First let me thank God for giving me the strength to persevere against all odds. We, Community Union, would end-up standing alone against a mammoth institution (CPUC) egged-on by an even greater mammoth industry, supported by a selected number of weak-kneed politicians. All in the name of stopping our work in closing the digital divide. Of course that’s not what the CPUC will tell you.
It was telling after John Gamboa, Orson Aguilar of the Greenlining Institute and I left then CPUC President Picker’s office. We were there to implore him to intervene in the nonsense that CD’s (Communication Division at the CPUC) office was engaging. Namely spending $85,000 to block an $80,000 payment to our consortia – who had met and/or exceeded every got-damn metric we had agreed to accomplish. The now in-early-retirement, Mr. Robert Wullenjohn, CASF manager at the time had a vendetta, and to use Sarah Palin’s words, Larry Ortega was in his cross-hairs. Mr. Wullenjohn engaged in this witch-hunt at an expense to rate payers and whose final tab – meter still running on rate payers’ dime by the way – to be at least one quarter of a million dollars. After adding the attorneys’ time, CPED(the investigators who published 100’s if not 1000’s of pages), the analysts at CD’s office – who I marveled at their skillfully artistic ability to sculpt the flimsiest pieces of cow manure into something that would attempt to contradict the record which showed us completing all the work but never getting paid.
When I got the email back from Picker’s office, it was like he had received an order from the higher than thou club. His comments, summarized here in 1990’s colloquial terms: “Can’t touch this!” I could almost hear the baggy-pant MC Hammer after reading Picker’s email. He was not going to intervene despite what you will read below in our moving papers – was overwhelming evidence this was a straight-up witch-hunt.
Not sure if you remember the movie starring Adam Sandler and Jennifer Aniston, Just Go With It. In this movie the character played by Jennifer Aniston tells her kids that instead of using the phrase going #2, to just call it a Devla. This name Devla was a former friend of Aniston’s character in college, who she could not stand. It was funny and is related in that my grandchildren know evil, by the phrase the evil Mr. Wullenjohn. They learned evil men in positions of power can blow a wad of a half a million dollars or more – money belonging to rate payers – and no one would even raise an eyebrow.
When you add the judges’, the dispute resolution expert, the attorneys’, the analysts’, the auditors’, and the investigators’ time and all related travel expenses, materials and per diem’s, the tab on this witch-hunt is most likely closer to $500,000 of rate payer money. This is a despicable waste of money that was an outright vendetta orchestrated by the evil Mr. Wullenjohn and institution(s) who supported him. I am sure the higher than thou club had their hand in the sphincter at some point, why else would such enormous amounts of cash be allowed to be spent on taking down the gnat on the wall – Community Union. The fire power used against us was the same fire power used against PG&E and Edison. Community Union was a mere molecule on the eyelash in comparison to these giant corporations, but that was the fire power we were up against.
By the time we got to the end of the Evidentiary Hearing in August of 2020, Community Union’s due process rights would be trampled on so bad – it looked like a page out of the Sleepy Lagoon Trial of 1943. ALJ (Judge) Zhang refused to allow the basic introduction of basic contract law, identifying – for the record – who is contractually responsible in the matter. The Judge blocked testimony on the grounds (our interpretation) that guilt had already been established via her broad discretion under “judicial review” and there was no need to hear evidence relating to what the actual contract stated. Her basis: CPUC Commissioner says so…haha. Fortunately for us, it is no longer 1943 and when due process is trampled there is recourse. Here is our story articulated in these moving papers to the CPUC, exactly as the story went down: CPUC vs. One Million New Internet Users, which ended-up being Community Union – alone.