Jeff Smith 6:35 p.m., June 27
Kipperman Named UCAN Receiver
Superior Court John S. Meyer today (March 23) named Richard Kipperman to be receiver of Utility Consumers' Action Network, the beleaguered watchdog that is under investigation of the U.S. Attorney's office, has been sued by whistleblowers, and has engaged in several questionable financial transactions that have not been explained.
In essence, neither side got what it wanted. The whistleblowers wanted no receiver named. UCAN originally wanted Bob Ames, who had served as chief operating officer since April. That was clearly a conflict and Ames has left the organization.
UCAN's lawyer wanted Kipperman, but he says that he has "fairly limited duties." He will "take over the cash, investment accounts, try to maintain operations" as a neutral party. "I want to take the fear out of employees," he says. This is important because whistleblowers fear that a receiver will fire employees, particularly the whistleblowers, and then set up a new organization.
"We will try to be as close as humanly possible to business as usual," says Kipperman. The U.S. Attorney investigation will go on, as will the whistleblowers' civil suit. UCAN says it is broke, but its chief executive, Michael Shames, has told the North County Times that the organization has $2.5 million in the bank.
Kipperman says that if it makes no sense to keep the organization going, then UCAN may have to be shut down and a new organization set up. This, however, is what Shames threatened to do a year ago, and whistleblowers think Ames, who has spent his career doing bankruptcies, was trying to move that process along.