“It’s Up to You” by Frances Talbott-White

Prop 16 – Voting on How You Want to Vote on Electric Utilities

Of the six statewide ballot measures on our June 8 ballot, Prop 16 is the likeliest to have a direct impact on the future of Culver City. I’m going to try to explain it as simply as possible and without repeating a lot of history from the 90s.

Since 1925, the City of Culver City has had a franchise agreement with SCE (Southern California Edison), an investor-owned utility. Residents of Culver City buy their electricity from SCE, while SCE pays taxes and fees to the City of Culver City.

The City of Culver City has the right to cancel its agreement with SCE and develop its own municipal utility company, as the giant City of Los Angeles has done with its giant DWP (Department of Water & Power). This is not a matter that the City Council has ever taken lightly (pun not really intended, but tolerated).

If the City Council decided to ask registered voters whether they wanted to buy their electricity from a municipal utility, the Council could place that question on our local ballots in a future election. This ballot measure would require a simple majority to pass. Similarly, if a group of citizens put such a measure on the ballot by initiative petition, it would require a simple majority to pass.

If Prop 16 passes, Culver City would need a two-thirds majority to pass a local ballot measure establishing a municipal electric utility. BTW, this requirement would be enshrined in the Constitution of the State of California until modified by another vote of the people.

For more detail on Prop 16, see:

* http://smartvoter.org/2010/06/08/ca/state/prop/16/ ; and
* http://www.calvoter.org/voter/elections/2010/primary/props/prop16.html#follow

For more detail on the history of electric utilities in Culver City, see:

* http://beta.culvercitynews.org/latest-news/controversial-electricity-initiative-ignites-charges-of-pg-e-power-play/;
* http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Culver+City+council+members+raise+the+possibility+of+canceling+Edison…-a014890189; and
* http://www.website-design-los-angeles.com/culver/CCN/News3.html .

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Frances Talbott-White has lived in Culver City since 1975. She holds various positions at state, county, and local levels of the League of Women Voters (LWV) but writes for Culver City Crossroads as an independent citizen. Nothing Frances says in this column should be construed as an official statement of LWV or a reflection of LWV policy. It’s just for us, as an example of how non-partisan politics works.

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