Prop 16 opponents celebrate

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Prop 16 opponents went to PG&E headquarters on election night.
Rebecca Bowe

It's now official: Prop 16 is toast.

With 87 percent of the election results in, Prop 16 was losing, 52.6 percent "no" to 47.4 percent "yes."

Yes, that’s the measure that the state’s most powerful utility company, Pacific Gas & Electric Co., just sunk a record-breaking $46 million into. 

On election night, victory belonged to a small, brainy group of under-funded green-power activists, filmmakers, bloggers, and attorneys who put their hearts and souls into beating PG&E’s measure. The measure was designed to destroy municipal energy programs that offer an opportunity to depart from PG&E with greener power. Sup. Ross Mirkarimi was a vocal opponent of Prop 16, and the chief supporter of San Francisco’s community choice aggregation program.

Not long after Mirkarimi made an entrance at the Otis Lounge in San Francisco, where opponents of Proposition 16 were glued to computer screens watching election results roll in, the green “Yes” box displayed on the voting results website turned to a “No.”

“We’re winning!” Someone shouted. A cheer arose, and hands shot into the air. Mirkarimi’s face broke into a beaming grin. Public power advocates Eric Brooks, Bruce Wolfe, and Paul Fenn stood nearby, along with Dave Room of the Local Clean Energy Alliance and Ben Zolno, a blogger who created YouTube videos against Prop 16.

Matt Freedman, of The Utility Reform Network (TURN), was perched with a computer on his lap for the duration of the night, and his co-workers, including TURN executive director Mark Toney, clustered around and watched, eyes wide and faces lit up, as things started trending in their favor.

“PG&E has one thing, and one thing only on their side, which is money,” Toney said early in the night, when the numbers were close, but still too early to tell. “The fact that we’re so close is amazing, given that they’ve outspent us 500 to 1.”

State Sen. Mark Leno, an outspoken opponent of Prop 16, made an appearance early in the night, then returned later as things swung in the favor of the opponents.

“I think [Prop 16] represents the epidemic of corporate greed that is so challenging in this country right now, whether it’s banking or the oil industry,” Leno said. “I think a victory tonight would really speak to Calfornia voters rebuking the lies and the deceit” spread by PG&E.

As the results grew stronger in their favor, opponents went into celebration mode. 

A little after 1 a.m., the exuberant crew took an impromptu stroll to San Francisco’s PG&E headquarters on Beale Street.

Banners adorned PG&E's fortress-like building. Printed on them was the slogan, "We can do this."

Note: This post has been updated from an original version.

Comments

If PG&E can't even buy an election properly, why should we trust them with our entire power system?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 6:07 am

Having had no electrical meter for 2 years after PG&E almost went bankrupt after Enron scammed them to ensure Gray Davis career ended, I can honestly say I'm amazed the scrounged up $46mil to fund this.

If they can't get a meter to a customer willing to pay in under 2 years they don't deserve the privilege to operate and profit.

Posted by Luke on Jun. 10, 2010 @ 5:04 pm

GREAT NEWS! Thanks TURN! Goliaths can be defeated. Everyone talk about an
anti-incumbant trend. Why not an anti-corporate Tsunami? Let's not waste a great win.

Posted by Guest it's me on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 7:12 am

Horrible News! Definfitely was looking for victory!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 7:41 am

Celebration aside, that the vote was that close is downright scary. How could so many Californians so willingly allow a private energy company to change the way people vote? All this antigov't sentiment is seriously misguided. The problem is electing the wrong candidates for the gov't, not gov't itself.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 7:46 am

"All this antigov't sentiment is seriously misguided. The problem is electing the wrong candidates for the gov't, not gov't itself. "

Wrong.

The problem IS the government and the environment of corruption it allows. If the government wasn't corrupt, there would be no tolerance of corrupt politicians. Politicians are a product of the system.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 12:24 pm

Hmmm...Government is the problem but the people running the government are not the problem. Sounds like you have a glitch in your gestalt mechanism.

Government is run by humans called politicians who are elected by the voters to run the government.

No politicians, no government. But, I think that is more to your point.

Go buy your own island.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2010 @ 4:22 pm

I grew up in San Francisco but have not lived here for a long time. I moved back hoping to land a job. Started following the Giants again, and reading the Bay Guardian as it was a beacon of hope oft a Liberal when I left. In looking over the list of election recommendations posted here, I grew sick to my stomach. Not an Independent, Green, candidate was listed. Nothing but Democrats. We have really come to this... You are simply mainstream, and, joining forces with the Unions, now defend the status quo just like any other group of *itches. I am going back the the Chronicle, who is at least honest.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 8:43 am

If you think The Chronicle's honest, then you probably think Sarah Palin is right too :)

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 6:05 pm

Congratulations Bruce and Co. It took a few years but you have finally put the behemoth down where it belongs, at our service. We don't serve them and their arrogance. Colin

Posted by Guest Colin Campbell on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 8:45 am

Power companies are as trustworthy as progressives.

Lets hope that like everything the progressive touch this doesn't turn into a huge money pit that the regular citizens have to foot the bill for.

Likely the steps will include over time; making thing optional for the citizens, then encouraging it, then coercing purchase of the cities power for all in the city.

The progressives appointed to the power operation will hand out sweet heart deals to the unions that can not be supported in the long term, as members of the power board aspire to higher office with union cash.

Then any profits get spent not on growing infrastructure but various entitlement programs, then after a few decades there will have to be bonds to pay for the old and worn out equipment. And the Guardian staff will be howling about "the rich" not wanting to pay their fair share for other peoples electricity.

This might work someplace else where there are adults running a city, but not in SF. This will be another massive fail here.

Posted by Mr Matlock on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 9:09 am

You cannot use the word power companies (like PG$E) and progressives in the same sentence. That is just redmeat that is seriously rotten. Don't eat it kids!

I gues you would have BP being a progressive then, too. Geez! Go crawl back into your hole.

The only electricity generating businesses that are considered environmentally acceptable are those that do not place a burden or stress on the natural environment.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

I am calling for the resignation of Peter Darbee and Nancy McFadden who initiated and prosecuted this shameful attack on democracy.

Posted by LoseDarbee on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 9:18 am

'Matlock' Your fears don't jive with reality. This stuff has been studied at length. Community run power systems overwhelmingly provide better, more reliable, safer service at vastly lower rates than do private providers.

Localized community power is now taking a first big step this month in San Francisco as we complete and sign into law our CleanPowerSF (Community Choice) contract. Foolishly, PG&E just demonized itself so badly that we are now likely to get a stronger contract with less opposition from politicians, because they no longer want to be viewed as being on PG&E's side.

By the way all.. In a charming irony, we beat PG&E here locally by two thirds ;)

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 9:31 am

folks, keep in mind that PG&E is a for-profit monopoly. they are GUARANTEED a 10% profit. their business model is this: revenue = cost + 10%. who else can have this privilege? they don't even have to be innovative or good at their business to stay in business or to make a profit. PG&E represents status quo, monopoly, bureaucracy, arrogance, and greed. hooray for the opponents of Prop 16 for taking on an arrogant, 2nd-rate corporation. They spent $43million (vs. $80k on the opposing side) to protect their status quo and monopolistic grip on energy, and LOST. It's heartening to know money doesn't always guarantee victory. Time to make the overpaid executives and bureaucrats at PG&E sweat a little and work a little harder for their paychecks.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 10:45 am

folks, keep in mind that PG&E is a for-profit MONOPOLY and they will fight to their death to preserve this status. they are GUARANTEED a 10% profit. their business model is this: revenue = cost + 10%. who else can have this privilege? they don't even have to be innovative or good at their business to stay in business or to make a profit. PG&E represents status quo, monopoly, bureaucracy, arrogance, and greed. hooray for the opponents of Prop 16 for taking on an arrogant, 2nd-rate corporation. They spent $43million (vs. $80k on the opposing side) to protect their status quo and monopolistic grip on energy, and LOST. It's heartening to know money doesn't always guarantee victory. Time to make the overpaid executives and bureaucrats at PG&E sweat a little and work a little harder for their paychecks.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 10:48 am

1. There were guarantees that all the money went to the public utility, not for example mayoral assistants or entitlements, and any other such things that don't go directly to deal with the power company.

2. The employees union can not lobby or donate to a politician or political party.

3. There would be no way for the utility to ask for a bond.

4. There was no way for the progressives in the city to coerce joining the utility.

SF's history of progressive stupidity makes public power in the city suspect.

Like I said, I didn't vote for the the measure, in the hopes that it might work elsewhere but in SF the chances are very slim considering the record of progressive uselessness and scheming. I'm not a fan of scheming corporations but SF progressives are hardly any better.

Posted by Mr Matlock on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 11:15 am

Mr Matlock, you are a piece of TEA Bagger work. Yes, TEA is an acronym for "Taxed Enough Already". Ask them.

1. There were guarantees that all the money went to the public utility, not for example mayoral assistants or entitlements, and any other such things that don't go directly to deal with the power company.

*This is a ludicrous statement. If it is a public entity then all the revenues stays with the entity or municipality. Unlike PG$E which is a private company whose profits stay with them. Uh, the city runs its own public transportation, all revenues stay in the city. Oh, what about water and waste water mgmt, all revenues stay in the city, etc., etc.

*The city is not in the business of making profits. It is to provide services the residents want at a wash, if possible.

2. The employees union can not lobby or donate to a politician or political party.

*Uh, again, you are way, way off base. What does unions have to do with Prop 16.

*Better, no utility that has a sweetheart local franchise agreement can engage any voters to secure itself as the sole provider.That is the same as Chicago mobster tactics of 1930's or the Wall St robber barons of today.

*There needs to be some sort of conflict of interest or anti-trust rules attached to these agreements.

3. There would be no way for the utility to ask for a bond.

*Totally ridiculous statement.
*Bonds are akin and specific to governments, and none other.

4. There was no way for the progressives in the city to coerce joining the utility.

*Also, TEA baggers.
*Uh, please define "progressive". SF'cans are not all created equal. Also, that would be tantamount to a hate crime against political association rights under the US constitution.

*I knew this guy is a TEA bagger.

===================
SF's history of progressive stupidity makes public power in the city suspect.

*Oh, so now it's progressive stupidity and not about money. Okay, we'll send the progressives to school to smarten them up so they won't be stupid anymore. Will that satisfy you, Mr Matlock?

Like I said, I didn't vote for the the measure, in the hopes that it might work elsewhere but in SF the chances are very slim considering the record of progressive uselessness and scheming. I'm not a fan of scheming corporations but SF progressives are hardly any better.

*So you are in favor of public power but not in SF? I think it is time that you move elsewhere where your politics (or stupidity) might be better accepted by the groupthink status quo
*I'm sorry, you are too late Mr Matlock, SF already has public power,
*It's called Hetch Hetchy

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2010 @ 4:51 pm

1. Fine by me. 2. Not likely, they are allowed to lobby on everything else. 3. Major utilities can't be built without bonds - however we are talking about revenue bonds which will not increase rates because they will install a system that will be less expensive than PG&E over time. 4. CleanPowerSF allows every customer the option to opt out and stay with PG&E. PG&E's claims that people don't get a choice are simply false.

Posted by Eric Brooks on Jun. 10, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

I agree with you whole-heartedly that SF progressive politics can be downright silly, paralyzing, and dysfunctional. Given the choice between PG&E, which possesses an inbred corporate culture of secrecy, complacency (I've worked there for 4 brief months, unfortunately) , almost impenetrable hierarchical layers, vs the SF government, which is inefficient and broken in many ways but can be influenced by voters and the public more directly, I would have to pick the SF elected officials. Like most for-profit corporations, PG&E only has to answer to their board of directors and their shareholders. Like most for-profit corporations, the relationship between the execs and the board is often incestuous. The public (without significant PG&E stock holdings) would have little influence over PG&E. Monopolies are inherently unhealthy and breed nothing but bad behaviors in the long run. At least, with Prop 16 defeated, I know I can influence and help throw out elected SF officials. I, and many others, cannot directly do so with PG&E execs. Prop 16 defeat gives local governments choices other than PG&E. In the big picture, I think California will benefit. SF may take a while to get there, but we're moving in the right direction.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 12:20 pm

My Grandfather used to call PG&E "Pacific Graft and Extortion" way back in the 1950's... it seems he was not wrong.

Way To Go PEOPLE!!! Thank GOD this attack on the Democratic Process was lost... now WE will have to pay Pacific Graft and Extortion's huge Advertising bill on top of Rate Hikes!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 12:40 pm

What a pernicious disgrace of a company. Ha ha. I didn't have anything against PGE before this. Now I hate them. Stupid move with no gain.

Posted by Ha Ha on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

YES! SUCK IT CORPORATIONS!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 1:00 pm
Posted by rebecca on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

Down at PG&E, a giant lies dead
With a hole in its head
Its name is Prop. 16.

In Bodega, it's said
Lies another hole, in another head
PG&E made that in nineteen sixty-three.

A fault line was found
Right there in the ground
It was quite plain to see

What were they thinking
What were they drinking
In the board room of PG&E?

Posted by David D. Schmidt on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 5:05 pm

Down at PG&E, a giant lies dead
With a hole in its head
Its name is Prop. 16.

In Bodega, it's said
Lies another hole, in another head
PG&E made that in nineteen sixty-three.

A fault line was found
Right there in the ground
It was quite plain to see

What were they thinking
What were they drinking
In the board room of PG&E?

Posted by David D. Schmidt on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 5:06 pm

As a fighter within this industry and having the first comment opposing PG&E and prop 16 in the San Jose Mercury News, I am happy and satisfied that David beat Goliath. I was saddened today receiving the paper where they erroneously called victory to prop 16 on the front page. I also watched the results, they must have gotten their numbers from 11 pm where the Bay Area was still not counted at all. They should have said that it was too close to call. Pretty obvious where the editors of the San Jose Mercury news stand on issues such as these. I am sure when Jerry Brown wins in November they will crow about Meg Whitman. Terrible news reporting. ABC news did the same thing this morning even though the election results were 100% tallied. Again tell you where these newscasters stand and more terrible news reporting.

The good news was the 67.8% no vote in San Fransisco. They should immediately embark on a MUD project ballot measure. PG&E I am sure is stunned. They should be ashamed too.

Follow me on PBS website on the gulf disaster. BP is my next target. Like it or not my goal is to get BP de-listed from the stock exchange. So far Monday we saw a 5% drop while today we saw a 15% drop. Keep that trend going through the week and it is short work to getting PB de-listed.

Posted by Watergroove on Jun. 09, 2010 @ 7:10 pm

I am so pround of the work this brave men and women have done with so little money to expose the uparralled greed of PG&E, it says a lot about Californains and I am proud to be one of them!

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2010 @ 10:32 pm

We must continue to be vigilant. This wasn't a one-time effort by PG&E and it won;t be the last.

Rick H

Posted by Rick H on Jul. 23, 2010 @ 1:27 pm

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