"Corporate Bucks Behind 'Citizens' Initiatives In Calif."

"Some of the most closely watched contests in California's June primary election are for ballot initiatives. In the past, voters have used them to rewrite the laws on everything from taxes to medical marijuana to raising chickens. But increasingly, these 'citizens initiatives' are being sponsored by corporations.

Take Proposition 16, for example. The initiative, which proponents call the "Taxpayer's Right to Vote Act," would require a city or county that wants to start a municipal utility or expand an existing one to get approval from two-thirds of its voters. The backer of all this extra democracy is Pacific Gas and Electric, California's largest private, for-profit electric company. ...

Jerry Geesman, a spokesman for the "no" campaign and a former member of the California Energy Commission, says that PG&E is breaking new -- and dangerous -- ground with the initiative.

'This is an effort to lock into the state constitution a perpetual monopoly,' he says. 'That's never been done before.'"

Ina Jaffe reports for NPR's Morning Edition May 24, 2010.

Monday, May 24, 2010