Bailout Watch #75 – Sep 06, 2001

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

Bailout Watch #75 – Sep 06, 2001


Walking the Plank for Edison. The Governor and Assembly Democrat leaders will try to shove the Edison Bailout+ bill (SB 78xx) through the Assembly later today, if they can get enough lawmakers willing to sacrifice their own political careers to rescue Edison from its deregulation miscalculations. The bill screamed through Assembly Appropriations 12-6 on Tuesday. Again, note how all Democrats — including so-called "LA liberals" like Jackie Goldberg — voted for the bill. (Check out how your rep voted below; see BW#73 for full Assembly contact data).

Name ———— Region ———– Phone #
Elaine Alquist (D) – Santa Clara – 916-319-2022
Dion Aroner (D) – Berkeley – 916-319-2014
Gil Cedillo (D) – Los Angeles – 916-319-2046
Ellen Corbett (D) – San Leandro – 916-319-2018
Lou Correa (D) – Santa Ana – 916-319-2069
Jackie Goldberg (D) – Los Angeles – 916-319-2045
Carole Migden (D) – San Francisco – 916-319-2013
Lou Papan (D) – Millbrae – 916-319-2019
Joseph Simitian (D) – Palo Alto – 916-319-2021
Herb Wesson (D) – Culver City – 916-319-2047
Patricia Wiggins (D) – Santa Rosa – 916-319-2007
Rod Wright (D) – Los Angeles – 916-319-2048

Name ———— Region ———– Phone #
Roy Ashburn (R) – Bakersfield – 916-319-2032
Patricia Bates (R) – Laguna Niguel – 916-319-2073
Lynn Daucher (R) – Brea – 916-319-2072
Rod Pacheco (R) – Riverside – 916-319-2064
George Runner (R) – Lancaster – 916-319-2036
Charlene Zettel (R) – Poway – 916-319-2075

At this moment, the Governor doesn’t have the votes. Quoting Davis’s spokesperson, Dow Jones reported that "Davis is making calls to legislators in both parties Wednesday to try and secure the 41 votes needed to pass the rescue bill by a simple majority in the Assembly." Why would lawmakers vote for it, especially when a recent energy industry poll, leaked to the press, found that large majorities of the public would vote against legislators who vote for a bailout — a ratepayer revolt against lawmakers at the ballot box?

Calling All Bankrupt or Failing Businesses! Tens of thousands of California businesses declared bankruptcy in the last twelve months. Surely, some of our readers are among those who, for whatever reason, couldn’t keep their firms afloat. Email us your story — perhaps you deserve a bailout too! Certainly, few businesses can claim the record of incompetence that brought Edison begging for charity from our state lawmakers: Edison wrote the deregulation law, reaped $10 billion in rewards under it — including a ratepayer bailout of its pre-1996 losses — but now wants the public to pay for its $3.5 billion in losses for the last year under deregulation.

30,000 Signatures in Two Weeks. As the Governor hurriedly made last-minute calls to round up votes, Bailout Watchdog volunteers delivered 30,000 e-signatures to his office on a petition opposing any legislation that would force ratepayers to bail out the utilities. Most of the signatures were collected on-line by FTCR in a two-week period; others were from recent FTCR mailings.

Watchdogs on the Prowl. Roaming through capitol halls from one Assembly Member office to the next, Bailout Watchdogs are repeatedly confronted with the same disconcerting responses to questions regarding the impending bailout. Whether from Assembly Members or their staff, we are told time and again: yes, the bill is troubling; true, we really haven’t a clue what exactly is in it; no, it is definitely not a guaranteed solution; no, it won’t necessarily keep Edison out of bankruptcy; and no, we don’t particularly like it. So why then are they actually contemplating voting for this colossal policy confusion? "Gotta follow the [Assembly Democrat] leadership!" So indeed, as we have asserted from the start: the real crisis is not one of energy at all, but one of politics, appeasement, "leadership" on behalf of the special interests, and manipulation.

More Deregulation. An arcane plan before the state PUC would force that agency to abdicate its constitutional authority to regulate electricity (see BW#60). The plan would force the PUC to rubber-stamp rate increases deemed necessary by a state agency, the Dept. of Water Resources, that is accountable only to the Governor for its power purchases. FTCR strongly opposes this plan driven by Wall Street, which wants to make sure the state’s ratepayers will be forced to cover the costs of the power bonds. Instead, we’re supporting Senate President Pro Tem John Burton’s SB 18xx — a legislative alternative. SB 18xx mandates public accountability in the electricity rate setting process. PUC President Loretta Lynch testified in support of the bill on Tuesday, but has said the PUC will have to approve the existing plan unless the legislation passes.


Judgment Day
425 Days Until November 5, 2002

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