Monday, April 24, 2017
Recap: Judge agreed that Gov. Ige’s appointment of Tom Gorak to the PUC was proper, so Senate should confirm him
…THE COURT ACCEPTS DEFENDANTS ARGUMENTS WHICH INCLUDED THAT A VACANCY OCCURRED UPON THE EXPIRATION OF MR. CHAMPLEY'S TERM OF OFFICE. THUS, THE COURT FINDS GOVERNOR IGE'S INTERIM APPOINTMENT OF MR. GORAK WHEN THE SENATE WAS NOT IN SESSION TO BE VALID AND SUBJECT TO ALL OTHER LIMITATIONS FOUND IN ARTICLE V, SECTION 6, PARAGRAPH 5 OF THE HAWAII CONSTITUTION.—Judge Edwin C. Nacino, Minute order, 8/26/2016
by Larry Geller
[See also: Petty politics should not prevent the Senate from approving a fully qualified PUC appointee, 4/23/2017]
Well, the judge said it in all caps, you’d think that the matter is pretty much done with. The pull quote is from the minute order issued on August 26, 2016 by Judge Edwin C. Nacino in the case Morita v. Gorak. Morita did not appeal. It’s over. Done.
Apparently, Sen. Roz Baker disagrees with the judge:
The committee voted 4-3 to not recommend confirmation of Gorak. The decision is now up to the full Senate, which can confirm Gorak if 13 of the 25 senators vote in favor before May 4.
[Committee chair] Baker said the issue with Gorak is not about his qualifications, but how the governor made the appointment without consulting the Senate.
[Star-Advertiser, Senate committee votes against Ige’s choice for PUC, 4/21/2017]
As to the timing of the appointment before the NextEra vote, the company’s proposed aquisition of Hawaii Electric Industries was widely opposed. Nor was Hawaii alone in rejecting this suitor. See: The Public Utility Commission of Texas unanimously agreed Thursday that NextEra Energy’s proposed $18.7 billion acquisition of Texas utility Oncor is not “at this point” in the public interest, RTO Insider, 3/30/2017. Perhaps NextEra needs to read their copy of The Art of the Deal once more.
To turn down a fully qualified appointee is an affront to the public interest.
The Senate should approve Gorak to continue on the PUC.