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Under the Securities and Exchange Commission exemptions, APS bought up vast tracts of real estate, Arizona's largest savings and loan, a chunk of the Phoenix Suns and a partridge in a pear tree. The utility's first venture outside a state-guaranteed monopoly ended in a financial Apocalypse bringing APS to the brink of bankruptcy.

On the national level, we are beginning to see that a Charles Keating cannot happen without a Senator Dennis DeConcini or a Senator John McCain.

On the local level, an APS cannot run rampant without a Joe Castillo, a Ted Humes, and a Mark Genrich.

Turley's plunge into real estate speculation, sports franchises, savings-and-loan ownership and resort management is only possible in an atmosphere that condones monopoly profits so high that they have to be laundered somewhere.

It never occurs to the Ted Humeses, the Mark Genrichs, the Joe Castillos to say, "Let's lower the monopoly's profits by lowering the cost of electricity."

But there is something more remarkable still about the candidacy of Joe Castillo.

Let's assume you believe that the rich already pay too much in taxes. Let's grant that the savings-and-loan crisis is actually the result of government auditors hounding honest businessmen like Charles Keating. We'll agree that what's good for Keith Turley--like exclusive skyboxes at Cardinals games--is good for Arizona.

In these difficult economic times, let's say we want the voice of a successful financial investor on the Corporation Commission.

By this bottom-line standard, Joe Castillo shouldn't be trusted with his own lunch money.

Castillo ran the utility shareholders organization. The shareholders in APS/Pinnacle West have been left in worse shape than Cambodian boat people.

In 1986 the shareholders' stock in APS was valued at $30 per share with dividends of $3 per unit. After the Castillo-endorsed diversification, the company plunged into a one-half billion debt and dividends were frozen. The stock plunged to $4.25 per share last Christmas. Finally, PacifiCorp offered shareholders more than $20 per share, a remarkable lifeline. But Castillo's buddies at APS nixed the deal. The utility boys then went out into the marketplace and borrowed millions to prop up their failure.

In order to get the loans, they promised the bankers that the shareholders would see no dividends for years.

The only people in Arizona to get a bigger screwing than the customers of APS were the Castillo-led shareholders of APS; and now, having helped scuttle those investments, Castillo has abandoned them. Today, he offers to chart a path to fiscal responsibility for the rest of us.

And some of you out there actually believe this guy?
Pogo was right.

Joe Castillo was a carnival barker for Turley's interests.

Genrich is one of those silver polishers from the gentry who truly believes that giant corporate interest can never profit too greatly.

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Michael Lacey
Contact: Michael Lacey