UCAN’s Michael Shames is under fire for portraying himself as an attorney.
  • UCAN’s Michael Shames is under fire for portraying himself as an attorney.
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The website of local watchdog Utility Consumers’ Action Network (UCAN) has a photo of executive director Michael Shames. Underneath, it says that Shames “serves as an expert witness and attorney on behalf of UCAN.” (Italics mine.)

Groups such as San Diego’s watchdog network frequently participate in hearings before the California Public Utilities Commission. The commission approves payments of “intervenor compensation” to these participants. In 2009, for just one example, UCAN filed for “attorney fees” for Michael Shames — $330 an hour for a total of $49,500.

A whistleblower on Shames’s staff filed a complaint with the utilities commission, noting that Shames wrongfully calls himself a lawyer. The complainant cited numerous instances in which both UCAN and the utilities commission referred to Shames as an attorney, and other times when Shames put “Esq.” after his name. (According to USLegal, Inc. “Esq.” is a title used by lawyers in the United States.)

Records of the State Bar of California show that Shames was admitted to the bar in 1983 but has been inactive since 1988. The state utilities commission dismissed the complaint, noting that a person does not have to be a lawyer to participate in hearings, but there are serious questions about Shames’s nonlawyer status under bar rules and state law.

“If [Shames] calls himself an attorney and is not, this is an issue that has to be resolved,” says a person who has been near the top of the UCAN hierarchy for a number of years. Internally, “This has been a subject of quite a bit of discussion; I don’t know how he got himself in that position.”

This is one of several reasons why the board of the Utility Consumers’ Action Network hired a San Diego attorney, Paul Dostart, to look into whistleblower allegations against Shames, who cofounded the organization in 1983 when he was a law student. Dostart, an expert in nonprofit organizations, was a natural pick to do the investigation. Among many things, he has been chair of the California Bar Tax Exempt Organizations Committee.

On June 8, Dostart submitted a report on the various charges against Shames to Kendall Squires, president of the action network’s four-person board. (Squires would not return my calls.)

Dostart’s report is not a rip-snorter, but it does raise some serious points for the board to consider. Since San Diego’s action network is considering a merger with San Francisco’s utility watchdog operation, Dostart’s findings may play a key role in the future of the local organization. (The report is marked “confidential and privileged,” and Dostart can neither confirm nor deny its existence. However, after doing some interviews, I concluded that it is completely legitimate.)

Full disclosure: I have always been an avid supporter of UCAN and have worked closely with Shames. Thus, I was surprised when he initially suggested that the report I asked him about might be a hoax. Later, he said it was a preliminary report, although Dostart says at the investigation’s end that “The delivery of this report concludes our work” other than appearances before the board and audit committee. He has talked at length to the board.

Although the state utilities commission rejected the complaint about Shames not being a lawyer, Dostart points out that under state law, “No person shall practice law in California unless the person is an active member of the State Bar,” and a person advertising or holding himself or herself out as a practicing attorney who is not a member of the State Bar is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in county jail.

“So where did I practice law?” responded Shames to my question on the matter. However, Dostart in the report said that while it is clear that nonattorneys can participate in state utilities commission hearings, “It is not crystal clear whether a person who has been licensed as an attorney by the State Bar of California is eligible to hold inactive status while [participating in commission hearings].” Dostart is not certain that the utilities commission accurately stated California law in turning down the complaint.

Concluded Dostart, “Our recommendation is that Shames should style himself as an ‘advocate’ or ‘representative’ rather than an ‘attorney’ on papers filed with the [utilities commission].”

Another allegation Dostart tackled was Shames’s practice of taking 10 percent of the intervenor fees. I was shocked on learning this and so was the person close to the top of UCAN whom I spoke with. Last year, Shames received $202,208.36 in wages, and $87,708.44 of that came from the 10 percent he took off the top of intervenor fees. His wages were reported to the Internal Revenue Service, and the practice is not illegal, reported Dostart.

However, Dostart could find only one reference to the 10 percent fees in board meetings — one on February 7, 2008. Dostart reviewed minutes of board meetings from 1999 through 2010 and found no mention of specific 10 percent bonuses to Shames.

“This is actually dead wrong,” said Shames. “The bonuses were revealed to the board every single year and even included in the budgets that the board approved annually. I find it hard to believe that Dostart actually said this.” Dostart hedged and said it’s possible that the board monitored those payments to Shames, but that “cannot be determined from the minutes.”

My source high up in the organization said he had never heard of the 10 percent bonuses until he read the Dostart report. I was stunned because I had always thought Shames made only around $70,000 a year.

The Internal Revenue Service formerly took the position that percentage compensation would result in revocation of a charity’s tax exemption but no longer feels that way. However, under California law, the board is required to approve every change in a charity’s chief executive officer’s compensation.

“We recommend that UCAN procure a compensation study for the compensation package paid to...Michael Shames,” concluded the Dostart study.

There are other whistleblower charges that Dostart addressed, but Shames’s misidentification of himself as a lawyer and his 10 percent bonuses appear to be the main ones.

The report doesn’t touch on other matters that insiders complain of: complete disorganization, Machiavellian personnel relationships, Shames’s domination of the board, and the question of whether the utilities commission, the watchdog groups, and the utilities have a cozy relationship that rapes ratepayers. Those considerations will probably come later. ■

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Comments

JustWondering July 27, 2011 @ 9:22 a.m.

"While Inactive, you are still a member of the State Bar and entitled to all of the benefits of membership, except you are not eligible to practice law in California or vote in the Board of Governors' election."

While I agree I'm surprised by this revelation, especially by a person whose whole career has been advocating for others. I too was very surprised to read about the level of his compensation. It seems greed has once again clouded good judgement and common sense, causing controversy and tarnishing the reputation of the individual and organization to say the very least.

It also can't be about fees and the continuing education time requirements.

...Under the Bar rules, members on voluntary Inactive status do not have to accumulate MCLE hours during the period of time that they are on Inactive status, and they are not required to report compliance to the State Bar.

I'm just wondering, what's his side of this story?

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 9:57 a.m.

As the column stated, Shames says that in appearing before the CPUC, he doesn't have to be a member of the State Bar. The CPUC agrees. His quote was, "So where did I practice law?" He cited the CPUC decision. I got no quote on state law or bar rules. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 27, 2011 @ 11:09 a.m.

While I agree I'm surprised by this revelation, especially by a person whose whole career has been advocating for others. I too was very surprised to read about the level of his compensation. It seems greed has once again clouded good judgement and common sense, causing controversy and tarnishing the reputation of the individual and organization to say the very least.

Shames has done NOTHING wrong nor illegal.

He was NOT "attorney of record" for anyone- nor did he hold himself out to be. He is a licensed attorney in good standing and as such he can file for active status at ANYTIME.

This was the exact same argument made against Jerry Clown when he was elected AG of CA. That he was not eligible b/c he was "not an attorney" for the 5 years before his election (his license was on "inactive" status) therefore he could not be AG.

Guess what-BIG SURPRISE, the bar and everyone else said Clown WAS an attorney-an attorney on inactive status, and as we all know Clown become AG of CA.

Presdient Obama resigned from the IL Bar, he is therfore NOT an attorney. He is NOT on inactive status but resigned. That makes a difference.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 11:26 a.m.

The column clearly states that the CPUC is not troubled that Shames is not an attorney. However, on Shames's own documents, he claims to be an attorney. The same is true with CPUC document; Shames gets intervenor fees and is listed as an attorney. The report by Dostart, who knows more about charitable organizations than anybody in San Diego, I would guess, says that the CPUC may not have adequately taken state law into consideration in its judgment. I don't think Shames has done anything illegal in this matter; however, I do think it is wrong to keep calling himself an attorney. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 27, 2011 @ 3:05 p.m.

However, on Shames's own documents, he claims to be an attorney. The same is true with CPUC document; Shames gets intervenor fees and is listed as an attorney

He IS an attorney, but inactive. Being inactive does not make him a non-attorney. Unless he is claiming to be representing someone, anyone, which he is not then he is free to refer to himself in this manner. / / I do think it is wrong to keep calling himself an attorney. ============== I disagree. Perfectly reasonable.

Let me ask you this Don, if a Doctor stops practicing medicine and goes into another profession, is it wrong to still refer to him as a doctor???? Of course not. He will always be a doctor, whether he is practicing medicine or not. Same with Shames. He is a lawyer, always will be, even if he is not doing it for a living.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 3:44 p.m.

Would you like to be on the operating table when the head surgeon introduces himself as Dr. SurfPuppy? Then y find out that he was a doctor for only half a year and has been a shoe salesman for 25 years? Best, Don Bauder

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Duhbya July 28, 2011 @ 8:37 a.m.

Peddling "Hush Puppies"? I often wonder why ex-politicians are addressed by their former title(s), especially when they abdicate, á la that Quitterqueen from Alaska.

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Bob_Hudson July 27, 2011 @ 10:10 a.m.

I too have worked closely with Michael and often admired his advocacy, but I must say I was shocked to learn he is not a practicing attorney. If you do a Google search for "attorney Michael Shames" (in quotes) it is clear he has been portrayed as an active attorney and certainly is making lawyer wages as we see in PUC documents stating such things as "UCAN seeks an hourly rate of $310 for attorney Michael Shames, for work performed in 2005 and 2006. For 2005 work, we previously approved a rate of $300 for Shames and adopt that rate here. For 2006 work, the $310 rate for Shames is consistent with the guidelines in D.07-01-009, and adopted here."

UCAN has been Michael's baby since about 1985 and we often see in non-profits thatjust as with for-profits, the board is selected by and beholden to the founder/chief executive and rubber stamps proposals and passes budgets with little detail. I worked for a chamber of commerce where a top official had his car allowance cut by the board, but just buried it into another budget category and they never knew it (under his "leadership" the chamber almost went broke).

Incidents like these led me to long ago conclude that "non-profits" can be very profitable for the people who work there although the public (and donors) still have the notion that employees of non-profits are making a sacrifice for the public good. At the executive director level, that is frequently not the case, although I will say that there is often a big contrast between executive compensation and the regular worker bees at non-profits. I am sure some of those who've toiled for little or nothing on behalf of UCAN have been as shocked as the rest of us.

At this point the board needs to take control, set up clear compensation policies and report itself to the PUC and others who have been led to believe that Shames was an active attorney. There my be no penalties for that, but UCAN was certainly remiss in not correcting the PUC, journalists and others who for so many years have used the phrase "attorney Michael Shames."

Michael, you've done good work, now it's time to be as honest and forthcoming as you expect the PUC and utilities to be.

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SurfPuppy619 July 27, 2011 @ 11:15 a.m.

Incidents like these led me to long ago conclude that "non-profits" can be very profitable for the people who work there although the public (and donors) still have the notion that employees of non-profits are making a sacrifice for the public good.

Are you kidding me, "non-profits" are one of the bigest scams going.

The NFL is a "non-profit". The Red Cross is a "non-profit", the same San Diego Red Cross who had their CEO pulling down a $400K comp package a few years back.

The United Way where KFC Sanders was CEO and pulling down a HUGE comp package is a "non-profit". Most Universities are "non-profits" where the faculty and admin are comped several hundred grand per year......

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 11:31 a.m.

There is no question that there are multiple abuses in so-called "non-profits." Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 11:29 a.m.

The morale at UCAN is abysmal and has been for a couple of years. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 27, 2011 @ 3:07 p.m.

The morale at UCAN is abysmal and has been for a couple of years.

No kidding, they hired that convicted felon City Councilman at what $250K per year, while everyone else works there for peansuts, $25K or less-that might get people's moral down????????

Was it Zuchett they hired at $250K-the one in that stripper scandal??? I don't recall.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 3:46 p.m.

I don't recall anyone in the stripper scandal being hired, but it's possible. Let's say this: there have been some strange hires, and that's one reason for the poor morale. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 July 27, 2011 @ 6:33 p.m.

I Googled this-it was Zucchet. Zucchet served as a San Diego city council member from November 2002 to July 2005.

Zucchet worked at the Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) as a Project Manager in 2006. He was making a cash salary of $225 or $250K as I recall-it was OUTRAGEOUS!!!! Z

ucchet became acting Mayor after Dick Murphy resigned July 15, 2005. But three days later, he too resigned after he was convicted in U.S. District Court of one count of conspiracy, five counts of wire fraud and three counts of extortion. This was in connection with a scheme involving fellow City Councilman Ralph Inzunza to get the city's "no touch" laws at strip clubs repealed. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Michael_... .

I remember interviewing with UCAN when I graduated from college, and they were paying essentially minimum wage for a college graduate. I think it would have been a very cool job, but the pay was a joke, a 100% deal killer. So when I hear stories like Zucchet-who was a convicted felon- I really am glad I stayed away from them.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 6:45 p.m.

As I recall, the judge threw out most of the Zucchet convictions. He was to be retried on two counts, but eventually those charges were dropped, too. He now heads the union for municipal employees. He was with UCAN at one point. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston July 30, 2011 @ 11:27 p.m.

I recall reading in City Beat a few months ago that it was Sol Price who helped Zucchet get his position at UCAN. Essentially, he made a "donation" to them providing most of the funding for his position. According to the City Beat article, the day he resigned, Sol Price called and asked him what he needed. Zucchet said he needed a job and help with legal bills. The two men met that afternoon, and Price laid out for Zucchet how he was going to fund a new position at the nonprofit organization of Zucchet’s choosing

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Twister July 27, 2011 @ 4:12 p.m.

One should not allow oneself to become distracted by minutiae, nor should one fail to apply timely corrective action before a total blow-up.

I have often wondered, however without any solid evidence, whether UCAN might be largely cosmetic. One direct experience (not with Shames but with one of the higher-ups--perhaps a rung under him?) did little to shore up my confidence in UCAN or in NGO's in general. I offered to assist with a matter of immediate concern (or so the publicity stated), but was brushed off, even though I had something to offer that UCAN didn't have.

What U CAN do is send money. This does not make you a "member." To me "member" ALWAYS means PARTICIPATING member. Boards are self-perpetuating in most so-called "non-profits," and member participation is inconsistent with their maintaining absolute power.

I have let my "membership" expire in ALL of the non-profits in which I had "member" status. One time I was a paid consultant to a major national non-profit and had my contract cancelled because “they” didn’t like a Op-Ed piece I wrote. Unfortunately, it was published by the New York Times and was picked up off the wire by several dailies, resulting in very wide dissemination. The resulting losses were in the high five-figures. Being a “member” too, I had received “information” from the organization that I considered outright lies. What we have here, is a “profession” of “admin” types who specialize in non-profits and other lobbying groups who are not driven by the “good deeds” that are supposed to be carried out by the NPO’s. Governmental organizations operate in much the same way. I think “you have to be there” to understand just how pervasive this habit is.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 6:50 p.m.

As the column states, there are some who believe that UCAN is a charade. SDGE wants a 10% rate increase. It asks for 15%, Shames protests, and it gets knocked back to 12%. Then UCAN gets a big intervenor fee, of which Shames takes 10% off the top. SDGE is delighted; it gets more than it wanted. Some believe the whole thing is a big orchestrated dance. I have not necessarily believed that, but it is worth looking into, certainly. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister July 27, 2011 @ 7:13 p.m.

Evidence, evidence, evidence.

Keep up the good work, Don.

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Twister July 27, 2011 @ 4:13 p.m.

If UCAN is a diversionary display window, a well-placed brick might be in order?

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 6:52 p.m.

Come now. No violence. Or threat thereof. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister July 27, 2011 @ 7:11 p.m.

Note the "if" (and the "brick" should, of course, be figurative, not literal, nor made of straw-men).

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Twister July 27, 2011 @ 7:05 p.m.

Re: Bob_Hudson 10:10 a.m., Jul 27, 2011

". . . At this point the board needs to take control, set up clear compensation policies and report itself to the PUC and others . . ."

Regardless of facts, this board and all other boards of such self-perpetuating perpetuators perpetrating misleading hyperbole, whether by commission or omission, intentional or not, upon members and the public "needs" to RESIGN, calling for elections among the membership, AND, they "need" to maintain crystal-clear transparency by the ultimate in openness in every way. I should not have to mention that this includes ALL financial information in detail and consistent adherence to the organization's charter, all of which should be provided to all members and prospective members, whether or not they ask for it.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 7:33 p.m.

"Self-perpetuating perpetrators" -- San Diego in a nutshell. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh July 27, 2011 @ 8:30 p.m.

The concept behind UCAN was a strong one--SDGE was running roughshod and amok with its arrogance and isolation from the local population. So, an advocate for the ratepayers would provide a counterbalance to unbridled SDGE rapacity. Too often these non-profits end up hijacked by a power structure that is mostly involved in increasing its own compensation. That is what has happened here. UCAN is all about Shames filling his pockets for a few years and then bailing out. I sent small contributions to UCAN a few times, several years ago. Those stopped about the time that UCAN got into commentary about gasoline prices (not involving a public utility at all) and a couple other local costs-of-living. It would be good for all consumers to be very skeptical about the value, effectiveness and overall honesty of many of these advocacy groups. Too many are not doing what they claim to do but are just living the life of Riley and neglecting their mission.

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Don Bauder July 27, 2011 @ 10:18 p.m.

I hope your analysis is not correct but I am looking into it. A lot of people fear this is exactly what happened at UCAN. Best, Don Bauder

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the_bou July 27, 2011 @ 10:26 p.m.

Totally a smear job. This piece is sad.

1st of all, the way lawyer's fees work is pretty universal - the organization (usually a partnership) makes the hourly rate and the lawyer gets a salary and a bonus if they are hard workers (or lucky, or are sleeping with a partner), usually that bonus is based on them taking more than a set number of billable hours a year and frequently is known up front by all parties. That's how you get to be a partner anyway.

2nd, UCAN charged the amount for Shames that a non-lawyer expert is allowed to charge if they have more than 13 years of experience, which dude obviously has if he's been doing this since the mid 80s (some of that time as a lawyer, too). If you want to suggest there was fraud, where's the harm? He's charging no more than a non-lawyer would be making (less, in fact, than he even could be under the rules) and the entity he's representing (which he runs right?) surely knows he's not providing them legal counsel (which you would never hire your director for anyway).

Even if dude is a jerk and the organization eats babies you're better off writing about that than what you wrote about. A little research might actually help too, unless that would be too "journalismy"

here's their IRS filing. 2009: ~$1.3 million in revenue, around the same in salaries and professional fees. http://foundationcenter.org/findfunders/990finder/

here's the PUC info on compensation rates (for a legislatively mandated program): http://docs.cpuc.ca.gov/PUBLISHED/FINAL_RESOLUTION/132649.htm

average (of 5000) non-profit CEO salary is $150K, with low ones in places like montana and winston-salem (none from San Diego):

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=topten.detail&listid=92

and a whole corner of the internet devoted to the subject on CEO compensation for non-profits:

http://www.councilofnonprofits.org/resources/resources-topic/boards-governance/executive-compensation-policies

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Don Bauder July 28, 2011 @ 8:33 a.m.

"Journalismy?" I won't charge you with specious coinage. Actually, you would be surprised to know how much research went into this piece -- a couple of years worth. On the surface, it didn't appear to be there. There is much more to this story. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister July 28, 2011 @ 8:46 a.m.

It's a shames that we live in such a cartoon-world . . . or IS it?

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Don Bauder July 28, 2011 @ 10:47 a.m.

What would we do without cartoons to satirize our world? Best, Don Bauder

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mshames July 29, 2011 @ 6:28 a.m.

Don's "article" is a disturbing demonstration of the decline of investigative journalism. It is riddled with factual inaccuracies and, most importantly, only one side of the story. Here's the inside scoop: I offered to sit down with and spend "as long as he needed" today (Friday) discussing every and all aspects of UCAN with him. "No holds barred", I offered. Don rejected my offer and insisted he needed to meet last week because of his self-imposed deadline to get the story out yesterday. When I explained to him that I was in the midst of week-long hearings in San Francisco, in which I'm trying to get the regulators to deny SDG&E a $39 million increase he seemed to feel that his story was more important than those hearings.

If he had sat down with me today, as I had offered, he would have learned a couple of essential facts that never made it into his story. He spends an awful lot of time talking about the Dostart report. Turns out, the version of the Dostart report that he had in his possession was an early draft whose facts had not been verified and, in fact, are wrong. It was wrong about my salary and bonuses. It was wrong in that it left out the fact that ALL the attorneys at UCAN get the same 10% bonus and have been working under that arrangement for over 15 years. And it had been approved by the UCAN Board numerous times.

He seized on a year in which I received $202,000 in salary and bonus. That was the year in which I received a 10% bonus on a case that dragged on for three years and in which UCAN received over $1,000,000 in reimbursed costs and fees. In that same case, UCAN was cited by regulators as having presented essential evidence that got the Sunrise Powerlink moved out of Anza-Borrego State Park and in which we were credited for having submitted a redesign of SDG&E's transmission operations that results in 10s of millions of dollars in operational savings. Did Don check to see the compensation for other non-profit attorneys with 25-years experience who also served as the executive directors of those organization? Of course not.

There are actually a number of other "facts" in Don's piece which are either wrong or inflated. But had Don really been so interested in getting the facts right, he might have tried to find out why I had chosen to be an inactive member of the Bar. (check out http://articles.latimes.com/1987-01-22/news/mn-405_1_state-bar) Or what steps I took to make sure that I didn't fall afoul of State Bar rules. For example, did I seek compensation rates at the level that licensed attorneys charge? It is all in public records, but Don didn't bother checking that out. Or, if he did, he declined to mention it in his story.

Michael Shames

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mshames July 29, 2011 @ 6:30 a.m.

BUT WAIT THERE'S MORE ---

Due to space limits, I have had to divide my response into two comments.....

For all of Don's bluster about whether I was misleading the CPUC by "masquerading" as a licensed attorney (which I wasn't) he hasn't identified who was harmed? Clearly, the CPUC wasn't misled. How about the public? Did he find someone who said "I'd never have given money to UCAN if I knew that Mr. Shames had become an inactive member of the State Bar." And would that same public member have disagreed that when I went inactive it was as a protest against the rampant mismanagement of that very controversial regulatory entity back in the 80s? Not likely. In fact, at the time I did it, I was lauded for "walking the walk" and sending an important message to the State Bar.

The reality is that Don wants to try to paint UCAN as a mismanaged, out-of-control non-profit. He alludes to there being only four Board members, yet doesn't mention that there were eight members up until March of this year, when a UCAN employee threatened to personally sue the volunteer UCAN Board members. Four of them chose not to expose themselves to that kind of litigation exposure and I don't blame them. For what Board members get paid (nothing), who needs that aggravation and legal exposure? I'm hugely impressed with the Board members who stayed and chose to fight purely on principle.

Nor does Don point out WHO is making these accusations about UCAN and what are their motivations. Would it matter if they were employees who had been terminated from their jobs because of non-performance? He mentions that the Dostart report didn't address a number of other management controversies -- none of which are documented or supported. Nor did he look into the cause of "complete disorganization" to which he alludes in his closing paragraph. For one, it is totally untrue. And second, any internal discord stems from my announcement to staff and others back in 2010 that I was no longer going to serve as Executive Director of UCAN after the end of the 2011 SDG&E General Rate Case. An internal staff battle for control of the organization and its significant assets ensued. Of course, Don didn't bother mentioning any of that. And all because he needed to get his story out under his timeline and his convenience.

So welcome, San Diego Reader customers, to convenient journalism where we get whatever facts are conveniently available and that can be made to sound salacious and scandalous, even if no such scandal exists. Apparently, the problem isn't isolated to Rupert Murdoch-owned news outlets. Then again, did his News Corporation buy the San Diego Reader when we weren't looking? Perhaps Don could investigate that as well.

Michael Shames

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SurfPuppy619 July 29, 2011 @ 1:19 p.m.

The reality is that Don wants to try to paint UCAN as a mismanaged, out-of-control non-profit.

Paying Zucchet $250K, or whatever it was, while everyone else gets close to minimum wage is a pretty good indication of mismanagement to me (and out of control as to the $250K salary).

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 10:55 a.m.

That's only one example. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 10:54 a.m.

I stand by every word of the Shames article. I think it was quite fair to Shames. It appears he is unaware of the depth of unhappiness within his own organization. This unhappiness is based on sound reasons. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister July 31, 2011 @ 9:12 p.m.

MS: Why not take a few deep breaths, then cite, one by one, the exact quotes from Bauder's piece that you consider inaccurate, then refute them with facts and evidence?

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JustWondering July 29, 2011 @ 8:49 a.m.

Fascinating! I await Mr. Bauder's response.

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 10:56 a.m.

My response to Shames's answer is above. I was out of town and didn't get to it until today (July 31). Best, Don Bauder

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Susan B July 29, 2011 @ 3:07 p.m.

I have been very disappointed in Mr. Shames' seeming lack of support for those who report health effects from San Diego Gas & Electric's pulsed radiation-emitting smart meters (now on every building including your home). He has insisted on peer-reviewed studies to prove the smart meters were causing harm, even when the meters were "sprung" on an unsuspecting public just in the past year, without any safety testing. My question, never answered adequately, was, "why, Mr. Shames, do you support the smart grid and smart meters without peer reviewed studies to show they were safe ahead of time, but when thousands report illness (like sleeping problems, headaches, dizziness, seizures, etc.) you want peer-reviewed studies to prove it is from the meters?" (As if we could order them up ourselves.) The only other entities who conduct themselves like this are the utilities and I thought UCAN should be more concerned about the sick customers. To his credit, he did file a UCAN Application to have CPUC require SDG&E to allow customers who didn't want smart meters for any reason, to be able to opt-out. This was important. I just wish that people reporting illness from the dangerous radiation-emitting meters would have been treated better. I am sick from my meter and called and wrote UCAN and felt very badly after the interchange. And yes, the website said he was an attorney, I remember that. But today it doesn't. Maybe it should have said "inactive attorney". Lastly, I wonder if this attack on Mr. Shames might have come because he has confronted SDG&E with the opt-out application...? Visit www.smartmeterdangers.org for more info on smart meters and health problems. EVERYONE needs to learn about that and help get these dangerous wireless meters off our homes.

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Susan B July 29, 2011 @ 3:11 p.m.

The question about salary might be - is it commensurate with other nonprofit directors' salaries? Bonuses sound unprofessional to me, personally. But a commensurate salary sounds appropriate.

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SurfPuppy619 July 29, 2011 @ 4:36 p.m.

The question about salary might be - is it commensurate with other nonprofit directors' salaries

No, it has nothing to do with what anyone else was making.

If Zuchett was pulling down $250K while the grunts on the front linex, the employees doing the REAL WORK and are only getting $20K-$25K, then you have problems.

Zuchett was connected in. He was paid 10 times what the hardcore frontline workers were receiving.

That is all you need to know-IMO- to know mismanagement there was rampant.

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 11:13 a.m.

Yours is a good point, SP. Other similar examples may enter this part of the discussion. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 11:11 a.m.

Of course, to know whether Shames's take-home money is commensurate with that of chief executives in similar organizations (such as TURN) one would have to be sure that he/she knew Shames's total take-home pay, from whatever source. The same would be true of the organizations whose CEO pay is being compared with Shames's. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 10:58 a.m.

You raise an interesting point. Best, Don Bauder

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Susan B July 29, 2011 @ 6:29 p.m.

"Smart Meters May Cause Cancer and Autism", according to a well known European scientist, Andrew Goldsworthy, PhD, past scientific advisor to European Space Agency on the biological effects of non-ionizing radiation. A huge related issue which is not being looked at enough by UCAN are the dangerous utility smart meters that SDG&E has put on our homes and workplaces - pulsed radiofrequency radiation in high bursts, pouring through your home at the speed of light, every 75 seconds (84,000 times a day) at levels associated with serious biological and health effects, including cancer. Do we need this just so SDG&E can make billions off gouging us during peak hours and laying off their meter readers? Yet, UCAN is gung ho over the smart grid and has been, for years. Not doing their homework. Not really supporting the utility customers as they said they were. Rude to me when I brought forth this VERY important issue that risks the health and lives of millions. I take issue with this and invite Don Bauder to do an investigative story on this - in addition to the last one in April, 2011. That one scratched the surface. www.smartmeterdangers.org. Join Southern Californians Against Smart Meters at www.electrosmogprevention.org. Email me at director@electrosmogprevention.org if you have smart meter problems or concerns. Mr. Shames, what say you on this topic, here, publicly?

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Susan B July 29, 2011 @ 7:20 p.m.

Want to see what sick people who have been harmed by smart meters have to endure from UCAN?????:

Read the conversation about smart meters including Michael's comments on http://www.ucan.org/forum/forums/energy/sdg_e_disputes/billing_dispute.

and also Health Effects of Smart Meters -- Overstated & Underproven Posted April 7th, 2011 by michael

http://www.ucan.org/energy/electricity/advanced_metering/health_effects_smart_meters_overstated_underproven

"UCAN News

An increasing number of SDG&E customers are raising concerns about smart meters' impacts upon their health. The non-ionizing radiation emitted from smart meters has become an increasingly polarizing issue. A few customers view the meters as deadly ray-emitters polluting their homes. While others couldn't care less. We care. We care enough to say that, so far, there's no compelling evidence that smart meters being installed in San Diego pose a real and present danger to any customers. And here's why.

We've reviewed a lot of the literature out in the public domain. Most useful is the report titled "Health Impacts of Radio Frequency from Smart Meters", authored by the California Council on Science and Technology. ...BLAH BLAH

(HERE MICHAEL QUOTES A HIGHLY CRITICIZED (BY SCIENTISTS), FLAWED, BIASED REPORT - CCST IS A PARTNER OF THE US DOE, ARCHITECT AND FUNDER OF THE SMART METERS - THANKS BUT NO THANKS, WE DON'T NEED UTILITY PROPAGANDA ON THE UCAN SITE! THIS IS NOT WATCHDOGGING, IT IS SPEWING OUT THE SAME DRIVEL AS THE UTILITY COMPANIES)

Some VALID, INDEPEDENT sources: Daniel Hirsch, Radiation Expert: Smart Meters Worse Than Cell Phones – Two Orders of Magnitude http://www.smartmeterdangers.org/index.php/ten-things-you-should-know-about-wireless-smart-meters/85-smart-meters-worse

Cindy Sage: SIGNIFICANT SMART METER HEALTH RISKS AT 1 TO 6 FEET http://www.smartmeterdangers.org/index.php/smart-meter-research/82-sage-smart-meter-report-addendum

Dr. Olle Johansson: http://www.smartmeterdangers.org/index.php/position-statements/163-johanssoncpucletter

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 11:22 a.m.

Obviously, this deserves more discussion and investigation. Best, Don Bauder

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tomjohnston July 30, 2011 @ 7:51 a.m.

ConcernedCitizen, I have no opinion on smart meters either way. But I would suggest that invoking the name of a "well known European scientist" whose Doctorate is in Botany and most of whose work has been related to the effects of electrical and electromagnetic fields on plants, might not be wisest choice. He also wrote this: "There are now a vast number of publications linking exposure to electromagnetic fields to various biological effects, at almost all levels of evolution, including man. In humans, they range from effects on brain function to the promotion of cancer and (amongst other things) have given cause for concern about the health effects of using mobile phones and various domestic appliances. However, there is as yet no proven explanation for the mechanism."

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 11:23 a.m.

The cell phone controversy seems to be dominating public colloquy on the topic. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 11:20 a.m.

As far as I know, my column on SDG&E's smart meters about two years ago was the first printed. At the time, the SDG&E flack was extremely suspicious and reluctant to respond. I attributed that to the fact that she considers anybody who challenges the downtown establishment -- particularly me -- as a menace to society. The more I ponder it, however, the more I think that SDG&E might have been aware of the possible radiation dangers. Frankly, I wasn't even aware of them at the time. Best, Don Bauder

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OldClassmate July 30, 2011 @ 11:39 a.m.

"Leave Mike alone". As far as I am concerned this article is a political hit job. Nothing more than a "swift boat add". Focus on real violations like those perpetrated on the public by SDG&E and its sub contractors with the wireless smart meters and grid. Civil rights, constitutional rights, Disability rights and Consumer rights have been violated by the utility in implementing this unpopular and stealthly installed "wireless smart grid and wireless smart meters"

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Don Bauder July 31, 2011 @ 11:25 a.m.

I think the Reader does a very good job exposing anti-social policies of SDGE. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh July 31, 2011 @ 5:25 p.m.

Don Bauder has done a bang-up job of pointing out the abuses and attitudes of SDGE for a long time. To the degree he could get past his "censors" back in his U-T days, he did the same. In case anyone thinks he's doing a hit job on Shames on behalf of the utility, let me assure you that such is definitely, emphatically, not the case!

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Don Bauder Aug. 1, 2011 @ 8:52 a.m.

Just about the last institution I would protect is SDGE. Its rapacity is harming San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

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nan shartel July 31, 2011 @ 7:20 p.m.

Don is always true to his journalistic self...of that u can be sure

he's one helluva guy!

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Don Bauder Aug. 1, 2011 @ 8:54 a.m.

Leave it to Nan to step up on behalf of an investigative journalist. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister Aug. 3, 2011 @ 8:15 a.m.

Don't let this issue die. If Shames doesn't respond on point, his credibility will be zero.

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Don Bauder Aug. 3, 2011 @ 12:31 p.m.

There are other points to be considered on this subject. Best, Don Bauder

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