I hope that everyone in at least this part of California can see what a fraud Proposition 16 is. It is not, as PG&E claims, the “Taxpayer’s Right To Vote Act.” It should be called “The Take Away The Rights Of The Majority Act.”
If the initiative really had as its purpose the protection of the taxpayers, it might require the decision to expand a publicly owned utility be put to the voters so the majority could decide. But it does not do that. Instead, it requires that any such attempt be passed by a two-thirds super majority. Any time something requires a super majority, it strips some of our people of the effective right to vote. Note that the important word is effective. When something has to be passed by a 2 to 1 margin, there has to be two voters voting yes for every single no vote. Every no vote cancels two yes votes. The whole concept of one man, one vote goes right out the window.
Super majorities are, in essence, impossible to get. Every person who is opposed to something that requires a super majority can cancel two yes votes. That would be bad enough if they were the only no votes, but they are not. Some people vote no on reflex. Every one of them cancels two yes votes. Others are confused, don’t understand and vote no because they don’t want to vote for something they are not sure about. Each one of them cancels two yes votes.
Why would you, as a voter, put yourself in a position where you become a second-class citizen if you decide something that requires a super majority is a good idea? All of a sudden, your vote is only worth half as much as the vote of the person down the street who does not agree with you. What is wrong with “MAJORITY RULES”?
Finally, do you really think PG&E cares about your right to vote? Suggest that their rate increases be put to a vote and see what they say. The fact is that PG&E, as a privately owned public utility, has its rates set by a regulatory agency that is REQUIRED to set them so that PG&E makes a profit on every kilowatt of electricity it can sell. Keeping utilities like Redding Electric Utility from being formed or expanded means that PG&E sells more electricity and makes more profits. That is why PG&E is spending millions on Proposition 16: because that is where the money is. They will make their money back over and over if we are suckers, fall for their fraud and take away our own right to vote.
One final thought: Did you see the story in Redding’s other paper Monday that Redding Rancheria was working to switch from PG&E to Redding Electric Utility because PG&E was more unreliable and more expensive then REU? Anybody living in PG&E Land who falls for this rip-off can look forward to that same unreliable, expensive service forever.
Dugan Barr has practiced law in Redding since 1967. He has tried more than 200 civil jury cases to verdict. He is married and has five children. The offices of Barr and Mudford, LLP, are at 1824 Court St. in Redding and can be reached at 243-8008.