Michael Peevey
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The publication SFGate revealed yesterday (July 26) just how cozy officials of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) are with the utilities they are supposed to regulate.

The City of San Bruno, which suffered a 2010 gas-pipeline explosion that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes, sued the CPUC for not releasing the emails. San Bruno has justifiably blasted the CPUC for its lax regulation of the offending utility, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E).

As a result of the suit, 7000 previously protected emails were released. San Bruno officials say they are proof of a "cozy relationship" between the CPUC and the Bay Area utility. (The National Transportation Safety Board noted there was a "culture of complacency" at the regulatory body that was supposed to ensure that PG&E operated pipelines safely.)

These emails show more than complacency. In a series of emails, the chief of staff to CPUC president Michael Peevey wrote a PG&E official on how the company could handle a demand from San Bruno. The chief of staff told PG&E to send San Bruno a "sweet note," and tell the city that the matter in dispute was moot. "And then wait for them to throw a fit," said the chief of staff. The PG&E official replied, "Love you."

On another occasion, Peevey told PG&E's vice president of regulatory affairs that he had erred in saying publicly that the company expected to be criminally charged. "Anticipating all this only meant the public got to read two big stories rather than one,” Peevey told the executive. "I think this was inept." Why should the head of the CPUC be worried about a utility's public relations acuity? It's obvious why.

San Bruno says PG&E had sent confidential financial information to the CPUC, apparently trying to show that a financial penalty for the San Bruno disaster would hurt the company.

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Comments

Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 8:27 a.m.

Anon92107: Peevey is a longtime friend of Jerry Brown, according to press reports.

Peevey's main interest at the CPUC has been jacking up utility profits while screwing consumers. Yet Brown keeps his friend at the post. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel July 28, 2014 @ 11:10 a.m.

Brown could remove Peevey as president of the commission. but he can't remove him from his seat on the commission. Perhaps Brown has decided just to let things play out until Peevey's term is up in December.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 11:15 p.m.

danfogel: Peevey hopes that by that time, Edison will have thoroughly fleeced the public over San Onofre, with the CPUC's blessing. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 July 28, 2014 @ 4:33 a.m.

Don, more proof that criminally negligent utilities, and the CPUC, Gov., judges and legislature they control have absolutely no regard for public safety when it comes to maximizing profits.

Gas pipeline deaths and San Onofre nuclear threats are normal business practices with this bunch, they can charge whatever they want to pay for their crimes against California families.

What you are now proving Don, is that the future of California is in rapidly increasing grave jeopardy because we have no leaders with integrity to protect California families from out of control corruption.

Erie needs to update his "Paradise Plundered" book to include the entire state of California, but then far too many university professors have a "watch and do nothing" ethic themselves when it comes to protecting their own Ivory Tower aristocracy regardless of future consequences, which is another story altogether.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 8:29 a.m.

Anon92107: Next time I speak with Erie, which could be today, I will mention your suggestion that he update "Paradise Plundered" to include the whole state. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 10:44 a.m.

CONGRESSWOMAN SAYS PEEVEY SHOULD RESIGN. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, who represents the San Francisco/San Mateo area, says this morning that "If Mike Peevey wants to be a consultant to PG&E then he should resign [as president of the California Public Utilities Commission.]"

Speier agrees with San Bruno that Peevey "should be removed from negotiating the settlement [with the city following the 2010 gas-pipeline explosion] and penalty because he obviously has a bias."

Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 July 28, 2014 @ 11:05 a.m.

Don, I really liked Erie's book, but I would very much like to see him, and his UC and SU colleagues take his Fight Back campaign to the Robert Reich national and international level of informing and motivating people to act now, because we need for a lot more professors and scholars to join together and speak out against the destruction of our civilization that our politicians are creating around the world.

We need a better way to protect the future for our newest generations and our legacy just keeps getting more unconscionable with no thought of long-term consequences at all in order to satisfy the most outrageously destructive culture of greed in history.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 11:33 a.m.

Anon92107: Agreed on all points. But if Erie is going to write "Paradise Plundered" and apply it to the whole state, he will scarcely have time to write a third book on national and international corruption. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 July 28, 2014 @ 12:19 p.m.

Don, maybe he should concentrate on just saving civilization first, then he can pick and choose from what remains.

Will and Ariel Durant warned us about failures to save prior civilizations but no one seems to really care about what history is telling us, so maybe Erie can get us to focus on survival first because everyone else has failed up until now, even Robert Reich needs a lot more support from his colleagues.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 3:14 p.m.

Anon92107: Tomorrow I should be speaking with Steve Erie on another matter. I shall ask him if he would like to save civilization. He is definitely trying to save San Diego from itself. Best, Don Bauder

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monaghan July 28, 2014 @ 1:09 p.m.

I would say this borders on criminal -- but of course, it's just government business as usual, with Governor Jerry Brown responsible and negligent for not requiring that his buddy, utilities-complicit California Public Utilities Commission head Michael Peevey, resign immediately or be fired.

The terrifying gas explosion in the northern California suburb of San Bruno that killed eight people and destroyed 38 homes happened FOUR YEARS AGO, and culpability and restitution are still unsettled. Obvious responsibility lies with Pacific Gas & Electric which failed to maintain old gas lines and had no emergency shut-off systems in place to prevent spreading conflagration.

Now there's proof in cavalier CYA emails between CPUC Peevey's staffer and PG&E.

Please, Reader readers, this is not about ivory tower commentator and reformer UCSD Professor Steve Erie. This is about current elected officials, chiefly the too-often-sanctimonious Governor Jerry Brown, who needs to man up and do the right thing, even though he is running for re-election.

Readers should contact the office of junketing Governor Brown and demand that he get rid of California Public Utility Commission chairman Michael Peevey.

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Anon92107 July 28, 2014 @ 1:54 p.m.

Very well said Monaghan, I submitted my demand to junketing Governor Brown.

However, we must also demand help from our Ivory Tower intellectuals or they shall once again fail to meet the challenges of change that have destroyed all other civilizations, as documented by Will and Ariel Durant.

We can no longer trust politicians in either party, as Brown keeps proving.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 11:17 p.m.

Anon92107: True. Both parties are corrupt. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 3:16 p.m.

monaghan: There is even more about Peevey -- much worse than these emails. I will post it below. Best, Don Bauder

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CaptD July 28, 2014 @ 1:51 p.m.

I bet Michael Aguirre's FOI request will be the final nail in Mr. Peevey's CPUC Presidency coffin, which will show that Peevey also did the same for SCE and/or SDG&E.

I expect to see Peevey step down from his Presidency for some vague reason but will try and remain a voting member on the CPUC.

Gov. Brown has lost all credibility yet I'm sure he expects to get re-elected because of his "track record" of being better than his rivals, which are always pictured as worse than he is.

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Anon92107 July 28, 2014 @ 2:01 p.m.

CaptD, Brown proves how much trouble American Democracy is in, especially since he has become as unacceptable as his rivals.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 3:19 p.m.

Anon92107: But remember the good things Brown has done. He ended redevelopment, which was lining the pockets of the rich developers and taking the money from schools. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 3:18 p.m.

CaptD: It would be a step forward to see Peevey step down -- for ratepayers and for California. See my post below. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 3:31 p.m.

SAN BRUNO SAYS PEEVEY SHOULD RECUSE HIMSELF FRM EXPLOSION CASE, SAYING HE HAS BROKEN CPUC RULES BY HOLDING 41 EX PARTE COMMUNICATIONS WITH PG&E EXECUTIVES. The City of San Bruno today (July 28) filed a motion stating that California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) President Michael Peevey should recuse himself from the hearing over the explosion that rocked San Bruno in 2010.

The commission should show cause why Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) should not be held in violation of commission rules of practice and procedure, says San Bruno, and Peevey should recuse himself from the pending legal matters over the explosion and PG&E's and the commission's negligence.

Examinations of public records "demonstrate that President Peevey and PG&E have actively participated in improper, pervasive, systematic and continuous ex parte communications from March 16, 2011 to April 4, 2014...None of these separate communications were proffered to the other parties, introduced into the record, made public or noticed as an ex parte communication," says San Bruno in the filing.

Obviously, Peevey should resign his post immediately, or Gov. Brown should fire him. Best, Don Bauder

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danfogel July 28, 2014 @ 5:20 p.m.

They actually filed 2 motions today. The other asks for sanctions against PG&E for violating a commission rule against private communications in regulatory proceedings. I still doubt that Peevey will step down, either as president of the commission or from the commission altogether. And as I said above, Brown could remove Peevey from his post as president, but that's about it. He's not going to get the State Senate to act, so maybe he will just let the whole situation remedy itself by not renominating Peevey, IF Peevey even wants to come back.

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Don Bauder July 28, 2014 @ 11:19 p.m.

danfogel: I, too, doubt that Peevey will step down, or that Brown will remove him. He may get out of there when his term is up, though. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 July 29, 2014 @ 3:36 a.m.

Don, the bottom line fact is that Brown and the brain-dead democratic party have caused such low voter turnouts that they keep making it easier for get out the vote republicans to win.

One would think that PG&E gas system deaths and SCE nuclear contamination threats would make Brown fire Peevey, but the truth is that Brown has gone from being one of the best governors to being one of the corrupt business as usual worst governors.

As the Great Gildersleeve used to say, What A Revolting Development!

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Don Bauder July 29, 2014 @ 8:11 a.m.

Anon92107: Revolting but not surprising. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 29, 2014 @ 1:20 p.m.

CONSERVATION GROUP APPEALS CPUC'S DECISION APPROVING PIO PICO PLANT. The Protect Our Communities Foundation yesterday (July 28) filed a petition in state appellate court in San Diego, challenging the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) February decision to approve a proposed $1.6 billion natural gas power plant, Pio Pico, in Otay Mesa.

The CPUC barred testimony indicating there was no need for the plant, says the group. The regulator also refused to consider clean green alternatives to the gas-fired plant.

The Pio Pico decision was a "done deal" before the CPUC even considered it, says Bill Powers, a San Diego engineer. So opponents knew they would have to go to the appeals court even before the commissioners heard it. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 July 29, 2014 @ 2:38 p.m.

Don, do Erie and his colleagues have any solutions to the problems that he and you have documented that we can implement?

Or, are there any UC and SU professors and scholars that have any solutions we can implement to prevent losing control of our future?

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Don Bauder July 30, 2014 @ 7:10 a.m.

Anon92107: Yes, Erie offers good solutions. For one, get rid of the downtown corporate welfare establishment that runs the city, including the courts. Filner was on his way to accomplishing that. But then they got rid of Filner. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder July 30, 2014 @ 12:45 p.m.

GRAND JURY INDICTS PG&E FOR OBSTRUCTION, LYING ABOUT SAN BRUNO. A federal grand jury yesterday (July 29) criminally indicted Pacific Gas & Electric on 28 charges, including an allegation that the utility lied when it denied it had an official policy of ignoring federal law requiring requiring pipeline inspections. This is the latest news in the San Bruno explosion of 2010, which killed eight, injured 66, and destroyed 38 homes.

According to the publication SFGate.com, the indictment increases the financial penalty the company could face. PG&E could be nailed for fines of $1.3 billion on top of $2.5 billion that might be assessed by the California Public Utilities Commission. San Bruno is suing the commission for, among many things, its many unreported ex parte meetings with Michael Peevey, president of the commission.

This new unsealed indictment supersedes and strengthens an indictment that the same grand jury issued last April. The earlier indictment only cited a dozen violations and a fine of $6 million. Now the company is indicted on 27 counts of violating the Pipeline Safety Act and one for lying to National Transportation Safety Board investigators.

The new criminal charges "demonstrate a pattern of deceit by PG&E," say San Bruno officials. The utility made a "willful decision to divert pipeline safety funds and use them for executive compensation and shareholder returns for many decades," say the San Bruno officials.

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