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Utilities commission "violence" unacceptable

Emails between governor and state agency must be released

San Francisco Superior Court judge Ernest H. Goldsmith decreed February 9 that emails between the office of governor Jerry Brown and the California Public Utilities Commission must be made public.

San Diego attorneys Maria Severson and Mike Aguirre have been fighting for release of the emails that pertain to the secret deal by which ratepayers were told to pick up the tab for most of the $4 billion cost of decommissioning the now-shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.

The attorney general's office, which has a criminal investigation of secret meetings between the utilities commission and Southern California Edison, asked for commission records that are "nearly identical" to those sought by the San Diego lawyers, noted the judge.

The commission argued that the matter could not be decided at the Superior Court level and had to go to the appellate court. Goldsmith thumbed down the argument, saying that this is not a mere regulatory matter.

The commission interpretation "would do violence to the right of citizens in a democracy to know the actions taken by their public officials," wrote Goldsmith.

Severson says she wouldn't be surprised if the commission appeals the decision.

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San Francisco Superior Court judge Ernest H. Goldsmith decreed February 9 that emails between the office of governor Jerry Brown and the California Public Utilities Commission must be made public.

San Diego attorneys Maria Severson and Mike Aguirre have been fighting for release of the emails that pertain to the secret deal by which ratepayers were told to pick up the tab for most of the $4 billion cost of decommissioning the now-shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant.

The attorney general's office, which has a criminal investigation of secret meetings between the utilities commission and Southern California Edison, asked for commission records that are "nearly identical" to those sought by the San Diego lawyers, noted the judge.

The commission argued that the matter could not be decided at the Superior Court level and had to go to the appellate court. Goldsmith thumbed down the argument, saying that this is not a mere regulatory matter.

The commission interpretation "would do violence to the right of citizens in a democracy to know the actions taken by their public officials," wrote Goldsmith.

Severson says she wouldn't be surprised if the commission appeals the decision.

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Comments
34

Don — I think that the Utilities will do everything in their power including appealing this to the SCOTUS in order to delay this for as long as possible.

Once the emails come out, I believe that they will show Gov. Brown was a key player in the behind closed doors deal.

If I'm correct, then he will immediately be unable to grant immunity or pardon those that were involved since he himself (and those in his office) are also involved!

This decision is yet a major turning point in #SanOnofreGate ** .

BTW: There was a public meeting of the CPUC in San Diego last night seeking feedback about adding a minimum fee ($10) for having a Natural Gas (NG) connection, no matter if you used any NG or not. There were many pointed comments made about the CPUC being far too cozy with the Utilities they regulate and what that has meant to all those that are on a limited budget! Both TURN and UCAN made presentations after the CPUC made introduction remarks. They both were later called out as being cheerleaders for the CPUC, instead of promoting for ratepayer savings, in order to collect big intervenor fees. Several asked the CPUC to modify its intervenor fee system so that the CPUC would fairly pay no matter which side of the issue those commenting were on.

The new hashtag that will allow you to keep up to date on the ongoing investigation into the multi-billion $ SCE-CPUC ripoff.

Feb. 11, 2016

CaptD: I think the CPUC will appeal this as far as it can for the reason you cited: delay. I also agree with you that Brown was probably a key player in the Rape of the Ratepayer. I hope you are right that Brown won't be able to grant immunity to the scamsters in this shameful episode. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 11, 2016

Violence! Here's violence:

How can we trust any California utilities, regulators and politicians after

the 2010 PG&E San Bruno gas explosion deaths,

the long-long-term future SCE San Onofre nuclear radiation threats to people in Orange and San Diego counties,

the SoCalGas gas leaks that are seriously injuring people in Porter Ranch today,

and NO ONE IS BEING PUT IN JAIL FOR GROSS CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE AND MANSLAUGHTER THAT IS DESTROYING PUBLIC SAFETY AND HEALTH THROUHOUT CALIFORNIA, that's violence!?

Feb. 11, 2016

Anon92107: As we have shown before, as Peevey was flirting with Wall Street analysts and holding illegal, secret meetings with Edison, the safety role of the CPUC was deteriorating. San Bruno, San Onofre, and the SoCalGas (Sempra) episodes were sorry results. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 11, 2016

Don, they are still criminal "episodes" and "results" that utility execs, CPUC regulators and politicians must go to jail for because of the deaths and destruction of public health and safety they caused.

Regular citizens who are not protected by Jerry Brown would go to jail for what these criminals have done.

Things will only get much worse in California if we allow them to continue to get away with their crimes against humanity.

Feb. 11, 2016

Anon92107: The AG's investigation into Mike Peevey is a criminal one. I hope this probe does not get dropped. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 11, 2016

Don, Jerry Brown has now proven beyond all doubt that there is no difference between corrupt and destructive republicans and democrats.

God Help our newest and future generations as long as criminal politicians like Brown can give his rich, powerful, white guy friends "Get Out of Jail Free" cards regardless of hellacious consequences to the people of California.

Feb. 12, 2016

Anon92107: Yes, both Democrats and Republicans are corrupt. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2016

Severson has it wrong. We all will be surprised if the CPUC DOESN'T appeal this. For all the reasons mentioned here, the secrecy has to be maintained, lest the whole house of cards comes crashing down, and people start getting prison sentences.

Feb. 11, 2016

Visduh: Severson agrees with you. She believes the CPUC, which she says is dedicated to keeping the public uninformed, will appeal. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 11, 2016

Many residents have been forced to temporarily move from their homes due to unbearable gas leak effects. After a big fight So Cal Gas finally agreed to pay the displaced residents moving and rent expenses.

One update that I heard about the Porter Ranch leaks is that So Cal gas was proposing only giving displaced residents 48 hours (2 days) to move back into their homes after they finally get the leak capped. I believe regulators / and or courts have stepped in and order that So Cal Gas offer a more reasonable move-back time.

But it's clear that So Cal Gas has made zero effort to mitigate residents' damage and expenses until they've been forced to by courts or regulators.

Feb. 11, 2016

ImJustABill: SoCalGas, a unit of Sempra, has fought giving help to the victims of this gas leak. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 11, 2016

Aerial monitoring of the leak should continue and be expanded to the other well locations, there and elsewhere in the country.

Feb. 12, 2016

Flapper: Agreed. There is no excuse for this kind of utility and regulator negligence. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2016

This leak, which is now reportedly stopped, has me wondering. Many gas utilities use old gas fields to hold gas that is brought from far away. If it works, it is really an elegant solution to the matter of where/how to store the stuff until it is needed. It enables the utility to buy gas during the year at a steady pace--and negotiate a favorable price that way--and put it in storage until winter when large quantities are needed for heating. I recall many years ago that Wisconsin Gas did that, and I think a gas company in Michigan did it too. Actually, it is probably a common thing, and one that is out of sight and out of mind until a one-in-a-million thing goes wrong. But then, do those old storage fields hold all that gas with no leakage? Now I wonder about that.

This was sort of a natural gas equivalent to that massive Gulf oil spill of a few years ago involving BP. The well's valves blow out, and there's no way to stanch the flow for days, weeks or months, and all the time the pollutant is gushing out uncontrolled and uncontrollable. The "lessons" to be learned from this leak are probably many, but will anyone in charge really learn anything from it? The first thing that would have to be that someone cares, and with Sempra, does anyone care about anything but the corporate bottom line?

Feb. 12, 2016

Visduh: Yes, Sempra brags about how it is so much more profitable than its utility peers. This is one reason for the outperformance. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 12, 2016

One in a million is too many. But one in 1,000 is far worse. Data?

You might be surprised at the kind of gambles that are taken to "save money."

Feb. 12, 2016

Flapper: Yes, you are right. Safety often goes out the window so that profits won't be dented.

Back in the 1950s and 1960s, corporate boards of directors considered that a company had several constituencies: employees, communities, vendors, the environment, shareholders.

Now, companies only cater to one constituency: shareholders, particularly inside shareholders. The only thing that matters is a rising stock price and concomitant increased earnings. This mentality, which is embedded in the law, threatens to destroy capitalism. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 13, 2016

It couldn't happen to a more unjust system. Except for all the others.

BUT--does that mean that we are incapable of inventing a better system? Where are the eggheads and pointy-headed (neo?) liberals when we really need them? Contemplating their politically correct navels? Seems there's enough self-righteousness to go around, but damned little introspection.

Feb. 13, 2016

Pretty well stated Flapper.

Many have accused me of being a member of the pointy-headed (neo?) liberal, navel contemplating, self-righteous class, so I shall once again attempt to point out that none of our political, academic, scientific, religious, etc. institutions have demonstrated enough morality and integrity to produce an implementable solution to our acts of self-destruction by global warming, violence, inequality, etc. even though it is 2016 and we are running out of time faster than ever before.

I can only continue to hope that Don, our pre-eminent representative of the one remaining institution that might be able to inform, educate and motivate us to make the right things happen in time shall find a way to save us from ourselves..

Feb. 13, 2016

Anon92107: You seem to be saying that newspapers are the one institution that might be able to inform the electorate. It would be great if newspaper employees were so confident that their medium will be long-lived.

Or maybe you are talking about media in general. We will always have media. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2016

Don is no braggart, but preeminent describes him pretty well. What other blogger actually responds to those who comment? We all have, I believe, the responsibility to pick up the torch by which he brings us light, and to make it continue to burn as, or more, brightly as when he first lit it.

That's a challenge to us all.

Feb. 14, 2016

Flapper: Some on this blog say I bring only darkness -- not light. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2016

By the contrast shall we know thee.

Feb. 14, 2016

Flapper: Black and white and read all over? Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 16, 2016

Flapper: Yes, there is enough self-righteousness to go around, and there is little introspection. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2016

Don, most respectfully, I am speaking of journalists who are our last line of defense to inform, educate and motivate us to make the right things happen if we are going to ever be able to save us from ourselves in time. You are the best of the best journalists that we have left and I hope you can unite other journalists to join you in this effort.

As you know better I, our politicians and intellectuals have once again failed to protect and preserve our newest civilization, the worst case failure mode of all other failed civilizations that were documented as lessons of history by Will and Ariel Durant.

Feb. 14, 2016

Anon92107: Yes, intellectuals have gone astray, and politicians have always been lost. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2016

Flapper: Having reported on business ethics for more than 50 year, nothing surprises me these days. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2016

Don, so what you are saying is that we are doomed to destruction by corrupt institutions and the Fourth Estate is totally unable to motivate us to overcome the failures of our neocortex?

Feb. 15, 2016

Virtue may be its own reward, but you deserve the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Feb. 14, 2016

Flapper: If you put my name in the hopper for the medal, you will get one response: "Who???" Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 14, 2016

Well, you don't want a Pulitzer. I guess you'll have to settle for Virtue.

Feb. 14, 2016

Flapper: Did I ever say I don't want a Pulitzer? Perhaps. I have stated on several occasions that newspapers waste all too much time and money pursuing a Pulitzer. This is time and money that should be directed toward boosting readership and market share. In the madcap pursuit of a Pulitzer, publications lose sight of what should be their primary objective. Best, Don Bauder

Feb. 17, 2016

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