The entire legal team of the California Public Utilities Commission charged with investigating the deadly Pacific Gas & Electric Co. explosion and fire has resigned from working on the case, the City of San Bruno has learned, leaving no CPUC legal experts with detailed knowledge of the case during the final penalty phase against PG&E.
Mayor Jim Ruane of San Bruno called for an immediate investigation by the Attorney General of the State of California and the State Legislature into the resignation of four lead CPUC safety division attorneys. He said he believed an investigation is the only way to provide fairness and transparency for San Bruno and the public in the penalty for PG&E’s safety failures.
“This concerted action by these dedicated public servants who spent the last two-and-a-half years of their careers investigating PG&E and documenting its safety failures raises serious questions about the propriety of these proceedings and leadership of the CPUC,” said Ruane.
Ruane referred to the resignations of CPUC’s legal team as a “Saturday Night Massacre,” referencing President Richard Nixon’s dismissal of the independent special prosecutor, and the resignations of the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General during the Watergate scandal.
He said, to his knowledge, the resignation of so many public servants from a single case has never occurred before in CPUC history.
“One has to publicly ask: why did these – and other CPUC public servants – resign or were forced out? Is it because they did not want to see nearly three years of their work turned into a conclusion that lets PG&E off the hook?” he said.
San Bruno has argued before the CPUC for significant fines and penalties against Pacific Gas & Electric Co. for its willful negligence in killing eight San Bruno residents, destroying 38 homes and leaving a hole in the center of its city and its heart.
Ruane said he believes the issue at stake is that the leadership of the CPUC safety division portrayed their call for $2.25 billion penalty against PG&E as the largest in utility history, but in reality the penalty would amount to much less, as the utility would be given ‘credit’ for $1 billion it has allegedly spent since the Sept. 9, 2010 PG&E explosion and fire as well as state and federal tax deductions worth $900 million.