Kenneth L. Sutter
11776 Merida Place
Riverside, CA 92505
Securities and Exchange Commission
Re: Registration of Municipal Advisors File Number S7-45-10
Dear Ms. Elizabeth Murphy:
It has been my pleasure to serve as an appointed member of the Board for Riverside Public Utilities the last six years. I and my colleagues are appointed by the Riverside City Council and serve without compensation. I write in opposition to the proposal referenced above which changes would, as I understand them, constitute a most unreasonable burden on citizen volunteers like myself.
I should like to have the creativity to rework and reword comments provided by others. However as I concur 100% it just makes sense to include at least one recommended collection of comments, herewith.
The City of Riverside is a California charter city that, through its Public Utilities Department, serves water and electric service to over 300,000 customers. The City is governed by an elected City Council. The City's Charter requires that the City Council appoint a nine-member Board of Public Utilities. Although the members of the Board of Public Utilities approve certain expenditures made on behalf of RPU, the Board has no independent authority for the issuance of municipal securities.
In the proposed rule, The Commission exempts from registration employees of a municipal entity. However, the proposed rule defines "municipal employees" to include members of a municipal entity's elected governing body and to exclude members of an apointed governing body. Under this odd interpretation, members of the RPU Board, as an apointed utility board, could be considered municipal advisors and therefore required to register with the SEC and become subject to regulation. The only reason given for the differing treatment of elected and appointed boards is that appointed board members "are not directly accountable for their performance to the citizens of the municipal entity."
This is not true, as the RPU Board is directly accountable to the citizens of Riverside, for four reasons:
1. The RPU Board members have a strong connection to citizens of Riverside; they are appointed and approved by the Riverside City Council, elected by the Citizens of Riverside.
2. The RPU Board members are all residents of Riverside and are also RPU customers. RPU board members are well aware of their community and its concerns not only through the open meeting processes, but also by living and working with their fellow citizens on a daily basis. The RPU website includes the names and pictures of board members. Citizens can and do contact board members with their concerns.
3. The Riverside City Charter requires that the City Council make the final decision on the issuance of debt for RPU.
4. RPU Board members serve on a purely volunteer basis without compensation. To require volunteer citizens, appointed Board members, to register as financial advisors is an onerous and unreasonable proposal and would discourage otherwise qualified candidates from serving as Board members. This intrusive and far reaching rule would have serious impact on future recruitment and may result in the inability of obtaining qualified board members to conduct the necessary business of Riverside Public Utilities.
Again, the proposed rule is onerous and unreasonable. The large majority of disclosure questions are applicable to a person's municipal-advisor related or investment related activities. The form's questions are clearly not relevant to the professional lives of the citizens who voluntarily serve on public power and water utility boards.
Governing bodies provide important oversight and policy setting functions for public power utilities. While these governing bodies may be structured in different ways, they all serve similar roles. Singling out appointed boards for different treatment makes no sense.
As with elected boards and city councils, appointed boards are accountable to the citizens that make up their community. Potentially requiring appointed board members to register as muncipal advisors will only add to the cost of serving on the board and/or limit discussion of a utility's financial plans and financial activities resulting in a chilling effect on their effectiveness as board members. The SEC should treat elected and appointed boards in the same way. I strongly urge the SEC to include appointed boards in the definition of municipal employees.
Kenneth L. Sutter