Gov. Holden Stumbles
New chief executives should
be allowed to stumble around a bit before we criticize them for not having
a firm grip on all the things they have responsibility for. On the other
hand, most that occupy the governor's chair are expected to have a firm
grasp on some things their first day on the job.
One thing Bob Holden brought
to the governor's office was extensive experience in both the legislative
and executive branches of state government. He was expected to have a
keen knowledge of the legislative process and the special responsibility
of a governor's veto.
We were disappointed when Holden
fell short of those expectations. He stumbled when he shouldn't have.
One of the bills he vetoed
would have allowed fuel cost adjustments by our state's two smallest electric
utilities. The purpose of the bill was to maintain the financial viability
of these small utilities as they buy fuel through unregulated natural
The Legislature, after concerns
of consumer protection were raised, wisely reinforced the bill's language
calling for oversight by the Public Service Commission before approving
the measure. As we watch
big companies buying up small electric utilities, our state Legislature
is to be commended for addressing the special needs of our small Missouri-based
companies. The financial
viability and strong community presence of these small private enterprises
are a huge benefit to all of us.
Representatives of the two
companies involved asked the governor to give them an opportunity to discuss
this special legislation. He declined. The
reasons his staff gave for his veto were thoroughly discussed and then
dismissed during the legislative process. After
extensive debate the bill passed with a very strong vote in the House
and a 33-0 vote in the Senate. That strong vote was a clear signal that
Gov. Holden should take a personal interest in the legislation.
A governor's job is not an
easy one. Anyone who holds that position will need to make tough decisions
often. When tough decisions are made, those who get the short end of the
stick will not be happy. If the governor takes the time to visit with
those he may decide against, they will better understand his position.
While they may in the end still be disappointed, they will not be bitter.
In politics, the "how" things
are done can be a healing salve. For those in high elected office, political
acumen is a required attribute. We think our new governor should have
been willing to give the legislation a chance to work.
We know legislators and others
who worked on the bill would have appreciated an opportunity to explain
how it could.
Stork was executive
vice president of the Association of Missouri
Electric Cooperatives and a member of Three Rivers Electric Co-op.