By Kevin Akin

The Proposition 16 campaign has been quite one-sided. Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) is spending millions on a big lie campaign, pretending that Prop 16 will extend democracy and protect taxpayers. But the publicly-owned utilities are forbidden by law from putting any money into opposing a proposition. PG&E can spend millions taken from power customers to promote this unfair deal, knowing that their lies cannot effectively be rebutted.

This proposition would require that in order to set up a publicly-owned utility, or even expand one that already exists (say, to a newly-annexed part of a city with a public power company), the voters would have to approve the move by an almost-impossible two-thirds majority. A "no" vote would be worth twice as much as a "yes" vote. (Of course, for the privatizers to turn a public utility over to a private company would only require the usual 50% plus one majority!)

The big lie campaign, entirely paid for by PG&E as a business expense, claims that we do not presently have the right to vote on the formation of a publicly-owned utility. In fact, as PG&E knows quite well, because they have used it, the law provides that all decisions of elected bodies in California are subject to referendum, in which a petition can be circulated to force a public vote on the decision. So the right to vote on this already exists, but the required majority is a democratic simple majority, one more than half the votes cast. PG&E want to put its thumb on the scale, and make the votes for its side doubly outweigh each vote for the other side. Stop this denial of democracy - vote NO on Proposition 16!

Last revised April 20, 2010

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