Information & Opinion by Warren Woodward
(February 4, 2014)
The City of Sedona is spreading disinformation regarding “smart” meters.
First, on January 21st of this year, Nick Gioello, the Assistant to the City Manager (not to be confused with the Assistant City Manager), sent out an email proclaiming that: “The City of Sedona has no jurisdictional authority regarding the installation of smart meters or the establishment of opt out fees; that authority is vested with the Arizona Corporation Commission by State statute.”
Next, in a video interview on Sedona.biz, Sedona Mayor Rob Adams said basically the same thing twice. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmSvVsX0n0c&list=UUP0OGdxV06eqQ6ahGV9xSiQ&feature=c4-overview]
At 14:20 in the interview and referring to the City as a whole, Adams states, “We don’t have the legal authority to say we’re going to opt out.” At 17:16 Adams says, “Again, we don’t have the authority to override the Corporation Commission.”
These statements by Gioello and Adams are technically true. APS is under the jurisdiction of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC). But that does not give APS a free pass to violate local ordinances or state law.
The impression created by Gioello and Adams is one of helplessness. They sound like they are inventing an excuse for inaction regarding the pending installation of “smart” meters in Sedona, as well as a reason to be indifferent to APS’s concomitant violation of various laws and ordinances.
In actual fact, there are several simple ways the City could stop the installation of “smart” meters. However, all are dependent on the City Council summoning the will and the courage to do so.
Below is an excerpt from a letter I wrote Council last June. Amongst other things, the letter outlined a course of action already proved successful in stopping “smart” meters by the Town of Fairfax, California. I never received a response from Council. To my knowledge, neither did anyone else involved with Sedona Smart Meter Awareness at that time. Nor to my knowledge did anyone from the City contact the Town of Fairfax, California to learn how to protect the health, safety and welfare of Sedona residents.
It would appear that Council is still under the sway of City Attorney Mike Goimarac who, at Council’s “smart” meter meeting last June, discounted Fairfax’s proven strategy of utilizing the City’s Nuisance Ordinance to halt “smart” meter installations in Sedona.
Unfortunately for Sedona, Mr. Goimarac also gave misinformation when, at the same meeting, he said intervening at the Arizona Corporation Commission would be very expensive for the City. I am an intervenor at the ACC. My “cost” was 14 hardcopies and postage of a one page letter mailed to the ACC. The template of the letter is available free at the ACC website.
Clearly Mr. Goimarac is someone who has not done his homework on this issue and is someone to whom Council should be giving instructions, not asking questions. Once instructed, Mr. Goimarac and his staff of two Assistant City Attorneys and one Legal Assistant should be able to handle this issue and keep Sedona “smart” meter free. If he and his department are not up to the job then they should be dismissed from the City’s employ.
The following six paragraphs are from my June, 2013 letter to Council:
Additionally, Mr. Goimarac’s remarks concerning enforcement of the City’s Nuisance Ordinance were a disappointment to those of us who want to see City law enforced. The Town of Fairfax, California has used their Nuisance Ordinance to keep PG&E “smart” meters at bay, including the “smart” grid routers illegally placed on right-of-ways throughout the City.
PG&E has tried to contend that, because they are regulated by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), they have some kind of immunity to local ordinances. This contention however is only a utility “talking point” and not a matter of settled law. Nor is it a matter of settled law here in Arizona. If APS decides to put asbestos or lead in our homes will the City just sit and watch them do it because ‘they are regulated by the ACC’? I certainly hope not. Likewise, other violations committed by APS must not be ignored.
While I appreciate the intent of the letter for which a majority of you voted to send to the ACC, you must ask yourselves what you intend to do should the letter be ignored. Will you then ignore APS’s violations ‘because they are regulated by the ACC’?
For further reference, enclosed is some information from Fairfax, CA. Both the Mayor of Fairfax and their attorney have made themselves available to us for assistance in this matter. We at Sedona “Smart” Meter Awareness are willing to help with research and drafting of documents, and are available as a resource to the City
Additionally, City and County documents including agendas, minutes, staff reports, proposed and approved ordinances, resolutions, correspondence, etc. from various states are all freely available online. The City does not need to reinvent the wheel. Our Legal Dept. only needs to do research on how to prepare legal documents for Sedona.
By the way, Fairfax’s Nuisance Ordinance has already been successfully tested. Even though there were no “smart” meters in Fairfax, PG&E had placed routers and collectors throughout the City, using the City as a networking conduit. So Fairfax ordered PG&E to remove all “smart” grid infrastructure from within the City limits. They gave PG&E 30 days to comply or they would start the abatement process to fine PG&E and remove PG&E’s equipment themselves. PG&E whined about CPUC regulation and their imagined immunity but in the end they removed their “smart” grid infrastructure.
There is still time for Council to do its sworn duty to protect Sedonans’ health, safety and welfare, but the clock is ticking. Few things in life are sadder than a missed opportunity. How sad for Sedonans should they miss this one because their Council lacked the will and courage to even try, and repeated the Gieollo/Adams mantra of helpless inaction instead.