The Article that put Me -us- on Secretary of State Padilla’s Radar

The Article that put Me -us- on Secretary of State Padilla’s Radar

Originally published April 16, 2012
(REPUBLISHED Oct. 2020, with updates)

Think Globally


  • De-regulation, Not So Fast Mr. Senator
    By: L.A. Ortega

    “Your ideology was not right, was not working?” asked Congressional Representative Waxman during a Congressional hearing on the economic meltdown of 2008. “Precisely,” answers Alan Greenspan, admitting his policies of allowing markets to regulate themselves were clearly flawed.  

    Tyson Slocum, research director for Public Citizen’s Critical Mass Energy and Environment Program, wrote the following in a December 2001 report analyzing the failed deregulation policy on energy and the subsequent Enron scandal that cost taxpayers billions of dollars. 

    “The combination of unregulated state wholesale electricity markets and federal deregulation of commodity exchanges has removed accountability and transparency from the energy sector…California’s recent energy crisis and Enron’s bankruptcy would have been impossible under a regulated system.” 

    Can we afford yet another Enron scandal or Greenspan debacle? If deregulation were on trial, there is evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that it does not work in the best interest of the State’s or Country’s people.

    Key beneficiaries of the Enron scandal were Senator Phil Gramm and his wife Dr. Wendy Gramm. Mr. Slocum writes: 

    “In her capacity as chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), she provided Enron the exemption it wanted, Wendy Gramm [subsequently] resigned her position at the CFTC. Five weeks after her resignation…Enron appointed her to its Board of Directors. Enron paid her between $915,000 and $1.85 million in salary from 1993 to 2001.”   

    “Happens all the time,” says Gary Aguirre whistle-blower attorney from San Diego. Gary took on the big-dogs representing Wall Street’s interests, and won. Now he represents other whistle-blowers.  Mr. Aguirre told me that many legislators/regulators use a “revolving door”, moving between public and private jobs. While in public office they set-up favorable policy for corporate America, then subsequently leave public office to enter a multi-million dollar private position within that company’s industry. [Update to article 10/12/2020: Or climb the political ladder to higher office.  Corporate power successfully institutionalized by our politicians, earn them guaranteed funding in future races.  The impact of the policies supported by these corporate shills to the constituents who vote them into office – wholly irrelevant]

    Senator Padilla has recently introduced SB1161, without the benefit of data or a hearing. This bill will prevent the California Public Utilities Commission from protecting California consumers in the rapidly shifting telecommunications marketplace, essentially deregulating the telephone industry.  The power-track SB1161 is currently on, coupled with the lack of hearings, and lack of studies on this matter is the protocol used in the $700 billion bank bailout in 2008. We all continue to feel the pain of that bailout. So why is Senator Padilla fast-tracking this bill? Why is there no time to study the issue? What are the countervailing interests?  Tomorrow, April 17th, this bill will be voted on in committee. 

    The benefit the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has provided in underserved and un-served markets has been positively impactful for millions of families. It is highly unlikely, based on the preceding evidence, said impacts would have occurred in an unregulated environment. There are many advances that have been made through the tri-lateral relationship between the CPUC, corporate telephone companies and consumers. The sudden need to change the dynamics of this relationship has not been studied. There have been no hearings on the matter, and as Lenny Goldberg has put it, SB1161 is on a “power track to get passed.”

    If you fear deregulation may have a negative effect on your family’s household budget, or that you may not get the service you deserve and would like to do something about it, here is one way to do it, e-petition.

    Or perhaps you have this sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach and you’re saying to yourself, “oh no not again,” then call the following Senators and let them know how you’re feeling about passing a bill before all the facts are in.

    There is absolutely no reason this bill needs to be fast-tracked and therefore should be given proper time to weigh the data, and hear why deregulation, against much evidence, is better for California.    

    [UPDATE 10/12/2020: shortly after this article was published we called Senator Padilla, asking for a meeting.  It was granted.  Me, my vice president and three moms who had graduated from the One Million NIU program met with the Senator at the Firehouse Inn in downtown L.A.  At the time, I did not think twice about why the most powerful state senator in California would take a meeting with a tiny non-profit organization from East L,.A.  Today I look at this meeting with the Senator, now Secretary of State, [now Senator] as a missed opportunity…rookie mistake.]

    UPDATE 6/15/2021: An Examination of Networks Report published on the CPUC website said this:
    post-§710 (SB 1161 noted above in this article) regulatory structure, however, has given the ILECs the capability to increase rates for legacy technology services without providing any feature or technology
    enhancements to consumers. It has allowed ILECs to degrade service quality for these services,
    in part because of their exclusion from technology upgrades. And it has permitted ILECs to use
    the often substantial rate hikes as a device to coerce consumer migration to the new– and now
    nonregulated – technology platform.

    This is a direct hit on what I predicted in 2012 through this article.  America, California specifically, has an opportunity to build a world-class telecommunication infrastructure.  We need now to get past the attempts to derail this effort caused by the wireless industry’s shinny new nickel misdirection, 5G. 

    Because here is what we now know about 5G: it is 3rd rate when compared to Cable TV and Fiber Optics.  Also, because wireless is an unregulated industry the providers cannot be trusted to make the technology affordable.  Price of service is why many of our households are in the digital divide today, it is simply not affordable – to which neither of the bills in the pipeline (SB 556 and AB 537) address; leaving those in the digital divide right where they are today.]

L.A. Ortega
Originally published April 16, 2012
Republished with updates 6/15/2021
Community Cyber Civil Rights Activist