Thursday, October 20, 2005

L.A. Times Business Section Improving Under Russ Stanton

The Los Angeles Times Business Section, under its new editor, Russ Stanton, has a better hard news slant these days and is definitely improving.

Today's lead story, about how two Gray Davis appointees to the Public Utilities Commission are proving to be in the pocket of the telephone giants, SBC and Verizon, is a good example. As is the column by Michael Hiltzik on cities fighting "the conspiracy by telephone and cable companies to exercise control over high-speed Internet access."

The story by the usually reliable and hard nosed James Granelli on the decision by PUC members Susan P. Kennedy and Michael R. Peevey to exempt SBC and Verizon from having to pay some of the benefits of their mergers, their cost savings in California, back to the ratepayers, amounts to a public service.

When the LAT opposed the recall of Davis, it said on the editorial page that Davis had done nothing serious that was dishonest. The hell he hadn't! Davis persistently paid off his big business contributors by appointing members to state agencies that would cater to the contributors. Arnold Schwarzenegger may not be a perfectly satisfactory replacement of Davis, but he is not quite as bad a shill as Davis was either.

Among the worst two appointments Davis made were Kennedy and Peevey. Both have consistently taken positions on the PUC that have benefitted the businesses they are supposed to regulate.

Peevey, a former utility executive, is no surprise. One could smell him coming from a long way off. But Kennedy, a former aide to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, is a surprise. One might have expected her to be more honest, although she had also worked for Davis, and he probably knew very well when he appointed her to the UUC, she wouldn't be.

SBC and Verizon total merger savings in California have been $2.7 billion, according to Granelli's story this morning. State law requires such savings to be split with consumer ratepayers, but draft decisions by Kennedy and Peevey exempt them from the requirement.

Kennedy, Peevey and Davis himself would be more appropriately handled if they were presently domiciled at the state's brutal Pelican Bay prison on the cold North Coast.

But nonetheless the Times Business section is doing its duty printing such stories and playing them prominently. Stanton, a replacement of Rick Wartzman, as editor of Business deserves a lot of the credit.

SBC is a Texas-based company that purchased Pacific Bell, another California outsider that has proved to be uncaring about good service to the people of California. Verizon has also moved in on state business from outside.

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