We’ve all been absolutely bombarded by election ads this cycle. Even people who are into that sort of thing are tired of the bombast and we’ve still got a week to go.
But one of the loudest and most consistent campaigns is being waged by Pacific Gas & Electric for Proposition 16. And let me tell you there is no more cynical and fraudulent campaign on next weeks ballot than the battle over Prop 16.
PG&E has titled Prop 16 the ‘Taxpayers Right to Vote Act’. That’s a lie. The Proposition is about nothing more than perpetuating PG&E’s utility monopoly and they’ve spent over $40 million to do it. Ask yourself – is any publicly run company really that altruistic that they would spend $40+ million dollars just to save their ratepayers or potential ratepayers some money? No even close. Folks – if they’re willing to spend $40+ million on this bill you know the payback has to be significant. And it is. In a rare moment of candor, one of their own ads claims that municipalities are considering spending $2.5 billion dollars to take over their own utility production. That’s the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, folks, that $2.5 billion or more over the next several years. If PG&E can do an end-run by bamboozling enough people at the ballot box next week, they won’t have to spend money trying to defeat the matter every time it comes before a city or county in the future. Pure & simple.
You see, PG&E has a monopoly on electrical production in their part of the country. Nobody else like Southern California Edison or San Diego Gas & Electric can set up shop in Northern California. As a result, PG&E’s rates are even more onerous than the other utility companies – about 40% higher per kilowatt hour. So several cities in their jurisdiction have opted to produce their own power over the years and many more are climbing on the bandwagon trying to provide a measure of control and cost savings for their citizens. And while the other utliities are sitting back and taking a more wait-and-see approach, you can bet they are salivating at the prospect of a win as well. No more competition in any part of the state for any utility.
PG&E claims that these municipalities are able to just decide to do this on a whim and spend million of your dollars to do it. Nothing could be further from the truth. If your city decides to spend $50 bucks to improve a piece of roadway or $1 million to acquire a piece of land, it is subject to significant review by at least two commissions before it even gets to a vote of the council. Citizens have input every step of the way and if the project doesn’t pencil out it doesn’t fly. In some cities the public does have a chance to vote on the proposal (requiring a 50% majority) while in other cities it is decided by our elected officials, the council.
PG&E knows full well that if this passes and the voting requirement jumps to 2/3 they will never again be faced with an insurrection by a city or county because it is virtually impossible to muster a 2/3rd majority of public votes. Folks, if your city wanted to give away $20 bills on the street corner, you couldn’t get 2/3 of the voters to approve it. And that’s what PG&E is counting on.
Their ads are a lie – blatant and cynical. Rather than being the pro-consumer advocates they pretend to be, they are anti-consumer in that they would rob city and county governments of the ability to control their own destiny and reduce and control runaway utility costs for their residents. Both the California Association of Realtors and the Southwest California Legislative Council have denounced this fraud being perpetrated on the people by PG&E. The Southwest California Legislative Council is comprised of 4 major cities and Chambers of Commerce in Southwest Riverside County. You might be asking, ‘But Gene, the California Chamber of Commerce is one of the organization supporting this bill. Why would your local Chambers come out in strong opposition?’ I found the answer 2 weeks ago at the California Chamber of Commerce 2010 Business Summit in Sacramento. Prominently displayed as a presenting sponsor of the event was – ta-daaa – PG&E. Yeah, that’s right. Money talks. But PG&E money can’t buy off every local Chamber or association who have their constituents best interests at heart.
So when you go to the polls next Tuesday if you think you’re striking a blow for more accountable government and lower taxes by voting for Proposition 16, think again. This is just another egregious example of big money able to buy enough time to tell you a big lie time and again, hoping you’re not smart enough to see through it. I guess we’ll see next Tuesday if they were right.
Vote NO on Proposition 16.
For more information, please go to: PG&E Ballot Initiative Fact Sheet.
The opinions in this commentary are strictly Gene Wunderlich’s personal opinions. While any reasonable and/or rational indivdual should agree wholeheartedly, the opinons reflected herein may not necessarily be those of the Southwest Riverside County AOR, or any local or state government or other mental institution.