Christmas Is Over, But the Spirit of Noel Continues!

The “Noel Spirit” of course refers to Elizabeth Noel, Mayor Grey’s outstanding nominee for a seat on the District Public Service Commission (PSC). The merits of that appointment are so compelling and overwhelming, TENAC finds it difficult to understand why it is still pending. Support for Betty Noel among tenants in this city, the overwhelming majority of its residents (66%), is overwhelming. We believe she is the best nominee for executive branch service nominated by any mayor in many years.

Nothing attests to that fact more than her personal and professional qualities – a brilliant legal intelligence married to ethics, honesty and decency of the highest order, and all of it demonstrated in commitment and dedication to public service – exemplified best in her illustrious 25-year career as People’s Counsel for the District of Columbia.

Tenants revere her in this city for her unbending resolve to keep the District affordable by careful oversight of public utility rates, notably those charged by the giant utility Pepco. For curbing that corporation’s excessive greed in rate-making, oftentimes rising to the level of outright exploitation, she has earned Pepco’s undying opposition and enmity. In our eyes, that is a badge of honor. Charges of “conflict of interest” and “recusal” problems are nothing but red herrings contrived by her enemies. Both the Attorney General and the Special Committee assigned to evaluate her fitness have found Ms. Noel fully qualified to serve. As a member of the PSC, moreover, she would help revitalize a moribund agency through her unflagging drive, energy, and legal acumen.

Recusal would apply largely to cases old and inconsequential. Industry representatives named to such boards seldom recuse themselves, to say nothing of judges in the highest tribunals in the land, including the Supreme Court, who have notably declined recusal in significant cases, a matter The Washington Post apparently overlooks in its opposition to Ms. Noel. Theirs is an attitude of “Father knows best,” which also has a faint hint of “Plantation” mentality as well, no doubt accounting for the fact that so many of its recent endorsements have lost.

Finally, let us not forget that giant utilities like Pepco are in the same class as Big Bank USA and Wall Street against whom a massive national wave of protest has justifiably arisen. The Council need look no further than out their window to see that evidence of huge national indignation. Will they content themselves with “business as usual” or cast a vote for freedom and confirm Elizabeth Noel to the PSC? The people of this city await that outcome with great interest.

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