A former high ranking member of the California Public Utilities Commission spoke out for the first time since retiring from the agency last fall. In an exclusive interview with the NBC Bay Area Investigative Unit, he called the actions of some of the CPUC’s former leaders “disgusting.” For more than a decade Richard Clark held one of the agency’s most critical positions as Director of Consumer Protection in the Safety Division. He said his decisions to draw an ethical line with Pacific Gas & Electric Company contradicted a culture of improper access and influence.
The California Public Utilities Commission for years has based multibillion-dollar decisions not on public debate or evidentiary records but rather on secret meetings and influences by the companies it regulates, an independent report has found. … Consumer advocates said the Strumwasser & Woocher report highlighted the need for legislative reform of commission practices. “Backdoor deals have completely corrupted the commission’s process,” said Thomas Long, senior attorney at The Utility Reform Network. “In private meetings that have become the norm at the commission, utility claims go unchallenged.”
In the years since the September 2010 natural gas pipeline explosion that killed eight people in San Bruno, the relationship between pipeline operator Pacific Gas and Electric Co. and high-ranking officials at the California Public Utilities Commission has come under intense scrutiny, undermining public trust in the state agency tasked with ensuring safe pipeline operations.
In a decision that has the potential to alter — and perhaps cripple — Uber’s business model, the California Labor Commission has ruled that drivers for the ride-hailing service are employees of the company rather than independent contractors. Right now, as Business Insider notes, Uber faces virtually no expenses for the more than one million drivers who give rides using the service. If the ruling holds, though, all of those people become employees of the company, and that exposes Uber to such costs as Social Security, workers’ compensation, and unemployment insurance.