat to the public health and safety.  Are their motives also somehow corrupted by greed and therefore not informed by sound science and the ethics of the medical field?

Now here’s the thing: I’ve written about the word “threat” before.  The claim of there being no “threat” is inaccurate and misleading.  The term he should be using here is “imminent threat.”  But the very existence of a plant that has pipes and tubing in places that the owners failed to acknowledge even existed, that has leaks that take months to discover?  That is a real and genuine threat.  Failure for that threat to manifest itself?  That’s just dumb luck.  

I will quote one more item from O’Brien:

Firstly I am looking at a far more extensive set of information on VY than the general public.  What is reported in the media is a mere fraction of the record, it is a drive by treatment.  I would say that if people were to base their ultimate opinion on VY based on what is reported in the media well apprehension would be natural.  So keep in mind I have much more info and technical input from a team of experienced energy professionals (all democrats and quite liberal), but why is it so hard to accept that someone can a different opinion?

So this is something I find interesting: what O’Brien is claiming here is that he is sitting on secret information about Vermont Yankee that is kept hidden from the public.  This may or may not be true, but it is extremely convenient to be able to tell everyone “if you only knew what I knew we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”  We know that Entergy LA is pushing hard to keep VY open (this may be so that they can more easily find a buyer) so I find it very hard to believe that they would refuse to release information which would increase public perception that the plant is safe and reliable.

People can agree or disagree that the plant should be open.  That’s our choice, but the simple truth is that we’ve had nearly a decade of a Republican administration who refused to lift a finger to prepare for the eventual closing of this plant and to set in motion a plan to keep Vermonters employed should it close on schedule. They could have put resources into preparing for both possibilities.  Instead, they set up a scenario designed to promote the idea that closing VY would be anti-Vermont and anti-jobs.  It’s a form of political blackmail that I truly hope will be shown to be a complete failure come November 2nd.

This sort of reckless disregard for the future of Vermont is not only incompetent.  It’s dereliction of duty on the part of the Douglas administration.  

If O’Brien wants to defend that, that’s obviously his right, but when a public official tries to serve as an apologist for this sort of mendacious hostility towards the state of Vermont and its long-term interests, We The People have both the right and a moral obligation to call him out on it.

11 thoughts on “If a public official writes in a diary that’s fallen off the front page, does he make a noise?

  1. So this is something I find interesting: what O’Brien is claiming here is that he is sitting on secret information about Vermont Yankee that is kept hidden from the public.  

    So, Mr. O’Brien, if you feel your extra special information would convince us that

    1) the plant is safe,

    2) well-maintained,

    3) worth running past its planned date of obsolescence,

    4) at a power level greater than the one for which it was designed,

    5) that its clean-up fund will magically be fully restored and maintained,

    6) that the reduced amount of energy it will be providing to Vermonters at a 50% increase in price is worth it

    Then PLEASE, PLEASE SHARE. We’d be HAPPY to read every document you could provide. Because, frankly, we don’t believe you. Your track record in protecting Vermont’s air, water, and land; in respecting local opinion; and conducting the state’s business in an open and forthright manner isn’t exactly the stuff of legend.

  2. He’s a busy man these last days before the election. On VPR this AM he again suggests knowing more than we do while covering Dubie’s back on his tenuous VY stance and generally carrying some heavy water. Fortuitous timing, these rumors for O’Brien the man who asked “How many days to the election?”

    Here he is addressing the rumored VY sale.

    (OBrien) “I don’t know the details because that’s confidential.

    But I get feedback that suggests we’re certainly very close to an agreement in principle.”

    (Dillon) New owners and a new power deal, O’Brien says, could force lawmakers to re-think their rejection of the Vermont Yankee license extension.

    http://www.vpr.net/news_detail

  3. So this is something I find interesting: what O’Brien is claiming here is that he is sitting on secret information about Vermont Yankee that is kept hidden from the public.  This may or may not be true, but it is extremely convenient to be able to tell everyone “if you only knew what I knew we wouldn’t be having this conversation.”  We know that Entergy LA is pushing hard to keep VY open (this may be so that they can more easily find a buyer) so I find it very hard to believe that they would refuse to release information which would increase public perception that the plant is safe and reliable.

    I won’t get into the broader argument about whether VY should remain open or under what conditions, or about the role Commissioner O’Brien is/has/will play in the decision making process, but I feel a need to respond to the above statement.

    Commissioner O’Brien and the Department of Public Service are parties to the two VY dockets before the PSB, and like all Parties they receive every filing from Entergy and the each of the other Parties. This isn’t secret information, and it is available to every member of the public through DPS or another Party. There are literally thousands of pages of documents as part of the public record. That’s probably what Commissioner O’Brien is speaking about.

    DPS also has access to some proprietary information about business expenses and costs that is not available to the public, but that is very limited and appropriately held from public view to protect Entergy’s competitive position. I doubt that information has had much impact on Commissioner O’Brien’s position.

    If there is specific information you would like from any of the dockets, try searching for it on the PSB web site, ask DPS for it, or ask any of the other Parties. Some of the material is easily available through the Windham Regional Commission web site (they are a Party) at: http://www.rpc.windham.vt.us/e

    I have read just about every page in the extensive record and I disagree with Commissioner O’Brien on many points, but I doubt he is sitting on secret information, or claiming that his position is based on secret information. Instead, it sounds to me like Commissioner O’Brien is saying if people had access to the entire record rather than just news stories they would agree with him.  

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *