Funds from electric bill should pay only for power
The citizens of Forest Grove have the good fortune to live in a city that owns and operates its own electric utility. Forest Grove Light and Power has been providing reliable, low cost electric service continuously since 1895, making it one of the oldest municipal utilities in Oregon.
Through the years, Light and Power has operated efficiently and has enjoyed broad public support. Since it is publicly owned, for the most part it is not 'regulated' by the Oregon Public Utility Commission. Oversight and operating policies are provided by the utility's governing body, in this case the Forest Grove City Council.
Nevertheless, there are state statutes and contractual agreements that govern utility operations, with which the city council, in its governance role, must comply.
Primarily, these statutes and contracts pertain to how the utility charges customers through setting of electric rates, and also how the utility spends its money.
In each case, the guiding principle is that the utility exists to provide customers with electric service, and therefore should charge only for the cost associated with - and spend only for things necessary for - doing that, and only that.
In my view, it is not only right and proper to charge customers accordingly, but furthermore, the law requires it. In short, electric rates must be cost of service based and not include expenses for other things that some may view as nice to do.With today's climate of already high property taxes and ever increasing costs putting stress on the city's general fund, I realize it is easy to look to the light and power department as a lucrative source of funding.
But, I believe that is not only not what customers want or expect, it is actually unlawful.
ForestGrove Light and Power
Columnist missed a teachable moment
Professor Russ Dondero missed a teaching opportunity. His May 23 guest column told young people they should vote for President Obama next fall. Obviously, that's his opinion - and he's entitled to it - but he could have elevated the discussion above partisan hyperbole and instead of telling young people who they should vote for, he could have advised them how to think for themselves.
A more positive approach would have been to challenge them to identify and seek to understand the most crucial issues facing the country, and determine which candidate is best suited to address them. Caution them to be skeptical of what all politicians say. Urge them to search out the facts from multiple sources, since bias and half-truths abound. Assure them it's okay to have opinions that differ from their parents, teachers and friends. Likewise, encourage them to listen to different opinions and respect the rights of others to have them, without finger-pointing, demonizing or name calling. That would have been a more worthy approach and a truly teachable moment.
Kudos to Forest Grove's leader of the bands
As the school year winds up, I would like to call admiring attention to an amazing community asset at work in our schools - Mr. Leonard Ostwalt.
Following staff reductions due to last year's budget cuts, Mr. Ostwalt stepped forward to carry forward music programs at the upper elementary, middle and high schools formerly handled by several people.
Through what must have been a superhuman yearlong effort, Mr. Ostwalt successfully fulfilled four substantial roles (that I know of!): Forest Grove High School band director, Neil Armstrong band director, Tom McCall band director, and Forest Grove High School orchestra director.
These jobs included teaching musical subgroups as well, such as the high school jazz band and pep band, taking students to competitions, and preparing the band to represent Forest Grove in last weekend's Starlight Parade in Portland.
I was able to enjoy several of Mr. Ostwalt's students' performances over the year and was impressed and entertained every time. Forest Grove is very fortunate to have such an extraordinary teacher who was able to guide so many students, in so many classes, at so many grade levels, on so many instruments, through so many pieces, in preparation for so many events, to such solid and joyful achievement in music this year.