“Jason Fifi” is clearly not kidding around.
Full disclosure: I’m not really sure how I know “Jason Fifi”. We’re facebook friends for several years (I think.) I’ve always had a general sense that he’s a nice guy.
This week he invited me to join his write-in campaign’s Facebook page, and I was intrigued. What follows is our conversation.
Who are you, outside of the context of this write-in campaign?
my name is jason fifi. i’m a musician by trade, but i make my living doing comedy, marketing consulting, sales and small business managerial training, and generally engaging with the world as a professional generalist. i’m 33 years old. my wife and i have 2 dogs, a beagle-dachshund and an italian greyhound-chihuahua. we live in a reasonably-sized home in montgomery alabama.
yeah, she’s a little nutcase. super fast, long-ish legs. very affectionate/”clingy.” very well-behaved for the most part.
For the uninitiated (or simply apathetic,) what is the purpose of the Alabama Public Service Commission, and what is the function of its President?
for the most apathetic, the simplest answer to that question would be “the APSC handles anything to do with utilities for anyone in the state of alabama.”
The incumbent, Twinkle Cavanaugh’s actions are a matter of public record. For those unfamiliar with her, give us a sense of what about her actions convinced you to enter the political arena.
i’d like to start by saying that i’m sure twinkle is a lovely human being and a wonderful person, with full and important relationships with her family and friends. that said, it is rare to see a political ad that contains not a single word of truth, and her re-election campaign ad is one such ad. claiming to “block obama’s epa regulations” is fine, but to spin that block as anything but continued bail-outs to her friends in the coal industry is laughable. her claim that she “reduced bureaucracy by 25%” is my personal favorite, because i love weasel language as much as i love impossible-to-prove assertions. in short, i’d say that her own campaign’s video ad put the real fire under me to start this write-in campaign.
( Editor’s Note: You can WATCH TWINKLE’S AD HERE. )
another big contributing factor in my decision to run was the recent death of adored public servant lucy baxley. her legacy as an underdog opponent against the likes of don siegelman and bob riley, being constantly outspent by her opponents was always an inspiration to me. she beat twinkle to become aspc president in 2008, and was one of the most transparent and reasonable people to have held the position. she was vastly outspent again and lost the seat in 2012 to twinkle.
So break it down for us, why should we write you in?
simply put, a write-in for jason fifi says that you want lower power bills and cleaner air.
on day 1, i will cut the salary of my position in half. that salary is paid for by alabama’s taxpayers, and it’s abhorrent to me that in a state with underfunded schools and a diminishing general fund, a person could have the hubris to accept a salary as high as the one awarded to twinkle cavanaugh.
i will maintain 100% transparency, in regards to expenditures related to completion of my job duties. whether it’s polling, outside impartial research companies, data collection, or just a cup of coffee, the financial records of my office will be a matter of public record.
the public service commission in alabama allows alabama power to implement rate increases without any public hearings. the law was changed in the early 80’s to not involve citizens in the process. this lack of transparency and accountability is exactly the opposite of what my psc would be doing to protect energy consumers in this state.
the apsc president has the ability to make a big impact in terms of directing the state’s electricity production. one of the most important steps forward being to, and i’m sorry to steal one of my opponents favorite mis-used buzzwords, “deregulate” the private ownership of “power production.” alabama currently has grid buy-back laws in place that don’t allow excess power produced by roof-top solar (or other sustainable methods) to be bought back into the grid to be used by other citizens. once a green home’s “battery” is full, any excess power produced goes to waste. nobody gets to use it. i would instate simple registration for private power generation allowing alabama’s homeowners to safely and efficiently produce, store, and sell or share power.
again, to stay light and not get too bogged down in specifics, the easiest way to think of coal is as an outdated and unnecessary oligarchy. this is not an issue of republican/democrat or right-wing vs. left-wing, it’s a matter of simple budgeting and prioritizing the people that pay to use electricity in the state of alabama over the people that mine and transport coal into the state.
it used to be, a long long time ago, that when a business model fails, america lets it fail. we don’t continue paying people to make bad business decisions in their personal lives, so why would we give hand-out make-work business to coal? the only answer i can imagine makes any sense is government croney-ism, and that’s not the america i grew up believing that i lived in.
Alabama is consistently one of the top 5 states in terms of hydroelectric power, and i’d like to continue to expand that lead, decreasing our dependence on coal power to 0%.
i want to leave your readers on a high note, so my final campaign promise is going to seem a bit silly, but seriously, due to the incredible amount of money that i would save in my role as apsc president, i feel confident that i can find the excess funds needed to back up this promise:
for the duration of my time in office, i will have at least 1 monthly sunday morning ice cream social brunch that will be open to the public. for a set amount of time during each of these ice cream social brunches, i will field questions/comments/concerns from members of the public. i know it can be a hassle to email, call or write a letter to the people that represent you, so i want to make it easy to get in touch with me face-to-face in a relaxed environment. the logistics on these socials would be something to work out, and as with all funds used/spent, there would be 100% transparency.
if your readers have any questions of their own, they can contact me by messaging facebook.com/jasonfifipublicservant