Sievers and his overlord, Governor Sam Brownback, pretended that it was a "retirement" so Sievers could spend more time with his family. Poor family.
Too bad Sievers didn't retire before stomping on the due process rights of Kansas citizens in order to approve Clean Line Energy Partners' Grain Belt Express transmission siting application. That might have saved a whole bunch of future time and effort righting Sievers' wrongs. And it might have prepared the arrogant leadership of Clean Line Energy Partners for the scrutiny of a state regulator not in someone's pocket so they didn't look so perplexed at the Illinois Commerce Commission last week. They're definitely not in Kansas anymore!
- Last month, a judge ruled that the panel had violated the Kansas Open Meetings Act by using a process called “pink sheeting” to approve commission orders. The Commission was fined $500, the highest fine permissible.
Under that process, staff members would circulate proposed orders to all three commissioners, who would sign the orders to indicate approval rather than voting in an open meeting. The process drew its name from the color of the slips of paper used to obtain commissioner signatures.
- In one of the last acts of Sievers’ chairmanship, he attempted to file a statement attached to a Westar Energy rate case decided late last month. Westar had originally proposed to shift tens of millions of dollars in rate costs from its large industrial and commercial customers to residential and small-business ratepayers.
Sievers objected that the case was settled by Westar, CURB, KCC staff and other parties before the commission got to discuss the division of cost between large and small ratepayers and said the current methods for allocating those costs are deeply flawed.
The other two commissioners approved the settlement and declined to include Sievers’ statement in the official file of the rate case.
- Sievers’ tenure also suffered from the departure under fire of the executive director who had been hired to lead the commission staff shortly after Sievers took over as chairman. Patti Petersen-Klein left the agency in June, shortly after the Topeka Capital-Journal disclosed results of a confidential consultant report on Petersen-Klein’s management of the agency.
The report said Petersen-Klein ruled the agency under an assumption that its employees were lazy and unreliable and had to be driven relentlessly by management to accomplish anything. That atmosphere led to the departure of numerous longtime staff members and cratered morale for those who stayed.
- Sievers also clashed with fellow commissioners Thomas Wright and Shari Feist Albrecht about propriety of the chairman attaching personal statements to formal commission orders. Oh yes, the Sievers "statement" -- like this work of fiction attached to the Grain Belt Express order.
- Rumors that Sievers lives in and is registered to vote in the state of Colorado. No wonder he routinely kicked Kansans under the bus.
- Rumors that the KCC was tasked with providing a smokescreen for the machinations of Governor Sam Brownback so that nothing nasty would stick to ol' Sam. Check back on that one in 2014. I think Kansas voters haven't been fooled.
- Last summer KCC staff shut down a video conference feed of an open meeting to its Wichita office after an Eagle reporter tried to watch it.
- The Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board, a small state agency that represents residential and small-business utility customers, was already in the doghouse with KCC Chairman Mark Sievers. He recently said the KCC should investigate whether CURB’s expenses are reasonable - raising concerns that the KCC was trying to control CURB.
- Sievers recently proposed rubber stamping any utility rate increases less than 10%. Sievers said he favored bypassing rate studies and implementing his 10 percent rate threshhold “because it reduces the discretion of advocates and lawyers to engage in unproductive litigation…”