Today’s news:

Less for More at Con Ed

At a time when Mayor Michael Bloomberg has ordered his commissioners to find ways to do as much or more with 12 percent fewer funds, the state Public Service Commission has told Con Ed it can charge residents 9 percent more in gas rates for service that has been less than adequate.

The proposal for steam rates is worse. Con Ed has proposed two options to raise its steam rates: a four-year plan with an annual 9.4 percent increase in bills or a one-year plan to increase rates by 18.2 percent.

Calling the utility a “greedy monopoly,” City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. said the utility has done nothing to improve efficiency. Con Ed said it needs more money, the commission said why not and customers have no voice in the process.

The U.S. Labor Department released a study in July which found city residents pay 59 percent more for electricity than the rest of the country and 34 percent more for natural gas.

In a statement, Con Ed said, “We recognize that these are difficult times for our customers and we will continue to work to hold down delivery costs as much as possible without compromising reliability.”

The commission and the service itself remain nameless and faceless. There is no one to hold accountable or throw out of office. Just a lot of hot air and gas.

Stand Up and Be Counted

Borough leaders are concerned Queens will be under-counted in the 2010 Census. There is a fear aliens who entered this country illegally and those who have overstayed their visas will be reluctant to participate. In other cases, Queens residents may be reluctant to say how many people live in their house.

At a recent conference, Borough President Helen Marshall and the Rev. Floyd Flake spoke about participation in the Census.

“The 2010 Census,” said Marshall, “will determine our country’s representation in the U.S. Congress and state Legislature for the next 10 years and help to determine where to allocate more than $300 billion in federal funding for major services ....”

We urge community leaders in Queens neighborhoods with large numbers of immigrants to get out the word that there is nothing to fear from the Census.

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