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Behind the Limelight: An Interview with the Advisors for Five Key Regulators

Fortnightly Magazine - June 1 1998

PUC who have moved from staff to be commissioners (em not in the 10 years I've been here.

What's a typical day? What's your interaction with the commissioner? Commissioner Knight is here all the time¼ he's very involved in the management of the cases, and he and I interact on a daily basis on the management of our cases and the policy direction that's going on. I come in the mornings, 9:00, and I leave between 7:00 and 8:00 in the evening. I'm reviewing cases, making recommendations, working with the ALJ assigned to the case and drafting decisions.

The advisers work across industry lines. I work on telecommunications, electricity and natural gas.

How are staffers hired? There is generally an interview process. Generally the advisers come up from within the staff. One adviser is a career civil service position. And my position is appointed by the governor. Commissioner Knight interviewed me and recommended me to the governor for appointment. And I started working for him in September of 1993. His term expires at the end of the year. I can either return to staff or¼ work for another commissioner (em there's going to be two new commissioners at that time. In some ways there is a little bit of limbo as the commissioner's term expires.

How does your personality reflect that of your boss? He and I are philosophical soul mates on the benefits of competition and free markets and that has made it very easy for me to work with him and very easy for me to understand his positions and be an advocate for his positions both here at the commission and elsewhere.

From case to case, after discussion, the commissioner's viewpoint may differ from mine. And my job then is to still advance his policy preferences¼ I would say on the big issues, we haven't had many differences. [Our differences have] been on fairly minor cases, and more on approach than outcomes.

What have you learned in dealing with utilities or intervenors? That all of the people we deal with are people. They're trying to do a job on behalf of their client or company. I try not to let the policy disputes become personal because who you're working with today or are against today may be someone you're trying to work with in the future. So you have to make sure policy differences don't turn into personal problems.

How can parties make certain their case receives the attention it deserves, especially from staffers who exert the "first cut"? As you interact with the commission, it's always nice to not only tell the commission what you want and what you don't like about what the commission is doing, but make it clear how to fix the problem just in case we agree with you.

What is the most important issue your boss faces at the moment? Getting the last pieces together as we move forward to electricity competition. And insuring both the industry and the agency can make the transition to the competitive market¼ making sure the regulatory agency