Assemblymember Rendon arrived in the Assembly in 2012 with a commitment to clean, transparent, and open government. The Assemblymember represents a district in Southeast Los Angeles County with a history of impropriety by government officials – five of the nine cities in the district have former councilmembers or city officials sentenced to jail time for corruption.
It was in this spirit that Assemblymember Rendon approached his role as the chair of the Assembly Water, Parks, and Wildlife Committee in his first term. Tasked with crafting a statewide water bond, Rendon held 16 hearings across the state – from Eureka to Indio – to receive public input on California’s diverse water needs. The result of these hearings was Proposition 1, a bond with no earmarks or backroom deals that met those diverse needs – from drought relief to water storage to environmental protection. The bond passed the legislature nearly unanimously and was ultimately approved by voters on the November 2014 ballot by a two-to-one margin.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is the state agency that regulates privately owned electric, natural gas, telecommunications and other utilities and seeks to protect consumers by ensuring safe and reliable service at reasonable rates.
Recent revelations of private communications between CPUC officials and the utility companies they regulate indicate a troubling lack of transparency – and thus lack of public scrutiny – into decisions the commission makes.
In his role as chair of the Assembly Utilities and Commerce Committee, Assemblymember Rendon has committed to conduct a comprehensive review of the CPUC to investigate alleged wrongdoing and make steps to reforming the commission.
To this end, he conducted an oversight hearing of the CPUC on March 16 to question CPUC President Michael Picker on the conduct of the commission. Assemblymember Rendon has also introduced two proposals that seek to make the PUC more transparent and accountable to the public.
Assembly Bill 825 fundamentally alters the way courts review CPUC decisions by providing challengers the ability to seek a record review by the Superior Court. The bill also creates the positions of Inspector General, which will have independent authority to investigate the CPUC, and Public Advisor, which will be responsible for enacting transparency measures within the CPUC.
Assembly Bill 1023 creates a transparency process for all CPUC communications by requiring the commission to log all outside contacts. Although this is already an existing voluntary practice, requiring it will ensure the practice does not fall by the wayside in the future.