Proposition 16 is being sold — and sold, and sold, and sold — as a “right to vote.”
The Prop 16 website makes it sound so reasonable, “It requires voter approval before local governments can spend public money or incur public debt to get into the electricity business.”
So reasonable! But that isn’t really what Prop 16 does. Proposition 16 is entirely financed with million of dollars from one company – PG&E – and it is intended to perpetuate their monopoly.
Here is the background: Currently municipalities can choose to form Community Choice Aggregation Projects that let communities buy power for their citizens, instead of using PGE as an intermediary. The result is that people can buy power at a lower cost, and can choose to buy a mix with more renewable energy. PG&E, of course, doesn’t like that.
Prop 16 takes away a community’s right to choose to buy their own power and imposes a 2/3 vote requirement. A community can usually gather a majority to make such decisions but a 2/3 requirement means that PG&E can swoop in and spend some money to get a minority to oppose such a decision, and kill it.
California already has a 2/3 requirement to pass a budget, and we know how that is working. Democracy is suppressed and budgets can’t pass.
We know monopolies don’t work in our society. While we’re trying to create competition to encourage the development of clean, renewable energy sources, PG&E is taking your rate-payer dollars to try to squelch that effort. PG&E wants to stay a monopoly, continue to use dirty fuels which cause climate change and keep the competition out. That’s not very democratic now, is it?
We need to say no to big corporations that use their money (rate/taxpayer in this case, actually) to bully us with phony claims that really serve to perpetuate fat payouts to executives while undermining consumer choice.
Let’s not be deceived. Spread the word that Prop 16 is about protecting corporate fat-cats, not you and me, not democracy, not fair competition.
Dave Johnson is Founder and principal author at Seeing the Forest, and a blogger at Speak Out California.