Michael Peevey, embattled head of the Public Utilities Commission will chair his last meeting today in San Francisco. The former NewEnergy Inc. official is stepping down amidst controversy surrounding what some say is a too-cozy relationship between the PUC and the companies it regulates. Critics say this is a chance for the PUC to clean up its act. Alexei Koseff has the story for the Bee, Jaxon Van Derbeken at SFGate:
“To those who say the commission has long been in bed with the utilities it regulates, the upheaval is a moment of opportunity.
“’This is the best time for the PUC to make some real changes,’ said Britt Strottman, an attorney for the city of San Bruno. ‘They need to start acting like this is a public utilities commission, not a commission run by the utilities.’”
Senate Committee chairs were announced yesterday. Why so late? As Paul Mitchell pointed out, they had to wait for the GO chair to get elected. Laurel Rosenhall has the list at the Sacramento Bee.
New Governance and Finance committee chair Robert Hertzberg has introduced a bill to tax services – a move he says would stabilize state revenues and cut personal income taxes. From George Skelton at the LA Times:
“Isn't Hertzberg afraid of being viewed as a dreaded tax-and-spender? ‘Not at all,’ he says. ‘This is an area I'm interested in. It's why I ran — not to sit on the sidelines. I want to work on the tough stuff. That's the purpose of being in government. I'll shy away from no discussion. I'm 60 years old.
"’Will I be successful? I have no idea. But I've got to step up to bat.’
And, speaking of tax reformers, Jim Miller points to the state appropriations limit (a formula that controls legislative budget growth) put in place by Paul Gann’s Proposition 4 as the cause of recent Senate layoffs.
Also at the Bee, Christopher Cadelago has two stories: California Endowment president Robert Ross has resigned from the Covered California board, and GOP firebrand Tim Donnelly has announced that he will not run for the senate seat being vacated by Steve Knight.
California business leaders reacted with cautious optimism to President Barack Obama’s bombshell announcement yesterday that he was normalizing relations with Cuba. Carla Marinucci and Joe Garofoli look at how the move will affect California industries. Prognosis: long overdue, but probably won’t have a big impact on the state’s economy any time soon.
Some people will do just anything to get a Barbie Glam Vacation House. Florida deputies say a man faked a heart attack to distract people as his friend stole a load of Barbie and other toys. The ploy worked, but only until cops reviewed the instore video.
“[Two] men are seen walking into the store together on Tuesday. One man loads up a cart with a motorized power wheel Barbie car, a Leap Frog tablet and a Barbie Glam vacation house and heads toward the exit.
“Meanwhile, the other man faked a heart attack. Concerned customers looked on as the man with the cart left the store…”
“A surveillance camera caught the whole act, leading to the arrests of 30-year-old Tarus Scott and 27-year-old Genard Dupree. They are charged with grand theft.”