August 19, 2020
Dear esteemed City Councilors:
Given the torrent of messages I’m sure you’re receiving, the short message is this: let’s stick with the original plan we voted on — find out the actual costs of a muni and then vote yes or no at that time. If the costs make sense, then our long work for local power will pay off. If it turns out to be too expensive, then let’s vote it down.
Putting this rushed franchise agreement on the ballot this fall is nothing short of an effort to kill the muni. If that is your goal, putting it on the ballot will very likely do that. To pretend that the community will be in any state of readiness to make an informed judgment on this critical climate issue with the current political environment is just unrealistic. Especially since the Council’s vote to put this on the ballot would be interpreted by the majority as an endorsement of the agreement.
As I presume you’ve heard, Xcel has retained a lobbying and political campaign consulting firm, Sean Walsh Consulting (seanwalshconsulting.com), to try to recruit speakers in favor of the franchise for Thursday’s meeting. I received a call myself from Sean on Monday. The weight of Xcel putting a finger on the scale in our local elections is obnoxious.
Yes, funds are currently short, but there are ways around that. Yes, as a community we are exhausted and fearful, and this has been a long and winding road. But giving up now by putting this on the ballot should not be our response. This agreement essentially directs more than $2 billion to Xcel that could be used for a fully twenty-first century electric utility in adherence to our community climate goals.
The initial plan to find out the costs and then vote makes sense. Let’s not throw out such strong community efforts on behalf of local power and our climate goals.