Diogenes

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Put up or cover-up, public utilities commission?

Don, Aguirre's detractors filed complaints with the State Bar against him so that the UT could claim that Aguirre was "under investigation." None of those complaints were found to have any merit. Unfortunately, such complaints come under an immunity from civil litigation. You know all this already. I just provide the comment for the benefit of others who may not have followed the smear campaign against Aguirre. Aguirre stood tall when others tried to personally exploit the Sunroads controversy and the Pension debacle, like the former head of the SEC (Levitt) collecting millions per month for being a "consultant" to San Diego in the pension crisis. San Diego tries to run to big law firms to cover it's backside. Sounds like the PUC. The UT ran an article about Florio's emails today. There was no mention of Aguirre. The UT does not want to give him any credit. The PUC needs to ban an ex parte communication. The State Bar strictly prohibits these contacts with decision-makers. There is good reason for that. Attorneys involved in those contacts are being warned that the PUC rules do not relieve attorneys from their duties not to make ex part contacts with decision-makers. No such contacts should ever be made without a copy to all others parties or their counsel. The three-day rule of the PUC does NOT trump this rule in regards to attorneys. In person contacts by lawyers with decision-makers is prohibited. So the State Bar does have good effects although it's disciplinary process can be abused and exploited, as it was against Aguirre. That was not the fault of the State Bar, however. The ex parte settlement conferences should not be participated in by attorneys with decision-makers. If intervenors participate, there is nothing the State Bar has to say. But the basis of their ethical rules should be adopted by the PUC because the same rationale applies. Such a PUC rule would help clean up the rush to compromise ratepayers interests in exchange for fat intervene fees for going along with private utility explotation. Aguirre will set aside the SONGS settlement as a "private attorney general." He will get fees and set an example. Peavey needed a lesson and so does Florio. Just working on numbers on a technical level is improper because the appearance of impropriety is increased making it look like the hearings are just a post hoc dog and pony show. I will be talking to politicians about reforming this kangaroo court. They get huge "campaign contributions" so maybe the courts are the only hope. That means Aguirre and Severson.
— April 1, 2015 10:06 a.m.

Michael Shames loses appeal of libel suit

Don, Let's hope that the PUC procedures can be reformed. Today's UT article reveals that Attorney Mia Severson has noticed depositions of PUC President Michael Piker, Timothy Sullivan, Michael Florio and Michael Peevey in her lawsuit to challenge the retention of expensive criminal defense lawyers over at Shephard Mullin to defend the Commission from multiple criminal investigations now under way. These depositions are to be public, if Mia Severson gets her way. The attorneys cost $882 per hour for the big guns and $700 per hour plus for non-big gun lawyers at Sheppard Mullin. That is a very expensive taxi cab! They are talking about 5.2 million dollars to defend the Commission. I would probably advice former Chairman Michael Peevey to take the Fifth Amendment if the criminal case is strong, which I do not know. I hope that the clique is broken up on the smug little fraternity at the PUC. They think they are god-like and immune from legal process. Their cozy little backroom deals are over. Sunshine is the best antiseptic. Bravo! Mia Severson is one tough cookie. Hopefully, the SONGS settlement can be set aside and documents discovered and depositions taken in that matter. That settlement was a huge fraud on ratepayers. Phase three involved the key issue of prudence. How can a 4.5 billion dollar settlement be based on lack of discovery and public hearings? The answer is that a massive cover-up went down. Best to you, Don.
— March 28, 2015 11:59 a.m.

Michael Shames loses appeal of libel suit

Thanks, Don. I have had experience with the PUC in advising an intervenor and in making statements at public meetings of the PUC. Reading all the filings by the various intervenors is quite revealing. Many decided to recommend the settlement at SONGS on the basis that the PUC had already made up its mind. How true that was! Thank God for Aguirre/Severson, Ray Lutz and Rochelle Becker who did not give in. The next Governor of California is now the Lt. Governor. He may be more inclined to listen to consumers. Then there is the Wrath of Aguirre/Severson in the former of their federal lawsuit. The criminal investigations and civil suits should help end the dog-and'pony show that is the PUC. Ex part settlement conferences need to be ended. Maybe court oversight of the PUC will need to be ongoing under court orders. Reading through the documents regarding the SONGS settlement reveals a deeply flawed system. I told the Commissioners in Costa Mesa last year that all documents should be produced first, the authors placed under oath and questioned, and the issue of prudence determined BEFORE settlement. They literally hung their heads in shame but went ahead and approved the settlement. There was a huge cover-up at SONGS. The operator endangered 8.5 million people in Southern California. Documents have been withheld from Senator Boxer's Committee. It is beyond criminal. Thanks to some very determined people that terrible fate was avoided. Now it it time for justice. The UT ran an article today about the search warrants executed at former Chairman Michael Peevey's home. Add this to San Bruno and Diablo Canyon misconduct and one begins to see the dimensions of the problem. Keep up the reporting of this important issue.
— March 27, 2015 3:15 p.m.

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