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Former public utilities president's home searched

Michael Peevey suspected in judge-shopping scandal, as is PG&E exec

The San Francisco Chronicle reported last evening (January 28) that agents of the state attorney general's office on Tuesday seized computers and other items from the Los Angeles County home of former California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) president Michael Peevey.

Michael Peevey

The agents also seized similar items from the home of former Pacific Gas & Electric executive Brian Cherry, who was fired when emails showed that he was trying to get Peevey and other CPUC officials to assign a friendly administrative law judge to the case in which the utility will be punished for its negligence in the 2010 San Bruno explosion that leveled a neighborhood and killed eight people.

Peevey retired December 31 after a dozen years as head of the regulatory body. Emails now show that Peevey was swapping overly friendly messages with Southern California Edison lobbyists and top officials in its quest to get ratepayers to pick up the tab for the failure of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Peevey is a former president of Edison and also a former lobbyist for the utility.

State attorney general Kamala Harris said that the U.S. attorney's office has launched a separate investigation in the judge-shopping case to determine if laws were broken.

Investigators are looking into emails in which Cherry said Peevey solicited political contributions from PG&E and hinted that PG&E would get a quid pro quo. According to the Chronicle, the search warrant said investigators were looking for evidence of improper ex parte communications, judge-shopping, bribery, obstruction of justice, and preferential treatment on matters before the commission.

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The San Francisco Chronicle reported last evening (January 28) that agents of the state attorney general's office on Tuesday seized computers and other items from the Los Angeles County home of former California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) president Michael Peevey.

Michael Peevey

The agents also seized similar items from the home of former Pacific Gas & Electric executive Brian Cherry, who was fired when emails showed that he was trying to get Peevey and other CPUC officials to assign a friendly administrative law judge to the case in which the utility will be punished for its negligence in the 2010 San Bruno explosion that leveled a neighborhood and killed eight people.

Peevey retired December 31 after a dozen years as head of the regulatory body. Emails now show that Peevey was swapping overly friendly messages with Southern California Edison lobbyists and top officials in its quest to get ratepayers to pick up the tab for the failure of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Peevey is a former president of Edison and also a former lobbyist for the utility.

State attorney general Kamala Harris said that the U.S. attorney's office has launched a separate investigation in the judge-shopping case to determine if laws were broken.

Investigators are looking into emails in which Cherry said Peevey solicited political contributions from PG&E and hinted that PG&E would get a quid pro quo. According to the Chronicle, the search warrant said investigators were looking for evidence of improper ex parte communications, judge-shopping, bribery, obstruction of justice, and preferential treatment on matters before the commission.

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Comments
76

it sure would be satisfying to see him doing the perp walk, hand cuffs and all.

Jan. 29, 2015

Murphyjunk: Agreed. He deserves it. In his 12 years, he did everything in is power to jack up utility profits at the expense of ratepayers. That was not in his mandate as head of the CPUC. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 29, 2015

They should find Peevey's old utility bills and see just how much HE was paying for utilities--if anything.

Jan. 29, 2015

aardvark: Or how about those overseas trips that he and his wife took -- financed by the utilities. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 29, 2015

I think his household ran on his never ending supply of hot air.

Jan. 29, 2015

Murphyjunk: His hot air could have kept the stove, refrigerator, air conditioner, and dishwasher running. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 29, 2015

True, but chicken feed. What was that ALJ's name again?

Jan. 29, 2015

Twister: Which ALJ are you talking about? Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 29, 2015

And oh, yes--LOVELY pic this time . . .

Jan. 29, 2015

Twister: Peevey is not only rich, but also vain. He wants his photo to be just right. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 29, 2015

Peevey reminds me of the awful boss, Larry Tate, on Bewitched.

Jan. 29, 2015

dwbat: Sorry. I have never seen "Bewitched." Is it a TV series, a movie...what? Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 29, 2015

"Bewitched" was a famous hit TV series, 1964-1972. Practically everyone has heard of it.

Jan. 30, 2015

dwbat: It is not surprising that I have not heard of a hit TV series from 1964-1972, or from any other period. Our family has never watched such shows. I have heard of some of them. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

LOL!

Brilliant observation! I knew he reminded of somebody!

I bet he could fit right in as a cheesy 1960's ad agency boss. Maybe he should try out for Mad Men....

Jan. 30, 2015

ImJustABill: I have heard of -- but never watched -- Mad Men. It was about the advertising industry in 1960. I was in advertising in 1960, but in Chicago, not New York City. I guess I should watch the show. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 31, 2015

maybe we will get to see him end up like the boss on the movie 9 to 5

Feb. 3, 2015

Murphyjunk: I did see that movie and enjoyed it. They would have to have strong metal cable to support Peevey. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 4, 2015

going by what he has done to the rate payers, a pike mite be a better mount

Feb. 5, 2015

Murphyjunk: Where would you stick the pike? (I'm not referring to a wall-eyed pike or a turnpike.) Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 5, 2015

Put it to a vote.

Feb. 6, 2015

There is reason for hope that some justice will come out of this mess. There's nothing that guarantees that charges, or even suits, will be filed, but these searches--which require a judge's order--mean that the Atty General is taking it at least semi-seriously. Now that she's getting ready to try for the US Senate, she may need a high profile case. What could be higher-profile than going after Peevey?

Jan. 29, 2015

Visduh: Good point. Historically, the courts have let the CPUC do whatever it wants. Law enforcement such as the AG's office have done the same. Thank goodness some of these PG&E/CPUC emails became public, and many more will be coming out.

It is possible the investigation could extend to Peevey's extraordinary friendliness with Southern California Edison over the so-called "settlement" that will sting ratepayers for management errors at San Onofre. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 29, 2015

Will this info be kept hidden from the public? or Will it be shared with the public that is the real question?

I suggest that if Attorney General Kamala Harris really wants to be seen as a credible candidate for CA Senator Boxer's seat then she better stop avoiding the multi-billion dollar San Onofre debacle which now includes the one-sided Pro-Utility settlement by the CPUC and immediately pursue the investigation of Peevey's conduct and, if laws have been violated, to prosecute all those involved. Otherwise she will be seen as just another Politician that is far more interested in her relationship with BIG Utilities than she is with California's voting ratepayers.

With so many billions of dollars at stake, it is just a matter of time before the law firm Aguirre & Severson attracts enough public attention to insure that their appeal of the CPUC's unfair settlement gift to SCE and SDG&E; gets its day in Federal Court. There the rule of law not the biased rules of the CPUC, will allow for legal discovery into what really went on during the replacement steam generator project. These documents will then spotlight SCE as being totally responsible for the engineering debacle at San Onofre, which will result in the ratepayers not having to pay many billions of dollars as proposed by the CPUC's unfair settlement gift to SCE and SDG&E.;

This case will also implicate not only Governor Brown who has turned a blind eye to the cozy relationship between the CPUC and the Big Utilities they regulate but also all of the CA's elected officials who have not demanded that ratepayers be treated fairly because they seek to continue retain their own cozy relationship with the Big Utilities. How many know, for example that Governor Brown's sister is on the board of Sempra which might very well explain why Gov. Brown has to date shown no interest in reforming the CPUC.

Much more here:

Jan. 29, 2015

CaptD: Absolutely. This investigation should also include the deal by which Edison and SDG&E ratepayers will get fleeced because of egregious errors made by management at San Onofre. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 29, 2015

founder/captd It's reallly no secret that Kathleen Brown sits on the board of Sempra. She's been there about a year and a half. I would doubt that most people know only because most people in California pay no attention to the PUC.

Jan. 29, 2015

danfogel: I am afraid you are right that most people in California pay little or no attention to the CPUC. Since the CPUC is picking those people's pockets, it's imperative that people start paying attention. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

Most folks have higher priorities. That's why we, the people need to organize a "citizens in exile" group--that way, the work can be spread around to lighten the load and make true citizenship actually possible instead of a "they should" fantasy.

Jan. 30, 2015

Twister: One problem in motivating people to rebel against the CPUC corruption is that while the three large, publicly-held utilities -- Sempra, Edison, PG&E -- consistently have among the highest rates in the nation (SDG&E's appear to be the highest by a good margin), people in California don't use their utilities as much as people in colder climes. So they are likely to complain more about water bills, for example. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

I bet Michael Aguirre and Maria Severson will now demand to see everything collected otherwise to them and the public it will look as if Attorney General Kamala Harris is trying to cover-up any wrong doings by Mr. Pevey and/or Mr. Cherry, in order to protect herself, Governor Brown and perhaps even Senator B. Boxer, all of which are deeply involved in what happened in the multibillion dollar debacle at San Onofre.

Jan. 29, 2015

CaptD: I am certain that Aguirre and Severson will take advantage of this investigation in their further investigations of the CPUC. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 29, 2015

You can be very sure that Senator B. Boxer will be very involved behind the curtain because she received notarized documents long before she came out in public with even part of the information, so it is a sure bet that she is now scouring her own communications to see what was said when, since the NRC and the CPUC pointed the finger at each other about what happened at San Onofre and she was the head of the Senate's oversight of the NRC until just recently!

Jan. 29, 2015

Good time for the Senator to call it a career.

Jan. 29, 2015

MichaelValentine: Unfortunately, she is doing so. I think she has been a very good senator. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

Are you saying that BarBox might be dirty? Could such a thing happen to a Marin County ultra-liberal? Heh, heh. Yeah, it could.

Jan. 29, 2015

Visduh: Marin County, like every California county, has some things to hide. Politics is a dirty business. I am not saying that applies to Boxer. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

CaptD: Since Boxer is not going to run again, she may not consider this so important. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

If they're going to look into PUC affairs it would be interesting to know if they will investigate the apparent quid-pro-quo between UCAN and the PUC and SDG&E in which, on the surface, it appears that this so-called consumer group signed on off on some pretty bad deals for ratepayers in exchange for hefty intervenor fees.

There's been so much dirty business at the PUC in recent years that nothing would surprise me. Maybe, just maybe someone will now shine a light into the dark corners.

The PUC has been able to operate under the radar in many instances because the press generally didn't follow the PUC. The Los Angeles Times never seemed to pay much attention because LA had its own electric power company, not regulated by the PUC: the allegedly-regulated Edison handles all the surrounding suburbs, but not Los Angeles itself.

Don's been chasing them since, I imagine, back before we worked to stop Edison from taking over SDG&E. Peevey was Edison's lead pit bull on that one and on the couple of occasions I met him in person he gave me the same uneasy feeling I got from some minor Mafiosos I'd encountered when I covered the downtown courts and DA's office fulltime in the 1970's - "Mike the Fixer" should have been his nickname.

Jan. 29, 2015

You mention that LA has its own utility, the Department of Water and Power, It has had enough of its own scandals in the past three decades to keep the LA Times busy exposing them and reporting on them. The DWP may have crowded out the PUC debacle in that paper.

If/when all this is documented and revealed we may learn that UCAN, TURN and other consumer advocacy groups were bought off by the utilities, while they pretended to be acting to restrain rates and abuses, and that nobody was taking care of the ratepayers.

Jan. 29, 2015

Visduh: We are certainly going to learn -- if we haven't already -- that UCAN was in the CPUC's pocket, and hence the utilities' pockets. UCAN wanted those fat intervenor fees, and got them by playing ball with Peevey. I believe the same is true of TURN. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

The DWP union head keeps refusing to provide any information about what is allegedly a $40M slush fund. Seems like it's getting kind of ugly.

Feb. 3, 2015

ImJustABill: You don't expect full disclosure, do you? Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 3, 2015

Bob_Hudson: Yes, you and I worked together on helping to thwart Edison's attempted takeover of SDG&E. However, the SDG&E board capitulated when Mike Milken's law firm warned that if the board members of SDG&E didn't give in, they would be sued individually, possibly wiping each out financially. A San Diego law firm agreed with Milken's firm, and the SDG&E board caved to protect their own rear ends.

I always thought the Milken law firm was wrong in its interpretation, and the SDG&E board was cowardly. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

Re: Don Bauder Jan. 29, 2015 @ 11:34 a.m.

Twister: Which ALJ are you talking about? Best, Don Bauder

Answer: The one who got PG&E off easy.

PS: The "reply to comment" function isn't working.

Jan. 29, 2015

Twister: PG&E has not yet gotten off easily. That is still hanging. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

At long last--at long last Sirs and Madams of the political elite, have y'all no sense of decency?

Is there no limit to the cynical arrogance that makes window-dressing out of right-thinking?

Jan. 29, 2015

Twister: By definition, the practice of politics lacks a sense of decency. You can go back to Machiavelli to bone up on that. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

Judge shopping in collusion with a Vice President of SDG&E in the San Bruno affair was grounds for Peevey to recuse himself or step down before the SONGS settlement was approved. But he didn't do so.

Peevey's wife is state Senator, Liu (Glendale). They live in La Canada. This is a circumstance that deepens the series of "coincidences."

Then there was the issue of the ex parte meetings with only some of the intervenors. This process only added to the appearance of impropriety.

What was the big rush to settle SONGS without a determination by the CPU on the issue of "prudence" of the operator, Southern California Edison?

An evidentiary hearing on Phase Three was necessary to establish whether there was "prudent" management of the nuclear power plant.

I objected at the public comment meeting in Costa Mesa. I told Peevey and the Commission that documents should have been produced by Southern California Edison and the authors cross-examined under penalty of perjury, as is the practice in a lawsuit involving billions of dollars, and that there was no basis for a settlement without a record of who was at fault. What was also clear was the failure to give Senator Boxer documents and the endangerment of 8.5 million people. These companies do not want their documents to become public because they are "proprietary." I suspect that there were many discrepancies that would not withstand scrutiny. The settlement should be set aside as a taking without "due process" in violation of the 5th and 14th Amendments.

Ex parte contacts with a decision-maker are generally prohibited by the Rules of Professional Conduct for attorneys. Now with the criminal investigations, the appearance of impropriety is only heightened. Some of these attorneys made very good arguments against the settlement but ended up recommending settlement because the Commission was "unfair." This was like pulling punches.

I got the impression that some of the intervenors needed the money. Moreover, the attorneys threw in the towel because of the obvious bias of the Commission which they claimed made further efforts "futile." I have never heard such an argument before. Aguirre stuck to his position, as did Ray Lutz.

I read all the briefs and listened to their "arguments." There were many excellent arguments against settlement of SONGS. This criminal investigation itself is now another reason to suspect collusion in SONGS settlement. If there was misconduct in San Bruno, a reasonable inference was that there was similar misconduct in the SONGS settlement but the Administrative Law Judge overruled that motion! Her ruling looks suspect now.

It is past time to reform the PUC.

Jan. 29, 2015

Diogenes: You are absolutely right. It is past time to reform the CPUC. I just hope that other pressing matters don't bury CPUC reform. (In your first paragraph, you say it was a vice president of SDG&E involved in the San Bruno attempted scam. It was a veep of PG&E.) If there was judge shopping over San Onofre, it is news to me. There was plenty of other corruption in that so-called "settlement" that raped Edison and SDG&E ratepayers.

Yes, Peevey's use of intervenor fees to get groups like UCAN to go along with his dirty work must be completely exposed and eradicated. Ditto the ex parte meetings that led to the smelly "settlement."

Agreed: those documents must become public. There is no doubt there was collusion in the San Onofre "settlement" deal. San Bruno is getting lots of public attention. San Onofre should get just as much. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

Don, Thanks for the correction about PG&E. The VP involved in the judge shopping worked for them, obviously, rather than SDG&E. Sorry for that typo.

The proposed SONGS settlement was opposed by Ray Lutz in his motion because of the inference of extreme pro-utility bias of the PUC as evidenced by the judge shopping, etc., by the Chairman Peevey.

The administrative law judge overruled the motion to stop the settlement from being approved. I did not mean to imply that that judge was judge-shopped. But the motion was based on an inference that could be drawn about the Chairman.

The awarding of fees to attorneys for intervenors who "play ball", and ultimately go along with settlements that favor utilities and their investors, is anti-ratepayer. With the Chairman being sent on lavish holidays in Europe, etc., and the other shenanigans documented above, it is impossible to regard the PUC as anything other than a kangaroo court.

I intend to take up these matters with the legislature and the next Governor. Brown is not inclined to change this. He returned Peevey's campaign contributions.

Jan. 30, 2015

Diogenes: Good analysis. I was not aware that Brown returned Peevey's campaign contributions. Yes, Ray Lutz, along with Mike Aguirre and Mia Severson, deserve praise for fighting for ratepayers.

Incidentally, see my comment below on Jerry Brown. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

JERRY BROWN PRAISES CPUC, DESPITE HOME SEARCHES. The Sacramento Bee has reported that even as the attorney general's office searched the offices of Peevey and the PG&E executive, Gov. Jerry Brown said, in response to a reporter's question about the CPUC, "I have a lot of confidence that the [CPUC] does a lot of very good work, particularly in the renewable energy field." Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

That little weasel, Brown--and to think I VOTED for him!

Well, pretty soon (but not soon enough) we won't have Jerry Lackey Brown to kick around any more.

More window-dressing, but this time BLATANT!

Jan. 30, 2015

Twister: People assume Brown won't run again; he will be too old. But he still has a long time in his (presumably) last term. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

don bauder, his "presumably last" term??

Jan. 31, 2015

danfogel: Yes. Does anyone know for certain that he won't run for some office again, even though he will be well into his 80s? Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 4, 2015

don bauder Must have just been the way I interpreted your comment. When you said he still has a long time in his (presumably) last term, I assumed you were referring specifically to his last term as governor, which of course we all know is also his final term.

Feb. 4, 2015

I do believe that conserving resources and taking steps to combat climate change is important but I don't really think it's something local - even state - governments should be concerned with. This quote is an example of why I question if fighting climate change should be a CA agenda - I think it should be kept at the national and international level.

Sticking the "green" label on things has almost become a "get out of jail free card" which justifies corruption and/or wasteful spending. As long as something is "green" who cares how much of other people's money is getting spent? That seems to be Brown's attitude towards energy and the high speed train.

Feb. 3, 2015

ImJustABill: California often takes the lead in social issues, and it may be trying to do so in climate change. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 3, 2015

I think making climate change A priority for state leaders would be a reasonable thing to do (although as I've said I don't really agree that should be a priority at the state level). But I don't think it should be THE ONLY priority. State leaders shouldn't automatically allow corruption and agree to non cost-effective transportation solutions just because somebody labels things as "green". "Green" shouldn't be a magic word that automatically trumps everything else.

Feb. 3, 2015

ImJustABill: Good point. Do you know who expoited "green" the most? Peevey. He was known as a champion of alternative energy. That provided cover for his actual mission: jacking up utility profits by screwing ratepayers. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 4, 2015

NOTE: PG&E IS SUPPOSED TO RELEASE 65,000 EMAILS TODAY. Pacific Gas & Electric is scheduled to release 65,000 emails today (Jan. 30) that may shed more light on the attempt by the utility to get a more friendly administrative law judge in the San Bruno case, and also on Peevey's nudging PG&E to make contributions to political propositions that he favored. I will report on this when and if they come out. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

HERE'S WHAT INVESTIGATORS SEIZED AT THE HOMES OF PEEVEY AND PG&E'S CHERRY. The search warrant used to seize materials from the homes of former CPUC president Mike Peevey and former PG&E executive Brian Cherry has been retrieved by San Diego attorney Maria Severson.

The warrant says officers are looking for something "used as the means of committing a felony," or "possessed by a person with the intent to use it as means of committing a public offense or is possessed by another to whom he or she may have delivered it for the purpose of concealing it or preventing the discovery" and, finally, "tends to show that a felony has been committed or that a particular person has committed a felony."

From Peevey's house at 1322 Verdugo Blvd., La Canada, the following were among the items seized: Chase bank statement in name of Peevey and his wife, Carol Liu; six-day planners from 2009-2014; one Apple iMac computer; three pieces of Dell equipment; one Apple iPhone 5, and one Apple MacBook Pro.

From Cherry's home at 34 Van Ripper Lane, Orinda, the investigators took an iPhone 6, a Verizon Tablet, one Apple iPad, a blue notebook spiral, a purple notebook, four floppy disks and miscellaneous handwritten notes.

The big question, of course, is whether Peevey and Cherry were tipped off to the coming raid. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

So these searches are themselves window-dressing? Wouldn't surprise me . . .

Jan. 30, 2015

Twister: It certainly is possible that this investigation is actually an "investigation." Wink, wink. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

Who was the Administrative Law Judge who let PG&E off so easily?

By the way, this is buried in the middle: Twister Jan. 30, 2015 @ 1:42 p.m.

Most folks have higher priorities. That's why we, the people need to organize a "citizens in exile" group--that way, the work can be spread around to lighten the load and make true citizenship actually possible instead of a "they should" fantasy.

Jan. 30, 2015

Twister: We need more citizens groups. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

Twister: PG&E has not been let off easily yet. The final decision has not yet been made. What's reprehensible is that PG&E was obviously shopping for a favorable judge, and CPUC officials including Peevey were helping in that task. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 3, 2015

If crimes are proven and he is convicted he should be in a cell for a long time. No slap on the wrist please. Public corruption costs a lot of people a lot of money, and arguably utility corruption has been a major contributor to fire deaths in San Diego and explosion deaths in San Bruno.

Jan. 30, 2015

Peevey is 75 or 76. Given the length of time it would would take to complete an investigation and a trial, likely years, Peevey isn't going anywhere "for a long time", as you put it. My guess, Peevey never does any time, hard or otherwise.

Jan. 30, 2015

danfogel: Peevey was born inn 1938. I was born in 1936, so I consider him a youngster. You are quite right: any investigation, and a criminal case if necessary, would take a long time. Yes, I agree that it is likely that Peevey won't spend any hard time. But there is much evidence that has not yet been gathered, and the evidence that has been gathered is condemning. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

ImJustABill: Yes, San Bruno and San Diego are in the same category of utility negligence. San Bruno is getting the most attention. The reason may be that the city of San Bruno has been extremely aggressive in pursuing the CPUC. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

ImJustABill: My guess is that Peevey will get nothing. I am not sure that this investigation is really serious. So many ugly facts have come out that the AG had to do something. But with Peevey a close pal of Jerry Brown, I doubt anything substantive will happen. Remember John Moores in San Diego. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 3, 2015

THE 65,000 EMAILS WENT ONLINE LATE THIS AFTERNOON. The CPUC put the 65,000 emails provided by PG&E online around 4 p.m. I started going through them. I have looked at several hundred, and have not scratched the surface. At this writing, it doesn't appear that anybody in the media has posted incriminating emails. Mike Aguirre says he may have an analysis by Tuesday. I will look again tomorrow. Best, Don Bauder

Jan. 30, 2015

But... but... government regulation was supposed to fix everything!

Oh, wait, I know... we just didn't have enough of it. If we'd only raise taxes, spend more, bring on more bureaucrats, hire more unionized employees with lifetime sinecures, THEN we'd start to see some positive results. Got it.

Feb. 3, 2015

jnojr: Utility deregulation failed completely. Re-regulation might have worked if Gray Davis would have left Loretta Lynch as head of the commission. But Davis caved to the utilities -- big political givers -- and named Peevey. So re-regulation didn't work either. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 4, 2015

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