The Whistleblower #30
Foundation for Taxpayer & Consumer Rights Corporateering
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The Whistleblower

The Whistleblower #30 - Jun 14, 2002

Secrecy, Lies & Electricity Rates. After reviewing a memo from PG&E creditors indicating that the CPUC is illegally negotiating aspects of a consumer bailout of the bankrupt utility, FTCR sent a letter to PUC Pres. Lynch demanding a halt to private meetings. This is an excerpt from that letter: "Once again, we must object to the CPUC's refusal to respect California laws, which provide the public and ratepayers with due process...This conduct is yet another demonstration that the [public process] opened by the CPUC in response to our lawsuit challenging the CPUC's failure to obey state laws is a sham intended to deceive the public and make a mockery of state law. It further reveals that the CPUC's assurances to the California Supreme Court that the CPUC reorganization plan would be subject to public hearings and is not to be considered a final decision of the Commission are simply lies."

The Gramm Menagerie. US Senator Phil Gramm's swan song -- he's retiring at the end of this year -- looks to be built around demonstrating his elephantine memory of who has funded his campaigns over the years -- his top contributors include Enron, Morgan Stanley, Andersen, Vinson & Elkins [Enron's lawyers]. Clearly, Gramm will not let his lame-duck status get in the way of his effort to stop all Enron-inspired reforms. Gramm, who has received more than $100K from Enron is also the hubby of Wendy Gramm, who was an Enron Board Member since 1993 until she resigned last week. Senator Gramm stood in the way of efforts to regulate energy trading early in the year when that was proposed as part of the federal energy package. In recent months he has busied himself working with the pigs at the trough (big business lobbyists), according to a recent NY Times report, to defeat a host of post-Enron accounting and corporate reform proposals. Our contacts with DC officials indicate that Gramm has been camel-like in his ability to successfully carry water for big business as he trots off into the sunset.

Representative democracy is only as good as its representatives. Political theorists (uhh, and everyone else) recognize, however, that there's often a wide gulf between the public interest and the politicians actions (or inaction, as the case may be). This contention is borne out by a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, which found that Americans are severely disappointed in a number of institutions, from the government to big business. Unfortunately, the politicians have refused to do anything about this (see WB #28). Some of the poll's findings:
  • 57% do not have confidence that corporations' and brokerages' information is "straightforward and an honest."

  • 74% think that fluctuating gas prices are due to "Price manipulation by oil companies."

  • 75% think that "some," "many," or "most" companies are characterized by Enron-like practices; only 15% think that "very few" are.

On the other hand, here's what the representatives ARE doing. Senators are currently debating legislation to create a federal welfare program for big New York developers, property owners and their insurance companies under the guise of "terror insurance." According to the proposed scheme, U.S. taxpayers would be forced to provide a "backstop" of funds for terrorist-related damage that exceeds $10 billion. The insurance companies that allegedly make their money selling protection against risk would love to earn the premiums while passing on the risk to the public. Threatening to pull out of the urban high-rise market-- which they would never actually do -- the insurance companies have persuaded the real estate sector to lobby with them, exploiting last year's national tragedy in order to gain this promissory bailout. Please call your US Senator immediately and urge them to vote against S.2600, the insurance bailout.

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