CPUC Report Card

Opinionated Abstract of the 2013 CPUC Report Card

The socioeconomic injustice continues in California communities predominately comprised of non-white citizens still are struggling to own and operate profitable and sustainable business enterprises.  This point of view is shared in the latest California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) 2013 Report Card produced by the Greenlining Institute headquartered in Berkeley California.  Public and private economic leadership is ignoring the blight of businesses in specific areas, thereby the lack of job opportunities are seriously limited for black men and youth. Building coalitions is the general theme to help remedy the surmounting problems, however, team building is stagnated to simple talk, absent of measurable action.

The California utilities and telecommunications companies are regulated to annually report their percentages of contracts given to businesses owned by Asians, blacks, Hispanics, Native American, women, disabled veterans, collectively labeled as diverse business enterprises.  Nonetheless, white owned businesses are an integral component of this regulation usually brought in as ‘prime contractors’ responsible to contract with the aforementioned enterprises in a second or third tier relationship on utility projects.

In 2012 California regulated utility corporations collectively disbursed $8.1 billion to diverse business enterprises.  Unfortunately, not one diverse community in the State of California advanced from this large dollar investment of products and services. In fact, the General Order that guides this program does not require any reporting or mapping of local community improvement.  Consequently, this commonly accepted model program is not socioeconomic development conscientious, but purely a plan aimed at contract percentage performance, less predetermined product/service categories excluded from CPUC review.

The local community’s most pressing problem remains business and job growth, particularly those advancements that create opportunities for people and families to move from talk to reality.  The CPUC GO 156 has been in effect since 1986, over a quarter of century and local neighborhoods have yet to see any positive impact regarding job expansion.  Actually, the impact of GO 156 on a local level has been harmful, in contrast to how major white-own organizations have benefited significantly from the CPUC supplier diversity program as prime contractors required to do business with MBE subcontractors.

Granted that GO 156 is essentially the best paper model in the country, however, its socioeconomic results are dismal. and any replication should be approached with rigorous caution.  For example, both AT&T(LAN lines) and Southern California Gas Company exclusively service the City of Compton whose residents and governmental representation is 100% minority, yet they received A’s on their spending report card issued by the Greenlining Institute this year.  Unbelievable since Southern California Gas Company permits daily prostitution and filth  in and around four square block service plant in Compton, while AT&T has yet to correct the two 2-story blighted buildings it left over 20 years ago on Compton Boulevard from the monopoly suit.  After it successful re-emergence from its Baby Bell era it pretends that it wasn’t my fault that your city suffered.  Executive management for each of these companies are oblivious to the needs of black communities as it relates to jobs, small business growth, and the interface with local nonprofit community- based organizations.

Southern California Edison is probably the only CPUC governed utility that attempts to report the truth in its annual spend.  Southern California Edison is without question the only CPUC that stays true to consistently assisting trade groups where possible.  Unlike how all of wireless carriers who act in the exact opposite direction when dealing with supplier diversity business as solely a required duty, and their real involvement surrounds gaining more sales, where socioeconomic development is a mere dust in the wind as far as their executive management is concerned.

If local communities are not on the mend then why have a program?  The non-MBE blue bars on the colorful Greenlining charts of the CPUC Report Card are overbearing for a minority majority state that California has become to be.  Nonetheless, the economic pendulum is not shifting away from white owned enterprises, but merely time is allowing the size of the economic pie to get larger to permit the appearance of supplier diversity utilization success.

A competitive  business program cannot be created employing method that all is going to be better without making the starting the gate different for those targeted to gain parity.  Instead, the CPUC GO-156 has made it more difficult for MBE’s than easier, beginning with certification.  With roughly 100,000 qualified MBE in the state, why are less than 4,000 of them certified and less than 400 utilized within that designated database, at an overall expense exceeding $25 million to get it done?  This certification issue could have more prudently invested such money and started or expanded real enterprises with more jobs than to let it go toward discriminatory practices in supply chain management.

To say more could be done from this report card is a complete understatement.  No one from the CPUC or utilities themselves should be congratulated for a job well done in 2013.  What needs to take place is a ground level community tour throughout the state to gain a better insight on how economic activity needs to shift toward building blighted areas.  The gone by industrial age left huge gaps in how business is done locally and I can see everyday firsthand how several local communities in the County of Los Angeles that are unnecessarily suffering from the lack of access to sustainable jobs, but could rapidly change if only with some executive management concern.


Dean L. Jones

Southland Partnership Corporation