PRESS RELEASE: Metro Justice and Labor Call on Adam Bello to Support Monroe Residents Over Business-Insider Lobby - Metro Justice

PRESS RELEASE: As Democratic Legislators Introduce RG&E Takeover Study in County Legislature,

Metro Justice and Labor Call on Adam Bello to Support Monroe Residents Over Business-Insider Lobby

Metro Justice and Rochester-area Labor leaders held a press conference Wednesday to announce the re-introduction of legislation for a public utility study in the Monroe County Legislature, and urged County Executive Adam Bello to support it. 

“The introduction of legislation is a critical victory for the effort to bring RG&E in Monroe County under public ownership, so that all county residents benefit from the savings, transparency, and community control that having a public utility entails,” said Mohini Sharma, Organizing Director for Metro Justice.

Dan Maloney, President of United Auto Workers 1097, called on the County to push ahead with the study.  “As President of UAW 1097, I hear from our members and retirees that funding a study to see if a publicly owned utility that uses all local union labor is feasible or advisable is the least we can do.” Maloney went on to ask, “What are the opponents of this study afraid of? What do they think the data will show? Who stands to profit from leaving things status quo? Let's move past the fear, ignorance, and greed for the greater good of our community and our families. Commission a study and let the cold hard facts show us the way.” 

Citing information that independent experts say is incorrect or misleading, County Executive Adam Bello has said publicly that he does not support a public utility study, going as far as to indicate that he may not sign the legislation if the County Legislature votes for it. 

Professor Ramona Dagostino, a specialist in local government financing and banking, said a study was essential to clarify the facts around transitioning to a public utility. “While it is always possible to make guesses or have opinions, having an actual study allows decision making to be rooted in hard evidence and data, thereby increasing transparency and accountability,” Dagostino said, noting that public utilities benefit from a lower cost of borrowing, and that creating a public utility does not mandate tax increases.

Mohini Sharma identified the Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, Association of Builders and Contractors (ABC), and Upstate United as members of a recently created lobby group aimed at stopping public power. She highlighted that the CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, Bob Duffy, is paid over $200,000 a year to serve on the board of RG&E’s parent company, Avangrid. She also cited that the current Statewide President of ABC, Brian Samson, is the former Executive Director of Upstate United, and that both Samson and Duffy serve on Upstated United’s board. 

Sharma juxtaposed the astroturf nature of the opposition with the more grassroots coalition for public power called Rochester for Energy Democracy (RED). Metro Justice is one of several local organizations that has been pushing to replace RG&E with a locally owned and community controlled public utility in Monroe County. The broader coalition includes 7 labor unions; 19 progressive community or climate justice organizations; and several rotary clubs and faith congregations. Advocates of public power say investing RG&E’s ~$100 million in yearly profits back to the region will create more local union jobs, responsive customer service, and a renewable energy transition accessible to all. 

“The widespread public outcry against RG&E’s ongoing outrageous billing errors and double-digit rate hikes has led to broad public support for a public utility study,” said Mohini Sharma.  “Will Adam Bello align himself with corporate front groups for RG&E like the Chamber of Commerce and Upstate United? Or will he side with Monroe County residents, who elected him on the belief that he would put an end to insider, backroom deals and create a government that works for all Monroe County residents?” Sharma asked. 

Advocates for a public utility study expect that legislation will begin moving through the County Legislature in April. A vote is expected by May. The RED Coalition is holding a mass rally and march on Friday, April 5th, at 5:30 PM at the RG&E offices on 180 South Clinton Avenue to continue efforts for a positive outcome. 

“As we continue to identify and evaluate the many barriers that impact our community, we are compelled to look at all employers and services to ensure that social and economic justice is rendered to all. The Rochester for Energy Democracy Campaign is the right approach for addressing the many challenges that the citizens of Monroe County are faced with as they try to access and maintain RG&E services. Peace and Solidarity!” said Tracey Harrison, Vice President of 1199 SEIU. 


Additional documents: Here is a condensed summary of a letter Metro Justice sent to the County Legislature and Bello Administration refuting the Bello Administration’s points against doing a RG&E takeover study. Here is the full, researched and cited letter.

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  • Mohini Sharma
    published this page in What's new? 2024-03-20 10:58:45 -0400

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