Residents will get little say on PSC appointment -- Gazette.Net


Only one or two residents will be able to comment Monday during the Senate confirmation hearing of Gov. Martin J. O’Malley’s latest appointee to the Maryland Public Service Commission.

Senate Executive Nominations Committee chairwoman Sen. Delores G. Kelley said she has received about 18 emails from residents opposed to the nomination of Anne E. Hoskins as the newest PSC member.

But because the committee has a short three hours to consider about 20 nominations, Kelley (D-Dist. 10) of Randallstown, said her plan is to allow one representative on each side to speak. Hoskins will also be given a chance to respond to any comments made.

Kelley noted that the committee members must wrap up their session, which starts at 5 p.m., before the Senate goes into session Monday evening at 8 p.m.

Abbe Milstein was one of the residents hoping to speak at the hearing. Milstein founded Powerupmontco, an online organization, after the 2012 derecho left her and many of her neighbors without power for eight days.

Milstein said Friday morning she was told there would not be opportunity for public comment.

She said she had organized others to comment at the hearing.

Since learning that not everyone will be able to speak, residents have been writing to Kelley and members of the committee expressing concerns. They have also started an online petition.

Kelley said the concerns expressed so far center on Hoskins’ previous employment for a New Jersey electric utility.

Hoskins served as senior vice president of public affairs and sustainability for the Public Service Enterprise Group in Newark for more than six years, according to an August news release from the governor’s office.

Cathy Eshmont, founder of Reliability for HoCo — a group founded after multiple power outages in Howard County in 2011 — said she feels as if residents are being deliberately silenced and the nomination is on the fast track for a rubber-stamping by the Senate.

Hoskins was nominated to the PSC in August and has been serving as a member of the commission for the past five months, Eshmont said.

“I think it’s a done deal from the perspective,” she said. Eshmont was also hoping to speak at the hearing. She and Milstein said they both plan to attend.

Most hearings by the Executive Nominations Committee are fairly quick, Kelley said. Usually, the only people speaking to the committee are the nominees, she said.

However, nominations that have raised serious concerns such as conflicts of interest or character questions have been assigned separate hearings in the past so that those concerned could be heard, she said.

The committee’s recommendations are scheduled to be presented on the Senate floor on Thursday, Kelley said, adding she plans to move to hold off on a vote for at least one day so members can have time to consider each nominee.