Gavin Newsom’s Handling Of PG&E Crisis Stokes Comparisons To Disgraced Ex-Governor Davis Enron Debacle
The California wildfires aren’t just starting to look ugly for PG&E, they’re also starting to look ugly for Governor Gavin Newsom.
Newsom, overseeing the 5th largest economy in the world, has said publicly that he “owns” the crisis, according to Bloomberg – a public statement that could come back to bite him if he can’t get the problem under control quickly. Most recently, Newsom threatened a state takeover of PG&E unless the company could quickly exit bankruptcy and improve its operations.
The focus on Newsom is similar to the focus that was put on Governor Gray Davis in 2003, after Enron manipulated the state’s deregulated energy market causing blackouts without warning and resulting in Davis being recalled from office.
Joel Fox, a Republican consultant who worked for Arnold Schwarzenegger during the Davis recall said:
“If the situation is not handled, it’s very possible it will blow back on Newsom. There’s jeopardy for him, depending on how it plays out.’’
President Trump said that Newsom “has done a terrible job of forest management” and said California would no longer get Federal aid. “Get your act together Governor,” Trump tweeted.
What Trump may have failed to realize is that federal agencies own and manage 57% of the state’s forests, while industrial timber companies own another 14%.
The pre-planned “safety blackouts” that PG&E has been engineering across the state have resulted in school closures, evacuations and millions of dollars of lost revenue for the state’s businesses.
At the same time, the Kincade Fire, which originated in Sonoma County, continues to burn. Newsom said on Friday: “This cannot — and will not — be the new normal. California demands better.”
Newsom has been in office since January, winning election with an
insanely unreasonable “ambitious” agenda to tackle homelessness and affordable housing. Not long after taking office, he was fully immersed in the crisis surrounding PG&E. He has also gone head to head with President Trump, who continues to use California as an example of “all that he sees as wrong with Democratic politics.”
In response to Trump, Newsom said: “You don’t believe in climate change. You are excused from this conversation.”
Trump has even revoked the state’s authority to set its own auto-emission tailpipe standards, and attacked it for failing to meet federal standards for smog reduction. The state has taken Trump to court to try and fight back.
Meanwhile, Republicans have been sharply critical of the job Newsom has done. John Cox, the Republican San Diego businessman who ran against Newsom in 2018 said:
“Mr. Newsom knows this is as dangerous for him politically as it is, life safety-wise, for the people who are facing fires. It’s not lost on him that the outages we’re experiencing are hurting people. The people of this state have a way of reacting negatively when they turn on the light switch and there’s nothing there.’’
Republican Assemblyman James Gallagher commented: “They’ve been saying they understand the terrible impacts, but the next step is to say, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do to change it.’ And I don’t think there’s been enough of that yet. There needs to be more urgency on the issue, either through a special session or other means of changing policy in a timely fashion.’’
Gallagher has suggested that Newsom and Democratic leaders consider additional programs to reduce wildfire fuel through forest management and funding for utility equipment upgrades.
Former Governor Davis concluded with some heavy hitting words of wisdom: “Nobody knows better than me that blackouts are bad and electricity is good. But we all have to understand that until these measures the governor has taken take hold, we’re going to have to live with an imperfect solution.’’
With razor sharp thinking like that, it’s tough to see how David lost his job in 2003, isn’t it?
Mon, 11/04/2019 – 17:50