BAILOUT WATCH: Keeping an eye on the energy industry and the politicians
Bailout Watch #72 – Aug 30, 2001
SPECIAL SACRAMENTO WAR ROOM EDITION
Edison Bailout Passes Assembly Energy Committee. A bill to force ratepayers to pay off Edison’s bad debts, with interest, is now on the move in the Assembly. 10 Democrats and 1 Republican voted in favor of the legislation, SB78xx (Author: Richard Polanco D-LA). To grease its passage, the bailout was amended to require most businesses — but not residential — ratepayers to pay. But don’t be fooled — excluding residential ratepayers from the bailout legislation was temporarily necessary for political reasons to get this bill out of committee. It is a well-known legislative tactic: sweeten the bill so it appears innocuous, and passes both houses. Then shunt the bill off to a "conference committee" — these are composed of three legislators appointed from each house. That’s where the real deals are cut.
Here’s how Assembly Energy Committee members voted. Note that with one exception, all supporters of the bailout were Democrats. Note also how lawmakers who don’t live in Edison’s territory voted to make its ratepayers pay:
Voted FOR BAILOUT
Name ———— Region ———— Phone #
Rod Wright — Los Angeles — 916-319-2048
John Dutra — Fremont — 916-319-2020
Joe Canciamilla — Pittsburg — 916-319-2011
Darryl Steinberg — Sacramento — 916-319-2009
Fred Keeley — Idyllwild — 916-319-2080
Juan Vargas — San Diego — 916-319-2079
Bill Leonard — San Bernardino — 916-319-2063
Sarah Reyes — Fresno — 916-319-2031
Manny Diaz — San Jose — 916-319-2023
Herb Wesson — Culver City — 916-319-2047
Jenny Oropeza — Long Beach — 916-319-2055
Voted AGAINST BAILOUT
Name ————— Region ————— Phone #
Anthony Pescetti — Rancho Cordova — 916-319-2010
Dean Florez — Shafter — 916-319-2030
Mike Briggs — Clovis — 916-319-2029
John Campbell — Irvine — 916-319-2070
Richard Dickerson — Redding — 916-319-2002
Charlene Zettel — Poway — 916-319-2075
Republican Bill Leonard tips committee vote in Edison’s favor.
The bill needed one more vote to get it out of the committee — otherwise, it would have died. Republican Bill Leonard came to the "rescue." It was the first overt defection of Republicans, since returning from summer recess. (The Republicans, despite their pro-deregulation ideology, have been consistent in their statements of opposition to this unprecedented example of corporate welfare). But this wasn’t the Assemblyman’s first time as the utilities’ point man — he was key to the passage of the first debilitating bailout under deregulation back in ’96 – and stuck it to us again as he voted yesterday in favor of a second corporate handout. Is the Leonard defection a harbinger of other Republicans’ actions? We’ll soon find out. The bill goes to the Assembly Appropriations Committee next.
Consumers? What consumers? The committee and its Chair, Rod "Wright on the Money", shot down six of Assemblywoman Hannah-Beth Jackson’s nine consumer-oriented amendments to the bailout bill. Jackson was one of the only voices on the Committee that seemed to have heard of the ratepayers of California — or cared. Yet the fact remains: the only amendment that would make this bill remotely acceptable would reduce a $2.9 billion bailout to $0.
Bill Denies Voters Right to Approve of Bailout Bonds. Lawmakers backing the Edison deal are not only willing to saddle us with a $1000 per ratepayer surcharge, they are attempting to subvert the California Constitution, which says that voters must be given the right to vote on bonds backed by the state. But lobbyists for Edison and its Wall Street allies know the voters would never approve the bonds. So they are doing an end run around the Constitution by claiming that the state will not back the bonds. But in the fine print of the legislation, they try to hold the state responsible for the bonds: if the voters later decide to reverse the bonds, they claim this will be a "breach of contract." It’s a particularly scummy effort by elected officials who think they can ignore the constitution.
"Christmas in August for Ol’ Edison" Chants of bailout opposition, to the tunes of holiday carols, were sung by Bailout Watchdogs yesterday as energy lobbyists, Assembly Members, advocates and citizens filed past for the close of the Energy Costs and Availability Committee’s bailout hearing (see below). After nearly an hour of heartfelt hymns, streams of stunned passers-by, and multiple warnings by Capitol security, the carolers packed up shop to attend the committee session. But stay-tuned…the watchdog carolers will soon be back for encore capitol performances. Click here for our Bailout Carol lyrics.
FOR INFO ON HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR STOP THE BAILOUT CAMPAIGN IN SACRAMENTO DURING THE COMING TWO WEEKS, CALL THE "BAILOUT HOTLINE" at 310-392-0522 EXT 8 — OR EMAIL US: [email protected]
432 Days Until November 5, 2002