Sunday, August 20, 2000

Chairman defends actions


Huelsmann went to utilities' events

The Associated Press

        FRANKFORT — The new chairman of the Kentucky Public Service Commission attended events sponsored by two utilities and had lunch with a third while attending the Democratic National Convention in Los Angeles last week.

        The news drew criticism from public advocates who said Martin Huelsmann should have avoided such meetings with utilities that he regulates.

        Mr. Huelsmann, a law professor and former ethics commission member, said he avoided any possible violations of law or impropriety by paying his own expenses. He said he also avoided discussing any pending business involving the companies before the commission.

        But David Brown Kinloch, a utility expert often called to testify before the commission on behalf of consumers, said Mr. Huelsmann's actions create an improper appearance.

        “I've always viewed the members of the commission as judges. And maybe I'm naive, but I was under the assumption that judges aggressively avoid these kinds of things,” Mr. Kinloch said.

        Tony Martin, an attorney representing the consumer group Community Action Council, said attending such events isn't a good idea for commissioners.

        “Speaking personally, and not for my clients, I think attending such an event is probably not a good idea. You aren't being unpleasant when you stay away. Judges do it all the time,” Mr. Martin said.

        Mr. Huelsmann was appointed by Gov. Paul Patton on Aug. 1 to replace B.J. Helton. Mr. Huelsmann had

        been a strong Patton supporter who drew criticism in 1995 while serving on the state ethics commission for actively campaigning for the governor.

        Mr. Huelsmann said Friday he attended a breakfast in Los Angeles sponsored by Kentucky-American Water Co. and a lunch sponsored by BellSouth.

        But Mr. Huelsmann said they never talked about business pending before the commission and that he later reimbursed the companies for the cost of the meals. He also paid for his own meal during a lunch with executives of NiSource, the parent company of Columbia Gas.

        David Whitehouse, of Kentucky-American, characterized the conversations as “just about the convention. Just innocuous stuff.”

        Mr. Huelsmann resigned as an alternate delegate to the Democratic convention when he was appointed to head the PSC. State law requires that members of the commission not be a member of any political party committee.

        Mr. Huelsmann attended the convention with his wife, Shirley, who was a delegate.

        He said he sees no problem with talking to utility executives outside the more formal settings of PSC proceedings.

        “As a matter of fact it ought to be encouraged. Because I ought to know these people and talk to them so that I can better know their problems and what will face us in the future,” Mr. Huelsmann said.

       



Ohio hospitals face stress
TriHealth decides to sell Bethesda Oak buildings
Lucky pupils in new digs
Tristate schools set to open
Education in the Tristate by the numbers:
PULFER: Put spotlight on river
Black Family Reunion embraces heritage
Boy's family fights parole for his killer
Group comes to aid of poet
Library loses police detail
Police endorsements create a stir
Two more homicides in the city
WILKINSON: Bubble bursts as Dems leave LA
CROWLEY: Democrats' gala no picnic
x20 'Survivor' has the power
Reality has taken over network TV
DEMALINE: Arts chief proud to bring 'King'
Get to it
Great music teacher profiled
Jarvi's season provides hint of possibilities
KENDRICK: Phone service big step forward
KNIPPENBERG: Therapist treats Olympians
Pig Parade: Swine Lake
Theater Classics' season opens with 'Horrors'
DAUGHERTY: Convention gives new meaning to 'talk TV'
Bike trail in the works
- Chairman defends actions
Council struggles to get along
Former astronaut to speak at CBS Technologies launch
Fort Mitchell Garage a tradition for family
Homeless find work cleaning ballpark in Cleveland
Local Digest
School to honor actor Nimoy
Wrecks kill 3, injure 10