Bailout Watch #74 – Sep 04, 2001

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BAILOUT WATCH: Keeping an eye on the energy industry and the politicians

Bailout Watch #74 – Sep 04, 2001


Money, Lies and Videotape. The timing — Friday of Labor Day weekend — looked terrible. No lawmakers had even seen, much less read the bill. And there were just too many citizens watching…. and some had video cameras. That’s why the $4 billion Edison Bailout Plus* that was scheduled to be ramrodded through the Assembly on Friday was put off until today.

All through Friday, FTCR’s Oaks Project volunteers followed the lobbying action in the halls of the Capitol, wearing the now familiar yellow "Bailout Watchdog" armbands. And some Oaks brought video cameras, digitally capturing the Edison and energy company lobbyists in the Act — doing the dirty work of convincing legislators to rip off their own constituents. No money changed hands — that’s banned in the Capitol — but you can bet it will later: with billions to gain, Edison and the energy companies it owes money to will gladly invest some money in the politicians.

And after a few hours of citizen volunteers’ videotaping, the lobbyists finally struck back. Several called the Capitol Police, claiming their "right to privacy" was being invaded, in an attempt to intimidate the citizens. Of course, it’s still a Democracy, even in our Capitol building, and FTCR later got a message from Assembly Rules Committee Chair Cardoza saying that the People were welcome to videotape in the Capitol. Meanwhile, one lobbyist — apparently from Edison — physically tried to prevent a volunteer from videotaping. We’re asking Mr. Cardoza today to help us determine who the lobbyist was so we can take appropriate action.

If you’re a citizen tired of getting the short end of the stick — or a budding Spielberg (or Michael Moore) anxious to document the subverting of democracy — we want you to join us in our Sacramento "War Room!" Call our Bailout Hotline in LA for instructions: 310-392-0522 EXT 8.

*Bailout Plus. The Plus refers to the billion dollars (plus) in extra profits Edison will reap under the proposed bailout deal, the billions in interest the bailout will cost ratepayers, and the tens of billions residential ratepayers will be stuck with because, to get the support of the Chamber of Commerce, the bill was amended to stick residential and small business ratepayers with the high costs of the long-term energy contracts the Davis Administration signed with the energy wholesalers. Big businesses will get to cut their own, cheaper deals now that the market prices have fallen dramatically, while the rest of us pay.

Let’s do the numbers. Six Thousand Eight Hundred dollars ($6,800) per ratepayer is the PG&E estimate for cost to each ratepayer of the energy crisis so far, reports the Orange County Register. And that’s the conservative estimate that does not factor in the proposed Edison bailout among other potential costs to consumers. Even energy conservation has a cost: the Register places the price tag on the various "pay-not-to-use-power" efforts at $600 million. All of these costs, of course, will eventually make their way onto electricity bills. The thousands already due, is argument enough against the $4 billion+ cost of the Edison bailout plan.

Thank you, Max Palevsky. Setting up the War Room in a hotel across from the Capitol is just one of the unexpected expenses we’ve been forced to incur in the energy battle this year. We are grateful to those of you who send modest donations. And we want to offer a special thank you on behalf of the people of California to Max Palevsky, whose name is synonymous with progressive philanthropy throughout the United States.


Judgment Day
427 Days Until November 5, 2002

Consumer Watchdog
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