Maryland utility regulators are not doing their job
Re: "After mass outages, Pepco waits for ruling on rate increase," July 5
Days without electricity have become routine in Montgomery County. Three homes within earshot of mine have installed expensive standby generators, and we once again watched power restored to our neighbors across the river and to the north much faster than ours.
Despite Pepco's claims, severe weather is not unexpected, and our infrastructure should be designed to cope when it occurs. But the tangle of listing utility poles on Rockville Pike looks like they were installed during the Taft administration, although the monthly bills sure look like the Obama era.
Pepco is both a natural monopoly and a for-profit corporation that answers to its shareholders. It is the government's job to manage this tension through regulation, and it is fair to say that Maryland has failed spectacularly. The homogenous political culture in Pepco's service area has bred complacency. Real reform is needed.
Let's start with banning Pepco's public relations television advertisements that are funded with our money. We also need tough new performance standards with real consequences for underperformance. And how about requiring Pepco to issue vouchers for groceries when a customer's power is out for more than 24 hours?
Fenty administration added to racial divide
Re: "Mary Cheh and voter education in the District," July 6
What council member Mary Cheh did was not rehash false allegations, but rather answer a reporter's questions. But many, including Jonetta Rose Barras, would like to look at the past rather than focus on progress being made in the District.
Barras' surprise that some in the poorer African-American neighborhoods saw dog parks and bike lanes as white-centric appeals to the new people moving into the District at the expense of those who have lived here for years is phony.
Former Mayor Adrian Fenty added to the city's racial divide even if he didn't do it on purpose. Those feelings were what allowed Vincent Gray to defeat him so handily.
Right or wrong, Fenty was blind to discount the feelings of those who believed spending money on these items while they were struggling to put food on the table, getting trained for new jobs and providing their children with a better education was an issue.
Peter D. Rosenstein
Obamacare tax increases cancel out flex benefits
Re: "Obamacare is loaded with big tax increases," July 5
A little-discussed provision of Obamacare requires consumers to get a prescription from their doctor for over-the-counter drugs if they want to use their health care flexible spending account to pay for the medicine.
This means a $25 copayment for the doctor visit, with the doctor charging my insurance company for the rest of the amount of the visit (which we will all pay for in the form of higher premiums) just to get a prescription written for a drug I can walk in and buy OTC. This cost outweighs the tax benefit of using my flex dollars for the medication but brings up the point that now I am not getting the tax reduction for the flex dollars I would have set aside to pay for this type of expense.
Add to that Obamacare's reduction (of one-half) to the amount I can set aside for health care spending in my flex account effective next year. So I will pay taxes on that money too! These additional tax increases are the direct result of the "we have to pass it so we can know what's in it" bill.