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Commentary

Enron and a Distracted Press

January 26, 2002

Re "Enron Refuels Energy Debate," Jan. 22: I guess the politicians can expect lots of big campaign money to come rolling in from the energy companies. The big line was that "deregulation would increase competition, thus lowering the price for the consumer." These companies are not altruistic organizations out for the public good; they are huge corporations out to make as much money as they can. So, obviously, once deregulated, they charged as much as they wanted to make as much as they could. And they still want it that way. We need to put reasonable controls on these companies for the services we all need at a reasonable price. We know they have sappy TV commercials, but let's remember how they actually do business.

Peter Davison

Santa Monica

*

Ronald Brownstein made some excellent points in his Jan. 21 column, "Public Scrutiny Dries Up Special Interest Cash Flow." In the final paragraph he pinned blame where it belonged. As it was through almost all of Bill Clinton's administration, press time was taken up following scandals drummed up by the Republican leadership that distracted the press from investigating and disclosing real influence-peddling problems, the effects of which we suffer today.

While Enron and other corporations were buying special favors from Congress and the Bush administration, the press was following Rep. Gary Condit 24 hours a day, then feeding the public repetitious blather.

I hope Brownstein, in his next column, explains how members of the public can dig into the roots of special interest scandals and gives them the wherewithal to publicize what they find. It is the press that failed the public and the nation.

William Blanchard

Imperial Beach

*

Regarding Enron: As an ex-Arthur Andersen auditor, corporate controller and officer, several areas of inquiry and action seem crystal clear to me.

Corporate executives and managers have probably committed fraud, along with possibly Enron's auditors, directors and regulators, and where applicable must be indicted and criminally charged. There is a need for much tougher legislation and enforcement regarding corporate executives, directors, auditors, regulators and bankers (especially regarding corporations with virtually no assets). Tough campaign-finance reform regarding corporations, national associations and unions must be passed. Finally, all so-called governmental planning and legislative writing sessions must be in the "public record."

Unfortunately, partisan political rhetoric and blame-placing will result in no substantial actions being taken. Americans will continue to lose faith in their government and economy. Let's remember that political power and access often result in what is not done rather than favors done for clients/contributors.

Craig Kaiser

Arroyo Grande

*

Let me see if I got this right ("Why Insiders Get Rich, and the Little Guy Loses," Opinion, Jan. 20). The Republican Private Securities Litigation Reform Act is vetoed by President Clinton, but the Republicans override the veto. Enron, Waste Management, Cisco and Oracle subsequently rip off investors to the tune of a few billion dollars.

Now we expect a government administration headed by George W. Bush, in bed with Enron, to investigate. Bush has only one agenda, to rape America and any country that stands in his way.

The whole lot of them should be impeached.

Joanna Clark

San Juan Capistrano

*

Believing the tabloids and the TV, we concluded it was poor Rep. Condit who benefited most from the distraction of Sept. 11. Then, after The Times' fine expose around that time of Dick Cheney's cozy corner wish-list tete-a-tetes with energy industry higher-ups all last spring, it seemed this man-of-a-thousand-graces (to the industry) escaped more important examination than the Central Valley congressman. Now, if the Enron end run gets the treatment it merits, maybe the vice president's many huckstering faces will be unmasked.

Michael Jondreau

Santa Monica

*

The Enron-Andersen-Bush scandal has given birth to three new oxymorons: corporate ethics; business ethics and political ethics. We are no longer citizens of a democratic republic; rather, we are consumers in a corrupt corporate state.

Jerry Toth

Bakersfield

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