WINSLOW – The editorial of Aug. 18 (“Politics shouldn’t dictate if Littell gets PUC seat”) could serve as another example of how the press has apparently been co-opted by the Baldacci administration.

The editorial writer concluded that “it would be unfortunate if the politics of the moment interfered with this important appointment.”

The editorial went on to conclude that the Republican members of the Utilities and Energy Committee were attacking the governor’s nominee purely on the basis of the political environment.

While it may be understandable that the newspaper’s editorial writers and the governor’s office are so engrossed with the politics of the moment, the opinions expressed in the editorial are without foundation.

As one of the Republican members of the Utilities and Energy Committee, I felt it was important to contact the newspaper to determine the source of their opinion. As it turned out, the Kennebec Journal/Morning Sentinel editor stated that the editorial was obtained from a Portland Press Herald editorial writer. Upon contacting the Herald editorial writer, it was learned that the information on the “Republicans’ attack” was based on information from the governor’s office.

When asked as to why the editorial writer did not actually contact the Republican members of the Utilities and Energy Committee as to the specifics of the nomination, the writer indicated that he probably should have done this and was concerned as to why the governor’s office apparently over-dramatized the issue.

As has been the past practice and as a common courtesy, I did talk with the governor’s office the week prior to the confirmation hearing to inform them that there would be questions asked as to the experience and qualifications of David Littell.

The governor certainly has the right to nominate individuals to positions in state government, but it is the responsibility of the Legislature to assess and assure that the nominee meets at least a threshold of competency for the respective position.

It would seem that the newspaper’s editorial staff may well believe that they have greater wisdom than the elected representatives to the Legislature, but the fact remains that the Legislature has the ultimate accountability to ensure that the interests of the citizens of Maine are represented. I hope that the Legislature will never feel compelled to simply “rubber-stamp” an executive nominee just because the press was in support.

The Public Utilities Commission will have some very important decisions to make in the immediate future which will have a direct effect on Maine. It is recognized that Maine consumers are burdened with electricity rates that are 60 percent higher than the national average.

Not only does this take more money from households, economic growth and jobs are negatively impacted. The PUC commissioners negotiate and approve the electricity rates which directly impact the Maine economy.

While it was recognized that Mr. Littell was an effective environmental advocate, the Republican members of the Utilities and Energy Committee wanted to have an open discussion as to the ability of Littell to transition to a position that was independent of the governor’s staff and focus on the broader interests of the Maine ratepayers.

Littell is credited with leading the implementation of the Regional Green House Gas Initiative in his position as the head of Maine’s Department of Environmental Protection.

While some can debate the impact on global warming of this unique initiative led by Gov. Baldacci, there is agreement that electricity rates have been increased by at least $10 million to $20 million per year.

As has been learned from other New England states, the public utilities commissioners can drift off-course and agree to electricity price contracts that are four times greater than the price of alternatives (see the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission’s approval of an off-shore wind contract of 24.4 cents per kwh, Aug. 12). Maine consumers can not afford such high-priced contracts and it is hoped the governor’s nominees to the PUC will recognize this reality.

There is an old saying that goes, “There is no sense in ruining an opinion with the facts.”

It can be hoped that the members of the newspaper’s editorial staff will remember their journalistic training to verify assumptions and filter out the political spin before writing.

While only the governor’s office and the paper’s editorial writer can speak to their motives in this unjustified political posturing, I would suggest that people deserve the facts from the press, not just a reiteration of the political spin from the governor’s office.