Could Brown reappoint unpopular Peevey?

SDG&E tried to get ratepayers to cover uninsured expenses caused by the 2007 San Diego wildfires.
  • SDG&E tried to get ratepayers to cover uninsured expenses caused by the 2007 San Diego wildfires.

Jerry Brown

Jerry Brown

Peevey is suspected of backing SDG&E in their attempt to make San Diego ratepayers pick up the tab.

Peevey is suspected of backing SDG&E in their attempt to make San Diego ratepayers pick up the tab.

Pacific Gas & Electric’s penalties for the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion were less than suggested.

Pacific Gas & Electric’s penalties for the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion were less than suggested.

Shortly after his almost certain reelection in November, Governor Jerry Brown must decide whether to reappoint Michael Peevey as president of the California Public Utilities Commission. Peevey’s term runs out at the end of the year.

In mid-August, Brown voiced strong support for Peevey in an interview with editors of the San Jose Mercury News. A month earlier, that newspaper had editorialized, “If Gov. Jerry Brown persists in backing his outrageously unethical appointee [Peevey], he might as well change the name to the Pro Utility Commission.” Around the same time, the San Francisco Chronicle called for Brown to oust Peevey. The Modesto Bee, citing Peevey’s “overseas junkets” paid for by utilities, said it was time for Peevey to go because he “regards utility company executives as peers and partners.”

The Southern California press has also been hard on the commission’s president.

Peevey is suspected of pulling strings in such matters as San Diego Gas & Electric’s attempt to make ratepayers pick up the tab for uninsured expenses of the 2007 fires, caused by the utility. Recently, emails between commission and Pacific Gas & Electric officials have shown that the company said it didn’t want administrative law judges who would recommend tough penalties for the company’s role in the 2010 San Bruno pipeline explosion. The commission complied, and the recommended penalties were much less than the staff had suggested. Indignant Bay Area politicians want the attorney general to investigate the commission for its pro-utility behavior.

The governor and Peevey (both in their mid-70s) are old friends, dating back to the years in which Peevey was active with organized labor and the Democratic Party. After getting two degrees in economics at the University of California/Berkeley, he worked for the federal government in labor economics and then became chief economist for the American Federation of Labor/Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). In 1984, he joined Southern California Edison. He was a senior vice president and chief lobbyist for the company in Sacramento. Edison’s chief executive, Howard Allen, himself a former lobbyist, had a fondness for executives with political connections.

John Bryson

John Bryson

Carl Wood

Carl Wood

Peevey shortly became an executive vice president. Another executive vice president was John Bryson, who also had political connections. He was a former president of the California Public Utilities Commission, a graduate of Stanford with a law degree from Yale, and smooth and oily — like politicians. “Howard Allen played the two against each other,” says Carl Wood, a former commissioner, now director of regulatory affairs for the Utility Workers Union of America.

“Peevey is not Bryson’s kind of guy, or the other way around. Bryson is Ivy League–looking and educated, suave, friendly, sophisticated. Peevey is crude but intelligent,” says a former commission executive. Says a former Edison executive, “They were oil and water.”

As executive vice president, Peevey in the late 1980s was put in charge of Edison’s attempted hostile takeover of San Diego Gas & Electric. To many in San Diego, Peevey did not appear so intelligent in his speeches and radio and TV appearances. Edison lost big. San Diegans were surprised when, in 1990, Peevey was named president of Southern California Edison. He also served as president of the parent, Edison International.

But — and it’s a big but — Peevey was not chief executive officer. That job went to his foe, Bryson. Peevey lasted less than three years. In 1993, barely in his mid-50s, he “retired” from Edison and walked out with a bundle of stock and possibly severance pay, too; my sources disagree on the latter point. There is agreement on one point, as described by a former Edison executive: “He didn’t want to work for Bryson,” and Bryson didn’t want Peevey around, either.

Peevey, not permitted to compete with Edison for two years, went with a public relations/lobbying firm, then began taking equity interests in smaller energy firms. After he raked in a $10 million capital gain from selling one firm, he and his wife Carol Liu, now a state senator, lined up a kinky tax shelter. He was told he would pay almost no taxes using the scheme but would pay $3.5 million if he played it straight. The government went after the tax shelter — and Peevey and his wife took the accounting firm to court for giving them bad advice.

Peevey championed competition in the energy business. Unabashedly, he favored deregulation, although he said it had to be tweaked in California. He told others that he had made a bundle of money trading energy contracts.

Oh, yes. He also had stock in Enron, the corporate hoax that fleeced California in the 2000–2001 energy crisis before collapsing. Peevey dumped his Enron stock.

Loretta Lynch

Loretta Lynch

Despite these black marks against him, in March of 2002, Peevey was named a commissioner of the California Public Utilities Commission. Consumer groups howled that a former Edison president and deregulation yahoo would be named to the commission. At the time, Loretta Lynch was president of the commission and was tough on the utilities and a champion of re-regulation. Carl Wood, then a commissioner, was her steady ally in demanding responsibility of the utilities. “We were unpopular with big business, which had a venomous hatred for Lynch,” recalls Wood. “To mollify the corporations,” then-governor Gray Davis named Peevey as president of the commission at the end of 2002, even though he had been there only about eight months. Pro-consumer groups howled again.

Peevey’s supporters pointed to his longtime association with labor unions. Insiders knew better. “The only time Peevey is pro-labor is…when he is using labor to maximize revenue for the utilities,” says a former commission official. “He is a corporate liberal. He is not responsive to consumer interests,” says Wood.

Brown and Peevey are buddies “because Peevey does what Brown tells him to do,” says Lynch. “Peevey has always been close to PG&E and [Southern California Edison]. So has Brown.”

Nancy McFadden

Nancy McFadden

Indeed, Brown’s executive secretary is Nancy McFadden, who joined the governor after serving as senior vice president to the chief executive officer of Pacific Gas & Electric. In essence, she is Brown’s chief of staff without the title.

In 2011, Brown hired Dana Williamson, Pacific Gas & Electric’s director of public affairs, as senior advisor for cabinet and external affairs. Two years later, she was named cabinet secretary — the person to whom other agency secretaries report. It’s often considered the second-most-powerful post in the gubernatorial administration.

When Lynch was deposed, Peevey threw a party, to which he invited utility executives. Lynch wasn’t invited.

Asked what another Peevey term as head of the California Public Utilities Commission would be like, Lynch had one word:


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What kind of a public campaign would it take to get Brown to appoint someone other than Peevey? It isn't really reassuring to know that their long friendship will apparently allow for massive corruption of the judicial system, complicity in the death and destruction in San Bruno, manipulation of power rates and I don't know what-all.

Silly me. I used to think that Jerry Brown had some integrity. What happened?

eastlaker: Brown is not only cozy with Peevey. Two of his key staff members are from Pacific Gas & Electric. (See item below.) This week, Brown said he would return $9000 in donations he received from executives of Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). Big whoop.

Peevey has a reputation for fleecing ratepayers to boost utility profits. Yet Brown keeps him on. It stinks. Best, Don Bauder

AGUIRRE CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE FIRING OF PEEVEY AND FLORIO. San Diego attorney Mike Aguirre this morning (October 8) called for the immediate firing of CPUC President Mike Peevey and Commissioner Mike Florio. Recent emails have shown that Florio was working with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) to make sure that the utility got a friendly CPUC administrative law judge to hear the commission's case against PG&E for its role in the 2010 San Bruno explosion that killed eight people and leveled a neighborhood. Peevey has already recused himself from the decision on this case because of previous emails that have surfaced. Best, Don Bauder

eastlaker: Something has to happen. The PG&E/CPUC emails are so damning that Brown simply can't ignore them. The mayor of San Bruno and the media in Northern California are screaming for heads to roll. Brown can't just sit there and say, "This too will pass." It won't. Best, Don Bauder

I would think that Mike Aguirre, of all people, would know that at this particular point in time that, while Peevey could by removed as President of the CPUC and/or Brown could ask for the resignations of both Peevey and Florio, neither can be fired. For either one of them to be involuntarily removed from office, both the State Senate and Assembly have to vote in favor of it( I don't remember right now if its a simple majority or not). But since both houses are out of session until December 1st, it is simply not possible at this time unless Brown would convince the Speaker and the President of the Senate to call everyone back into a special session, if that is even possible. That being said, at the very least Brown could publicly state his intention to replace Peevey instead of renominating him, if not publicly stating that he has requested both of their immediate resignations.

danfogel; All Brown has to do is say that Peevey will not be renominated. Then it is all over. If a federal criminal grand jury began looking into Peevey and Florio, that might be the end, too. Formalities, schmormalities. Best, Don Bauder

"All Brown has to do is say that Peevey will not be renominated." don bauder, Yeah, I think I said that.

danfogel: But as you will see in an entry I will post below, there will be legislation introduced to toss Peevey out. The press conference is today (October 9). Best, Don Bauder

I would rather have the Feds be the end of Peevey, Florio, and others at the CPUC. It would provide better closure. BTW, great story on Peevey's background.

mikeknell: In the post I will put up below, there is more evidence that Peevey and Florio, along with PG&E executives, should come under federal criminal investigation -- the sooner the better. Best, Don Bauder

Jay Berman: Yes, the former president of Edison has served as head of the CPUC since late 2002. Smells, doesn't it? Wall Street loves it. California's publicly-held utilities can rake in a hire rate of return than comparable utilities in other states. Ever wonder why Sempra stock is so high?

Yes, something should have been done about San Onofre some time ago. At least, it was closed before there was a disaster. Best, Don Buder

STATE SENATOR TO INTRODUCE LEGISLATION TO HAVE PEEVEY REMOVED AS MEMBER OF THE CPUC. Today (October 9) State Senator Jerry Hill, who represents San Bruno, is holding a press conference with San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane and San Carlos Mayor Mark Olbert. (A pipeline blew up in San Bruno in 2010, killing eight, injuring more than 50, and leveling 28 homes. It has come out that CPUC officials and Pacific Gas & Electric executives have been swapping emails so that PG&E would get the lenient administrative law judge it desired. It got an easy judge and a penalty that was much less than the CPUC staff had recommended.)

On Monday, more back-channel emails came out. In one, a PG&E executive was boasting to his boss that he had a dinner with Peevey, in which they "polished off two bottles of good Pinot." The PG&E executives "jokingly" said the company would come up with money to support Peevey's position in legislation "if he gave us $26 million [in energy efficiency incentives.]" PG&E made the contribution and Peevey personally penned a decision to give PG&E $29.1 million in energy efficiency incentives EVEN THOUGH THE ADMINISTRATIVE LAW JUDGE HAD SAID PG&E DESERVED NO MORE INCENTIVES. In the same wine-soaked dinner, Peevey told the executive that PG&E and other utilities should come up with $100,000 each to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the CPUC.

The PG&E executive has already been fired by the company. Sen. Hill points out that a CPUC commissioner can be removed by a two-thirds vote of each house of the legislature. Best, Don Bauder

Yeah, I read of this earlier this morning. But you left out 1 salient detail. Hill will introduce the measure when the Legislature reconvenes Dec. 1. As I said, nothing can be done until then. I read about the other emails on SFGate on Monday. BTW as of abou 1/2 hour ago, the point appears to be mute. Peevey has announced that he will step down at the end of his term: “I originally planned to make the following announcement at the CPUC’s regularly scheduled voting meeting on Oct. 16, but instead I am moving the announcement to today to state that I will not seek reappointment to the CPUC,” commission President Michael Peevey said in a statement. “Twelve years as president is enough.” http://www.sfgate.com/news/article/CPUC-head-Michael-Peevey-to-step-down-5812009.php

danfogel: Great news! I have not heard that Peevey is voluntarily stepping down, probably because it just happened. Next up: Florio. Best, Don Bauder

It would be interesting to learn whether Peevey's decision to "step down" was independent of Gov. Brown's decision to not continue Peevey as head of the commission.

So who is in the running? Anyone trustworthy?

eastlaker: I have no idea who is in the running. I will check to see if there is any discussion of a possible successor. Best, Don Bauder

eastlaker, as far as I am aware, Brown hasn't commented on Peevey. Anything you'd like to share?

danfogel: I will post something below. The announcement was made on the CPUC website. Thanks for tipping us off early. Best, Don Bauder

GOV. BROWN WILL NAME PEEVEY'S SUCCESSOR, SAYS THE COMMISSIONER. The website of the CPUC announced today (October 9) that Michael Peevey is indeed stepping down as head of the CPUC. His term ends December 31. Said Peevey, "Twelve years as president is enough. The governor, of course, will make a decision as to my successor."

According to the Los Angeles Times, "The news that Peevey will leave the commission came as critics held a news conference on the steps of the [CPUC] headquarters in San Francisco calling for Peevey's resignation or his impeachment if he were to be reappointed by Gov. Jerry Brown."

A couple of more things are hanging fire. Will federal or state investigators look into possible criminal activities by CPUC and PG&E officials in the San Bruno back-alley emails? Peevey's resignation and the firing of PG&E executives should not paper over their offenses. Best, Don Bauder

eastlaker: The evidence is all there. CPUC and PG&E officials broke laws when making arrangements for PG&E to get off easy as a result of the San Bruno explosion of 2010. Peevey essentially solicited bribes from PG&E. He arranged for public (CPUC) money to go to PG&E so it would chip in money so Peevey's side could win an election.

But remember: there are two sets of laws in the U.S. One for the rich, another for the poor. The rich get away with stealing billions and the poor get jailed for knocking over a gas station for $5. As Matt Taibbi says in his excellent book, "Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap," "Winners get rich and get off. Losers go broke and go to jail." In the U.S., we "criminalize failure, poverty and weakness on the one hand, and immunize strength, wealth, and success on the other." Best, Don Bauder

The fact that Brown will appoint Peevey's successor ,both as a commissioner and president of the commission is a given, kind of a pro forma statement. While commissioners are approved by the Senate, with a majority of the membership concurring, only the governor can nominate and only the governor shall designate a president of the commission from among the members of the commission, at his sole discretion.

danfogel: The way it stands now, Peevey has until December 31 before he leaves. My guess is the CPUC will try to hurry through the arrangement by which ratepayers will cough up for Edison's blunders over San Onofre before December 31.

It is urgently necessary that Peevey be bounced NOW. I have to believe that Sen. Hill and others can figure out a way. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder It would have been nice had Peevey left today. I don't know what, if anything can be done to remove Peevey before Dec. 1st. The CPUC is is a constitutional entity and the constitution provides that only the Legislature may remove a member, for incompetence, neglect of duty, or corruption, and only with a two thirds of the membership of each house concurring. I don't see any way around that.

danfogel: But so much has come out that the legislature should be able to muster the two-thirds in each house. I doubt that Peevey et al will be able to rush through the San Onofre decision before December 1 when the legislature goes back in session. December 31, possibly. Dec. 1, doubtful. Public opinion is too strong. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder Perhaps you misunderstood my comment. You said "It is urgently necessary that Peevey be bounced NOW.", which I agree with. What I was saying is that despite your feeling "that Sen. Hill and others can figure out a way", I don't think they can get around the constitutional requirements of a 2/3 vote in each house. In other words, they can't do anything until the legislature begins their new session on December 1st.

danfogel: I understand the importance of the December 1 date, when the legislature reconvenes. Since you wrote this, the CPUC has decided to try and rape Edison/SDG&E ratepayers over the San Onofre closing in November. This is a brazen move that demonstrates CPUC's inherent corruption. It should be met with massive protests. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder Actually, I read about this yesterday after the PUC released the new proposed settlement. I believe the PUC is scheduled to consider the settlement Nov. 20.

danfogel: Yes, Nov. 20 unless Edison and SDG&E ratepayers can raise enough hell that the vote is not taken until a new commission is in place. Remember, Florio could be gone, too. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder, you're also forgetting one thing. Sen. Hill was not going to try and have Peevey removed from office before his current term expires. Rather he said he would bring legislation to block Peevey's reappointment to a third term. You also have to consider that even when the legislature goes back into session on Dec. 1, it's under Joint Rule 51 (a)(1). Basically, the first session after a general election is only an organizational session. Once the Organizational Recess is called, the legislature is out of session until the first Monday in January , when the new session officially begins. So it seems there is virtually no way to remove Peevey before the end of his term.

danfogel: That is the strategy the CPUC is trying to put into place so that Edison and SDG&E ratepayers can be fleeced. If it works, it will go down as one of the dirtiest deals in CPUC history. Opponents are working on ways to block this action right now. One person could stop it: Gov. Jerry Brown. Best, Don Bauder

The good guys win a round! Great work reporting and keeping the pressure on.

ImJustABill: As Mike Aguirre, Mia Severson and Ray Lutz point out, the good guys (ratepayers) haven't won yet. The CPUC must be stopped from voting on San Onofre and San Bruno NOW. A hurry-up of those votes is a threat, even though Peevey has recused himself from the San Bruno vote. He will still be around until December 31 to wield silent and subtle power.

We must keep the pressure on. The CPUC must be known widely as the most corrupt body in California. Best, Don Bauder

If you're into hoping, hope that his successor isn't cut of the same cloth. I'm sure some retired or about-to-retire utility exec would love to have the job. While this gov didn't appoint him in the first place, and based on the times reported, the mistake started with "Gray Hair" Davis. Just what was his stated reason for appointing Peevey? In the interim, both "Ahnold" and Jerry have had the opportunity to get rid of him by various methods, and didn't do a thing. All have been complicit.

Visduh, Peevey was a "special advisor" to Davis during the energy crisis. Davis thought Peevey's experience in the energy and environmental industries would be an asset. Even back then, TURN was saying that Peevey would be a disaster for consumers. They didn't know just how prophetic those words would be. Technically, Brown couldn't have gotten rid of him, other than asking for his resignation. He was renominated by Arnie in 2008, and confirmed by the Senate so the legislature would have had to do earlier what was announced today. You know, I find your choice of words is pretty interesting, "cut of the same cloth" There was a previous commissioner who I think came in with just those credentials. Rachelle Chong was a partner at a law firm in SF. I think her area of focus was before the CPUC arguing on behalf communications companies. As I recall, she only served a single term on the commission because she was so biased in favor of the telecoms and she pissed off enough people who complained that the State Senate refused to give her a hearing on another six year term. And yet somehow this bozo got reconfirmed.

danfogel: Brown could have gotten rid of Peevey by asking for his resignation publicly. The head of the CPUC, even Peevey, wouldn't dare to give the middle finger salute to a governor wanting a resignation. But Brown and Peevey go 'way back. Birds of a feather, so to speak. Predatory birds. Best, Don Bauder

don bauder Yeah, that's why I said in my comment "Brown couldn't have gotten rid of him, other than asking for his resignation".

Visduh: Peevey was appointed to the commission, and then to the presidency about eight months later, by Davis, supposedly a Democrat. Davis made those Peevey appointments to appease the utilities. Schwarzenegger, a Republican, reappointed Peevey. Neither political party has a monopoly on corruption. Best, Don Bauder

Visduh: But the rank and file of each party believes his party is clean and the other dirty. Best, Don Bauder

If I recall correctly, Peevey was appointed to fill the spot of another commissioner, whose name escapes me right now, who resigned before his term was up. Peevey finished out that term and then was reappointed to a second term. Gray Davis removed Loretta Lynch as President of the commission and appointed, or should that be anointed, Peevey in her place. To her credit, Lynch finished out her term.

danfogel: Yes, Lynch finished out her term. Now it is time to name her president of the CPUC again. Best, Don Bauder

Visduh: Some people are working to stop this outrage now. One weapon may be that if the CPUC makes this move in November, every commissioner will be fully exposed and treated just the way Peevey has been treated. That may make some think a second time about this planned theft of the ratepayers.

If this goes through before the end of the year, there should be action to remove every commissioner who voted for it beginning in 2015. Best, Don Bauder

The vote on the decommissioning costs of SONGS is scheduled for later this year, while Peevey is still sitting on the commission. He could recuse himself, but even that doesn't assure a pro-consumer vote by the remaining commissioners. If he and Florio were to recuse themselves, then it might be a different ballgame. A game changer would be a federal indictment of one or both of the aforementioned commissioners. But the DOJ mill grinds very slowly, and there's no indication that they've been investigating the CPUC for any long period, if at all. Public scrutiny and public outcry are the best tools now available for rejecting the $3.3 billion sellout.

Visduh: PG&E has said that the back-alley email exchanges are under investigation. But you are right: this is a slow process. And we don't know that prosecutors would ever lay a glove on CPUC commissioners. They have the same privileges as the superrich: complete immunity from criminal prosecution. Best, Don Bauder

Don, I debated Peevey when I headed the opposition to the SDG&E takeover by Edison. I also once sat down for a meeting with him (why, I can't recall).

I do recall he seemed like the kind of guy who'd call in the boys from Vegas to break your legs with a baseball bat and seemed used to winning by intimidation. He was Edison's enforcer and I can only imagine how he must have intimidated legislators who proposed something that wasn't "in Edison's best interest."

Jerry Brown has been a politician for most of his life, first getting elected in the 60's. That's his world, politics - often rough and tumble - and political alliances are more important than the public interest to career politicians who have little chance of not getting reelected. Mike Peevey is his friend, Peevey helps him maintain his life on the public dole. If he can get elected and not have to fire his friend, then there's no incentive for doing so?

After working a congressman, senator, a governor and in various public affairs jobs, I learned that once politicians get to Sacramento - or DC - party differences are not what we think. Liberals and conservatives all jockey for support from those with the money and the big donors win out over the public interest. I know it's fun for progressives to think the Republicans have the edge in this, but the Democrats play the game just as well, if not better. Peevey and Brown are poster boys for this.

Since leaving public affairs it has been hard for me to muster any enthusiasm for voting: the choice is always Fiddle-de-dee or Fiddle-de-dum and whomever gets elected is going to immediately start courting donors for their reelection campaign and quickly learning that between the donors' needs and their party's dictates, they have no independence, no ability to make a difference.

This is why California's major legislative accomplishments now come down to the likes of banning plastic bags. We are gouged on energy costs, state government's finances and structure are fundamentally flawed, but by gosh we'll someday be able to rush between Fresno and Bakersfield on a bullet train!

I'm trying to recall which San Diego state legislators have ever really championed utility consumers? Someone must have done something? I do recall that Steve Peace darn near broke us with his approach to energy.

This is not about Jerry firing Mike: it's about the changing the way they all do business in Sacramento: it's about having legislators - from both parties - who would publically call for action by the Governor. But, that's not going to happen: the legislators have safe jobs and nothing to gain by bucking the Governor or big donors.

Don, as Californians, when it comes to state governance, we are, as they say, screwed, and Peevey is just yet another symptom of that.

Bob Hudson: I can't argue with what you say. When Edison was attempting to take over San Diego Gas & Electric, I debated Peevey on television, on radio, and at luncheon gatherings. You are right: he acts like a thug, but he quotes Bible verses while doing so. He loves to talk about what he learned at his religious school (while he is concealing his knife behind his back.) Prior to all our debates, he insisted that he talk last, and I go first. Obviously, he wanted the advantage. I let him do so because I thought he was an oaf.

The outburst in which he told Mike Aguirre that he was not going to "answer your Goddamn questions!" and "Shut up! Shut up!" is the real Mike Peevey. That such a hooligan headed the CPUC from 2002 through the end of 2014 is a disgrace to California.

Your views on politics are right on. Both parties are dirty. Best, Don Bauder

Have you seen the Netflix series "House of Cards"? (In which Kevin Spacey plays a politician who will literally do anything to get ahead) I'm sure the show is an exaggerated view of reality - I doubt if any one person in real life is as bad as Kevin Spacey's character - but I wonder how much of an exaggeration.

ImJustABill: I haven't seen it but it sounds great. Best, Don Bauder

Bob, you are saying some things that I've suspected for a long time. Party labels mean little in local elections, even though the reporters keep identifying candidates by their registration. Most voters would like to think that party affiliation does matter at the state and federal level. Many "independents" like to say they vote for the candidate, not the party. Nice idea, but if, as you point out, once elected most pols have little or no independence, that kind of voting is as pointless as party-line voting.

As you rightly point out, the "leg" worries about plastic bags when the CPUC is corrupt, we have a drought of record proportions yet keep wasting water, and the state claims a surplus when the structural deficit is still waiting in the corner.

Finally, it is true that the voters think that "special interest" money owns the GOP and that the Dems get little or none, except for union money. Yet any sort of close look reveals that, as you say, "Democrats play the game just as well, if not better."

I can see why you lack enthusiasm for voting.

Visduh: One of San Diego's biggest problems is that both business and labor are in the corporate welfare camp. Construction and hospitality labor unions line up with business to get taxpayers to finance construction that should be supported with private capital. It's a juggernaut. How can it be stopped? Neither business nor unions believe in or practice capitalism. Best, Don Bauder

Masada Disenhouse: Trouble is, Brown will nominate somebody who says he or she believes in solar energy. Yeah, the person will believe in solar farms, which are enormously profitable for utilities, but not efficient. The answer is rooftop solar, but the utilities will fight it because it will eat into their profits. I fear Brown's appointee will favor solar farms in the desert.

I also fear that the criminal investigations by the state attorney general and the federal government will get nowhere, despite all the evidence that is out there. Best, Don Bauder

As they say, "follow the money". So I wonder where the money ultimately leads to. If I understand it right Peevey wanted PG&E to donate $1M (later $500k) to oppose prop 23 which would have overturned AB 32 (global warming solutions act). http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/CPUC-head-Michael-Peevey-to-step-down-5812009.php Now it's possible in theory that Peevey was purely motivated by an altruistic desire to find solutions for global warming. However, I would say when $1M is on the line there is probably a less altruistic explanation. Peevey, or someone behind Peevey, really stood to lose a lot of money if AB32 was overturned. Am I right? What was Peevey's motivation to keep AB32 intact?

ImJustABill: You are right to be suspicious of Peevey's position. I wouldn't be surprised if he stood to lose money on that vote. Don't look for altruism with Peevey. Best, Don Bauder

It will be interesting to see his next gubernatorial appointment. I'm sure that was arranged when he and Jerry sat down to discuss Mike's "retiring from the PUC" announcement.

Unless Peevey is ready to retire entirely from being a big shot, Brown will have to give him some impressive-sounding title.

Maybe we should vote in new law allowing governors to knight people such as Peevey: that would give them a big title, but keep them away from jobs where they could do damage to the public.

"I dub thee Sir Michael the Intimidator."

Bob Hudson: Great line. Best, Don Bauder

If only we could get some people handling public utilities who really had a vision of how we as a country could move away from fossil fuels and develop local solar and other projects that are closer to clean energy.

Along with a comprehensive program to reforest land that is suitable and clean up our waterways and oceans.

We really do need some strong minds and hearts to work on all of this.

eastlaker: Yes, we need strong minds. We do NOT need minds that are for sale. You are right: rooftop solar is the answer, but the utilities oppose it because it eats into their profits. Best, Don Bauder

Oddly enough, the young Jerry Brown might have been just the person for this...

eastlaker: However, the young Jerry Brown, son of Pat Brown, knew how the game was played. Maybe he didn't want to play it. Best, Don Bauder

So when did he make the switch, and is there a chance he will switch back?

eastlaker: I don't think you can name a date when any public figure morphed from an altruist to a Macchiavellian manipulator. It's an evolutionary process. Best, Don Bauder

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