Thursday, April 24, 2008

That's Why They Call It the Power Company

Carroll Electric is installing new overhead electric lines in Rogers along West Drive, which borders the Bent Tree, Berry Farm, Warren Glen and Montrouex subdivisions. Thanks to the solid support of the state legislators from Benton County, there is absolutely nothing the city or local residents can do about it. The people no longer have a right to a public hearing to express their opinions or to have them taken seriously, thanks to Act 468 of 2007.

More than 200 people showed up for an informal meeting at Bellview Elementary School to complain and tell Carroll Electric Vice President Mike Dodge exactly what they think about what his company is doing. “As long as we know there is a possibility of harm to our children, how can we sleep at night?” Dr. Cheryl Fulton asked. Others complained about decreased property values, the health dangers of high-voltage wires, and the fear that a utility pole or power line might fall on their houses or in the community pool. Too bad.

House Bill 1367 was introduced at the request of the big utility corporations by Representative David Dunn, Executive Director of the Forrest City Chamber of Commerce. It says a utility can do whatever it wants within its existing right of way, from cutting your dogwood trees to erecting huge metal towers across Dickson Street, and they no longer have to request permission from anyone. It was supported by Senators David Bisbee and Kim Hendren and Representatives Keven Anderson, Eric Harris, Horace Hardwick, and Aaron Burkes.

Those Benton County Republican politicians like to talk about private property and individual rights. They like even more campaign contributions and steak dinners from corporate lobbyists.

If the people of Benton County would recruit and elect legislative candidates more concerned about the public interest than the special interests, we'd all really appreciate it. When they elect clowns to city and county offices, we are merely amused by their antics. When they elect corporate toadies and wingnuts to the legislature, we all must suffer the consequences of their votes.

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