Power Extortion Part 3: Response to Ombudsman Marin’s Tweets

Over the evening of March 23, the Ontario Ombudsman, an Officer of the Provincial Legislature, addressed my analysis of his comment on Hydro One’s collection policies and practices. He published a stream of Tweeted and reTweeted ad hominems, sarcastic put-downs, name calling against me and people who supported my analysis, attacks on my integrity, and incitements to his followers to Twitter mob me. Some of his comments are recorded in Part 2 of this series. This morning, he redoubled his flaming:

Ontario Ombudsman @Ont_Ombudsman · 6:08 AM
1/6 @tomadamsenergy u say our work on 10,0000+ @hydroone further “destabilizes” Ont.’s power. Do u think we should just Let them eat cake?

Ontario Ombudsman @Ont_Ombudsman · 6:08 AM
2/3 The rest of blog based on attributing to me that “no 1 will be cut off” from hydro all year ’round. Never said such a thing #strawman

Ontario Ombudsman @Ont_Ombudsman · 6:08 AM
3/6 @hydroone can disconnect in non winter months which had nothing to do w/update. Didn’t stop ur over the top doomsday commentary

Ontario Ombudsman @Ont_Ombudsman · 6:08 AM
4/6 My only concern with @hydroone was a misleading empty threat that users behind on their bills would b cut off in cold winter months

Ontario Ombudsman @Ont_Ombudsman · 6:08 AM
5/6 U also incorrectly attribute 1 tweets to @hydroone when it was about @hydroottawa disconnecting a family in -14C. U think that’s cool?

Ontario Ombudsman @Ont_Ombudsman · 6:08 AM
6/7 So congrats on a fine works of fantasy. Thin on facts. Big on spin.

These comments raise a number of concerns, most importantly that, far from correcting the record, the Ombudsman fails to recognize that his recent comments on disconnection policies are driving up costs for consumers.

During his half-hour March 11 press conference, available here and referenced in Part 1 of this series, where he advocated his position that “no one will be cut off”, not once did the Ombudsman make any reference to the seasonality of disconnection policies. In the associated press release issued by his office, he again made zero reference to seasonality. Instead, the press release focused on his key message, “On February 20, he asked Hydro One’s CEO to make it clear to customers that they will not be disconnected.” As I have referenced, all of the Ombudsman’s previous statements ignore seasonality in disconnection policies. The closest his previous comments on disconnection have come to recognizing seasonality is to attack Hydro One for referring to a risk of disconnection “depending on weather” in a earlier version of a collection notice to delinquent consumers. It was only after I confronted him on his irresponsible sweeping general statements about “no disconnections” that he has tried to rewrite history by introducing seasonality.

The Ombudsman’s statements and the press coverage of his statements clearly signalled to consumers that they can continue to receive service without paying. This message will certainly worsen already serious bad debt problems, particularly for utilities with many low-income consumers. Rising bad debt is already harming consumers — $47 per customer for Hydro One in 2014, more than triple what is was three years earlier.

The Ombudsman asks me, “Do u think we should just Let them eat cake?” This question appears to be a comment on Hydro One’s costs and revenue requirements, matters over which he has no jurisdiction. My response to his question is that he should confine himself to matters within his authority.

The Ombudsman also asks me, “U think that’s cool?” in reference to a news story about a customer disconnection by Hydro Ottawa. My response to his question is that there is insufficient information in the news article for me to form an opinion about this particular disconnection. I continue to assert that the Ombudsman has defamed Hydro Ottawa by stating, as he did March 21, that “We’re @HydroOttawa & we don’t care if you freeze to death.”

The Ombudsman is in an especially privileged position, not accountable to anyone but well compensated and supplied with a substantial support budget. His office’s total expenditures for 2014 were $11.2 million. His current term expires in June.

Careless statements from the Ombudsman in relation to his Hydro One investigation are not new. Check out this exchange he had with David Butters in February 2014 when his investigation was originally announced. Mr. Butters, a highly respected authority on electricity policies in Ontario, made a thoughtful comment on overlap in jurisdiction between the OEB and the Ombudsman. Marin’s response to Mr. Butters was dismissive and disdainful.

Mr. Marin’s comments related to the collection policies of Hydro One and Hydro Ottawa do not display a standard of dignity, professionalism, and competence citizens have a right to expect from an official in Mr. Marin’s position.

Post Script March 25: During the evening of March 24, Ombudsman Marin blocked me on Twitter.

Another Twitter development around the same time was this Tweet:

Ontario Ombudsman (@Ont_Ombudsman)
2015-03-24, 10:00 PM
.@davebutters Stop playing the victim & acting so hard by. Seriously.

Andre Marin’s attempt at bullying deserves ridicule.

4 Comments

  1. It looks like you really struck a nerve. When one thinks of the character attributes of an ombudsman, words like thoughtful, impartial and dignified come to mind, not defensive, egomaniacal and bombastic. How did such an unsuitable candidate get the job ? Given that he is virtually unaccountable, I agree that his mandate should be tightly restricted. While the significance of the bad debt issue is debatable, Marin’s crazy reaction reveals a pettiness and mean spirit that will hopefully result in him being put on a thicker, shorter leash. Sometimes it takes a suspicious observer with a pointy stick to expose someone’s true temperament, and for that we can thank you Tom.

  2. Pingback: Ontario’s Ombudsman is a disgrace | Warren Kinsella

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