Wine Caves, Darkness & Sunlight

 

It’s been a several weeks since the Buttigieg/ Wine Cave story echoed far beyond the quiet vineyards of Napa Valley. It burst into daylight against the backdrop of a polluted Trumpian culture of influence peddling, corruption, self-dealing, law-breaking, political tone-deafness and the sale of ambassadorships to rich people, like Gordon Sondland.

Nothing that the Buttigieg campaign has done — nor any other Democratic campaign for that matter, including Joe and Hunter Biden’s blindness to appearances of conflict — comes close to the utter illegality and outright criminal actions taken by Donald Trump. Trumps explicit criminality includes three specific federal crimes spelled out in the 600-plus page House Judiciary Committee Report: Bribery, Wire Fraud and Honest Services Fraud. Those precise crimes carry with them a potential sentence of up to 20 years in prison, if the perp President is convicted. And, that’s not counting the damage done to the nation spelled out in the two Articles of Impeachment vs. Trump.

By comparison, holding a fund-raiser in a Wine Cave is like having a cute costume party, especially at a time when an entire Administration has been systematically corrupting the public’s business and conducting it under a Soviet-style curtain of secrecy. Precisely because of the monumental corruption of Trump and his international crime family, Democratic Presidential Candidates have to be super-sensitive to any action that lookssuspicious, even when it’s not.

Wine Caves themselves are not inherently suspicious, nor hotbeds of corruption. They serve a real purpose, are environmentally sound, and, as the Napa Valley Register reported in a story headlined, “The History of Napa Valley Wine Caves & the Talk of the Democratic Debate” (12/20/2019), wine caves are “primarily used for storing and aging wine, both in barrel and bottle,” with natural temperature control, low exposure to light and minimal vibration.

I’m betting Buttigieg is wishing that the wine cave of the wealthy Craig & Kathryn Hall had even less exposure to daylight and political vibrations. As a Napa resident, I’ve visited many wine caves on hot Napa Valley summer days; not one had a Swarovski Crystal chandelier, nor smelled of secrecy; only wine.

So, if the wine cave itself is not to blame for the pre-pubescent PR faux pas, what, or who is? Obviously, someone on the not-so-buttoned up Buttigieg campaign failed to do some basic homework on the history of their hosts, the Halls, mega-donors to many Democratic campaigns going back 30 years.

Any cursory fact-checking by Mayor Pete’s team could have easily discovered that Kathryn Hall was appointed Ambassador to Austria by President Bill Clinton — a huge red-flag at the very time Trump’s sale of an ambassadorship to Gordon Sondland has dominated the news for months. Just because Clinton did the same thing Trump did with a much more likeable person, doesn’t make it right. If anything, it helps normalize Trump’s terrible behavior. Selling ambassadorships is wrong, whoever does it.

Overlooking the pay-to-play nature of the Hall’s Sondland-like relationship with the Clinton’s was, however, not the most egregious oversight by Mayor Pete’s inexperienced staff. All they had to do was Google the billionaire real estate developer and investor the way the Associated Press’ Brian Slodysko did, to find out what else the Hall’s wanted buried deep underground.

Slodysko’s story, which appeared on December 13, 2019, only six days before the Democratic Presidential Debate in LA, carried a striking headline: “Swarovski Crystals, $900 Cabernet, and A Buttigieg Fundraiser.” Far more damaging than the headline, was the history of Craig Hall’s political donations and their consequences. The quotes below are from the AP story:

Craig and Kathryn Hall are prolific donors who split their time between Dallas and their California wineries. But they have also drawn notoriety over their past giving, as well as Craig Hall’s role in a 1980 Savings & Loan crisis.

Risky investments by Craig Hall, the Chairman and founder of the Hall Group, during the S & L meltdown in the 1980’s, culminated in an over $300 million federal bailout and the resignation of House Speaker Jim Wright of Texas, a Democrat he turned to for help.”

Federal regulators had been zeroing in on a series of Hall’s unpaid loans. To push back, the developer and bank operator turned to Wright, who was then ascending in the House Leadership, to get them to back off, the AP reported at the time.”

The most damning information in the AP story of December 13, was still to come:

“Wright held up legislation that would have given the struggling industry a $15 billion lifeline…a few days later, the regulator overseeing some of Hall’s loans was replaced, and the legislation moved forward…Taxpayers eventually covered the cost of Hall’s default while the developer’s outreach to Wright played a central role in the Congressional Ethics Investigation that toppled him from the Speaker’s Office in 1989.

In 1993, the year Craig and Kathryn Hall were married, he (Hall) agreed to pay a $100 million settlement, and moved on.”

It was bad enough that Buttigieg’s bush-league staffers, exhibiting no historical memory, bungled this big time, allowing GOP apologists for Trump to use the “both sides are corrupt” falsehood, when the magnitude of Trump’s law-breaking and mendacity exceeds anything in American history. Allowing such a damaging story about Hall and former Democratic Speaker Jim Wright to rise from the grave after it was buried for three decades is a colossal act of incompetency by Buttigieg’s bumblers.

Far worse, was the fact that the New York Times, one week after the AP story appeared, ignored every single one of the facts reported, to permit the wine-maker to use the newspaper’s pages to whine about the “unfairness” of attacks on him.

In a December 20, 2019, story headlined “ Democrats Sparred Over a Wine Cave Fundraiser: It’s Billionaire Owner Isn’t Pleased,” by Carol Pogash and Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, the Times became a megaphone for Craig Hall’s moaning:

I’m just a pawn here,” said Craig Hall. “They’re making me out to be something that’s not true, and they picked the wrong pawn. It’s just not fair…These people don’t know who they’re talking about when they throw me in the class that they did.”

Actually, it appears that Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders and Amy Klobuchar knew exactly who and what they were talking about: caving-in to big donors has plagued political campaigns & government for decades. What’s “unfair” and unconscionable, is that both the Buttigieg team and the New York Times failed to uncover, or worse, ignored, publicly known information about the Wine Cave’s owners who are hardly innocent “pawns” in the pay-to-play game of politics.

By awakening this long-sleeping story from hibernation, Buttigieg’s judgement is suspect, and his staff’s historical blindness has dug a deeper tunnel from which all Democrats must emerge. Democratic candidates running for President, the US Senate and the House in 2020 need to be bathed in bright sunlight, offering a sharp, stark contrast to the destructive darkness, rampant corruption and continuing crime spree of Trump and the GOP — actions which threaten to push our democracy back to the days of cave-dwellers.

This is no time for amateurs, nor for Clinton apologists. Democracy thrives in sunlight.

The Speech–and Result–House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Must Deliver: The U.S. Constitution Guarantees Americans A Senate Trial of “Impartial Justice.”

 

(The following is a pro-bono speech I have drafted as my patriotic duty, for Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi to deliver on the day the full House approves the Articles of Impeachment in the case of the People of the United States vs. Donald J. Trump.)

My fellow Americans:

Today, the House of Representatives, the People’s House of which I am honored to serve as Speaker, voted to impeach the President of the United States for only the third time in our history, and the first time in this century. With the stakes for our national security and of our democratic election process never higher, this Impeachment case of the United States of America vs. Donald J. Trump, is the most serious and significant in our country’s history.

In no other case of the Impeachment of a President — of either Andrew Johnson or Bill Clinton (Richard Nixon resigned before he was impeached) — have the violations of the oath of office, and of the law been as stark, or more clearly defined in our Constitution, and more directly abused and broken, then in this case of the People of the United States of America vs. Donald J. Trump.

The Founders of this great nation, in their wisdom, gave Congress the legal right and duty to protect this country from foreign interference in our elections, corruption, and abuse of power by the highest public official in the land. Even those prescient patriots would have been hard pressed to foresee that all of those crimes against the nation would be committed repeatedly by one man, without regard for the Rule of Law, for free and fair elections, or for our nation’s security against our most dangerous adversary. Those were, in fact, the precise “high crimes” contemplated when the Impeachment Clause was included in the U.S. Constitution.

Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, George Mason and even George Washington, could have never imagined that when they vested the responsibility to conduct impeachment trials in the United States Senate, that Senators would publicly announce their determination to “fix” the trial, and preemptively violate their sacred “oath and affirmation” to seek “impartial justice”. Fixing the trial for the accused, against the clear intent of the Constitution, is, however, precisely what both the Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell, and the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham have already announced they will do, on national television.

Senator McConnell told Sean Hannity of Fox News last week that, “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with the White House Counsel. There will be no difference between the President’s position and our position as to how to handle this to the extent that we can.

As Representative Val Demings of Florida a former Sheriff, who knows criminal behavior when she sees it, said: “Sen. McConnell has promised to sabotage that trial, and he must recuse himself. No court in the country would allow a member of the Jury to also serve as the accused’s defense attorney. The moment Sen. McConnell takes the oath of impartiality required by the Constitution, he will be in violation of that oath. He has effectively promised to let President Trump manage his own impeachment trial. The Senator must withdraw.”

The oath that Rep. Demings refers to is provided for in the Constitution under Article I, Section 3, and under Senate Rules, Chapter IV, Paragraph 5, and also Chapter XXV. Under that sacred oath, all Senators who sit in judgment of the President must “solemly swear that in all things appertaining to the trial of Impeachment, I will do impartial justice according to the Constitution and laws: So help me God.”

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, who should know better, since he served as one of 13 GOP House Managers in the impeachment of Bill Clinton two decades ago, has also announced that there will not be “impartial justice according to the Constitution” in the US Senate trail of the People of the United States vs. Donald J. Trump.

“The thing will come to the Senate and it will die quickly,” Senator Graham told CNN last week at the Doha Forum in Qatar. “And, I will do everything I can to make it die quickly…I have made up my mind. I’m not trying to pretend to be a fair juror here.”

By the standards of “impartial justice” set forth by the U.S. Constitution, the Senate Rules and the Oath administered to all Senate jurors by the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, Senator Graham, like McConnell, must also recuse himself from the proceedings.

Unfortunately, I suspect that rather than do the honorable thing and withdraw from a trial on which these two Senate jurors have already passed judgement, Senators McConnell and Graham will do everything in their power to rig the outcome of this Senate trial of the President of the United States, in favor of the accused, and against the Constitution, and the people of this country.

Accordingly, I will recommend to the House Managers of the Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump, that those articles not be forwarded to the Senate for trial until we are confident that the people of the United States will be guaranteed that a free and fair trial will be conducted according to the Constitutional standards of “impartial justice.”

During that period of time — however long it may be — the House Managers of the Articles of Impeachment against Donald J. Trump, will continue to gather evidence, secure additional sworn testimony, and integrate Supreme Court and lower court decisions pertaining to the case of the People of the United States of America vs. Donald J. Trump, into the body of evidence and Articles of Impeachment to be presented to the United States Senate for trial. Until the U.S. House of Representatives and the American people can be assured that “impartial justice” will be carried out in the Senate Trial of the People of the United States Vs. Donald J. Trump, and that the trial will not be rigged, the House will, as is our Constitutional right, withhold the Articles of Impeachment to such time when fairness, impartiality of justice, and upholding the United States Constitution can be guaranteed.

As patriotic Americans, we deserve nothing less.

Thank you, and God bless the United States of America.

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Patriotism vs. Nationalism

 

Patriotism vs. Nationalism

(In his astounding and brief best seller OnTyranny, author Timothy Snyder, a Professor of History at Yale University, details the stark difference between honest Patriotism and Nationalism, the exact opposite of Patriotism. On this Veterans day, I’m offering a targeted reading of Prof. Snyder’s Chapter 19, “Be A Patriot”, while Trump is doubling down on his attacks on true American Patriots, like Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman, and former U.S. Ambassador William Taylor, whose lifetimes of selfless, public- service to this country, stand in stark contrast to Donald Trump’s lifetime of self-service and his boisterous and brainless declarations that he is a “Nationalist.” I urge you to carefully read these powerful words from Professor Timothy Synder and circulate them across all social media. Then, go out and purchase a copy of his small, very readable 126-page book, On Tyranny, which may be among the most important things you read during the House Impeachment Hearings and the Senate Trial of Donald Trump v. the United States of America.)

“What is patriotism? Let us begin with what patriotism is not. It is not patriotic to dodge the draft and to mock war heroes and their families. It is not patriotic to discriminate against active-duty members of the armed forces in one’s companies, or to campaign to keep disabled veterans away from one’s property. It is not patriotic to compare one’s search for sexual partners in New York with the military service in Vietnam that one has dodged. It is not patriotic to avoid paying taxes, especially when American working families do pay. It is not patriotic to ask those working , taxpaying American families to finance one’s own presidential campaign, and then to spend their contribution in one own’s companies.

It is not patriotic to admire foreign dictators. It is not patriotic to cultivate a relationship with Muammar Gaddafi; or to say that Bashar Al-Assad and Vladimir Putin are superior leaders. It is notpatriotic to call upon Russia to intervene in an American presidential election. It is not patriotic to cite Russian propaganda at rallies. It is not patriotic to share an advisor with Russian oligarchs. It is not patriotic to solicit foreign policy advice from someone who owns shares in a Russian energy company. It is not patriotic to read a foreign policy speech written by someone on the payroll of a Russian Energy company. It is not patriotic to appoint a national security advisor who has taken money from a Russian propaganda organ. It is not patriotic to appoint as Secretary of State an oilman with Russian financial interests who is the director of a Russian-American energy company and has received the “Order of Friendship” from Putin.

The point is not that Russia and America must be enemies. The point is that patriotism involves serving your own country.

The president is a nationalist, which is not at all the same as a patriot. A nationalist encourages us to be our worst, and then tells us that we are the best. A nationalist although “endlessly brooding on power, victory, defeat, revenge,” wrote Orwell, tends to be “uninterested in what happens in the real world.” Nationalism is relativist, since the only truth is the resentment we feel when we contemplate others. As the novelist Danilo Kis put it, “nationalism has no universal values, aesthetic or ethical.”

A patriot, by contrast, wants the nation to live up to its ideals, which means asking us to be our best selves. A patriot must be concerned with the real world, which is the only place where his country can be loved and sustained. A patriot has universal values, standards by which he judges his nation, always wishing it well — and wishing that it would do better.

Democracy failed Europe in the 1920’s, ‘30’s and ‘40’s, and it is failing not only in much of Europe, but in many parts of the world today. It is that history and experiences that reveals to us the dark range of our possible futures. A nationalist will say that “it can’t happen here,” which is the first step toward disaster. A patriot says that it could happen here, but that we will stop it.”

 

 

How Admiral McRaven Can Save The Nation…Again.

 

 

It’s time for retired Admiral William H. McRaven to topple another tyrant, in a special operation that will not be nearly as dangerous, nor as bloody, as the one he engaged in eight years ago.   In that operation, nicknamed “Operation Neptune Spear,” McRaven organized and oversaw the execution of the U.S. Special Ops raid that ended the reign of terror of Osama Bin Laden.

 

This time, the dictator, also born into a wealthy family, is not hiding in a sprawling cement compound in Pakistan, but in an historic White House in the center of Washington, D.C.   This time, by using ballots not bullets, “the fate of the Republic depends on” the success of this mission, as McRaven recently wrote in an Op Ed in the New York Times entitled “Our Republic is Under Attack From the President.”

 

Not only is the Admiral, a decorated 37-year military Veteran who has dedicated his lifetime to serving his country, the right person to lead this urgent mission, but he brings the clear-eyed strength of character, uncompromising integrity and willingness to sacrifice all for a worthy cause which the nation so desperately needs now, after Donald Trump’s repeated attempts to tear up the Constitution, and undermine American National Security Interests.

 

In a mere matter of weeks, Trump’s catastrophic decision to pull US Troops out of Syria, betrayed our Kurdish allies who lost 11,000 lives fighting ISIS for us, allowed  the Turks to wage their long sought campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Kurds, freed hundreds of ISIS terrorists, witnessed demoralized US troops abandon and bomb our own military outposts, and enabled Vladimir Putin to redraw the map of the Middle East, installing  the Russians into a permanent position of occupation in Northern Syria.  And none of those foreign policy atrocities includes the now well-documented illegal shakedown of the Ukrainian government, under siege by the Russians on that country’s eastern front, for dirt on a political opponent, in exchange for Ukraine’s desperately needed military assistance from the US, already authorized by Congress.

 

The need to oust Trump from the Oval Office is as clear to Admiral McRaven, as it was to his colleague and fellow war veteran, former Ukrainian Ambassador William Taylor, whose scathing testimony before Congress this week, made it clear—under oath—that Trump himself was responsible for the illegal attempted shakedown of the Ukrainians.  With 13,000 Ukrainians having already been killed in the 5-year war with the Russians, Taylor wrote in his opening statement, “more Ukrainians would undoubtedly die without U.S. assistance.”   Trump was not only playing politics and abusing his power, he was playing with human lives, as he carelessly did when he sacrificed the Kurds to the fever dreams of a Turkish tyrant, who carved up the new Syria with Putin, the ultimate beneficiary of all of Trump’s anti-American actions.

 

The best way for Admiral McRaven to save the nation now and for the long term is to become the Democratic Nominee for President.  There’s still time—about one month–for him to do it through the Democratic Presidential Primaries, by winning some delegates to have his name placed in nomination at the convention in the summer of 2020 in Milwaukee, if no single candidate has secured a majority of the 1885 delegates needed to win the Democratic nomination on the first ballot.

 

In California, for example, where our Presidential Primary is being held on March 3, 2020, “Super Tuesday,” along with 9 other states, McRaven still has until November 26—four weeks away– to file notice of his candidacy for President with the Secretary of State’s office.   Under California election law, McRaven (or anyone) would have to meet only one of several criteria to qualify as a candidate on the primary ballot.

 

The simplest criterion for McRaven to meet in the shortest period of time is the one which requires the candidate to establish a Presidential webpage or website, after setting up an authorized Presidential Campaign Committee with the Federal Elections Commission.   Once those requirements are met, ,  a “written request submitted on behalf of the candidate by a party qualified to participate in the Primary Election, to the Secretary of State, requesting that the candidate be placed on the ballot,” is all that’s needed.   In other words, if McRaven wants to run for President, and sets up an official campaign committee and a website to prove it, any qualified, registered Democratic Primary voter in the State of California can request that the his name be placed on the ballot.  I volunteer to do it.

 

 

Additionally, the Admiral would have until November 26 to provide the Secretary of State with his Federal Income Tax returns for the past five years, a new requirement in the State this year.  Since California alone has 495 Democratic delegates and it’s not a winner take all state, McRaven would have a good shot of picking up some support, particularly when current Statewide polls show Warren, Sanders, Biden, Buttigieg and Harris splitting the vote into lots of pieces.  A McCraven candidacy would electrify the electorate looking for a candidate who could clobber Trump and the GOP nationwide.

 

McRaven’s presence anyplace on the Democratic National ticket in 2020 would, by his very stature, stand in stark contrast to Trump, or any Republican who heads the ticket, since all of them have enabled Trump to abandon our allies and sell-out US National Security Interests.  The Admiral’s Texas roots—where he grew up, went to college and served as University of Texas Chancellor after his military service—would also aid the Democrats in turning Texas blue.   Coupled with a running mate like Elizabeth Warren, Stacey Abrams or Kamala Harris, a McRaven-led ticket could help the Democrats not only take back the White House, but take control of the U.S. Senate as well.

 

There is still a small window of opportunity to actually make this happen, especially if someone like Mike Bloomberg is willing, for the good of the nation, to help fund the McRaven for President effort.   The only remaining question is whether the Admiral wants to embark on one more Special Operation to save the nation.

 

After all, as McRaven wrote:  “The fate of our Republic depends on it.”

 

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Time to Turn Out the Lights on PG & E.

 

It’s time to turn off the lights for good on Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG &E) — the power company without power, money or the will to do routine maintenance, nor competent management that puts the public’s safety ahead of profit or political influence.

A Felon/Company, convicted of six felonies in 2016 following its criminal negligence in the San Bruno gas explosions six years earlier, PG & E told a federal judge, the week before the single-largest blackout in California State history, that they couldn’t meet their court-ordered deadline for routine “vegetation management,” or tree trimming.

Under a 5-year, court-supervised probation as a convicted felon, PG & E was directed to trim 2,455 miles of trees away from it’s powerlines. That amounts to less than 2.5 percent of the 100,000 miles of powerlines PG & E operates. Federal Judge William Alsup had previously ordered the utility to aggressively adhere to “vegetation management laws,” after their tree-trimming negligence — ignited by their own faulty powerlines — resulted in two consecutive years of the most destructive wildfires in State history, killing 107 people, and incinerating hundreds of thousands of acres, and thousand of homes and commercial structures.

However, the power company without power or commitment to public safety or common sense, admitted in court that they were only able to trim the trees away from 760 miles of powerlines — or less than one-third of the amount of tree-trimming they committed to do, and less than one percent of the total miles of powerlines for which they are legally responsible to maintain.

PG&E told the court they couldn’t find enough workers to do the work, without producing any evidence of how hard they tried. The power company also failed to explain how it was able to pay $5 billion of dividends prior to declaring bankruptcy this past January, and make $4.4 million of political contributions in 2018, including donating $200,000 to Governor Gavin Newsom, and millions of dollars more to both the California State Democratic and Republican parties, State Lawmakers and Attorney General Javier Becerra. None of that non-tree trimming related spending includes the ratepayer dollars wasted at Silver Oak Winery in Sonoma County earlier this month, when PG & E executives wined and dined their “big” power users on the second anniversary of the terrible Tubbs fire that killed dozens of people in Santa Rosa, not far from where the tone-deaf executives sipped wine.

Judge Alsup demanded to know why those political contributions and shareholder dividends — made well after PG &E was already a convicted felon — were more important to the utility than repairing damaged and deteriorating power lines, and trimming trees from around powerlines, as they are required to do under the Public Resources Code 4293.

So, the Power Company without power, without money, and without the will to do its fundamental job, created one disaster in order to prevent another — by turning off the power for several days for up to two million people in Northern and Central California. Soren Borenstein, Director of the Energy Institute at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas Business School put it best:

We have good reason to be skeptical, and the reason is that PG & E bears the costs of starting a fire, but they don’t bear the costs of shutting off power.”

Even if you grant to the now powerless utility that the decision was prudent to prevent fires, they were still poorly prepared to do something as simple as turn the lights out. First, despite days of warning us across all media that the PG & E power outage was coming, the company failed to beef up their own customer service website, which, predictably crashed when scores of worried citizens tried to find out basic information about the power shutdown.

Secondly, rather than anticipate widespread public concern and anxiety over the largest power shutdown in the history of California, PG & E failed to set up local phone banks in each of the communities — like South Napa, where I live — which would suffer the brunt of the outage. Instead, they created two service centers for all of Napa’s 125,000 residents: one up at the Calistoga Fairgrounds at the northern-most part of the county, and the other some 40 miles south at the Vallejo Fairgrounds, which is not even located in Napa County. Why they failed to set up an emergency center at the Napa Fairgrounds in the heart of the City of Napa where 75,000 of the County’s residents live, remains a mystery — especially since it’s the very spot which First Responders used as one of their bases of operations during the devastating fires of 2017.

Third, there was little coordination with local Police or Emergency Service Personnel to handle the traffic chaos certain to ensue when traffic lights, powered by electricity, went dark. On heavily traveled Imola Avenue in South Napa — a major east west connector road — not only were there no operating traffic lights, but there were no police, fire or emergency officials — or even citizen volunteers — to mitigate the damage by directing traffic. Motorists were left on their own, to play a game of chicken at each intersection. Some simple coordination, pre-planning and emergency preparedness with local officials could have prevented traffic chaos.

There are some solutions smoldering right before our very eyes. First, since local and Cal firefighters are on the front-lines of fighting the fires caused by PG &E’s negligence, they ought to be given the financial resources and equipment to do the required “vegetation management” or tree trimming, community by community. PG & E lamely told the federal judge it couldn’t find enough tree-trimmers to do its’ job; I’m sure local fire departments, with help from Cal Fire, would remedy that.

Secondly, with the value of PG & E stock plummeting toward zero, the State of California can seize all of the utility’s transmission lines and assets in the interest of public safety. Having been involved with the public takeover of a bankrupt, for-profit utility in New York State, such direct action becomes a public responsibility when the reliability of electric power to the State’s citizens is threatened. Demanding that the bankrupt utility give a small dollar credit to homeowers or businesses a for lost goods and services — which Governor Newsom did this week — is like putting a tiny Band Aid on Stage Four cancer.

Third, the State — provided Governor Newsom and State Lawmakers are able to look past PG & E’s $4.4 million of campaign contributions to them — can contract-out our regional utilities services to other successful private utility companies — like San Diego Gas & Electric — or create tax incentives for local public jurisdictions — like the town of Healdsburg in Sonoma County, which has its own independent utility company — to make the delivery of electric power into a public service, similar to the provision of water, fire and police protection.

The responsible action for public officials to take is to bring power directly to the people, in the safest, most reliable and most affordable ways. And while the Governor, Attorney General Becerra and members of the State Senate and Assembly are at it, they can help kickstart a special “tree-trimming fund” by giving back the $4.4 million the already-convicted felon/company slipped to them during their campaigns of 2018. After all, that money which we ratepayers paid to PG & E to use for public safety and not for buying political influence, should be used for our protection, not politicians’P elections.

It’s long past time to turn out the lights on PG & E. It should have happened a decade ago, after PG &E’s negligence resulted in nine deaths in the San Bruno gas explosions and the company’s conviction on six felony counts. It should have happened with the hapless utility’s basic operational failures contributing to multiple human fatalities during the fires of 2017, and 2018.

Now, however, they’ve failed at performing the most fundamental function of a power company — providing safe and reliable power to the public. PG & E has literally turned the lights out on itself.

If Not Now, When?

(My Member of Congress, Mike Thompson (D-CA)

 

Dear Congressman Thompson:

In the aftermath of Trump’s extortionist conversation with the President of the Ukraine concerning Joe Biden and the 2020 Election, there is simply no excuse for you and the House Leadership to continue to drag your feet on supporting Articles of Impeachment against Donald Trump.

As a lifelong Democrat who supported the Impeachment of Richard Nixon, Trump’s crimes against our democracy and our Constitution are far, far worse than Nixon’s were. Your failure to support the Impeachment of Trump and to uphold our Constitution and the law, make you, Speaker Pelosi and the House leadership complicit in his crimes.

I have run out of patience with you on this issue, Mike. I appealed to you personally at a Town Meeting in Calistoga earlier this summer, have sent numerous letters and emails to you on this matter, have written an article for the Napa Valley Register about the issue, and have called your offices in Washington and Napa several times to express my opinion. I revere the Constitution and the rule of law. I expect you to do the same, as do the majority of your constituents. We demand that you begin to represent us on the crucial matter of protecting our Democracy.

Trump’s illegal and unconstitutional behavior undermines everything you fought for in Vietnam. It’s time you demonstrated that same tenacity and toughness to holding the President of the United States responsible for the consequences of his illegal, unconstitutional and undemocratic actions. Everything is at stake, and you, Speaker Pelosi and all of the House Leadership have a constitutional responsibility to act now to Impeach Trump. Your failure to do so, makes you complicit in his criminality and will result in the Democrats losing control of the House of Representatives, not retaining power.

We have given you our sacred trust to protect and defend our constitution against all enemies foreign and domestic. The biggest threat to our Democracy is Donald Trump. It’s time for you and the House Leadership to protect our constitution and our Democracy from him, by voting to Impeach. The time is now.

Sincerely,

Steve Villano