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Phillip Moskal, a former employee of Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) and a long-time member, filed a complaint with the California Public Utilities Commission this morning (April 2) stating that the network may have lost its standing to intervene in the San Diego Gas & Electric general rate case because three of its board members earlier declared under penalty of perjury that the group has no members.

The complaint will be filed this week in the Superior Court case in which the network is attempting to dissolve, according to attorney Mike Aguirre, who represents whistleblowers who say the watchdog group has no right or cause to dissolve.

On February 28, three board members filed a petition for dissolution in Superior Court. In that filing, those three board members -- Kendall Squires, Niel Lynch, and Dan Conaway -- declared under oath that the action network has no members.

Moskal's filing clearly shows that UCAN has consistently claimed to have more than 30,000 members. For example, when it filed with the public utilities commission in February of 2011 to intervene in the general rate case, it claimed to have 36,000 members.

In another filing with the regulator February 27 of this year, UCAN said it had 31,000 members. Moskal cited a dozen times going back to 2008 when the network told the commission officially that it had more than 30,000 members. In its quarterly letter to its members, the network almost always included a membership fundraising letter.

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Comments

Visduh April 3, 2012 @ 9:19 a.m.

Technically speaking, if UCAN stopped soliciting dues from "members", it may have none. But I'll state unequivocally that many SD County residents have considered themselves to be UCAN members and still do. So, where does that leave the judge?

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Don Bauder April 3, 2012 @ 11:56 a.m.

UCAN solicited members every quarter in its Watchdog newsletter. The last solicitation was the December 2011 newsletter. UCAN filed for dissolution in late February. The next scheduled solicitation would have been at least a month in the future. That should hurt any claim by the UCAN board that it had already stopped soliciting dues from members. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 3, 2012 @ 2:17 p.m.

Moskal's filing clearly shows that UCAN has consistently claimed to have more than 30,000 members. For example, when it filed with the public utilities commission in February of 2011 to intervene in the general rate case, it claimed to have 36,000 members.

This is getting ugly.

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Don Bauder April 3, 2012 @ 3:41 p.m.

Indeed it is getting ugly, and more will be coming out. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister April 3, 2012 @ 2:55 p.m.

The Great Joke on us, the folk, is that NGO's and institutions of various stripes (e.g. the art museum, the Museum of Man, and the Natural History Museum, just to name a handful) are fiefdoms run by self-perpetuating "boards" which are not elected by the "membership" and are accountable to no one. Hence the arrogance-on-steroids.

They strip money from the well-intentioned multitudes in return for damned little, consolidate it, and pass it out to themselves and/or their "connections."

If you're not "connected" you're nobody.

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Don Bauder April 3, 2012 @ 3:44 p.m.

Good comment, Twister. Increasingly, law enforcement is looking at nonprofits, or I should say "purported nonprofits." Some are a rich source of funds for a handful of people. The public is not wise to what is going on. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister April 4, 2012 @ 12:39 p.m.

Can they spel IRS?

Look, folks, there are a lot of NGO's that are set up by folks who can't get a real job. Hey, it's a NO-BRAINER--the're a PERFECT REFUGE for them. And hey, a few hundred thou here a few hundred thou there, and pretty soon we're talking about REAL MONEY!

Yes, there are a lot of sincere, honest, capable folks in NGO's too, but most organizations have, by their very nature, the tendency for the hot-air-filled bs to float to the top.

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Don Bauder April 4, 2012 @ 2:15 p.m.

Some so-called nonprofits are outright scams, such as the boiler rooms that call the elderly for a donation for some cause, and keep almost all, or all, the money themselves. There are other nonprofits that may have once had a noble motive, but pretty soon were taken over by those who saw that the operation was a money machine for themselves. Best, Don Bauder

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Twister April 5, 2012 @ 9:07 a.m.

Good comment, Don. Unfortunately, only those who think to "click" on "Reply" will ever see it, thanks to this less-functional "new" system. The old system had its problems, and the new one does have some improvements, but the bottom-line is a LESS functional one.

The people who actually USE the system are in the best position to see and feel the ACTUAL function and dysfunction.

This is a management and an effective journalism issue, hence it should be of interest to this blog.

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tomjohnston April 5, 2012 @ 9:37 a.m.

I don't know. To me at least, it really doesn't take much thinking to see a button that says 2 replies and click on it to see what they. Several sites I visit regularly use this format. As much as it has taken a little time to learn to navigate the new layout, and even though there are some differences I found inconvenient, after a couple of weeks, it just isn't a big deal anymore.

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Twister April 8, 2012 @ 9:34 p.m.

It's not about you, and it's not about me; it's about the Reader and its readers. It's about USERS. The only way to find out what's really going on is to do a study of said users. Or accept the feedback or the lack of it.

The Reader site is in competition for "EYEBALLS," and more importantly eyeballs that come back and keep coming back.

The issue here is not what everybody else is doing, it's about where the cutting edge is and whether or not the Reader wants to be at the sharpest edge or fall in with all the other knives in the drawer.

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tomjohnston April 8, 2012 @ 10:41 p.m.

Sounds like someone is seriously pissed off over a change in format on a website. I don't get that because to me it's no big deal. I guess the same doesn't hold true for you because it seems as though you're doing most of the complaining that things aren't how you want them to be. That's certainly your prerogative; I just have better things to do.

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Don Bauder April 3, 2012 @ 7:34 p.m.

UCAN RECEIVER LAWYER TO RAKE IN $710 AN HOUR. In a document filed in Superior Court Monday (April 2), Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) receiver Richard Kipperman said he has retained the law firm of Foley & Lardner to assist the receiver in assessing UCAN's attempt to dissolve through the court. The law firm offered a "discount" rate: $710 an hour for the head person on the case, and $615 an hour for the second highest one. The lawyer to make $710 "makes more money in an hour and ten minutes than I do in a week," says Charles Langley, one of two whistle blowers who have brought UCAN's alleged abuses to light -- the abuses that the U.S. Attorney is probing. However, the good news for whistle blowers is Kipperman's statement, "This is a contentious case that may require investigation into past practices of Utility Consumers' Action Network Inc., which is currently subject to a grand jury investigation." Some on the inside had been concerned that Kipperman and his team would not launch an investigation of alleged financial irregularities at the watchdog.

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Visduh April 3, 2012 @ 8:30 p.m.

I'd prefer to learn that this was the subject of a DA, or Atty General's, or FBI investigation. A "grand jury investigation" may mean that that ineffectual and ignored count grand jury is looking into this. When did any sort of investigation or recommendation from that body ever mean a thing?

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Don Bauder April 4, 2012 @ 7:12 a.m.

The U.S. Attorney (basically, the FBI) announced the investigation and requested voluminous documents. The FBI is doing the investigation. That could become a grand jury matter. Best, Don Bauder

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SurfPuppy619 April 4, 2012 @ 1:43 p.m.

The law firm offered a "discount" rate: $710 an hour for the head person on the case, and $615 an hour for the second highest one. The lawyer to make $710 "makes more money in an hour and ten minutes than I do in a week," says Charles Langley,

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SurfPuppy619 April 4, 2012 @ 1:45 p.m.

  1. The head guy should not be billing very much time at such a rate-it should be farmed out to associates at $125-$150 an hour, since this is a case with a received expect Kipperman to not demand such actions, and Kipperman is a dork to start out with.

  2. All Kipperman had to do was say NO to the $710 an hour BS, that is a ridiculous fee in this economy and I can GURANTEE you that no business would ever allow such a grossly exaggerated fee to be charged (if they did they would be BK).

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Don Bauder April 4, 2012 @ 2:22 p.m.

Actually, the two lawyers making $710 and $615 an hour are ladies, not guys. I disagree with you on Kipperman. I have worked with him in the past and found him solid. Thus far, the UCAN board and its high-priced attorneys have hoodwinked the AG's office. I hope they haven't hoodwinked the judge and Kipperman. If this case is not investigated honestly -- if the UCAN board is successful in burying it -- it will be a travesty. So-called nonprofits must be held to a high standard. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 4, 2012 @ 2:17 p.m.

That's some discount, isn't it? Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder April 5, 2012 @ 8:50 p.m.

RECEIVER WANTS LAWSUITS AGAINST UCAN TEMPORARILY HALTED. Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) receiver Richard Kipperman's first report to Superior Court Judge John S. Meyer was filed today (April 5) and will be official tomorrow. Kipperman has already interviewed numerous attorneys and employees involved in UCAN's attempt to dissolve through Meyer's court. Inside whistleblowers say that UCAN's dissolution would simply give its head, Michael Shames, a chance to fire dissident employees and launch his own UCAN-like operation, as he threatened to do a year ago. In his report, Kipperman wants the lawsuits against UCAN, filed by the whistleblowers and by a former employee, suspended for at least 45 days. Kipperman says the court should deny UCAN's desire to pay $400,000 to a movie-making organization headed by Peter Navarro, a good friend of Shames. As earlier revealed, the steel company Nucor intended to pay Navarro $1 million for a China-bashing movie, but at Navarro's request, the money was to be run through UCAN, which has forwarded $600,000 of the sum it received. Kipperman says UCAN has $2.14 million in the bank and is no longer "receiving donations or contributions from its members." (As detailed above, UCAN board members swore under oath that UCAN had no members.) The UCAN imbroglio "has the potential of becoming a highly contentious case," says Kipperman. Kipperman's various meetings have "raised a number of questions regarding the past practices of UCAN's business that need to be investigated."

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nan shartel April 7, 2012 @ 5:40 p.m.

i thought i lost u 4 good....Happy Easter to u and family Don

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Don Bauder April 8, 2012 @ 9 a.m.

Not lost. Just new website. You will learn quickly to navigate it. Happy holiday to you, too. Best, Don Bauder

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