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Charles Langley, the well-known and respected executive of Utility Consumers' Action Network (UCAN) has resigned. He joined the group in 1996 at $25,000 a year. His salary has been slashed to $32,000, which adjusted for inflation is less than he was hired for. Langley and David Peffer, who has also resigned, were the whistleblowers who pointed out numerous examples of wrongdoing at the purported watchdog. Their charges were recently validated when UCAN filed a cross-complaint against its former director, Michael Shames. The suit cited exactly the wrongdoing that Langley and Peffer had told the board about. However, their revelations were met with a massive coverup attempt.

It is not clear whether Peffer and/or Langley will pursue constructive termination suits against UCAN. Whistleblowers have special protection under the law. Among many things, the cross-complaint charged that former executive director Michael Shames had farmed out lawsuits to private attorneys who reaped fat profits from work that had been done by UCAN, a non-profit. The first dozen of those lawsuits were farmed out to the firm of William Lerach, the former hyper-aggressive attorney who wound up incarcerated for his illegal activities. Langley points out that Shames's lawyer in his suit against UCAN, Hallen Rosner, is a former UCAN board member who reaped many of those gains in the private class action lawsuits in which UCAN did the original legwork. But UCAN has not moved aggressively to have Rosner removed from the suit, says Langley.

While at UCAN, Langley provided San Diego with regular information on gas prices, as well as handling public relations, marketing, and fundraising activities for the organization. Even after management changes and the cleaning out of some board members, UCAN remains "irredeemably corrupt," says Langley.

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Comments

Don Bauder June 3, 2013 @ 11:13 p.m.

MORE REVELATIONS FROM LANGLEY'S RESIGNATION LETTER: I have been leaked a letter that Langley wrote to Don Kelly, who as a former student of USD law professor Robert Fellmeth, co-founder of UCAN, was recruited by Fellmeth to head UCAN. (Fellmeth, Shames's mentor, also recruited other former students and colleagues to the board.) Langley says that UCAN "is actively tampering with the grand jury's investigation into [UCAN's] finances." This has been suspected by outside observers for some time. Langley also says that UCAN is trying to permit its former executive director, Michael Shames, to keep half a million dollars in bonuses that the state Attorney General's office said should be returned to UCAN. Some time ago, UCAN demanded that Shames return the funds. Langley also wants to know how $1.4 million was "magically transferred from 2010 to 2011" in a recent audit. The juggling of funds in audits has been evident for some time, because UCAN was trying to hold annual revenues below $2 million, lest an independent audit be triggered. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 June 4, 2013 @ 3:24 a.m.

This is a worst possible time for a so-called ratepayer champion to be held in contempt of public trust. Ratepayers whose utilities owned San Onofre can expect to be threatened with rate increases for the worst case of criminal negligence in electric utility history by SCE and CPUC. The motto for these utilities and the CPUC is now "Management Corruption, Threats Against Public Safety and Engineering Incompetence R Us." The utility executives who produced the 2000 Energy Crisis have now created the worst electric utility crisis in California history.

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Don Bauder June 4, 2013 @ 7:12 a.m.

Since I began writing about the internal mess at UCAN in 2011, I have feared this is the wrong time to expose an organization at least outwardly trying to stop SDG&E's depredations. But one can't let such sentiments block an investigation. UCAN under prior management was not doing its job -- indeed, was too cozy with SDG&E. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 June 4, 2013 @ 12:31 p.m.

Michael Peevey was appointed CPUC President in 2002 after having been president of the SCE, Peevey is the root cause of criminal corruption and negligence by public utility executives in California who have been granted impunity by Peevey.

As you have reported so well, UCAN has made it worse for the people of San Diego by not protecting the ratepayers.

But the paramount fact remains that the greatest threat to ratepayers today is San Onofre.

The consequences of San Onofre related criminal acts by the CPUC and SCE will result in skyrocketing utility rates, so we had better focus on preventing the ratepayers being forced to subsidize shareholder wealth in times when executives are committing criminal acts against ratepayer interests with the impunity granted by the CPUC.

Maybe it is time for the READER to replace UCAN as our ratepayer champion with investigative reporting that will send CPUC and utility executives to jail where they belong before they destroy acceptable electric service in California.

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Don Bauder June 4, 2013 @ 4:31 p.m.

Anon92107. There are three huge threats to ratepayers. One is the CPUC underPeevey. Another is predatory management of the utilities. A third is San Onofre. Best, Don Bauder

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Visduh June 4, 2013 @ 6:10 p.m.

The worst part of this may not be the coziness of UCAN and Sempra. It could be that UCAN kept making other local agencies and groups think that it was doing everything possible to keep SDGE rates in check, and they stood aside. While I cannot exactly remember the days prior to UCAN, I do know that there were those who stood up and challenged SDGE rate requests, and with some success. Scant success, I suppose, since we had the dubious "honor" of having the second highest electric rates in the nation, circa 1980. In that time, SDGE had such a pooh-splattered reputation that it took the identifying markings off its fleet of cars and small trucks to protect its hapless employees from harassment (or worse) from disgruntled local ratepayers. After UCAN arrived on scene, all that mellowed out for a time. Was there a connection? Seems likely.

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Don Bauder June 4, 2013 @ 11:20 p.m.

Visduh. Now SDGE rates are highest in the nation. I suspect they were in 1980, too. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 June 5, 2013 @ 6:09 a.m.

That should keep the READER very busy with investigative reporting until all the culprits are in jail.

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Don Bauder June 5, 2013 @ 7:10 a.m.

Anon107: Jail? The culprits will take a holiday in Monaco. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 June 5, 2013 @ 1:28 p.m.

Now I know why you moved to Colorado, San Diego and California have the most corrupt politicians, judges and PUC in the country.

Duke was just doing what the rest of them are doing, but he made too many of them fearful that we would realize that they are all like him so they crucified him hoping we wouldn't notice, and we haven't.

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Don Bauder June 6, 2013 @ 6:22 a.m.

Anon92107: Corrupt judges, politicians and a utilities regulating commission would be a reason for an investigative financial columnist to stay, not depart. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 June 6, 2013 @ 11:49 a.m.

Now I'm confused, are you saying you left because there was no corruption left to report about and San Diegans are not hopeless, or that you can continue doing an excellent job investigating regardless of location because of better internet access to more information sources than ever before?

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Don Bauder June 6, 2013 @ 12:41 p.m.

Anon92107: I'm saying that my reason for relocating was not really related to San Diego fraud. Generally, it's easier to cover fraud when you are right there on the scene, but I find I can cover it from a remote location. We didn't move out of San Diego for any reason related to work or taxes. I left the U-T when I was past retirement age -- 67. We had bought the land in Colorado in 1999. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 June 7, 2013 @ 2:58 a.m.

Don, we all thank you for your continuing dedication to investigative reporting San Diego corruption, especially to counter the corrupt "Pope" Doug (the new "Duke") who is dedicated to enriching himself at the expense of the people of San Diego.

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Founder June 5, 2013 @ 9:25 a.m.

GREAT Article and even better comments!

The 1.5 Billion Dollar debacle at San Onofre is but one of the Energy Issues that makes San Diego even more expensive to live in.

UCAN needs to be replaced by a new board with members chosen by a public election or chosen by someone trustful like Don Bauder from a list of candidates. That would jump start our Energy "recovery" process and also allow San Diego to work with all the other groups seeking refunds from the CPUC because of SCE debacle!

If those still remaining on the UCAN Board don't agree to resign, a a sign of good faith, then I say:

it is time to replace UCAN because it has failed its public mandate!

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Don Bauder June 5, 2013 @ 9:27 p.m.

Founder: I agree with you on both points: 1. San Diego needs UCAN. 2. The current board has to go. The whistleblowers, Langley and David Peffer, fought to keep UCAN alive. It was Shames and the UCAN board (some of whom are still there) that wanted to kill the organization. That is a matter of public record, and journalists, including myself, have long written about this. Best, Don Bauder

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Anon92107 June 5, 2013 @ 1:48 p.m.

You might want to add:

IN SAN DIEGO, FUKUSHIMA’S LEGACY COMES CALLING

By Morgan Lee, U-T June 5, 2013

http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2013/jun/05/tp-in-san-diego-fukushimas-legacy-comes-calling/

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Don Bauder June 6, 2013 @ 6:28 a.m.

Anon92107: Yes, that is a good article. Morgan Lee of the UT has done some good work. Best, Don Bauder

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Don Bauder June 6, 2013 @ 6:24 a.m.

Founder: All those articles are worth reading. Best, Don Bauder

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