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Monday, June 7, 2010

California is so screwed

California goes to the polls tomorrow in a primary election, mainly to choose the Republican challengers for Barbara Boxer's Senate seat and the governor's office to replace the Governator who has been termed out. More critically, a couple of initiatives are up that can prove costly for Californians. They are veiled in so much deceptive rhetoric and both are being heavily funded by a single corporation. It is obvious that can only mean the measures serve only the interests of that corporation and not the people of California.

The highest profile initiative -- Proposition 16 -- is backed and financed by Pacific Gas and Electric, the private, for-profit electric company which supplies energy to nearly two thirds of northern California.

Proposition 16 would require any city or county in the state seeking to start its own municipal utility to get approval from two thirds of its voters. Opponents of the initiative say that if approved it will give PG&E and other existing companies a virtual monopoly, locking out potential public sector rivals in perpetuity.

So far PG&E has spent an estimated 46 million dollars on its campaign, blitzing local television, radio and newspapers with hard-hitting ads touting the measure as the "Taxpayers Right to Vote."

Opponents however are hamstrung because the law forbids municipal power providers from spending any money on electioneering. The "No on 16" campaign is staffed exclusively by volunteers and has so far raised only 80,000 dollars.

Anything that is called a "Taxpayers Right to Vote" will outwardly appear as a positive issue for voters. The demand that a local government needs a two thirds majority will have trouble because PG&E will pour money into fighting any such initiative. The result will be a lot less potential for competition for PG&E couched in the dishonesty of protecting taxpayers.

The other ballot measure being decided Tuesday, Proposition 17, is being funded by Mercury Insurance, which has spent more than 15 million dollars on the campaign. Supporters say the measure is designed to allow drivers to keep loyalty discounts even if if they switch insurance companies.

Opponents say Proposition 17 will allow insurance companies to raise rates by imposing premium surcharges that are currently illegal.

"When was the last time an insurance company spent millions to save you money?," the "Stop Prop 17" campaign asks on its website.

It is now surprise that California is floundering in a sea of red ink when such corporate dishonesty is legitimized under the veil of benefiting the public when it does just the opposite.

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