Michael Laybourn: No on Prop 16!


The Ukiah City Council unanimously approved A Resolution to Formally Oppose Proposition 16 “The New Two-Thirds Vote Requirement Form Public Electricity Providers Initiative Constitutional Amendment” April 21st. I’m astounded that the UDJ and AVA, to my knowledge, had no mention of this important decision.

The Supervisors should do the same for the County.

Consider a rich bully with endless money, unlimited political spending recently legalized by the Supreme Court, up against a small group who has no way of raising that kind of money and up against cities that manage or want to manage their own utilities. Why, that’s a description of PG&E.

“Peter Darbee, who was paid $10.6 million dollars last year, told company shareholders that the goal of Prop 16 is to defeat local power choice “once and for all,” instead of having to continually fend off the specter of customer defection.

Darbee speculated that California voters would be receptive to Proposition 16 if the initiative’s campaign exploited the current anti-government anger over the economy and state budget deficit.” – Dan Aiello

Don’t believe those slick Yes on Prop 16 fliers telling us the initiative is a voter safeguard against local governments wanting to spend unlimited amounts to get into the energy business. Don’t believe the flood of ads claiming this is your defense against big spending government. Don’t believe this protects your right to choose right to vote. It is a lie. This is not about more choice, it is about restricting your choice because a nothing gets passed with a 2/3 majority.

The deluge of Prop 16 TV ads doesn’t mention that the initiative was written to guarantee that PG&E’s high priced electricity monopoly will never be challenged. Prop 16 takes away a community’s right to choose to buy their own power by imposing the 2/3 vote requirement. Ironically, it doesn’t take a 2/3 majority to change the California constitution with this proposition. PG&E  simply wants to get rid of the competition. PG&E’s CEO didn’t ask ratepayers for approval before spending over 35 million of our dollars to get rid of its competition.

PG&E has decided to stop municipal purchasing before its customers acquire a taste for lower electric rates, because most of the utilities have lower rates.The existing public utilities can’t spend the money needed to show the other side of the proposition. Public utilities can’t spend a nickel on TV ads or flyer mailings.

A provision of Prop 16 requires a 2/3 vote before any new customers can obtain electric power in any municipal utility district. Realtors quickly understood that whenever a home is sold in Los Angeles, Sacramento, Ukiah or any other municipal electric district, a two-thirds vote is needed before that homeowner can get an electric hook up. It is the same for any new business that opens in these cities. And since Prop 16 is a constitutional amendment, the legislature cannot tweak it to correct any drafting errors.

I’ll never forget hearing that Enron executive laughing over how he snagged all that little old grandmother’s life savings.  I was outraged then and I’m outraged now at the power and the arrogance of these corporations to take our money in subsidies, bailouts and right out of our pockets by buying politicians and influencing elections to change the laws so that the law serves them instead of the people who pay taxes.

Don’t let PG&E’s greedy Prop 16 take away your community’s right to choose to buy its own power. Tell everyone you know.