Monday, December 28, 2015

INDEX of all Posts, Newest to Oldest, Dates, Titles, Guests

As a convenience to my readers here is an index of all Posts with Dates, Titles and Subject (where the title is not clear), and guest authors.  At first most posts were about DC issues, but once I was running for Congress, I also added national issues.  Tax and income issue articles have dates printed RED. Environmental posts are GREEN.  Health and wellness issues are BLUE.  Political posts are PURPLE.  My political information and original ideas are highlighted.  Just click the blue lined titles to go directly to the blog post.  Otherwise go to the year and month to your left.  I would love to see more comments.

[6/15/16]  I am happy to report that I have won my At Large primary with 63%+ of the votes.  Among other things I hope to join Elissa Silverman who was the single vote in support of keeping McMillan Park as a resource for the people.
     For the June 14, Primary Election I ran for DC Council At Large as a member of the DC Statehood Green Party.  If you wish to support a future candidacy or this blog, please send a check marked G. LEE AIKIN, to 1754 Swann St., NW, Washington, DC 20009*
[11/10/16]  The General Election is over, and in a field of six candidates to fill two seats, I came in third as I had hoped.  The second place winner had over $300,000 in campaign funds, I had under $10,000.   He also had fewer than 4 times as many votes while spending at least 60 times as much.
     For the immediate future my major focus of energy will be saving McMillan Park from a NO-BID developer who wants our Mayor to sell them this land valued at over $100million for a bargain price of $17million.  Our land paid for with our taxes!!!

Year 2017:
8/18/17   Trump, Donald: Surviving the Trump Year(s?) McMillan Park Fallout & Emergency Shelter
1/15/17   McMillan Park - A Finer Vision for Pro-People Development & Major Court Decision

Year 2016:
10/14/16 DC Constitution & Statehood, Sept. 27 & Oct. 6 Testimony, Consequences of Nov. 8, 2016 Vote
10/11/16 G. Lee Aikin, WAMU & GLAA Questionnaires, More Detailed Answers for 2016 General Election

10/6/16   McMillan Park, Further Updates & Legal Action, Summer/Fall 2016

10/3/16   Tax Justice for Low and Middle Income People, My 12 Year Fight
7/11/16   David Grosso & Anita Bonds Bill Removes ANC Chairs from FOIA Requirements.
5/15/16   Statehood for DC, Mayor Fast Tracks New Constitution for Nov. 8, 2016 DC Voter Approval.
4/19/16   DC Statehood - The Only Solution to 200 Years of Disenfranchisement
4/4/16     DC Budget Oversight Hearings on Fiscal Year 2016-2017 (April) 
4/2/16     Exelon PEPCO Buyout, A Potential Lawsuit?  Is it really over?
3/28/16   TENAC Supports Off. of the Tenant Advocate (Guest post, Jim McGrath, Chairman)
3/6/16     McMillan Park, 3/2/16 Testimony by Daniel Wolkoff, & How Our Water System Functions

Year 2015;
12/28/15 Index of All Posts, Newest to Oldest, Dates, Titles, Guests
11/25/15 DC Government Fails to Use $Millions of HUD Money, In Apparent Effort to Speed Up Gentrification (guest post Angela White Narain)
11/19/15 Excelon/PEPCO takeover, PSC Hearing Nov. 17 & 18, 2015.  They Desperately Need Our Ratepayers.  Testimony from anti-Exelon Witnesses
11/19/15 DC PSC Community Hearing Witness List for 11-17 & 18, 2015 Hearing (condensed)
9/28/15   Hajj: Muslim Tragedy in Mecca - Mass Casualties in 2015 Hajj, Cause & Prevention?
8/14/15   Chinese Disasters - Environment and Social Problems of Rapid Development
4/15/15   DC Taxes - 2015/2016 Updates: GOOD and BAD News - Revised Schedule H, This Could GIVE YOU Money
2/19/15   A Solar Energy Revolution in Washington, DC [& Puerto Rico power grid disaster] Could Inspire the World (guest post Don Wharton)
1/21/15   Exelon/PEPCO Merger--Is It Good for DC Residents?

Year 2014:
11/12/14 McMillan Park, an Opportunity for DC Council to Serve the People Not Developers (guest additions from Daniel Wolkoff and Kirby Vining)
10/21/14 Shipping Containers Homes, Can Creative Use Help Solve the Low Cost Housing Crisis? 
0/6/14   HOW MANY EBOLA VICTIMS COULD BIG PHARMA KILL?  If They and the Medical Establishment Don't Try Low Cost Available Treatments
10/3/14   DC Taxes to come down in 2019?, or NOT, as DC Council Approves 2 Tax Revision Commission Recommendations to FINALLY Put $85 million Annually in Our Pockets!
9/22/14   Free DC:  The US Capital is the Last Plantation (guest post Scott McLarty)
9/20/14   G. Lee Aikin answers DC Alliance of Youth Advocates, Candidate Questionnaire
9/12/14   DC Mayoral race, 2014, Catania and Schwartz Views on Small Entrepreneurs/Street Vendors (1998)
9/9/14     G. Lee Aikin, Experience, Goals & Hopes, as Candidate, Chairman, DC Council, 2014
8/14/14   DC Elections Heat Up:  Out to See the Action at DC for Democracy
3/18/14   DC Council Approval of 2 Tax Revision Commission Recommendations Will Put $85 Million     Annually in Our Pockets
3/10/14 - League of Women Voters Questionnaire--Tax Revision Comm., Affordable Housing, Electoral Reform, Charter/Public Schools
3/4/14     We Must Implement DC Marijuana Laws (and National News)--Decriminalization & Legalization
1/17/14   Pres. Obama, "Save the Middle Class;" Sen. McCain, "Put an End to Greed!"
1/11/14   Congress Illustrates DC's Need for Statehood Once Again: Prohibits Using Our Tax $$

Year 2013:
12/8/13   Keystone XL Pipeline, Prevent Future Tragedy Now: Qingdao Pipeline Explosion Kills 62
11/18/13 Can Our Middle Class be Saved by DC Tax Revision Commission?
9/5/13     $12 Minimum Wage Sought for Montgomery Co., MD; and DC Mayor's $12.50 LRAA Decision
9/3/13     INDEX of all Posts, Recent to Oldest, Dates, Titles
9/1/13     50th Anniversary MLK March - Statehood Dreams, Personal Memories
8/13/13   The LOWV questionnaire from 3/27/12 was jumped to this date??
8/1013    DC $12.50 Living Wage, & Walmart Blackmail (and Perry Redd)
4/22/13   DC Special Election, At Large Candidates, April 23, 2013
4/15/13   Boston Marathon Bombing, Summary & Updates
4/4/13     DC Emancipation Day, and Martin Luther King, Jr.
4/1/13     Straw Bale Buildings & Solar for a Sustainable Earth
2/8/13     DC At Large Council Vote 4-23-13, Perry Redd DCSGP Candidate
2/8/13     Perry Redd, At Large, DC Statehood Green Party Candidate
1/6/13     New Congress has more Women, Especially Women (guest post Jo Freeman)

Year 2012:
11/5/12   Unemployment Crisis, 5th post - A New National Lifestyle, (a 6 part series)
11/4/12   Unemployment Crisis, 4th post - A New National Lifestyle
11/2/12   Unemployment Crisis, 3rd post - A New National Lifestyle
10/27/12 Unemployment Crisis, 2nd post - A New National Lifestyle
10/26/12 Unemployment Crisis, 1st post - A New National Lifestyle
10/21/12 Worldwide Unemployment Crisis:  Work, has it Changed Permanently (intro to above 5 Posts)
10/21/12 Saving Social Security, Wage Cap, Marriage Penalty, Failure to Index (2016 figures)
10/17/12 Council/Mayor Expulsion for Felony on Nov. Ballot
9/13/12   Chicago School/Conservative Views of Economy (guest post Don Wharton)
9/4/12     Are You Better Off Today vs 4 Years Ago: "Better" Defined
8/26/12   Rape & Republicans:  Their Rape Ideology, Tod Akin Ignorance & Now Zika Virus
8/6/12     Obesity Epidemic, Diabetes, Sugar, Fat and "Obamacare"
7/25/12   Spam Scams from Craigslist and Elsewhere, Buying, Selling, Renting, Responding
6/29/12   Obama/Roberts Empower Health Care - Now Our Duty Begins
6/16/12   A Solar Energy Revolution (guest post Don Wharton)
6/12/12   The Supreme Court (Citizens' United), Anniversary of Another Big Mistake
6/12/12   DC Statehood Green "Shadow" Candidates' Declarations Accepted at BOEE, also                 Chairmanship vote announced
5/14/12   DC Tax Rates Hurt Working Poor & Middle Class, also Loss of Federal Payment
5/11/12   Harry Thomas Inspired Council Act Received by BOEE (and 10/7/12 update comment)
4/3/12     The slow boil of DC Taxpayers; ARE YOU A FROG?  Jump out, call DC Council
3/26/12   A Family History of Labor Activism (my biography with labor emphasis)
3/26/12   DC People Overtaxed & Underserved:  or Rip Van Winkle Sleeps On
2/12/12   G. Lee Aikin, Experience, Goals, Hopes (my resume for At Large Council race)

* paid for by Elect G. Lee Aikin, PO Box 53222, Washington, DC 20009.  A copy of our report is filed with the Director of Campaign Finance of the DC Board of Elections.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

DC Government Fails to Use $Millions of HUD Money, In Apparent Effort to Speed Up Gentrification

I recently attended a "Socialist Salon" on gentrification and the fight against it in the District of Columbia.  It was sponsored by Metro DC Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).  I was invited by another anti-Exelon testifier I had met at the recent Public Service Commission hearing.  Although they are strong Bernie Sanders supporters they hope this will not keep us from cooperating in fighting gentrification.  I can assure them, that at least in my case, it will not.

Their guest speaker at this anti-gentrification salon was Claire Cook, an organizer with the activist group ONE DC.  Ms. Cook divided us into several teams and then asked specific questions on low and middle income government figures, housing costs in DC, numbers of people on housing waiting lists in DC (72,000), and other pertinent questions.   After the teams presented their answers, we went into a more general discussion of the issues and possible solutions.

The younger members of the group seemed more interested in activism and ideals, whereas the older attendees focused more on specific things like legislation which could be used to modify and reduce the problem.  I feel both are necessary and need to be coordinated both to stimulate action and to make sure action is on target.  One guest there seemed particularly knowledgeable about the depth and complexity of the problem and I asked her to write me a guest article for posting.

Guest Post by Angela White Narain

Condition of Housing in the District of Columbia
Democratic Socialist Salon session, Nov. 19, 2015

In addressing some pressing issues on housing in the District of Columbia, Clair Cook, the guest speaker at the Salon, wanted to investigate yet again, the creation and development of a land trust and put in place limited cooperatives for low wealth folks to live in.

In 1998 Rick Eisen, esq and I were charged with the major responsibility of finding out why limited equity cooperatives did not work then in the District of Columbia.  I had asked my employer not to lend to a specific project of limited equity cooperatives that Hope Housing was developing in the Congress Heights neighborhood, because right across the street at that time, there was a major drug market.  I told them people will not buy and stay across the street, but in sum, within the next year several million banks dollars, and nonprofit lender dollars were lost because of the investment made in communities at that time when the market was not right for it.

The city has returned over $140,000,000 million dollars in the HOME Investment Partnership Program (HOME) funds from  DC Department of Housing and Community Development  to the Federal Government that could have been used to build thousands of affordable housing units.  DC has had this serious problem for years with HUD regarding their HOME funds, which are part of our federal entitlement dollars that we get from HUD every year.

That evening I suggested to the Salon group they should attend the Planning Meetings that are held every year, in which the city is supposed to use the comments to create a document called, a Consolidated Plan.*  This represents our invoice to HUD for our five federal entitlement programs to be acquired for the development and preservation of affordable housing in the District of Columbia.  In addition to HOME, the other 4 programs are:  Community Development Block Grants (CDBG), Housing opportunity with Aids (HOPWA), Supportive Housing Opportunity Program (SHOP), and Emergency Shelter Grants (ESG)

When I was a technical assistance provider for HUD under the HOME Technical Assistance Grant that I got [clarify?], we were asked to come into the District to see why DC was not using their HOME funds properly.  The Director at that time was Merrick Malone and manager was Mary Hammond and they would not let me and my team come in as directed by the DC HUD Field Office.  They have been returning money to HUD ever since, and not building housing for low wealth people on purpose.

Thus, regarding all of the last 3 former Mayors and including this one, their Homelessness initiatives are jokes.  They have been a way to pay out money to their friends for Homelessness Reports and Committees, as well as Commissions that they have never implemented.  The New Communities Initiatives is a major disaster but was created in the spirit of trying to create a replacement for the Hope VI Program, which is the demolition of public housing projects.

The best major redevelopment project is the Wheeler Creek Project wherein I used to serve on the board of directors, and is one of 5.  Other major public housing projects that are slated for redevelopment are: Barry Farm in Ward 8, Lincoln Heights - Richardson Dwelling in Ward 7, Northwest One in Ward 6, and Park Morton in Ward 1. The New Communities Initiative is funded through public bond financing that allows the District to leverage funding for development projects.

The amount of displacement of residents in public housing that has been done by the District has been criminal and the conditions of the units before they left have been horrible.  Harassment by local government for the redevelopment of Barry Farms has occurred over a 15 year period, starting in Mayor Williams' Administration.  To date over 20,000 people have been displaced.

For further information you can reach Angela White at her email address: on any housing issue.

Additional comments by G. Lee Aikin:
Angela reports a total of 5 federal grant programs that provide housing related money to DC.  If the city has returned $140,000,000 to the feds over the years for the HOME program, I wonder how much money DC has failed to use from the other 4 programs she mentions?

* Unfortunately, the Consolidated Plan meetings for this year were already held in October and November.  However, this link provides contact information to follow up on this planning, and to learn when the next meetings will be held in 2016.

I decided to backtrack on some of the DC history and personnel.  I found that in February 2015,  Merrick Malone was appointed along with Kimberly Black King to the DC Housing Authority's Office of Capital Programs as Director and Chief Development Officer respectively.  Mr. Malone was a former head of DC Dept. of Housing and Community Development and Deputy Mayor of Economic Development during the Kelly and Barry administrations.  In addition to DC, he also has experience from Detroit in urban transformations in downtowns, school systems and neighborhoods.

The various DC administrations have worked vigorously to reduce the amount of housing for low wealth people and families.   Recently (9/17), the Current Newspapers have taken a look at this important issue.

While there is some evidence for suggesting that high concentrations of uniformly low wealth people may cause some problems, tearing down their homes and creating a homelessness problem is not the answer.  This article written almost 2 years ago describes this issue and how it has been conducted at Barry Farms and other locations and some of the results.  Wall to wall gentrification is not the solution.  In addition, the DC Housing Authority is also forcing people out of public housing to fix, flip and sell properties to gentrifiers.

Here is a very useful national map showing how much hourly wage one would need for a two bedroom rental in each state and DC.  The $28 an hour DC wage is even higher than what one needs in high priced California.

Here is information provided by Historic Washington activist Mary Rowse [March 2018]

Audit: D.C. agency used funding to house poor residents for other needs
By Paul Schwartzman, The Washington Post, March 20, 2018

Material below is quoted or summarized from the much longer article linked above. 

"The D.C. government has used a $1 billion fund established to create affordable housing and stave off gentrification to repay the federal government millions of dollars for mismanaged grants, the D.C. Auditor said in a new report Tuesday."

"Since 2001, the Housing Production Trust Fund, as the program is known, has doled out nearly $750 million in grants and loans to developers to build or preserve thousands of units of affordable housing." 

This audit, is the first comprehensive examination of the program.
"From 2009 to 2014, DHCD steered $16.6 million from the fund to the Department of Housing and Urban Development to make up for the city’s “ineffective management of federal grants,” according to the audit." 

The audit indicates DC has poor results in collecting on loans to developers thus failing to replenish the trust fund.  It asserts DC's Chief Financial Officer has failed rigorous oversight.

“We have made huge investments of taxpayer dollars in affordable housing through the Housing Production Trust Fund but we haven’t gotten our money’s worth,” said D.C. Auditor Kathy Patterson. 

Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) and DHCD director Polly Donaldson explain a number of disagreements with the audit findings.

"A 2017 audit concluded that it could not evaluate the fund’s performance because DHCD’s data was 'unreliable.'" 

"The report also found that over the life of the fund, the District had failed to ensure that 80 percent of its annual disbursements were used to create affordable housing for the city’s poorest residents, as required by law."

"Nearly 70 percent of the fund’s disbursements were used for residents making up to $88,000, the audit found." 

The article then discussed complicated movements of funds involving HUD, DHCD, HPTF and elsewhere.  The result was fewer $millions for housing.

The audit also found DHCD has used the trust fund to finance various small projects which were not "caught and redirected."

Here is information provided by DCSGP activist Jenefer Ellingston [Feb. 2016]

The head of a House panel wants information from the Obama administration on how many over-income families live in public housing—and how many needy families are still on waiting lists for assistance.
Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, wants the Housing and Urban Development Department to hand over by Feb. 10 all documents related to over-income public housing residents going back to October 2013, and wants a briefing on the issue for congressional staff by the end of this week. Chaffetz also requested the “annual number of over-income families and families on waiting lists for each year since 2005 for each public housing authority that participates in HUD’s public housing program,” according to hisJan. 27 letter to Secretary Julian Castro.
A controversial HUD inspector general report released in July estimated that the department would pay $104.4 million over the next year for public housing units occupied by over-income families that could otherwise be used for low-income people. HUD disputed that figure, saying the IG’s methodology to estimate the subsidy cost of housing over-income families contained a “serious flaw.”
The report, which attracted attention from Capitol Hill, included some extreme examples of over-income families living in public housing. In one case in New York City, a family of four that has been living in public housing since 1988 had an annual household income of $497,911 in 2013. But the number of over-income residents identified in the audit represented just 2.6 percent of all public housing households, and in most cases the families in question were over-income by less than $10,000. The term “over-income” applies to those public housing households that earn more than the income threshold established for their locality.
HUD would not comment on the Chaffetz letter. “Our protocol is always to respond directly to the requestor,” said department spokesman Jereon Brown. The committee had not yet received a response as of Jan. 29, said Chaffetz spokeswoman MJ Henshaw.
Under HUD regulations, once accepted into public housing, individual households and families can stay as long as they like regardless of increased earnings, provided they comply with rental agreements and remain good tenants. When a family in public housing becomes over-income, they no longer receive a subsidy from the government for their rent; they pay the unit’s full rent themselves.
HUD has said public housing authorities already have the ability to evict over-income tenants. A 2004 HUD rule allows PHAs to move families in public housing to the private market if they earn more than the income limit, “allowing authorities to address over-income families within the context of their own unique demographic and economic situations,” the IG report said.
In September, HUD sent PHAs a letter reminding them of their authority and flexibility in evicting over-income households. “HUD strongly encourages PHAs to utilize the discretion available to them to remove extremely-over-income families from public housing,” wrote Lourdes Castro Ramirez, HUD’s principal deputy assistant secretary for Public and Indian Housing, in the Sept. 3 letter. Ramirez recommended PHAs use some available tools to deal with the issue, including using the local area median income for program income limits instead of the national AMI, which HUD uses in certain markets with significantly higher incomes. HUD also suggested PHAs create a “preference for return” to public housing for those over-income households that are evicted if their income drops after moving out.
There are more than 3,000 public housing authorities across the country. Many PHAs count on the rent money from over-income families to help boost their budgets. 
HUD told auditors that if all over-income families were removed from public housing, it would need to request “nearly $116.5 million more in public housing operating subsidies annually,” according to the IG report. The presence of such households also helps de-concentrate poverty in public housing, and create sustainable mixed-income communities, according to HUD, PHAs and affordable housing advocates.

After I have given more thought to this issue or receive additional information, I will add to this article in the near future (you all come back).  Comments with information welcomed.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Exelon/PEPCO takeover, PSC Hearing Nov. 17 & 18, 2015. They Desperately Need Our Ratepayers

Here is a report of some of the happenings at the hearings, plus some good anti-Exelon testimony.  Also periodic updates.

[3/11/16]  After several weeks of toing and froing, it appears that Mayor Bowser, the Office of the People's Council, and the Attorney General may have decided that the various changes in Exelon proposals do not make this company and it's obsolescent nuclear plants a good, safe fit for us, the DC rate and tax payers.  However the Public Service Commission could still vote to accept the new deal without DC officials signing off.  They have until April 7 to act.  Meanwhile  Exelon stock continues a steady rise.  Stock price hit a low in mid December (see 12/18/15 below) when the federal General Services Administration again came out against Exelon.  Since March 2nd the rise is continuous.  What do the stockholders know that we don't?  Is a final fix in?   
     On the other hand Pepco stock prices have been on a roller coaster.  Whatever is happening their stockholders don't seem to know what Exelon stockholders know.  On the other hand PEPCO stockholders may know what Exelon stockholders don't know.  Since March 2nd their shares have been trading much below the promised price near $28.  Is there possible market manipulation going on?  Making it appear that the Exelon deal will fail while those in the know buy PEPCO stock cheap.  Then get the guaranteed higher price when DC caves to the Exelon deal.
[3/15/16]  After a few more days it appears the Exelon stock has leveled off, and PEPCO stock is staying low.  Perhaps what is happening is that people far away figure that Exelon is going to win its bid, whereas people in DC believe that PEPCO will NOT be bought with the guaranteed payout.  Nevertheless, with a dividend of almost 5%, and the likelihood of other suitors in the future PEPCO is probably a decent buy if income is a goal.
[3/16/16]  This afternoon around 4pm I heard former Mayor Anthony Williams urging support for Exelon.  Then a leader on the Board of Trade also spoke in favor, listing all the old "benefits" they were selling 3 months ago.  We have not won yet!

[2/26/16]  The Public Service Commission has just voted 2 to 1 to ask some changes of  Exelon prior to giving approval.  They don't sound very good according to this article.  I see  the $78 million benefits package that encouraged so many DC groups to testify in favor of the Exelon takeover would now be kept "in escrow until it can be determined how best to spend it, and removing a requirement that the company develop microgrids in the District."  This ensures that the many DC groups who expected a payout for their support will now have to BEG the Mayor and others for their payoff.

It also means that the Federal Govt.'s folks at GSA who thought they had a deal with the Mayor through Tommy Wells are also sxxxxed.  Since the Feds use 1/3rd the electricity in DC, perhaps they will reactivate their objections.  Where are all those nosy Congresspeople when their DC control might actually be useful.  I would also like to know the size of our DC Govt. electric bill?  Is our Mayor also doing it to the taxpayers in addition to the ratepayers given the likely rate increases to DC Govt. under Exelon?
     This hearing was a fascinating study in how huge business spends their money to mobilize support and destroy the efforts of "We the People."  The PSC will probably make their final ruling some time in March (see above), so we have time to mobilize more effort to stop Exelon.  In fact, the PSC will accept letters regarding the Exelon takeover until Dec. 23rd.  One thing I had not realized before doing research for this Community Hearing, was how desperate Exelon was to save themselves at our expense.  It seems they are making some halfhearted efforts to increase their portfolio of renewables, but their overload of nuclear is truly a rotting albatross around their necks.  [President Obama has just recognized the need for earthquake protection with an Executive Order aimed at protecting government buildings.]

Pepco has been busy trying to sell this buyout (it is not a merger).  Pepco stockholders will receive $27.25 per share of Pepco paid by Exelon.  They will receive NO Exelon stock.  In addition the CEO of Pepco will receive $10 million, and $30 million total will be paid to top Pepco executives.  In addition, Mayor Bowser's favorite staffer will receive a guaranteed buyout of more than $1 million  in Pepco stock.  There are also a number of other good reasons for not approving this buyout.  The following protection was eliminated over a decade ago.  Now we see the results.  The Public Utility Holding Company Act of 1935 placed restrictions on utility holding companies in order to protect ratepayers against the holding-company excesses that contributed to the Great Depression.  

By all means read the first three links below my current testimony.  The fourth link is my previous blog article on this struggle against Exelon/PEPCO.  The saddest thing to see was the score or more of apparently low income people wearing identical green T-shirts, green hats, and carrying large printed pro Exelon signs.  Several of us heard that they were being paid at least $15 to show up and sit in the audience.  Sadly, in 10 years most of them will be unable to afford to live in DC.  If you know more about this, please post a comment with details.

A second piece of trickery was the treatment of the public as compared to the paid audience members.  Two people have told me how they and a number of others were detained in the lobby instead of being allowed upstairs.  Thus while paid pro-Exelon people were allowed into the hearing, the general public including anti-Exelon ratepayers were kept out.  One person, a listed witness, was allowed upstairs and reported back that there was plenty of seating in the hearing room for those kept out in the lobby.  Please comment if you were among the victims detained in the lobby.

A third piece of funny business was the fact that a single individual phoned in a list of almost 70 names of potential witnesses.  Apparently PSC made NO EFFORT to vet this individual.  They were numbered starting from 150.  You will note they are alphabetical by FIRST name, odd in itself.  The Tuesday hearing was ended a little after 4:30 pm at number 118.  The total list was 259 names.  Wednesday at lunch time I dropped in at PSC to listen to more testimony.  Discovered they were finished around 12:30.  Someone who had been there the whole time said that when all those people, whose names were called in by ONE person, were called on to testify, NOT A SINGLE ONE responded. 

I wonder how the PSC felt about having their time wasted like that?  How do you feel about having your money wasted that way on their salaries.  Let's try to calculate it:  Salary wasted by someone recording the 70 names, someone typing up the 70 names, the 13 extra pages the names were printed on, the paper wasted printing all these extra pages, 3 commissioners and 10 or more staff salaries as they sat through the reading of these 13 pages.  Does this add up to enough for a grand larceny charge.  If not criminal, could we sue for civil damages and punitive damages for wasting our tax money?  WHO MADE THAT CALL???  If you know, please add a comment.

The harmful result of that trickery is that people who thought they could testify after those individuals did not even arrive before the hearings were shut down.  Here is one outraged comment:  "Even more of a problem is that the additional names, who probably never intended to testify, were accepted onto the list by the Secty of the PSC without verification from those individuals. The result of allowing all these false names, I was placed at number 2XX.  I didn't think they would get to me until after 1pm today, actually figuring closer to 5pm.  I got there at 1:45pm and it was over.  The false ballooning of the list messed any real understanding of a schedule and prevented me [and probably others] from testifying.  I don't understand why this was even allowed to happen."  I think we can all understand that this is how Exelon operates and is a dismal portent of our future relations with them.

The suspicious names start at number 150 and run to 216.  Do you recognize what group, Ward, etc. these names might have been culled from?  Did the individual making the call to PSC even have permission to use their names?  If not, would they want to sue?  Here is the link for all the PSC witnesses.  Below that is a much more compact link I edited.  Since I can't get a URL from Libre Office I am posting this condensed list as a separate blog post.

[12/2/15] - Today the PSC held the hearing for the participants in the deal, Exelon, PEPCO and others.  One disappointment, the federal government's General Services Admin. which had previously questioned Exelon sharply over their effect on federal government electrical costs, and thus the taxpayers dollars, decided to sit this one out according to this report.  This may have happened because the GSA wanted DC's help with an energy project., reports the Washington Post.  To quote Tommy Wells, currently DC Director of Energy & Environment, and negotiator for Mayor Bowser, "I told them, we could prioritize you (GSA) for one of these microgrids...I do think they would be interested in that...We are very interested in helping."

[12/5/15] - A lively demonstration against Exelon/PEPCO was held outside PSC's building and reported on the noon news on the 2nd.   Exelon stock continued to decline in value as the afternoon progressed.  Now, 3 days later, Exelon stock fell even further on Friday as the general market rose.  In addition it appears the the GSA wanted more time to formulate its response.  So perhaps there is time to get Congress involved to keep the federal government from paying excessive electric rates.

[12/7/15] - Four courageous DC Council members have submitted a heavily footnoted letter to the PSC describing the many reasons PSC should continue to deny approval of this merger.  Among other things Mary Cheh, David Grosso, Elissa Silverman, and Charles Allen point out that compared with likely profits of $100 million a year, the one time payments of less than $80 million to city and ratepayers is a bargain.  They also explain that a number of these payments to DC will merely replace money that would have been spent anyway, leaving those funds to be spent in unknown ways.

[12/8/15] - Exelon/Pepco hired the Howard Theater and provided a catered sideboard to all who attended their "Town Hall" on this merger/takeover.  They also put a green shopping bag containing a green hat and a green water bottle, all printed with pro Exelon advertising under every seat.  They plan to hold these events throughout the city.  The next day, at a Ward 4 monthly ANC meeting, the elected members voted unanimously to continue to oppose this takeover.  Glad some of our elected public servants have not yet been bought.

[12/16/15] - An article from WAMU confirms that in late September payments were made by Exelon to the Chairman of Fresh-PAC, a group formed to collect campaign money in support of Muriel Bowser.  The goal was to encourage these people to lobby the Mayor to support Exelon.  A few days later Mayor Bowser switched her support to Exelon. This PAC which received a lot of criticism has now been ended, and funds are being returned.  Other interesting articles are linked at the end.

[12/18/15] - The federal General Services Administration has now reversed its former stance on this buyout.  They now complain that it is unfair that they as the largest electricity user in the city and other commercial users get no benefits like small ratepayers.  Time will tell if they are also bought off by sweetheart deals that will cost taxpayers instead of ratepayers.  Meanwhile Exelon continues to spend large amounts of money to mail cards, pay for ads, robocalls, and other means of persuading the public that they are a good thing.  This Washington Post article also has interesting comments.

The witnesses fell into several categories:
1) Con.  People who had deep inside knowledge of how the nuclear industry and Exelon are operating, such as a former TVA executive, were uniformly against.
2) Pro.  Local organizations who have been getting PEPCO money, and are told they will get Exelon money were uniformly in favor.  Apparently $79 million which our government should probably mostly be paying anyway is hard to compare with a $multibillion bill for an accident or shutting down 1 or more Exelon nuclear plants.
3) Pro.  Individuals who think that PEPCO is so bad, that surely a much larger business based in Chicago will give them better and quicker service.
4) Con.  Political activists who have consistently fought the big money giveaways by bought and paid for elected politicians, and see more big payoffs resulting in forcing the poor out of DC, and impoverishing the elderly and middle class as well.

If after reading these testimonies you agree that Exelon takeover is bad for us, study the lists available above and call those you may know and convince them to also come out against this sell-out.  I find it particularly hard to understand why businesses would imagine that higher electric bills will be good for their bottom line.

DC Public Service Commission Community Hearing, 
Formal Case 1119
November 17 & 18, 2015, 10 am to 7 pm,
1325 G St., NW, Room 800, Washington, DC 20005

Testimony by G. Lee Aikin, 54 year DC Resident
DC Statehood Green Party

Thank you for hearing our many voices today. I previously reported to you my concerns regarding potential earthquake danger to Exelon's 23 nuclear plants. Since the 5.8 earthquake in Mineral, VA, there have continued to be small local quakes. In addition to owning Three Mile Island, Exelon now has interests in the Calvert Cliffs nuclear plants. Please be sure to check the earthquake standard for each plant that DC rate payers would help pay for should the worst happen as it did in Japan. North Anna, VA was built to a 6.0 standard, not a very comfortable margin to the 5.8 quake that did strike. It cost Three Mile Island more than $1 billion to clean up in the 1970s and 1980s. Far more in today's dollars.  [A witness in favor of Exelon said they need their payoff to repair earthquake damage at Carter Barron.  President Obama has just recognized the need for earthquake protection with an Executive Order.]

Today I want to call your attention to the aging nature of the Exelon stable of nuclear plants. It has been stated it could cost $1 billion to shut down a nuclear plant. Two hundred (200) nuclear reactors are slated to be shut down by 2040 which could cost more than $100 billion for decommissioning costs. The International Energy Agency (IEA) warns there are “considerable uncertainties” about these costs. Governments have limited experience with this as only 10 plants were decommissioned in the past 40 years. {1}

Looking at one specific example we find the San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant in Southern California. Because of premature wear on important parts, in June, 2013, the complete closure of the plant was announced, to begin in early 2016. The Nuclear regulatory Commission believes this process will take around 20 years costing $4.4 billion. Do you really want to risk subjecting us all to those kinds of costs? {1}

Much credit is given by the nuclear folks to the lack of air pollution compared with coal, oil, and gas. However, a major issue facing decommissioning is storage of nuclear waste left behind by the plant. With so many plants about to be decommissioned, this will become a key issue. Most states won't allow these environmentally hazardous nuclear waste products. {1}

In Illinois, Exelon has warned they would have to close 3 nuclear plants “unless consumers chip in to reward them for producing environmentally-friendly electricity.” Recently introduced Illinois legislation “would create a financial reward for generators that produce 'clean' energy which doesn't create harmful greenhouse gases.” The ratepayers would finance it. {2} Apparently they don't want to acknowledge the environmental danger and cost of spent nuclear fuel. Do we really want to be under the thumb of a company which is already coercing the Illinois legislature to finance its uneconomic business model?

In the US, four reactors were permanently closed in 2013. “A glut of shale gas, government-subsidized wind power and slack demand slashed power prices more than 40% since 2008, making it hard to justify costly-repairs or continued operations of aging nuclear units.” “Given current economics with natural gas prices, it is very hard for nuclear to compete,” said Philip Smyth, a power analyst with Fitch Ratings.” {3}

Exelon's Clinton facility in Illinois is among nuclear generators that may be shut down from either political or financial pressure.” “Exelon...underperformed the S&P Utility Index in the past 5 years....and has seen stock prices fall since July 2008 [to 2013] by 62%.” In 2013 “Exelon was forced to cut its quarterly dividend for the first time amid falling electricity prices...” Meanwhile, Exelon has “projected about $900 million in additional cost for their reactors from new Fukushima-related safety rules over the next 6 years [starting 2013] according to regulatory filings.” {3} Why on earth would you want us to pay for that?

Exelon has 11 of its nuclear plants in Illinois, licenses for 7 of them are expiring in from 7 to 12 years. When do their other 12 nuclear plant licenses expire? No wonder they want to own our DC rate payers. {4}

Braidwood 1 Exelon    October 17, 2026
Braidwood 2 Exelon    December 18, 2027
Byron 1 Exelon    October 31, 2024
Byron 2 Exelon    November 6, 2026
Clinton Exelon    September 29, 2026
Dresden 2 Exelon    December 22, 2029
Dresden 3 Exelon    January 12, 2031
La Salle County 1 Exelon    April 17, 2022
La Salle County 2 Exelon    December 16, 2023
Quad Cities 1 Exelon    December 14, 2032
Quad Cities 2 Exelon    December 14, 2032
Clinton* Exelon    Proposed

Please don't allow us all to become victims of Exelon's corporate strategy and need to keep its stockholders happy. Your duty is to protect us the residents of Washington, DC.



The two stock market charts below from Market Watch explain their fear.  The numbers on the right side are the dollar value of the shares.  In mid 2008 stock was worth $90 per share.  This Friday (11-19-15) their shares were worth $28 each, as the second chart shows.  Their stockholders must be spitting bullets at management.

[For some reason these two charts are not printing from the draft to the published article.  However, clicking the 2 blue links in the explanations brings them up.]

Here is a chart of the past 15 years of Exelon stock market activity.  They trade under the symbol EXC.  Note their value dropped quickly with the beginning of Obama administration, and even more after the fears raised in {3} article above.

Below is a chart of Exelon's last 10 days of market activity.  Note how the value dropped sharply during the first day of the PSC hearing, but rose again during the second day, but on Thursday  trended downward again.  The part of the chart labeled "Volume" means the number of shares bought and sold each day and with this chart by the hour. When you click the 10 day link you get today's figure.  You also have the option there of asking for a chart of more or less day's activity.  Today, 11/20/15 the value has dropped to the low point on Tuesday.  Don't give up, we can still win.

See this March 2015 article from the Baltimore Sun regarding problems related to Exelon's move into this region and difference in the various regional utilities.  This article from Public Citizen has more than a dozen Exelon related links.

Here is additional information regarding earthquake potential in the eastern United States.  We really need to make sure that the PSC thinks this issue through carefully.  In addition, they need to heed the warning of the 7 staff members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission who have petitioned their bosses to have serious electrical problems in almost every reactor fixed immediately, or else shut these reactors down.

Joyce Robinson-Paul, Consumer Utility Board (Ward 5)
Testimony before the Public Service Commission, Community Hearing, Exelon-Pepco Settlement Proposal for Formal Case No 1119 
Tuesday, November 17, 2015 
Good Afternoon: This will be my 30th year coming before the Public Service Commission as a past and present member of the Consumer Utility Board(CUB).  First, I would like to thank the Office of the People's Counsel for their assistance over the years in providing the public with transparent information concerning utility issues. I would also like to thank the Public Service Commission for providing this community hearing after agreeing that Formal Case No. 1119 Merger was not in the Public Interest of the District of Columbia.  
Pepco has fallen short of providing reliable service to the customers of the District of Columbia after many years of promising to do so.  Why would we trust Exelon, whose main headquarters is in Chicago, who only agrees to co-locate for at least ten years to provide reliable, affordable service?  The greatest beneficiaries of this settlement are Pepco's President, Joe Rigby, who will receive $10.1 million compensation, and five others, who will receive $30.1 million in bonuses!  The $5.2 million to the District to support workforce development programs will be given to the Department of Employment Services and UDC. However, there is no guarantee this will be used exclusively for residents of the District of Columbia to acquire and obtains jobs at Exelon. 
The biggest Benefit is to Pepco Holdings shareholders, who will receive 50% over the book value and about 25% over the market value per share. This will cause Exelon shareholders, to become a bigger company.  The big question is: What happens before and after 2019 (five years down the road)?  The city can't continue to let developers and corporations create mass homelessness.  Everyone is aware that the government already has been unsuccessful finding housing for the current homeless population.  Will seniors who are paying over 50% of their housing cost for utilities, which, include increasing water and sewer costs, and increased tax assessment costs be priced out of DC?. 
Electric is a basic need, why would any settlement put low and moderate income residents in a balloon note situation in five years. Residents have a right to affordable electric in our homes?  Electric is a basic need, unlike a phone which can be shut off, if the price gets too costly for your income.  Many of the seniors who are homeowners will be gentrified out of D.C.  Is the plan for only the rich to live in Washington, DC. after five years?  These are the residents who stayed and payed, when many people left the city for the suburbs.  After five years is the plan to displace them because they are on a fixed retirement income?   
Low and Moderate Income Senior citizens and working poor are like the Man in the Middle . They earn too much to qualify for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program and too little to keep up with the greedy monopolies.  Why should this or any settlement place Senior Citizens in jeopardy of mass displacement in 2019?  How can we let a Major monopoly like Exelon come here and cause mass displacement of our residents?  Just because the Mayor agrees and the government says it's a settlement, doesn't mean it is.  Will greed and a pay-to-play system continue in DC.  Most citizens, including you, must all agree that this settlement is not acceptable.  It is a rip-off of DC's vulnerable citizens, and every elected official will be paid by PEPCO at election time. The pay-off should be to VOTE this administration out of office.  SWEEP the officials out the door. 
SUMMATION:  There are very few tangible benefits for the ratepayers.  PEPCO's improved electric service reliability sucks; however, they will be paid over $30.1 million in benefits.  Promoting rate affordability, including affordable housing is the big joke in DC.  It is the biggest lie ever told.  As long as greed prevails over needs, this city's elected officials will go down as the disgraceful home rulers, who turned on their taxpayers and voters who believed they could make a difference.  This settlement does not address jobs for D.C. residents.  It only gives more money to the various agencies that will continue business as usual.  The millions that are given to non-profits should be put in a full to help senior citizens stay in their homes.  If $6.75 million can be implemented in multi-family and master metered apartments, the same amount should be placed in a fund to help seniors stay in their homes.   
The Solar Interconnection process should be shortened to two months or a fine assessed to PEPCO.  At least $5 million should be available to OPC to promote Energy Efficiency programs and services.  The $5 million loan to the District government for development of renewable energy programs should be a grant.  This can be accomplished by reducing the compensation and bonuses to PEPCO Executives.  Over $15 million should go to the Low Income Energy Assistance Program, so that low income residents receive funds all year long.   $1 million should be provided to forgive low income families accounts.   
The CUB requests that:  *Both OPC and the PSC closely monitor settlement agreement benefits to make sure DC ratepayers receive real benefits in a timely manner.  *That PSC level the maximum financial penalties for delays and or missed deadline for those purported benefits to DC Consumers.  *That the PSC agree to hold status meetings twice a year starting in 2016 to update the public as it relates to the settlement agreement benefits achieved.  *PSC require additional quality of service standards that would make sure the new company expands its call center in DC to limit wait time in talking to a  representatives within 8 to 10 minutes, and *Would like the OPC to hold four community information sessions in each quadrant of the city to update residents on both the undergrounding project and status of the purported benefits from the merger/takeover. * Have the company dedicate at least 3 staff to work on senior issues as dedicated phone lines.  *Have the utility work with both AARP, DC Office of Aging and the Department of Human Service to identify seniors living alone or in trouble with their high utility cost.  *OPC and the PSC should coordinate with the committee to have an oversight hearing on what is not working. 
This message is from IPADDRESS:

Here is a subsequent letter from Joyce Robinson-Paul to the Public Service Commission prior to their Dec. 23, 2015 deadline for public comment:

[Pending receipt of transferable copy.]
Subsequent to this testimony, we find that others besides PEPCO executives will profit from this takeover in the $million plus range.  One of Mayor Bowser's chief aides stands to profit big time,  as the Washington Post explains.  In addition the Washington Post also describes the call for an ethics investigation of Mayor Bower by opponents of this potentially costly merger.  Furthermore, another WP article details the position several Council members have taken against the reappointment to head of the Office of the People's Counsel.  The OPC (which is charged with protecting consumers from utility excess) had initially strongly opposed this merger.  Then after OPC was suddenly friendly to the takeover,  Mayor Bowser approved her reappointment,.  Wow, Washington Post, thanks a bundle!!

From: David Schwartzman <>
Date: Mon, Nov 16, 2015 at 5:41 PM
Subject: My written testimony
To: "PSC - Commission Secretary (PSC)" <>

Re: Exelon-Pepco Merger proposal

For the reasons outlined in Power DC’s powerful critique of the proposed takeover of Pepco by Exelon now being reconsidered by the Public Service Commission (PSC), the PSC should not accept the Mayor’s deal with Exelon, and any such a merger with Pepco, in other words stand by its original decision.  In addition, such a takeover of Pepco by Exelon would be a serious assault on the vision and goals of Sustainable DC, in particular its commitment to curbing carbon emissions in the face of ever closer tipping points to catastrophic climate change. Achieving this goal will require rapid replacement of fossil fuel dependence for energy delivery by wind and solar power. 

Exelon has demonstrated its unwelcome agenda of resisting this transition to renewable energy supplies, e.g., by its close alliance with the Edison Electric Institute (Exelon CEO Chris Crain is Vice Chairman of the Edison Electric Institute), which actively collaborates with ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council. ALEC is a right-wing national group pushing a legislative agenda for voter disenfranchisement/suppression, particularly targeted against the African-American, Hispanic and the low-income electorate, as well as the removal of subsidies for wind/solar power development.  I provided relevant documentation on these facts in my testimony to the PSC on December 17, 2014. Given the Exelon/ALEC collaboration, our Mayor’s promotion of the Exelon takeover is very disturbing, but not entirely surprising in light of the Federal City Council’s (FCC) support, which has long set the agenda for our local elected politicians.

Note the following, as well as the dozens of full page ads in the Washington Post and other local newspapers supporting the Mayor’s deal with Exelon:  ‘The utilities and their supporters, spearheaded by the Federal City Council and its chief executive, former D.C. mayor Anthony A. Williams, mounted a campaign that delivered strong support for the deal from the business, philanthropic and political communities. “We applauded the hard-fought settlement negotiated by Mayor Bowser as a good deal,” Williams’s office said in an e-mail. “There is a wave of support with the majority of the D.C. Council and many original opponents of the merger now behind the settlement. This decision by the PSC is another step in the right direction.”’ ( 

It is clear the FCC has put its heavy weight of influence and corporate funding behind this unwelcome deal, including its familiar use of “trickle down” economics to further its goals, with numerous non-profits so dependent for their funding being bought off without consideration of the real interests of the community they pretend to serve.

It is high time that our local elected government and the PSC begin resisting the lobbyists and agenda of the FCC ( has contributed significantly to the high income inequality and insecurity as well as poverty in the District over the last few decades. The FCC has long represented the interests of the big corporate/banking sector at the expense of the quality of life for our residents, and in this case our children’s future in face of dangerous climate change. The PSC should resist the corruption of our democracy by the big corporate sector undermining the popular will against this takeover expressed by ANC resolutions prior to the original decision, and the voices heard by letters and in the public hearings this coming week.  Say no to Exelon!

David Schwartzman (Professor Emeritus, Howard University) 
DC Statehood Green Partydschwartzman@gmail.com202-829-9063 

This was submitted as written testimony as Dr. Schwartzman was not in town.  There is still time for people to submit written testimony to: