BOB WEINER REPORTS NEW OPEDS IN WASH POST ON DC CAVING TO ENERGY CORPS, AND TRUTHOUT ON NO DEMOCRACY IN BURMA WITHOUT SUU KYI PRESIDENT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Jan. 8, 2016

Contact: Bob Weiner/Ben Lasky 301-283-0821 Cell 202-306-1200 weinerpublic@comcast.net

(Washington, DC) Robert Weiner, a former spokesman for the Clinton White House and the House Government Operations Committee, and economic policy analyst Brendan Agnew published an op-ed in The Washington Post Sunday, January 3, on DC caving to power companies over consumers. On Jan. 4, Weiner and Ben Lasky, senior policy analyst, also had an op-ed in Truthout.org, one of the country’s most influential progressive blogs, that refuted the myth that democracy has arrived in Burma when its elected leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, is being barred by the military junta from being president. Also noted: Weiner was interviewed on Sky News worldwide TV January 4 on President Obama’s gun control initiatives, Hillary Clinton’s policy decisions on guns, and Bill Clinton’s impact on Hillary’s campaign.

DC is again caving again to power companies over consumers, say former White House spokesman Robert Weiner, who was spokesman for the White House Office of National Drug Policy, and co-author Brendan Agnew in a piece in the Washington Post, published on Dec. 31 online and Jan. 3, in hard copy.

The two stated,” In late October, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced her willingness to allow Chicago utility company Exelon to merge in DC with Pepco, the company that provides District residents electricity. Her approval, which means the merger discussions will continue, comes as a surprise because the Public Service Commission of DC rejected the merger in August. The Commission unanimously opposed the deal on the grounds that it would ‘inhibit [Pepco] from moving forward to embrace a cleaner and greener environment.’ The Commission argued that Exelon’s history of lobbying against renewables would create a conflict of interest in trying to meet the District’s energy goals. The Commission also cited legislation the group pushed in Illinois to deny wind and other renewables financial incentives.”

They continued, “The Mayor was swayed by lofty promises of new jobs and investment in renewables initiatives, a familiar refrain when dealing with energy companies. Most of the jobs are already here, merger job ‘drops’ for single-company ‘efficiency’ are not considered, and the ‘investments’ are a fraction of what the company likely intends to make in profits under the deal.”

The duo opined, “The cave to big energy is becoming familiar. In 2013, District Attorney General Irving B. Nathan sued ExxonMobil, the most profitable oil company in the world, for manipulating prices at the pumps in DC. Exxon’s oil-refining subsidiaries had struck exclusive supply deals with over 60 percent of the city’s gas stations, including almost all of the Exxon, Shell, and Valero, effectively shutting out competition and allowing them to set retail prices as high as they’d like.”

Weiner and Agnew pointed out that, “DC Superior Court granted ExxonMobil’s motion to dismiss the case in 2014. They argued that under the District’s Retail Service Station Act, the Attorney General had ‘neither expressed nor implied statutory authority’ to investigate gas prices. ExxonMobil’s regional subsidiaries were allowed to keep their anti-competitive supply arrangements. Meanwhile, DC gas prices continue to hover above the national average as other regions experience dropping prices.”

They wrote, “District Councilwoman Cheh proposed an amendment to the law. The Council never voted on it, and it has gone unaddressed during Bowser’s time as Mayor. Since the problem to the court is DC law, that law could be changed by the Council.”

The authors said, “Other state and local governments are now waging similar battles. In California, Exxon has been accused of the very same scheme, along with 24 other household names in energy. The company also faces a suit in New York over allegedly paying to stifle climate change research and downplay the need for sustainable energy. Both cases face long, uphill battles that could be much easier if the nation’s capital had taken a stand, established precedent, and led the charge. Nathan’s communications director, Ted Gest, told us the DC case and lawsuit were ‘significant.’”

They noted, “The Mayor has shunted the interests of consumers and the environment in one fell swoop. Despite her promised ratepayer protection fund, Bowser’s deal would allow Exelon to hike rates after her term ends, possibly by as much as 45 percent according to analysis by the Community Power Network. The Mayor’s office also faces accusations of approving the deal as a means of funding the proposed DC United stadium, raising questions about Bowser’s priorities.”

Weiner and Agnew concluded, “Bowser pledged to ‘show the rest of the country what’s possible’ by ‘making the District a greener, healthier city’. Backing down to big energy isn’t the renewable energy or consumer price leadership Bowser’s supporters had in mind.”

The article had the following bio note: Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the Clinton White House and House Government Operations Committee, and was senior staff for Reps. John Conyers, Charles Rangel, Claude Pepper, Ed Koch and Sen. Edward Kennedy. Brendan Agnew is Economic Policy Analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

Link to article: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-history-of-bowing-to-energy-companies/2015/12/31/5a99c648-a836-11e5-9b92-dea7cd4b1a4d_story.html

ON BURMA — With Suu Kyi barred from assuming presidency, democracy has not arrived in Burma, say Bob Weiner, former White House spokesman, and co-author Ben Lasky in a piece on truthout.org, released on Jan. 4.

The two stated, “Burma just completed an election where the opposition to the junta won an overwhelming two-thirds majority victory and 75 percent of parliament seats. The national media are swirling with declarations of progress and forward movement. It’s a new era in Burma. Or so the military junta there would have you believe. What no one is saying is that in reality, nothing will change.”

They continued, “On November 12, 2015, Rep. Ed Royce (R-California), chairperson of the powerful House Committee on Foreign Affairs, released a statement regarding the Burmese elections, in which he completely disregarded the elephant in the room: Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the winning opposition party, will not be named president. Instead, Royce’s statement swirled around the issue, claiming the opposition now ‘rules’:’Moving forward, I hope the [National League for Democracy’s] rule will ensure equality for all people in Burma. This includes the Rohingya Muslims … who’ve been stripped of their citizenship and barred from voting in this election – and other ethnic groups so that Burma can continue on the path towards democracy. Meanwhile, it is critical that remaining ballots be counted accurately, and expeditiously. If the current ruling party or military meddles in this process, or rejects the results, I don’t see why we’d continue economic assistance.'”

The duo opined, “The administration, which worked to re-empower Suu Kyi, agrees with Royce’s statement asserting ‘progress’ in Burma. However, even if the junta does everything listed in Royce’s statement, and even counts the votes accurately, the majority’s rightful nominee will still be denied presidential power because of a provision the military added to the Burmese Constitution in 2008. It bars anyone with foreign children or a foreign spouse from becoming president – meaning Suu Kyi. It just so happens that Suu Kyi’s deceased husband was British, and her surviving sons therefore retain British rights. The law was put in with the sole intention of blocking Suu Kyi from assuming the presidency.”

Weiner and Lasky pointed out that, “Even ‘The Daily Show’ missed the point in a segment on Burma on November 12. While host Trevor Noah poked fun at the outrageous fact that Burma’s constitution guarantees the military 25 percent of parliamentary seats no matter the outcome of the elections, there was no mention of the provision that will ultimately bar overwhelmingly beloved Suu Kyi from becoming president.”

They wrote, “Royce does receive credit for calling the country Burma, instead of using the junta-backed term ‘Myanmar,’ a name established when the junta took control of the country in 1989.”

The authors said, “As the National League for Democracy will take the majority of the parliamentary seats from the landslide victory, Suu Kyi has vowed that even if she is not named president, her power will be ‘above’ what it would be if she were: ‘I’ll be above the president … I’ll make all the decisions, it’s as simple as all that.’”

They noted, “The only problem is, she won’t. This is not the first time the National League for Democracy has won the majority of seats in parliament. In 1990, with her party gaining 80 percent of parliament seats, many believed Suu Kyi would become the nation’s leader. However, the military refused to hand over power, and Suu Kyi was placed under house arrest for 15 years. This time, due to the recent Obama-Clinton visits and outreach to Burma, she may not go to jail, but the junta still controls the gate to democracy – and it’s still closed. Why would we believe that this time will be different?”

The writers went on, “What took place in November were not free and fair elections. You can’t call an election fair when one party takes control of parliament and is denied their leader for the presidency, based on a ridiculous technicality expressly inserted to keep Suu Kyi from taking power.”

Weiner and Lasky concluded, “Royce and the national media need to realize, if the overwhelmingly elected National League for Democracy is refused the opportunity for its leader to be president, democracy has not arrived in Burma.”

Truthout included the following bio notes: Robert Weiner is a former spokesman for the Clinton and Bush White Houses, the US House Government Operations Committee, and senior staff for Representatives John Conyers, Claude Pepper, Charles Rangel, Ed Koch, and Sen. Edward Kennedy. Ben Lasky is a senior policy analyst at Robert Weiner Associates and Solutions for Change.

Link to article: 34278-with-suu-kyi-barred-from-assuming-presidency-democracy-has-not-arrived-in-burma

SKY NEWS ON OBAMA-GUNS AND BILL/HILLARY: Third, also noted, Weiner was interviewed on Sky News worldwide TV January 4 on President Obama’s gun control initiatives, Hillary Clinton’s policy decisions on guns, and Bill Clinton’s impact on Hillary’s campaign. LINK TO VIDEO: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HxlHmXHQrx0&feature=youtu.be

 Source: Robert Weiner Associates

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