Free Betty Noel IV

Democracy, decency, and integrity all took body blows on March 15, when a Council Committee voted down Betty Noel’s nomination to the D.C. Public Service Commission (PSC). This carefully rehearsed synchronized ploy became a legislative steamroller run by Committee Chair Alexander, who brooked no dissent, including the democratic process itself. Surely a nominee of such extraordinary distinction should at least have had an up or down vote by the full Council. Ms. Alexander would have none of it, however, waving off Councilmember Cheh’s motion with dismissive disdain. What on earth were they afraid of? Democracy in action? What followed was even worse – a stream of venomous condescension from all three Noel opponents, reaching its apex in Councilmember Mendelson’s vitriol against this outstanding nominee. Mr. Mendelson attempted to mask his broadside against Ms. Noel, as some kind of painful “vote of conscience.” What came through of course was “personal pique and pre-arrangement” with Ms. Alexander. What also came through was the crushing of affordable housing and tenant rights mashed by that same Alexander-driven steamroller.

The charge du jour against Noel by Councilmembers Alexander, Bowser, and Mendelson was “injudicious.” Coming from a Council as besotted as this one with conflicts of interest and other serious shortcomings, that charge is ludicrous. It tempts that old biblical injunction – “Judge not lest ye be judged.” The only heroes on that panel were Councilmembers Cheh and Graham, who had the courage to vote for an illustrious nominee.

Let’s not kid ourselves. Courage was a “Yes” vote on Noel! Alexander’s announcement that “the no’s have it,” was wrong. It was PEPCO who had it first, last and always! It was PEPCO’s pay back time for the David v. Goliath battle waged by Betty Noel against them. It was that corporate giant’s greedy thirst for retribution and a free-hand for its windfall profits, adding to a billion dollars over the last three years. PEPCO is in the same league as Big Bank USA, and the Wall Street firms that have put this whole country into an economic and fiscal coma. The vote against Betty Noel and for PEPCO was a disgrace and flies in the face of years of grass roots protest against giant corporate greed all across this country and as near as Freedom Plaza. Is the Council deaf? Notwithstanding, we believe Betty Noel has a great future in this city. We hope it begins on the Council itself, a body she would revitalize, even as she would the PSC.

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