Saturday, June 05, 2010

What is Proposition 16 really about?

There's a lot of confusion lately regarding what Proposition 16 is about. This is understandable, given that PG&E have spent upwards of 40 million bucks (is it past 50 million now?) to create this confusion. So here's an illustration.
Suppose you live in an apartment building. The grounds there are maintained by "Excellent Gardens & Plants." This EG&P gets paid by a fee tacked on to each tenant's monthly bill. You're with me?

You hear from someone who lives in another building across town. They do not use EG&P there; the building managers have their own trucks, their own lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, leaf-blowers, etc., and the monthly fee in your friend's building is quite a bit lower than yours is. You wonder why, and after some research you find out that the boss at EG&P got paid over ten million bucks last year.

"Whoa," you think to yourself, "maybe our building should buy our own trucks, lawn mowers, hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, and so on." Or maybe hire some other outfit?

Now you can imagine that EG&P doesn't like this idea. They don't want your building managers to buy their own equipment and hire their own gardeners; EG&P want you and all your tenants to keep paying EG&P! Especially EG&P's boss wants you to do that, so he can enrich himself.

What if EG&P were able to make a rule of apartment building management that said, "For any apartment building or condominium management group to invest in their own landscaping equipment, they need to get 2/3 of the tenants to agree to it in a secret-ballot election" -- wouldn't EG&P be happy?

That's what Prop 16 is: if people in your city or county are disgruntled by PG&E's high rates, and you want to buy your own generators or windmills, PG&E wants to force a vote where the answer is "NO" unless over 66% of the voters say "YES". Can you imagine the amount of propaganda that will fill the mailboxes and airwaves in your area if such a vote were proposed? PG&E would use every dirty trick they can think of to muddy the waters, and 34% of your voters would vote NO, and PG&E would continue to "own" you.

And they called Prop 16 the "Taxpayers Right to Vote Act." Slimebags.

Please read the Ballotpedia impartial summary, including the donor list; for a more partisan perspective check out this article from The Bakersfield Californian, or my earlier posting, "Proposition 16 -- ebola in sheep's clothing."

No comments: