Regular Regulators Regulating Regularly

Posted by on Jun 11, 2015

There is a certain juvenile streak in me that really, treatment really makes it hard to stop from asking one of the participants at the Mid-America Regulatory Commissioners Conference, “So what do you do to keep everyone regular?”

But, I have a sense of decorum. I wear bow ties. And, yes, I’m just a little afraid that someone might actually answer this question. Then all bets are off on what would go down from there.

Instead, as I see the waning moments of the conference on the 7th floor at the Pfister, I approach one of the kindly event staff so I can figure out what in tarnation has gone on at this multiple day conference.

I freely and openly admit that I am sometimes (okay, often) dense. In approaching the kindly event staff worker I decide to get to the meat of the matter right away.

“What is a Mid-America Regulatory Commissioner Conference and what do these Regulatory Commissioners do?”

The kindly event staff worker is the consummate pro and doesn’t tell me I’m a dolt for not knowing, but nicely explains that its all about public utilities—water, power, energy—that have regulatory standards attached to them. I decide it’s kind of like a conference you might see on PARKS AND RECREATION, and as I talk with the helpful event staff worker, I look over his shoulder to see if there are more Ron Swansons or more Leslie Knopes at this particular conference (there are, by the way, a lack of bushy mustaches on display).

The conference annually rotates between the Mid-American states that participate, and in Milwaukee this year as the Pfister for home base, the event has attracted about 300 participants. The event staff anticipated families coming along for the ride, so they planned tours to the Harley Museum and breweries and Discovery World. It’s nice to think that you get a well-rounded motorcycle, science and lager experience when tagging along for this kind of event.

My biggest curiosity of all concerning the Mid-America Regulatory Commissioners Conference had to do with the single most important thing anyone who has ever attended a conference concerns him or herself with when they walk up to a registration table: “What’s in the schwag bag?”

Again, the willing event staff worker was game to address my question in a straightforward manner. He told me that a highlight was certainly the 300 hand made chocolates put together by a local Milwaukee chocolatier. That’s a sweet bag item, if I’ve ever heard one.

Then comes that moment. The button in the conversation when I have to bite my tongue as I consider my original impulse to delve into the regularity patterns of the conference participants. The event staff worker tells me that because it’s a conference dealing with public utility, and water is a big part of public utility, there are a few bottles of H20 included in all of the event participants’ schwag bags.

“Water is a big thing for everyone here, you know,” he tells me.

It’s like I’m back in junior high school and I’m thinking about making a prank phone call. I want to follow up with, “So you’re saying that water is what moves these regulatory commissioners?” But I can’t…I just can’t. I adjust my bow tie, shake his hand, and feel grateful for my indoor plumbing, electric lighting and all things that keep the world churning regulated by all these kindly and well hydrated utility players.

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