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CPUC does about-face on Picker pledge -- Agency decided not to prove its president paid for dinner, but never said so

Union Tribune (2015-03-30) Ricky Young

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Media Link: http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/mar/30/picker-wont-document-payment-peevey-party/

CPUC does about-face on Picker pledge

Agency decided not to prove its president paid for dinner, but never said so

By Ricky Young

3:04 P.M.MARCH 30, 2015
photoJulia Morgan Ballroom

The California Public Utilities Commission apparently won't be following through on its commitment to provide proof that President Michael Picker paid his own way to a tribute dinner for his predecessor.

The $250-a-plate dinner for the former head of the agency, Michael Peevey, was controversial because many of the attendees were the same kinds of stakeholders in commission business whose close association with Peevey is the subject of three criminal investigations.

Through a spokeswoman, Picker told U-T San Diego and other media outlets last month that his sole involvement in the dinner was to pay his own way and attend. The U-T asked for documentation of that payment, and the agency agreed on Feb. 24. The proof was never forthcoming, and no further explanation was offered.

More than a month later, U-T Watchdog has obtained emails under the California Public Records Act that show the agency decided weeks ago not to follow through on its promise, but no one ever told the U-T.

The issue began on Feb. 24, when the U-T asked for Picker's receipt to show that he paid for the Feb 12 soiree at the Julia Morgan Ballroom in San Francisco.

"Canceled check is about all I have," Picker responded to spokeswoman Terrie Prosper via email that day. "Not sure that I've ever gotten a receipt for a retirement dinner."

Prosper asked, "How do you feel about providing him with a copy?"

Picker replied, "Can't do it today or tomorrow. Last year's checking is in a pile of tax stuff."

photoMichael Picker, new president of the California Public Utilities Commission. [AP]

Prosper then emailed the U-T to say the check would be provided in a few days. The reporter followed up on March 4 to see how the documentation was coming along.

Prosper wrote to Picker that evening, "The reporter is still interested in seeing your canceled check. But it's up to you if you want to provide it."

Picker responded to Prosper the next morning at 6:18 a.m., "Forgot. Not really interested, though. I think there is a limit, and we've done enough."

Prosper replied at 10:22 a.m., "I agree. It may spur another article. I will let you know."

One minute later, Prosper wrote to the reporter, responding to his inquiry from the night before.

"I'll check on the check to see if he has it yet and wants to provide it," Prosper wrote, as if Picker had not already rejected the idea.

Prosper never responded about the check again, despite repeated requests. She and her boss did enjoy one laugh at the reporter's expense a few days after they decided against releasing the check without saying so.

When the U-T asked again for the proof of payment on March 9, Prosper informed her boss. "Just heard from the reporter," she said. "He says he is going to do a story on the check saying we were going to provide it but won't."

"Tell him I must have given it to the LA Times by mistake," Picker wrote.

"That seriously made me laugh out loud," Prosper replied

"Tell him that, too," Picker said.

She never did.

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Title CPUC does about-face on Picker pledge -- Agency decided not to prove its president paid for dinner, but never said so
Publisher Union Tribune
Author Ricky Young
Pub Date 2015-03-30
Media Link http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2015/mar/30/picker-wont-document-payment-peevey-party/
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Note Peevey Party Protest
Keywords California Public Utilities Commission, Shutdown Diablo, Shut San Onofre
Media Type Linked Article, Article
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Topic revision: r1 - 2015-03-31, RaymondLutz
 

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