By firing interim consumer counsel Niki Christopher last week for sending an e-mail that “did not advocate for the board’s best interests,” the Citizens’ Utility Ratepayer Board confirmed that it’s out of control and out of touch with its statutory responsibility, which is to advocate for the best interests of residential and small-business customers in the highly technical utility rate cases that come before the Kansas Corporation Commission. The firing left all three of CURB’s attorney positions unfilled. Earlier, CURB had barred Christopher from discussing utility issues with legislators and media – a crucial part of the agency’s job. Gov. Sam Brownback needs to rein in and refocus his appointees to CURB, including chairwoman Ellen Janoski. If not, lawmakers should proceed with House Bill 2500 or some other legislation to ensure that small ratepayers – and not just corporations and their political allies – can still count on CURB. – Rhonda Holman
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