Editorial: PG&E's greed backfires

|
(1)

The defeat of Prop. 16 showed that unlimited corporate spending on a ballot initiative doesn't guarantee victory.

EDITORIAL The single most important number to come out of San Francisco on election night was this: 67.49 percent. That's how many people in this city voted against Pacific Gas and Electric Co.'s monopoly measure, Proposition 16. It's a statistic that ought to be posted somewhere on a wall at City Hall to remind everyone in local government that the voters sided overwhelmingly against PG&E and in favor of a public option for local electricity.

It's a landmark victory. On the state level, the defeat of Prop. 16 showed that unlimited corporate spending on a ballot initiative doesn't guarantee victory, that an underfunded coalition can defeat a giant utility — and that a majority of those in PG&E's own service area are unhappy with their electricity provider. Public power activists all over the state should take this as a signal that PG&E, and its once-formidable political clout, are on the wane.

In San Francisco — the only city in the nation with a legal mandate for public power — the vote was the most lopsided of any California county. It was the strongest local mandate for public power since the passage of the Raker Act in 1913.

That should be a huge boost for the city's community choice aggregation (CCA) program. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi, who has been leading the fight for CCA, was pushing hard to get a contract signed before the June 8 vote; like a lot of observers, he feared that PG&E's vast war chest would overwhelm the opposition. But now that Prop. 16 is dead — and nothing like it will be back in the near future, if at all — the city has a bit of a breather.

That doesn't mean all work on the contract should slow down. The San Francisco PUC has been mucking around with this deal for more than a year, and needs to bring it to a close. And the city needs to start preparing to answer PG&E's propaganda campaign with a concerted effort — from the mayor's office on down — to remind San Franciscans that CCA power will be greener, safer, and in the long run, cheaper than the energy we're now forced to buy from PG&E.

Any San Francisco politician who stands with PG&E and opposes CCA will do so at his or her peril.

And while San Francisco is moving to implement a modest public power program, state Sen. Mark Leno is moving in Sacramento to limit PG&E's ability to try another Prop. 16 move — or to spend tens of millions of dollars trying to block local power initiatives. Leno has introduced a bill that would limit the utility's ability to use ratepayer money on political or public relations campaigns.

The measure doesn't have a number yet, but the language is brilliant. It directs the California Public Utilities Commission to disallow any political spending that PG&E tries to add into its regulated rates. And since the company has no source of income other that the money it gets from ratepayers, the impact would be to deny PG&E the ability to spend money working against the interests of ratepayers and the public.

"Over the past 10 years, PG&E has probably spent $150 million on political campaigns — and that's money that came from the ratepayers," Leno said. "This bill is to protect ratepayers."

PG&E will howl about its First Amendment rights — and, indeed, the Supreme Court has of late given corporations who want to influence political campaigns and legislative issues a good bit of leeway. But the fact remains that PG&E is a regulated utility in California, and the state has every right to determine how much the company can charge its customers and to limit how that money is used.

Leno's bill, of course, could radically change local politics. If PG&E couldn't spend millions to defeat public power measures, the city would have far more options — and activists should be thinking about how a future campaign to take over the company's infrastructure might work.

The Board of Supervisors should pass a resolution endorsing Leno's bill, and the coalition that worked to defeat Prop. 16 should be working to get other cities and counties around the state to sign on.

PG&E's greed in putting Prop. 16 on the ballot is starting to backfire — and it can't happen too soon.

Comments

I'M PROUD OF YOU LABOR!. Keep standing up. The lives and health of all the American people and the World are in serious jeopardy.

Further, unemployment healthcare benefits are critically needed. But they should be provided through the Medicare program at cost, less the 65% government premium subsidy provided now to private for profit health insurance.

Congress should stop wasting hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayer money on private for profit health insurance subsidies. Subsidies that cost the taxpayer 10x as much or more than Medicare does. Private for profit health insurance plans cost more. But provide dangerous and poorer quality patient care.

It's over. Tell congress to get the healthcare Merchants of death and injury out of the American peoples lives for good. 2010 is about THE PUBLIC OPTION!

Alan Grayson Honors The Dead http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TV9TRoYMtjs&feature=player_embedded

Alan Grayson on Healthcare http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oPpQ2MNaSDo&feature=player_embedded

Ron Sparks HealthCareReform http://youtu.be/kqlBFRJh4Cw

John Garamendi - The Public Option http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyBTEke68aQ&feature=player_embedded

I want to commend all of you for working so hard and being so strong at helping the whitehouse and congress begin to address our U.S. and Global healthcare crisis. You have been AWESOME! my fellow Americans and peoples of the World. America and the World is better and safer for it. My greatest pride is the knowledge that I am one of you. And that you really get it. You really understand the importance of it all.

There are some potentially very good things in the healthcare legislation. Especially with the reconciliation fix’s. The Democrats, Bernie Sanders and the Whitehouse did a GREAT! job of fighting to produce the best healthcare legislation that they could. They have earned all our strong support. And we should give it to them.

But it was your relentless pressure and hard work that made the difference. Whatever good comes from this healthcare legislation, America and the peoples of the World will have each of you to thank. You were smart, creative, courageous and relentless. You fought together for the best legislation possible. And when you had to, you fought alone. No matter who stumbled and fell you continued to push and forge ahead. Fighting for the lives and health of the American people and the World. YOU SHOULD BE PROUD OF YOUR-SELVES :-)

It may come to pass that future generations will look back on us and say that we were ALL Americas Greatest Generations. And that healthcare reform was our finest hour. You should be proud of our leaders President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, Majority Leader Reid and the many other Democratic and independent fighters for the people in congress. They proved them-self worthy of the leadership of a GREAT! PEOPLE.

But we are not done yet. This was just the beginning of healthcare reform, not the end. WE THE PEOPLE OF THE UNITED STATES, ARE NOT! divided on healthcare legislation. The vast majority of you have been consistently crystal clear that this legislation does not go far enough. You want a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE!! available to everyone on day one. And you want it NOW!

YOU MUST NOT ALLOW AN INDIVIDUAL MANDATE TO STAND WITHOUT A STRONG GOVERNMENT-RUN PUBLIC OPTION CHOICE! AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE.

WE THE PEOPLE have been crystal clear that we want an end to dependence on for-profit healthcare and the for-profit proxies called private for non-profit healthcare. The American people want the CHOICE! of a strong Government-run Public Option to replace their need or dependence on healthcare providers whose primary motivation is profit. Rather than providing the highest quality, easiest accessible and most affordable medically necessary healthcare possible. This is what the rest of the developed World has. And the American people want it too. They want healthcare ASSURANCE! Not, for-profit health insurance. And they want it NOW!

Now is the time to continue the push for a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone that wants it on day one. Rationally it’s clear what we have to do to get this done. SUPPORT THE DEMOCRATS that supported you with a Public Option choice, and REMOVE as many republicans as you can. Not one republican in congress was willing to step across the isle to support a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE!! available to everyone on day one. NOT ONE! Let no candidate prevail this November that does not support a Strong Government-run Public Option.

47,000 AMERICANS die each year from lack of healthcare. 120,000 die from treatable illness that don’t die in other developed countries. Hundreds of thousands of you are dieing from medical accidents in a rush to profit. And Millions of you are injured. Millions more are driven into bankruptcy. All for the privilege of paying two to three times as much as any other people in the developed world for healthcare. HOGWASH!

Additionally, tens of thousands of you and your children were killed and millions sickened and injured from a terror attack with H1N1 (swine flu). Released on the American people and the World by the for-profit healthcare industry. All in an attempt to panic and frighten you into accepting the oxymoronic criminal enterprise of private for-profit healthcare (The most costly, deadly, dangerous, and disgraceful product sold in America). H1N1 is still sickening people and killing them. Especially children, the young and the middle aged. And there will be a third wave. These are the terrorist you need to worry about the most. Even the so-called international terrorist would not do something so INSANE! But greed driven medical profiteers would and did.

Apparently as far as republicans in GOVERNMENT are concerned, YOU! my fellow Americans – CAN JUST DROP DEAD! Including their own family members. Fools!... Hundreds of thousands of you, and possibly millions of you will die from the long-term effects of your infection and poisoning with H1N1.

So my fellow Human Beings. Rest-up, Take good care of the basics (Balanced nutrition, hydration, exercise, rest and POSITIVE emotional supports). Then wade back into the FIGHT! for a strong Government-run Public Option CHOICE! available to everyone on day one. Drug re-importation, Abolishment or strong restrictions on patents for biologic and prescription drugs. And government controlled and negotiated drug and medical cost. You must take back control of your healthcare system from the Medical Industrial Complex. You MUST do it NOW! This is a matter of National and Global security. There can be NO MORE EXCUSES.

God Bless You My Fellow Human Beings. I’m glad to know of you. And proud to be one of you.

See you on the battle field.

Sincerely

jacksmith – WorkingClass :-)

Posted by Guest on Jun. 18, 2010 @ 11:21 am