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Michael Shames, cofounder of Utiliy Consumers' Action Network, is off the payroll as of today, June 21. New executive director Kim Malcolm notified the California Public Utilities Commission that a different staff member will represent UCAN inn the general rate case filed by San Diego Gas and Electric, SDGE. Malcolm tells me that she will handle the case. She says Shames has no contract and is not on the UCAN payroll. He would need one or the other. She will not say why Shames is off the payroll. She says she cannot discuss it because it is a personnel matter.

Shames earlier claimed that he would take the general rate case as a consultant. He told friends that his decision to step down as executive director was his own.

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Visduh June 22, 2012 @ 3:51 p.m.

If this is true and the final word, all I can say is "Ding dong, the witch is dead."


Don Bauder June 22, 2012 @ 5:02 p.m.

When Malcolm came in, she went with the plan to have Shames, as a consultant, handle the general rate case. Suddenly, UCAN pulled out of the settlement. Malcolm wanted an audit. Then Shames was out as consultant. Is it too soon to connect the dots? Best, don bauder


Visduh June 22, 2012 @ 10:14 p.m.

It still defies something, logic perhaps, more likely faith, to think that Shames was a full-on sell-out to Sempra. But the record of rate increases and all these other proposals to put rate-payers on the hook for utility company risks and foulups isn't consistent with the mission of UCAN. At first it took a knee-jerk approach to every proposal put forth by SDGE, but later on seemed to become more nuanced. That nuanced style may have been just a way to hide point-shaving or at worst, throwing the fight. Will we ever know?


Don Bauder June 22, 2012 @ 10:51 p.m.

I didn't suspect that Shames was too friendly with SDGE/Sempra until about two years ago. And still it is just a suspicion. What got him in trouble at UCAN were the mysterious financial deals -- the money that Nucor routed through UCAN on its way to Peter Navarro for a documentary, the checks misspelled "Comsumers'" Action Network (and it was a lot of money in those misspelled accounts), Shames's skimming of money off intervenor fees, etc. etc. Now there are further questions raised by the new executive director, who wants an audit. And there SHOULD be an intensive audit -- hopefully the U.S. Attorney's office will do one, if it is still investigating. But UCAN must also do one, to clear the air. Another question crying out for an answer is why UCAN kept telling the CPUC that it had thousands of members, but when it wanted to dissolve, board members said under oath it had no members. Best, Don Bauder


Visduh June 23, 2012 @ 8:18 a.m.

At best we now have a fuzzy picture of really strange goings-on in an organization with a mission of securing the best deal for rate-payers. And it is not as if it had nothing to do along those lines. Sempra has been very aggressive in seeking all sorts of "relief" in the form of rate boosts, and other means of collecting plenty for what it delivers to the public. Then there was Sunrise Power Link, which still appears to have no real role in making the local power supply more secure, and that suspicion is based on the contradictory statements now being made by, and which were made by, Sempra. UCAN was curiously ineffective in opposing many of the proposals made by the utility recently.


Don Bauder June 23, 2012 @ 8:54 a.m.

There are still unanswered questions. I have followed this case for almost a year, tapping many sources, and there are still some holes. One thing is quite clear: Shames manipulated a weak board which tried to bury the stench instead of dealing with it. Consistently, this board and its hired lackeys tried to cover up dubious activities. I hope the US Attorney's office does not drop this matter. The whistleblowers deserve praise for coming forward. Best, don bauder


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