From BILL McEWEN
The Fresno Bee
The mail the other day brought the usual offers for debt relief and loan modifications, along with something new: a slick flier declaring that Proposition 16 would stick up for people sick of government debt. I had a hard time deciding who peddled the biggest scam — the mortgage and credit card debt hustlers, or Pacific Gas & Electric, which is spending $35 million backing Proposition 16.
The utility monopoly is trying to rejigger the state constitution and protect its bottom line against start-up municipal power companies. And it’s using a deceptive advertising campaign for a law that would require two-thirds voter approval before local governments go into the power business or existing PG&E competitors expand their territories.
PG&E says Proposition 16, which is on the June ballot, is about choice, voice and transparency. But the so-called Taxpayers Right to Vote Act is more about limiting consumer choice, preserving monopolies and keeping utility rates high.
In the time since I last wrote about Proposition 16, opponents have been working to overcome PG&E’s deep pockets and cut through the baloney served by company shills. For example, John Geesman, a renewable energy advocate and former member of the California Energy Commission, uncovered the truth behind PG&E’s initiative by wading through the transcript of a company shareholders meeting. Geesman blogged thatPG&E chief executive officer Peter Darbee told shareholders that the goal was to defeat local power choice once and for all instead of having to continually fend off the specter of customer defection. Darbee also speculated that voters would be receptive to Proposition 16 because of anti-government anger.