Governor Jane Hull and most Arizona lawmakers in 2000 were responsible for one of the state's grandest screw-ups, the so-called "Alt Fuels Fiasco."
But it was Tempe resident Amanda Ormond who got fired over the wasteful subsidy program.
The scandal's scapegoat talks about the 2000 debacle and the future of alternative fuels in a feature article in this month's Arizona Woman magazine. She also got to pose in the ultra-contrived photo at left. (To be fair, the concept works a bit better in the magazine's double-page layout).
Though Ormond got fired from her job in the state Department of Commerce because of the subsidy scandal (in which the state spent $160 million by mistake), she was actually the only person who tried to warn lawmakers and their staff about the tsunami of misguided spending that was rolling in during the summer of 2000. After she let some legislative staffers know the program was getting too pricey, former House Speaker Jeff Groscost -- who had helped create the failed program -- chided her in a voice mail message that she was "backpedaling," and threatened to take the program away from her.
The scandal was always about out-of-control subsidies, not alternative fuels in themselves, (although as we reported last year, the concept of powering light vehicles with natural gas never took off, even with the subsidies).
Despite Ormond's softball warnings and other mistakes she may have made in 2000, she's still considered a "major player" in the alternative fuel industry, according to the Arizona Woman article. Ormond has "had her hand in nearly every green-energy project even considered in the state," says one observer.
Ormond calls the alt fuels fiasco "a serious political football," and that she considered her firing an opportunity to evaluate her career. She now works at home in her own consultant business, lobbying for renewable energy programs and conducting "educational forums."
Groscost, who lost an election after it was revealed he had personally benefitted from the subsidy program, died in 2006 of heart failure. (In a side note, the East Valley Tribune reported recently that Groscost's widow has dropped a lawsuit related to the lawmaker's death).