A group of 22 California mayors and five county supervisors representing more than 5 million residents want PG&E to become a public co-op.
A letter from the growing number of civic leaders was sent Monday to the California Public Utilities Commission urging them to consider the idea of a customer-owned public utility. They argue that the arrangement would give the public more say in how the utility, currently in bankruptcy, and the object of great derision for its handling of the California wildfires and its aftermath, is operated.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo has led the growing movement to buy out PG&E and transform it into a mutual benefit corporation, ostensibly a public cooperative. The letter also was signed by four East Bay mayors, including Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguín, Hayward Mayor Barbara Halliday, and Richmond Mayor Tom Butt.
The Alameda County Board of Supervisors referenced the letter last month. But since some officials were not fully aware of it, the supervisors moved the discussion to a future meeting.
Following a spate of major wildfires started by PG&E’s aging infrastructure and public anger over its decision to shut-off power to millions in Northern California in order to stave off more fires, the group believes PG&E must be “re-imagined.” It’s a phrase and sentiment used previously by Gov. Gavin Newsom.
“A cooperative financial structure will save ratepayers many billions of dollars in financing costs over this next decade,” according to the letter. “A customer-owned PG&E will better focus its scarce dollars on long-neglected maintenance, repairs and capital upgrade, and mitigating some part of the substantial upward pressure on rates.”
Exec Who Tried to Close
San Leandro Hospital Poised to Lead Eden District
The Eden Health District, a local government agency that represents most of Central Alameda County, announced that Michael Mahoney is out as its CEO after more than two years. He will likely be replaced by George Bischalaney, a former Sutter Health official who previously led Castro Valley’s Eden Hospital and strongly advocated for the closure of San Leandro Hospital earlier this decade.
In a special closed session meeting, the Eden Health District Board of Directors announced the at-will contract of Mahoney, a former CEO of Hayward’s St. Rose Hospital, would be terminated immediately. In addition, the board directed contract negotiations to begin for Bischalaney to take over on an interim basis. The earliest Bischalaney could be officially hired as the new Eden Health District CEO is at the board’s next regular meeting on Nov. 20.
The imminent return of Bischalaney is a surprising twist in the Eden District’s long-term struggle to survive after a lawsuit against Sutter Health in 2010 greatly diminished its ability to fund its core mission of supporting health care-related matters in the San Leandro, Hayward, and unincorporated areas, through grants.
The lawsuit, which the Eden District lost in 2013, however, ultimately saved San Leandro Hospital from closure, but cost the Eden District $20 million in damages paid to Sutter Health over 10 years. The Eden District, formerly the Eden Township Health District, still owes Sutter Health roughly $10 million as result of the lawsuit.
In recent years, the Eden Health District has been the target of dissolution by some local, county, and state legislators. They argued the district no longer oversees a hospital and its grant-giving functions could be better distributed by the county and other non-profit health care groups.
As CEO of Sutter Health’s Eden Hospital, Bischalaney was a key point man for the reconstruction of the hospital located on Lake Chabot Road in Castro Valley. At the same time, he openly worked with Alameda County leaders to shutter San Leandro Hospital as a full-service
medical facility with a 24-hour emergency room. The presence of the nearby San Leandro Hospital was viewed a potential pinch on the new Eden Hospital’s bottom line.
San Leandro community leaders and the California Nurses Association pushed back on the proposal to close hospital. It is now operated by the Alameda Health System.
Alameda Will Release Secret Recording of Councilmembers
Alameda residents will soon learn the contents of a recording secretly made by its former city manager, Jill Keimach. The Alameda City Council directed its city attorney to prepare a transcript of the 55-minute recording of an August 2017 meeting between Keimach and Councilmembers Jim Oddie and Malia Vella.
The council also voted to formally reject a claim by Vella, believed to be related to her privacy being violated by release of the recording.
The recording and the fallout from the city’s scandal, in which Keimach accused the councilmembers of improperly interfering in her duties to hire a new fire chief, has roiled the city’s politics and is poised to again by a heated topic of discussion in next year’s council elections. Keimach said she made the secret recording of Oddie and Vella during a meeting at City Hall because suspected a crime could have occurred.
Vella said the transcript should include as few redactions as possible.
“Now that the City Council has voted to release the recording, I believe that the entirety of the recording should be released so there is context for the whole meeting and what transpired,” Vella wrote.
A report in the East Bay Times later detailed an allegation made by Alameda Police Chief Paul Rolleri that Oddie threatened to seek Keimach’s removal as city manager if she did not choose a fire chief candidate backed by the Alameda firefighters union. Vella said that she would not have accepted the meeting if she had prior knowledge of the allegation made by Rolleri against Oddie.
In Other News …
The California Department of Motor Vehicles allowed seven agencies, including the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, to illegally access to 3,200 California resident’s drivers license records, the Los Angeles Times reported. … Contra Costa County Clerk/Recorder/Registrar Joe Canciamilla resigned from his post on Oct. 31. A week later the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission levied an enormous $150,000 fine on him for using personal campaign funds for vacations and home repairs, the Chron reported. Canciamilla, who was also a former county supervisor, mayor, and state legislator, illegally used $130,000 in campaign funds for the endeavors, the FPPC alleges. …
BART’s general manager apologized to an African-American man handcuffed and cited by BART Police last week for eating a sandwich on the station platform, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The police union’s president, however, still believes the officer’s response was justified. … Voters in Piedmont overwhelmingly approved measures to increase taxes in order to further fund schools, the Times reported. Voters backed Measure G, which extends an existing $2,763 school parcel tax through 2028; and Measure H, which enacts a 25 cent per square feet tax on home improvements. …
The Oakland City Council announced they have entered negotiations with the Oakland A’s, who are interested in purchasing the city’s half of the Coliseum complex, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. However, the council has not yet dropped the lawsuit that hopes to stop the county from also selling its half of the site to the A’s. … Three local universities were invited to the NCAA Women’s soccer tournament on Monday, SFGate reported. Stanford received one of four top seeds, and will face Prairie View A&M. Cal will play South Bay rivals Santa Clara in the first round. This year Women’s College Cup will be played at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. … Stephen Curry will require a second surgery on his broken left hand, according to CBS Sports. Curry, however, said he plans to return to the team later in the season. Meanwhile, the Warriors’ record dropped to 2-9 with a loss to Utah. …
Bernard Tyson, the CEO of Oakland-based Kaiser Permanente, died Sunday. He was 60, CNN reported. Tyson is credited with growing the health care provider since after taking over in 2013, in addition, to adding his voice to the chronic issue of race relations. … Scott Donahue, whose sculpture is seen everyday by motorists driving beneath a pedestrian and bike overpass on Interstate 80 in Berkeley, is threatening a lawsuit against the city, the Chronicle reported. He believes the cost-cutting reason given by the city for removing his art work is insufficient and taking down the sculpture will damage his reputation. …
Sen. Elizabeth Warren opened a campaign office in Oakland on Sunday, NBC Bay Area reported. Oakland Council President Rebecca Kaplan was on hand to issue her endorsement of Warren, who is leading the Democratic primary polls in California, and most national polls. … It just keeps getting worse for Sen. Kamala Harris’s presidential campaign. A new poll shows she is polling at just one percent in New Hampshire, SFGate reported.