By John Hubbuch
I don't recall the Oak Park village board ever asking my opinion about anything, but I now learn that the voters will be given the opportunity to vote on a referendum to seek electricity in the open market [Oak Park to voters: Do you want cheaper energy? News, Jan. 5]. My first reaction was: That's why I voted for you guys to figure stuff like this out. But it turns out state law now requires voter approval before the village can seek bids from independent power sources rather than ComEd.
I don't have a background in economics, geology, oil and gas law, or engineering. I don't subscribe to trade publications like Today's Petroleum or Electricity Illustrated. I have no idea at all whether this is a good idea, and to tell you the truth I don't care that much.
I do know a few things. Village sustainability manager K.C. Poulos was quoted as saying that the referendum offers a rare opportunity of an economic benefit without substantial costs. Really? Whatever happened to Milton Friedman's prohibition about free lunches? Trustee Lueck calmed fears of those who might remember when rates went up when the phone companies deregulated by noting that electricity rates went down in Ohio after some towns there approved a referendum like the one proposed here. Maybe, but even more recently the housing, commodities and banking industries were deregulated, and how did that work out?
I'd like to know just how this whole idea came about. Who proposed it? What's in it for them? Does Goldman Sachs have anything to do with it? Did the guys proposing have on two thousand-dollar suits? Were the words "tranche," "hedge fund" or "collateralized debt obligations" used in the presentation? If so, run for the door.
I hope it all works out for us, but I must admit, based upon what's been reported so far, there's just a slight odor of Enron in the air. Maybe Trustee Hedges is right to suggest taking our time on this one.
Speaking of referenda, the British Medical Journal yesterday called Andrew Wakefield's 1998 study linking childhood autism to vaccinations an "elaborate fraud." Is there any chance we could have a "do over" on the November advisory referendum requiring certain disclosures in connection with Oak Park vaccinations?
John Hubbuch, an Indiana native who moved to Oak Park in 1976, is a retired lawyer. Hubbuch served on the District 97 school board and coached youth sports. He is the father of three and grandfather of one. Go to OakPark.com/community/blogs to read more.