Sunday, August 12, 2007

Was Davis Recalled for Cheney's Wrongdoing?

Utility Consumers' Action Network
Consumer Advocates

Vice President Cheney suppressed evidence of price manipulation during CA energy crisis

Posted July 20th, 2007
A recent story by Jason Leopold on reports that Vice President Dick Cheney was aware of price manipulation and artificial powerplant shutdowns during the 2000-2001 California energy crisis, but kept the information from the public. According to the story, just before Cheney's National Energy Policy was to be announced, the Vice President ordered the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to seal documents related to settlements with two energy companies that had been investigated for wrongdoing. Leopold writes:

So in May 2001, just days before Cheney unveiled his long-awaited National Energy Policy, FERC entered into confidential settlements with Williams in which the company forfeited $8 million it was owed by California's grid operator for power Williams sold into the marketplace at inflated prices. Williams did not admit any guilt for the power plant shutdown and, on orders from Cheney, FERC agreed to keep details of the settlement sealed. FERC later entered into a similar settlement with Reliant. The company agreed to forfeit $13.8 million it was owed by California's grid operator, did not admit to any wrongdoing, and FERC kept the details of the settlement confidential.

Williams and Reliant never admited guilt. But do you remember the audio tapes with Enron employees laughing about all the money they had stolen from poor "Grandma Millie" in California? That's who these guys are. They don't have to admit their guilt because there are tapes and transcripts that have recorded it for us. One Reliant employee is quoted in the report as having said, "we decided as a group that we were going to make [the money we lost] back up, so we turned like about almost every power plant off. It worked." A Williams employee is quoted as having told a powerplant operator that it wouldn't hurt the companies' feelings, "if the power plant that was down for repairs was kept offline for an extended period of time so the company could continue to be paid the 'premium' for its emergency energy supplies from the ISO."

Dick Cheney's decision to keep such blatant wrong-doing from the public is part noble, and part sickening. Cheney was protecting a friend. After all, the man who had hand-picked Dick to succed him as the top man at Halliburton sat on Williams' board of directors. And that man, Thomas Cruikshank, had told Cheney that FERC, "was in possession of incriminating audio tapes in which a Williams official and an AES power plant operator discussed keeping a Southern California power plant offline so Williams could continue to receive the $750 per megawatt hour premium for emergency power..."...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Pat Flannery isn't wanted at April Boling's interview

Council Candidate April Boling got a free ride at the Realtors
by Pat Flannery

As a 30 year veteran of the San Diego Association of Realtors I went along this morning to the monthly meeting of its Government Affairs Committee. I am not a member of that Committee (you can't just apply, you have to be asked). But I have made a habit of turning up as a guest during the political season, going all the way back to when Maureen O'Connor (Mayor Mo) first ran for Mayor against Roger Hedgecock in 1983.

You can imagine my surprise and dismay this morning when I was asked to leave while they interviewed April Boling. I had turned up in May when they interviewed Carl DeMaio with no problem. What was different with Boling? I was looking forward to asking her about the prospect of amortizing the $1.2 billion pension deficit. She was on Murphy's Blue Ribbon Committee that reported on the pension problem. She knows it well.

I know she is friends with Mike Mercurio, the Realtors' Director of Government Affairs. They are fellow directors of the San Diego Taxpayers Association. Did Mercurio contrive to keep me out in order to ensure a friendly interview for Boling? If she needs that level of protection, Marti Emerald will chew her up in the election debates. Or will she only go to friendly debates, like those arranged by the Lincoln Club or the Chamber of Commerce?

The state prison miasma

from San Diego City Beat's "Last Blog on Earth"
August 9th, 2007 — Kelly Davis

"Our sister paper, L.A. CityBeat, published a series of stories this week on prison reform issues, following up on the story we ran last week. Here are some interesting facts from the lead story by L.A.’s Mindy Farabee:

" In the last 30 years, California’s passed 1,000 new laws lengthening jail sentences.

"UC Berkeley professor Jonathan Simon has found that “almost all offenders are not likely to commit a crime” after they reach their mid 40s. Roughly one-fifth of the prison population is 45 or older.

" Legislative bill AB 900 authorizes Gov. Arnold Schwarznegger to spend $7.7 billion to build more prison facilities. That money comes from general obligation and lease-revenue bonds. By the time the bond money’s paid back, the real cost could be closer to $15 billion."