The state Public Utilities Commission has levied a $14.4 million fine on Pacific Gas and Electric Co., saying the huge utility failed to tell officials about inaccurate records concerning a natural gas explosion.
From the LAT's Marc Lifsher: "This penalty is designed to serve as a deterrent to similar behavior in the future," Commissioner Mark J. Ferron said. "There should be no question that the CPUC expects nothing less than forthright and timely disclosure in all matters of public safety."
"San Francisco-based PG&E acknowledged in a statement that its "communications efforts fell short of expectations in this instance" but called the amount of the fine "excessive."
Speaking of PG&E, on the same day the company got smacked with a fine it submitted a request for a big rate hike on natural gas.
From the Mercury-News' George Avalos: "In a controversial move, PG&E on Thursday requested a nearly 13 percent rate increase for its residential natural gas customers to help finance upgrades of its pipeline system -- the same day state regulators slapped the utility with a $14 million fine for blunders related to its gas pipeline in San Carlos."
"PG&E critics immediately lambasted the proposed rate hike, accusing the utility of trying to burden its customers with its past failures to adequately maintain its pipelines. Those pipelines came under scrutiny following the deadly 2010 pipeline blast in San Bruno, for which PG&E faces fines of up to $4 billion."
A veteran LA lawmaker, Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman, is worried that the Tribune Co.'s move to spinoff its newspaper operations will damage the Los Angeles Times.
From the LAT's Richard Simon: "Waxman said the dividend will "undoubtedly enrich the Tribune Co., but it may do so at the expense of the financial health of the Los Angeles Times and the other papers in the newspaper unit, all of which are already facing financial strains."
"Some have described the obligation of the Los Angeles Times to pay rent to the Tribune Co. to occupy the paper's own building as tantamount to 'life as a corporate orphan,'" he added."
An idea that's been floated before is back: expanding the size of the Legislature to put lawmakers in closer touch with their constiutents.
From the U-T's Michael Gardner: "The secretary of state announced this week that initiative backers have been cleared to start collecting the necessary 807,000 signatures of registered voters by May 19 to qualify it for the November ballot."
"The proposal calls for dividing the 80 Assembly districts and 40 Senate districts into thousands of smaller neighborhood districts with populations of up to 10,000 constituents. This pool of citizen-legislators would then elect select a representatives to send to Sacramento."
And from our "Hey Martha" file comes word that a Silicon Valley business guru says California should be carved up into six separate states. He says that will make it easier for people to travel around and improve regulation.
"Investor Tim Draper feels California is too large to just be one state. The famed DFJ venture capitalist would like to carve it up into six separate states, and let his home region of Silicon Valley become its own state."
"His reasoning: California's population is six-times greater than the average state's population which means the state isn't fairly represented with senators in Washington. Draper also says it'd be a way for each state to "start fresh" and for individuals to move from state to state "more freely."
"Draper notes that California has been wanting this for more than a century. "Voters overwhelmingly approved the splitting of California into two states in 1859, but Congress never acted on that request due to the Civil War," he writes in his proposal."
Smart move for Silicon Valley: All that capital gains revnue will stay at home instead of going to Sacramento...