Friday, March 30, 2007

Cole, Poshard and Madigan - Grass roots politics against Ameren

I don't know if anyone else caught the story about Ameren being deregulated and electrical rates going up? There has been an interesting grass roots effort started by a local politician to hit Ameren where it hurts, the profit margin. First Brad Cole went and found a different power company for Carbondale to use, then he had meetings with all the other Southern Illinois mayors to help then find cheaper power, Brad then proposed that Carbondale take over the Ameren power lines in town (I might have commented about this?). After a little pause, Glenn Poshard jumped in and proposed a $200M coal fired power plant for SIUC (I might have written something about that too?). Now one of the really powerful people in Illinois (you know because of our system of corruption there are only 6 right? Gov., Dem Leader of House and Senate, Repub Leader of House and Senate, Mayor of Chicago) House Speaker Mike Madigan has proposed the state doing something great about power.

Madigan's plan call for building a series of huge, coal fired, power plants. Our local power expert Bob Pauls has interesting things to say about this. Bob's take is that Coal Power plants are a really bad idea, and really bad for the environment. It is hard to argue this. A better plan would likely be to cover the big state buildings with solar electric panels and start to make Illinois the solar state, but as I have written before we are 10 to 20 years away from a great solution like that. At least the state has something on the table to discuss.

What about this Grass Roots nonsense? I can remember Margie Parker standing in the rain with her "Peace" sign on Saturday around noon, all by herself, working to end the war in Iraq. Why did Margie do it? She doesn't have the power to do anything, does she? I'm sure it was because she believed in the message and hoped that others would see her and join her cause.

Brad has shown how to start a grass roots movement in politics. I liked the idea to get power from a different company then Ameren (at a lower price) of course. I liked how he got other cities to see the option too. I didn't like his power delivery system takeover idea, but maybe it can work. A little later some of the big Dem's started rolling out their plans. Poshard and now Madigan. Are they the right plans for Illinois? I don't know. But at least the politicians of Illinois seem to have awoken that this is a problem and the state might do something about it.

Is Brad going to fix our power problems? Well, no. That is outside the power of a mayor of a 24,000 person town. Is Margie going to stop the Iraq war? Well, no she isn't. But both of them are working hard to move the cause forward and that is what leadership by grass root campaigns is all about.

I'm now sorry that I didn't throw Margie under the bus in my lucky series, she was a perfect addition.

Of course, your comments are welcome.


nobody said...

i respectfully disagree.. these are the good people who make positive change in the world!

you too.

Peter in Carbondale said...

Hi Nobody -

My lucky series was a spoof on how people don't give credit in Southern Illinois. So, if I added Margie, it is to honor her.

I assume that is what you are talking about.

Jonathan said...


What this country really needs are are nuclear power plants but there won't be any grassroots movement for that in the US of NIMBY. However, economic wastelands like southern Illinois, which take the prisons that NIMBYs don't want upstate would be a nice location. Of course, this would take a feasibility study.

PS: My Dad was an environmental scientist, won awards for cleaning up rivers and lakes, and also worked for the first private research firm that did compliance for companies under the Clean Air and Water Acts. I can remember going down the Connecticut River to the Vernon Nuclear Power Plant to test their emissions (later he took me to measure air pollution at various locations). This was the 1970s and the "Clamshell Alliance" of anti-nuclear power activists were in full swing. I asked him about this and he would say, "you have more to fear from the cosmic rays of the sun, or the radiation from brick walls." He was an environmentalist but also a scientist and was dismayed that environmentalism had become a religion untempered by science, cost/benefit and other earthly considerations.

OK, fire away: Can't dispose nuclear waste so let's just spew other wastes IMMEDIATELY into the environment rather than bury them in the desert!