News Agencies Sue Governor Over Electricity Deals : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

News Agencies Sue Governor Over Electricity Deals

Lawsuit Filed Over Davis' Refusal To Make Power Contracts Public SAN DIEGO, 11:43 p.m. EST March 23, 2001 -- The Associated Press and several newspapers sued Gov. Gray Davis on Friday, saying that his refusal to release details of the state's electricity purchases violates the California Public Records Act.

The lawsuit was filed in San Diego Superior Court by the AP, The San Diego Union-Tribune, The Los Angeles Times, San Jose Mercury News, The Wall Street Journal and San Francisco Chronicle.

The lawsuit says that Davis' refusal to make public details of the power contracts his Department of Water Resources has been negotiating means the public cannot determine if the state is doing a good job in spending billions in tax dollars.

"Citizens have a right to examine these contracts for themselves in order to evaluate the expenditure of such a massive sum of public money and the future of the state's energy supply," the lawsuit says.

Because the state's two biggest investor-owned utilities are threatened with bankruptcy, the Legislature in January authorized the department to buy electricity for the utilities' customers.

The state has been spending $45 million a day -- more than $4 billion so far -- on short-term power purchases. The state plans to sell $10 billion in bonds to cover the expenditures, which are to be repaid by utility customers.

In addition, the state has signed 44 long-term contracts for power totaling $43 billion over the next decade.

"This is not something the governor can do in secret," said Roger Myers, the San Francisco attorney representing the AP. "It's something all the citizens of the state have a right to know."

Davis' press secretary, Steve Maviglio, said that the governor this week released a report listing details of those long-term contracts.

Maviglio said release of details of the short-term purchases would put the state at a disadvantage when negotiating with power producers.

"The governor believes that releasing the information before it's commercially stale would result in higher electricity prices for the people of California," Maviglio said.

The Davis administration has rejected several requests by reporters for details of the contracts.

The lawsuit says the 1968 California Public Records Act says that the public has the right to information about the conduct of public business.

Davis' "secrecy is an anathema to a democratic system of government and should not be allowed. Under the CPRA, the contracts should be released immediately so that the public can determine how billions of dollars of its money are being spent," according to the lawsuit.

-- Martin Thompson (, March 24, 2001


The big question now is: Will the State of California assert, as one of its affirmative defenses, the protections of the "Y2K Readiness and Disclosure Act", thereby implicitly admitting that Y2K is at least part of the cause of this electric supply/transmission crisis?

-- Robert Riggs (, March 25, 2001.

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