Law suit filed to disqualify Proposition 16

Following are excerpts from a Press Release dated March 18th relating to Prop 16 which opens as follows:
“A coalition of locally owned public utilities from throughout California today filed suit in Sacramento County Superior Court to disqualify Proposition 16 from the June 8 statewide ballot for being false and misleading, and for concealing the true nature and purpose from voters.”
This Petition for Peremptory Writ of Mandate was filed on behalf of the following petitioners.
Modesto Irrigation District; Sacramento Municipal Utility District; City and County of San Francisco; San Francisco Local Agency Formation Commission; City of Moreno Valley; California Municipal Utilities Association; City of Redding; San Joaquin Valley Power Authority; and Merced Irrigation District.

Point one on page one reads in part: “Faced with growing competition from local government entities providing better electricity service at better rates, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (“PG&E”) hit upon a cynical strategy to protect itself from competition: promote a constitutional initiative to require a two-thirds majority vote whenever local government seeks to provide service in an area under PG&E’s control.”

Reading further. “Proposition 16 is intended and designed by PG&E, the sole sponsor and contributor to the initiative, to use the California Constitution to lock in PG&E’s control of electricity service in areas that is now serves so that it’s customers have no feasible opportunity to choose the lower prices and better service offered by public providers of electricity. Proposition 16–misleadingly calling itself  “The Taxpayers Right to Vote Act”–purports to impose a constitutional requirement of two-thirds voter approval as a means to control taxes, borrowing, or spending by a public entity to provide electricity service. But voters already have direct control over local public entities, and electricity service is funded by electric rates, not by taxes.”

Point 4 on the second page reads that “A voter reading the initiative language crafted for Proposition 16 would have no idea that PG&E is the intended beneficiary of the initiative, not least because PG&E has deliberately omitted any mention of its name or any reference to any private utility. The initiative similarly conceals that the service area protected from competition by the new two-thirds voting requirement is currently served largely by three private companies, one of which is PG&E.”

Allegation #6 opens stating that “using a paid proponent, Real Party in Interest Robert Pence, PG&E formulated and promoted Proposition 16 to misrepresent that it will serve as a control on taxes, borrowing, and public spending, while concealing that ti’s true nature, purpose, and effect is to protect PG&E from competition from public providers of electric service.”

Page 13 Describes “PG&E’s history of interference with public power” Line 52 reads: “PG&E has a long history of vigorously opposing efforts of local governments to provide electric service. As early as 1922, PG&E bankrolled an effort to defeat a statewide initiative to municipalize utilities.”

Gilbert notes:
 1.  Back on Feb 17th I posted a story entitled PG&E’s Trojan Horse?

2.   The full text of the lawsuit is available online at www.sfcityattorney.org

3.   While I support the private sector over municipal competitors I support a fair competitive option over any utility monopoly.

As such I recommend a NO vote on Proposition 16


About Larry Gilbert