... The CPUC's decision also generated objections from state Attorney General Bill Lockyer and all 58 of California's district attorneys, who claim that wireless-based consumer complaints are diverting their time and energy from other law enforcement issues.
They warn it could lead to fewer consumer protections and another attempt at electricity deregulation, which resulted in blackouts and soaring utility costs just four years ago.
... Thursday's vote to suspend the bill of rights was the PUC's first major decision since the Dec. 31 departure of commissioners Loretta Lynch and Carl Wood, who were considered strong advocates for consumers and had reached the end of their terms.
In their place, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed Dian Grueneich, an attorney with a background in energy and environmental issues, and high-tech entrepreneur Steve Poizner, who spent $6 million of his own money in an unsuccessful bid for the state Assembly last fall.
Grueneich was sworn in last week. Poizner has not yet been sworn in, so he didn't take part in Thursday's vote. Neither has been confirmed by the Senate yet but can serve for up to a year without confirmation.
... Geoffrey Brown, the only other commissioner to vote for the rules last year, condemned the suspension in a lengthy speech, saying it was a first step toward gutting the regulations. Brown said he was particularly upset that the proposal was rushed onto the PUC's agenda without a hearing or much notice.
"This is the most shameful process I've seen in my four years on the commission," Brown said. "This ill-considered, hurried action will haunt us for years."
Proponents of more consumer-friendly rules said their efforts to get more billing and service protections for consumers would now probably start again from scratch. The process of getting the consumer bill of rights from an idea to state law took about five years.
Which do you use more for voice calls?
- Landline 30%
- Wireless 69%
- Broadband 0%