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Municipal Utility District Rejected in San Francisco

Votes: A second public power initiative--to expand a utilities panel into a department like L.A.'s--also appears headed for defeat.

November 10, 2001|From Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO — Measure I, which would have created an independent municipal utility district similar to one in Sacramento, was defeated Friday, and the other public power initiative, Proposition F, appeared headed for failure with only a few thousand votes to count.

Measure I trailed by 5,092 votes with all precincts reporting and all absentee ballots counted. Proposition F trailed by 1,114 votes. There were about 3,000 provisional ballots left to count Friday afternoon.

Provisional ballots let people cast votes even if their registration is in question, and the votes are counted if the voters are later proved eligible.

The parent company of bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric Co. spent more than $1 million trying to defeat Proposition F, which would expand the city's public utilities commission into a department of water and power similar to Los Angeles' DWP.

Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano and both campaigns were searching for answers as to why some absentee ballots remained unguarded by law enforcement on election night, and why election officials still had not finished counting.

"I don't know why they can't just count them on overtime and get this over with, because there's such an emotional and political investment," Ammiano said.

City Atty. Louise Renne asked Secretary of State Bill Jones to investigate the way the ballots were handled. Jones' office is already conducting a six-month investigation into charges that the city Department of Elections mishandled ballots in the November 2000 election.

At stake was the bid to create a municipal power agency that would buy PG&E's transmission lines and power plants necessary for providing San Francisco with electricity and take over the utility's 360,000 customers in the city.

Both measures would have issued millions of dollars of bonds to buy any electricity they can't generate, pay workers, buy the infrastructure and pay the cost of the expected legal battle with PG&E.

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