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110_F_66851562_fFaspr2gJRZ649D8HnBiDZyATXAzuOcPI’m always asking myself what’s the end of the year without a news quiz. Actually, I stole this idea from the Fresno Bee. Give it a try and see how you do. And, yes, I do know that the questions should be numbered and the answers should be lettered, but I am remain a klutz when it comes to formatting anything, so I’ll make this my last formal apology of 2014.

A. Which of the following happened in 2014

  1. One of the four open investigations into officer-involved shootings in Salinas was completed
  2. The various Peninsula agencies agreed on a plan to increase groundwater storage and expand conservation efforts
  3. A sheriff’s deputy with no management experience was elected to head the county’s largest law enforcement agency

B. Which of these development projects moved ahead despite demonstrably inadequate water supplies:

  1. Monterey Downs
  2. Ferrini Ranch
  3. Corral de Tierra shopping center
  4. All of the above

C. GOP political consultant Brandon Gesicki

GOP campaign manager Brandon Gesicki

GOP campaign manager Brandon Gesicki

  1. Managed a principled campaign
  2. Told a chamber of commerce committee that his candidate’s opponent would soon be charged with a crime
  3. Became a campaign issue to the point that he had to pretend to leave the campaign

D. The Monterey Herald editorialized that

  1. Water should not be an issue when developments are proposed because no single development could exhaust the county’s entire water supply
  2. The Pebble Beach clambake golf tournament should be moved to summertime so better weather would attract more tourists
  3. Howard Gustafson and Ken Nishi were the best candidates for seats on the Marina Coast Water District board.

E. California Public Utilities Commission President Michael Peevey

  1. Was caught skinny dipping with the PG&E board of directors
  2. Told Southern California Edison shareholders that if they thought rates were too high, they should just discontinue their electrical service.
  3. Called victims of the San Bruno explosion “a bunch of crybabies.”
  4. Finally got the hell out of Dodge.

F. California American Water Co. spent more than $2 million on

  1. Defeating a public campaign to take over the business even though it claims to be losing money
  2. Brochures touting the company’s frugality
  3. Lunches with Michael Peevey

G. The proposed design of the Monterey conference center was compared to

  1. A post office, circa 1962.
  2. A dental office, circa 1972
  3. A visionary yet misunderstood monument to man’s inhumanity to man

H. In his book, Leon Panetta

  1. Disclosed that the CIA staff kept him in the dark about everything
  2. Revealed that he worked as a script adviser on Zero Dark Thirty
  3. Disclosed that it was Sylvia who found bin Laden
  4. Mentioned that he had wanted Al Pacino to play him in the movie, a young Al Pacino.
  5. None of the above.

I. The oil industry spent $2 million on

  1. Attempting to defeat a public campaign to prevent fracking in San Benito County even though the oil companies contend there is no fracking in San Benito County.
  2. Beautification of the Lost Hills oil reserve
  3. Brochures touting the industry’s environmental resolve

J. Lou Calcagno’s final act as Monterey County Supevisor was to

  1. To take Steve Collins  to lunch
  2. Give John Phillips’ home phone number to Tony Lombardo
  3. Pardon Dave Potter
  4. It’s a secret

Answers: A. (3). B. (4). C. (2 and 3). D. (2 and 3). E. (4). F. (1). G. (1 and 2). H. (5). I. (1). J. (4)

If you correctly answered all 10 questions, consider this an offer to come to work for the Partisan, especially if you have other income.

If you got more than six questions right, you’re a true newshound. You probably borrow your neighbor’s Herald occasionally and pick up the Weekly once in a while.

If you got two to five right, you probably know what comes on right after the KSBW news.

If you got none or one right, Peter Newman’s team at the local GOP would like to talk to you about running for office.

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keeleytestifyingAre you ready for some good news on the political front? Well, you’ve come to the right place.

Leading candidates for the open seat on the California Public Utilities Commission include East Bay Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner and former Central Coast legislator Fred Keeley, and that, as they say, is a win-win for those who would like to see the PUC return to its core mission of protecting the public interest.

Keeley’s name was forwarded to the governor by the Silicon Valley Leadership Group and he is high on the short list. He would be an exceptionally good choice for the Central Coast because he knows all about the water shortages on the Peninsula and in coastal Santa Cruz County and would be in the perfect spot to shape the solution.

While Keeley was in the Assembly, he authored what came to be known as Plan B, a state policy statement favoring desalination instead of a new Carmel River dam as solution to the Peninsula’s water shortage. Though the Peninsula has struggled with that and other methods of addressing its severe water shortage, Keeley demonstrated considerable knowledge on both the political and technical fronts as he helped steer the process.

It’s an odd situation, but the PUC is in charge of the current effort to build a desalination plant to serve the Peninsula. As it stands, it has been content to let the Peninsula’s water purveyor, California American Water, mostly dictate the terms but someone with Keeley’s abilities on the commission could put the customers back into the equation.

During the state’s electricity crisis at the start of the century, Keeley was the Assembly’s point person on the exceedingly complex issue, advising both the Legislature and the governor’s office and negotiating with power producers and brokers.

Keeley, 64, a liberal Democrat, began his political career as an aide to Santa Cruz County supervisor Joe Cucchaira. He then became chief of staff to then-Assemblyman Sam Farr. He later served two terms on the Santa Cruz Board of Supervisors before campaigning for an Assembly seat in 1996. He served two terms and quickly gained the reputation as a leader in budgeting and the environment.

He left the Assembly in 2002 because of term limits and became executive director of the Planning and Conservation League, turning down an appointment to head the state Department of Finance under Gov. Gray Davis. In 2005 he was appointed Santa Cruz County treasurer and he was elected to the position the next year.

A spot is open on the commission because its battered president, Michael Peevey, opted to leave at the end of his term this month rather than seek reappointment. It was essentially a compromise intended to spare him the embarrassment of removal over revelations of the commission’s remarkably friendly relationship with PG&E, which it purportedly regulates.

Peevey is a former chief executive of PG&E’s southern counterpart, Southern California Edison.

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Nancy Skinner

Skinner, also a Democrat, doesn’t have the Central Coast connections that Keeley does but she has strong progressive credentials that suggest she would stand up rather than cozy up to the utilities.

She is leaving the Assembly this month because of term limits. She began her political career while she was a student at UC Berkeley, starting in student government and then becoming the first student elected to the Berkeley City Council. She earned degrees in natural resources and education.

While in the Assembly, Skinner distinguished herself in the areas of climate change and taxation.

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Does PUC President Peevey Have Dirt on Gov. Brown or What?

Businessman holding a cardboard with a clown on it in front of hIf Michael Peevey isn’t removed from the state Public Utilities Commission by the end of the week, it could finally be time for Californians to find a way to eliminate the commission and develop some other vehicle for regulating utilities.

The big news Monday was that four senior PG&E officials have been fired because they had been involved in a long exchange of emails that documented the sweetheart relationship between the energy company and its so-called overseers. Among many other things, the emails showed that the PUC, especially Peevey’s staff, welcomed the company’s input on which administrative law judges should preside over PG&E rate proceedings and other matters.

The emails leading to the departure of the PG&E crew add to a sorry record of inappropriate communications between the agency and the utility. For instance, last year when PG&E was indicted over the catastrophic natural gas explosions in San Bruno, Peevey, the commission president, didn’t give the company advice about safety. Instead, he quietly lectured it about PR. In an email, he told company officials that they should not have announced the coming indictment in advance because that resulted in two damaging news stories instead of one. He called PG&E’s attempt at transparency “inept.”

In response to Monday’s action, Peevey scrambled to save his job. After an earlier batch of inappropriate emails was distributed, Peevey canned one of his staffers. This time, he said he would recuse himself from the process of setting the fine against PG&E over the San Bruno explosions but would continue hearing PG&E rate matters. His response is as unsatisfactory as everything else he has done. He needs to be removed from office before he can do any more damage.

Other PUC officials said it seems the commission needs a refresher course on the rules, which obviously is true. PG&E was wrong to take advantage of an ethically challenged bureaucracy, but it is that bureaucracy that is the bigger villain here. One PUC official tried to put a positive spin on things, suggesting this is a good thing because it likely will lead to greater transparency. That demonstrates confusion about the meaning. When the public talks about transparency, it’s saying it wants better and more honest government, not simply a better view of the corruption.

Peevey was president of Southern California Edison before Gov. Gray Davis appointed him to the commission. One of the commission’s roles is to keep the state’s utilities healthy so they can stay in business and obtain financing at reasonable rates. Peevey gets that part but he apparently hasn’t a clue about its even more important role, protecting the public. It’s time for him to go.

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