San Jose Mercury News Editorial: Brown’s Veto Damages PUC Reform Effort

by The Editorial Board, San Jose Mercury News

PG&E pipeline ignites an explosion in San Bruno 9/10/2010.Gov. Jerry Brown’s rejection of crucial reforms of the scandal-plagued California Public Utilities Commission is appalling.

The governor all along has had the power to correct pervasive impropriety at the commission. He has done next to nothing — even after it was clear that regulatory failure directly contributed to the deadly gas pipeline explosion in San Bruno. Now he has vetoed the Legislature’s attempt to impose greater transparency and public access that might save lives in the future.

These reforms had unanimous support in the Assembly and Senate. Unanimous. Many were recommended by an independent consulting firm hired by the PUC itself to address the utter lack of trust in its leadership.

In his veto message, Brown wrote that “taken together there are various technical and conflicting issues that make the over 50 proposed reforms unworkable. Some prudent prioritization is needed.”

Okay. But Brown and his staff were well aware this legislation was being developed. At any point they could have suggested changes. Waiting and then rejecting the entire six-bill package shows contempt for the very idea of reform.

But lawmakers need to take Brown at his word. They need to figure out what he objects to and find compromise. And they should invoke an urgency clause in the legislation to speed it into law. The required two thirds approval to do this should be no problem. (See previous on “unanimous.”)

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Related: San Diego Union-Tribune editorial: Gov. Brown And The PUC: What, Me Worry?

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