Ian Pike 4 p.m., March 9
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Why I Am Voting “NO” on Proposition 16, Not Needed as a Constitutional Amendment
There will be a battle for supremacy in California this year, and the tide of battle will turn on the vote for or against Proposition 16.
Proposition 16 is a proposed constitutional amendment that will revise the fundamental structure of governance in California. If passed, Proposition 16 will raise corporations that are investor owned utilities to a position where their current power franchise agreements with California cities will be gutted (see Franchise Act of 1937, California Public Utilities Code), so that utilities now operating under those agreements are suddenly immune from the municipal powers of condemnation that those franchise agreements already contain. Under Proposition 16, any future attempt to form a local municipal power utility in the service area of an existing investor owned utility must have a two-thirds super-majority by popular vote before having approval to start. An existing investor owned utility which would not use Proposition 16 constitutionality to void any future municipal condemnation attempt would be considered a "must sell" by energy sector investors and speculators.
Proposition 16 must be a constitutional amendment, so that the franchise interpretation and enforcement language contained in California's Public Utilities Code can be bypassed via clever utility lawyering as a constitutional interpretation matter over public utility statutes in the Courts, putting the interests of corporate stockholders and speculators ahead of the people of California who are then merely captive utility consumers for all legal and constitutional purposes. For the investor owned utilities, Proposition 16 is a constitutional guarantee of perpetual prosperity with virtually no threat of the people in any town forming a large enough majority to mount any competition.
The passage of Proposition 16 may well be an energy sector speculators' constitutional land rush into every California county not already under the overhead power line control of an existing investor owned utility. If that happens, then even more of us will end up with the utilities' Wildfire Expense Balancing Account (WEBA) future legal tab to consumers if the WEBA application already filed by those corporate utilities gets approved by the California Public Utilities Commission later this year.
With Proposition 16 amending the California Constitution, any power franchise language that requires power franchise interpretations to be made in favor of the people and not the power company will just disappear as moot. Any mayor who is in favor of Proposition 16 has just given up any claim of being in favor of a strong mayor form of government, as the strength of government by Proposition 16 is taken away from both charter and general law cities and instead transferred to the existing investor owned utilities by action of the California Constitution. Any city attorney in favor needs to be recalled immediately for aiding an enemy of the people's right under franchise to the municipal initiative process. In effect, those investor owned public utilities are using the initiative process to remove the rights of citizens to have our local governments make power franchises by good faith negotiation and then to have those franchise agreements enforced under state law for our benefit. Citizens in cities would also lose the power to amend those existing franchise agreements on there own terms, by a simple majority vote on their own popular initiative.
The people of California should never surrender our rights to any corporations that exist for the benefit first and foremost of their stock-holding investors and speculators. The people of California should never grant constitutional immunity from municipal condemnation to the same corporations that have the statutory right to use public utility condemnation by imminent domain over any of us. Doing either of those things generally means that the sovereign people of California are sovereign over nothing.
To be truthful, Proposition 16 is a collective state-wide IQ test: if it passes, we don't.