A Victory for Consumers: Senate Rejects Rachelle Chong

See also Paul Hogarth’s diary on this subject.

Rachelle Chong has been a controversial figure in California’s telecom world for a while now. She was appointed by Gov. Schwarzenegger to replace Susan Kennedy when Kennedy was named CoS. Earlier this week, Sen. Steinberg declined to schedule a hearing before the Rules Committee, effectively blocking her confirmation.  The reason for the denial? Simple, she was an instrument of industry, even comparatively in a body that is always faced with charges of industry capture

The Utility Reform Network, or TURN, a San Francisco-based consumer group, has opposed Chong for taking the lead role for what they described as industry-friendly regulations deregulation, including rules to boost basic rates by $3.25 last January, $3.25 next month and a removal of the rate cap in January 2011. Telecommunications companies have supported her. (CapWeekly)

Not only did she work to get rates increased, but this little story is rather amazing in not only its audacity, but also its ramifications.

Chong drew fire at her first confirmation hearing in 2006 for inserting last-minute language into a complex, 282-page proposal dealing with telephone-company deregulation.

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“At the last minute, and at the last day, this particular paragraph was inserted that let AT&T out from under [the regulations]. The way this was slipped into the decision was not acceptable,” said Commissioner Geoffrey Brown, who later co-authored an impassioned, scathing dissent. He voted in favor, he said, “but I didn’t know what was in there. Nobody knew what was there.

Chong, and her staff, defended the language, but it just isn’t believable.  Despite the telecoms best efforts to get Chong approved, and boy did they try, it looks like she won’t be remaining on the PUC.

Also, Chong isn’t the only nominee up for confirmation, as Board President Michael Peevey’s fate is also up in the air.  Keep an eye out on that nomination.  The early money is on his confirmation. Considering Chong’s rejection, I kind of doubt that the Senate will come in with both guns blazing. It just doesn’t play to type.

One thought on “A Victory for Consumers: Senate Rejects Rachelle Chong”

  1. The minute the Governor vetoed the two major renewable energy bills (SB 14 and AB 64), Chong’s fate was sealed.

    The only leverage that the Governor had to secure her reconfirmation was as one of a few bargaining chips to sign the two renewable energy standard bills.   These bills would’ve put into statute a requirement that all utilities get at least one-third of the electricity they provide to their customers from clean, renewable sources.  But the Governor, unfortunately, vetoed them.

    This rejection of Chong, for better or worse, is not a surprise.  


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