Yesterday (June 16), the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) held an open meeting in Costa Mesa at which proponents and opponents of the San Onofre payment settlement could express their opinions.
At 4 p.m., San Diego lawyer Mike Aguirre was preparing for his presentation, for which he had been given a few minutes.
Aguirre is fighting the proposed settlement, which would force ratepayers to cough up $3.3 billion to pay for the closing of the San Onofre nuclear plant. Aguirre and many others argue that the closing of the plant was caused by management incompetence and corruption, and therefore shareholders, not ratepayers, should have to shoulder the cost.
Suddenly, two California Highway Patrol officers, under the direction of Karen Miller, the CPUC's advisor to participants in public meetings, descended on Aguirre, demanding that he hand them the box of papers he was carrying.
"They [CPUC officials] were terrified I was going to pass something out at the meeting," says Aguirre.
What did they think he would pass out to attendees? Aguirre believes it was information on the blowup of commission head Michael Peevey, who at a May 14 hearing on the $3.3 billion giveaway, shouted at Aguirre, "I'm not here to answer your goddamn question. Now shut up! Shut up!" A video of Peevey's blowup made the rounds on the web.
"In my 40 years of practice I have never heard of someone attempting to take a lawyer's work product away from him at a public meeting," says Aguirre. "This is something out of Nazi Germany."
Aguirre says he had no intention to pass out anything to the audience, but says he had a right to do so had he wanted to. Aguirre instructed the CHP officers of his constitutional rights and they backed off. He gave them nothing. He has filed a complaint with the California Victim Compensation and Government Claims Board.
In his complaint, Aguirre says that Miller and the police officers "interfered with my right to represent my client in the community meeting by attempting to take my attorney work product needed for my presentation at the meeting."
Aguirre says if he gets a payment, he will give it to a nonprofit.