Meanwhile, the governor has other problems to mull over. Sources tell the Weekly that the state’s sale of $13 billion in energy bonds, the largest bond issue in U.S. history, has been postponed, probably until next year. The state desperately needs this bond sale to make the general fund whole, especially given the specter of a looming recession. The only bonds looking good now is Barry.
Nor is the Public Utilities Commission winning any points with the governor. It has launched an investigation, prompted in part by this year‘s accident at the San Onofre nuclear plant, into Edison’s safety record. The PUC cited 4,721 safety violations between 1998 and 2000, five of which resulted in deaths. The commission could also stand in the way of a Davis plan to have Northern Californians pay more for electricity than Southern Californians, which amounts to another effort by Davis to help Edison.
Commission President Loretta Lynch, a veteran Davis aide, has broken with the governor on this issue; she could join with two Republican commission members to block Davis‘ plan. The Weekly reported last spring that Davis tried to force Lynch off the commission, but that she wouldn’t budge. Consumer and environmental advocates increasingly praise Lynch‘s work and independence.
Davis can’t fire her -- her term runs until 2005 -- but he can replace her as commission president, and is said by well-informed sources to be contemplating doing just that. There is just one problem: Appointments have to go through the Senate Rules Committee. Which is controlled by one John Burton.
Then there‘s the new statewide poll by the nonpartisan Field Institute. It shows that registered voters oppose a ”rescue“ of Edison, by a whopping 68 percent to 21 percent. The opposition rises to 70 percent in Edison’s own service area. And if there‘s anything that Davis pays more attention to than Edison lobbyists, it’s polls of registered voters.
It‘s almost enough to make the governor want to take the rest of the year off.