Update on Prop 16: Worst Ballot Measure Ever


[SFGate blog: “…Prop 16 isn’t just another battle in PG&E’s war on clean energy; it’s also an example of everything that’s wrong with the balloting system in California: Company buys its way to the ballot with a measure that would specifically diminish voters’ already limited influence over the company. That it will take a constitutional amendment to do so is just the putrid icing on the cake” -DS]

Update on Prop 16, PG&E’s irresponsible ballot initiative that wants to create a California constitutional amendment that would force local governments that want to establish local electrical service to win the approval of two-thirds of their voters first, rather than just giving consumers a choice. They just hate that nasty competition… 25-40 million dollars worth of hate.

Here are some updates on PG&E and its reckless CEO Peter Darbee…

John Geesman:
“March 8 was when PG&E filed its Preliminary Proxy Statement, detailing Darbee’s $10.5 million pay package for 2009 — some 8% more than Goldman Sachs paid its CEO.

March 11 marked the San Diego Chamber of Commerce Energy and Water Committee’s vote on Proposition 16:  22 to 0 to oppose, with 4 abstentions.

March 17 was the California Public Utilities Commission informational hearing on Proposition 16, which somehow Darbee deemed too unimportant to attend.  Odd behavior for the CEO of a regulated business which is dependent upon its regulator for its entire cash flow and which, for the first time in the CPUC’s 99-year history, is attempting to unilaterally write its own business advantage into the State Constitution.

Darbee has packed the four-member Compensation Committee with two of his telephone company cronies from his days at PacBell, including the Committee Chair.  Even with the two other members, the Committee is completely devoid of any professional experience in the regulated electricity or natural gas business.

While each of the newspapers that has taken up Proposition 16 has attempted to outdo its competitors in heaping scorn on the manipulative debasement PG&E has brought to the initiative process, the San Jose Mercury News is the first to specifically call out Darbee as the mastermind behind this brazen assault on his own electricity customers….

…The scorching editorial against Proposition 16 in the San Jose Mercury News, hometown newspaper to a business culture many consider the most advanced in the world, makes clear that March has been a very bad month (with 10 days still to go) for PG&E’s embattled CEO, Peter Darbee.

Editorial: Vote no on Prop. 16
Mercury News Editorial

To understand what’s wrong with California’s initiative process, all you need to do is look at Proposition 16 on the June 8 ballot. This outrageous measure is funded by more than $25 million from PG&E, and its sole purpose is to protect PG&E profits.

Voters must say no. If they do, it will show what’s right with the initiative process — and it could discourage other corporations from spending millions on transparently self-serving initiatives that in no way serve the public interest…..

….If that wasn’t proof of the cynical intent of Proposition 16, look at the state finance reports: Not a single organization or person other than PG&E has contributed a penny to the campaign. PG&E has said it will spend as much as $35 million to pass the measure. The organized opposition, lacking a wealthy backer, has raised about $20,000.

If Darbee is looking for a cheaper way to hold onto his customers, here’s a suggestion: Instead of spending tens of millions of ratepayer dollars on political campaigns, PG&E could use that money to lower rates and find more sources of renewable energy — the main reasons cities consider breaking away in the first place.

March 21,2010 Local governments that would be affected by Prop. 16 asked a judge to remove it from the ballot, saying its text is full of falsehoods designed to mislead petition-signers and voters.

A group of government-owned utilities from around California took their campaign against a Pacific Gas and Electric Co.-sponsored ballot measure to court Thursday, arguing that Proposition 16 is a power grab dressed up as an expansion of taxpayers’ rights.

Plaintiffs in Thursday’s lawsuit include the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, several smaller public power generators and the California Municipal Utilities Association. In a suit filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, San Francisco. The plaintiffs include the Merced Irrigation District, which has a small number of electricity customers.

Also suing are publicly owned utilities in San Francisco, Sacramento, Redding and Moreno Valley and Riverside County. “We’ve joined with local governments and other publicly owned utilities from across California in this lawsuit to strike Proposition 16 from the June ballot because it’s false and misleading,”  MID spokeswoman Melissa Williams said.

If this suit to take it off the ballot does not work, don’t miss the opportunity to send PG&E an unequivocal message by ignoring the barrage of misleading advertising and voting NO on Proposition 16. The constitution of the state of California should not be for sale. Stop corporate greed.