Toney, Mark

Mark Toney is the Executive Director of The Utility Reform Network (TURN), who for more than 30 years has challenged California’s powerful energy and telephone companies, saving consumers and small businesses millions, and demanding reliable service and environmentally sound policies.

Opposition Growing to SB 1161 - The Worst Telecom Bill Ever in California

By Mark Toney

Why has a seemingly innocuous bill, SB 1161(Padilla) attracted the support of some of the biggest corporations on the planet, as well as vociferous opposition from consumer, labor and economic justice organizations?  According to supporters, SB 1161 doesn’t really do anything new; it just “affirms” existing laws.

Fortunately, that’s the kind of deception that withers in the light of day.

SB 1161 is actually the most anti-consumer bill ever introduced in California because it permits the telecom industry to dictate the terms of its own regulation, or as the case would have it, deregulation.

Right Call By Senate on Tainted Commissioner

By Mark Toney
The Utility Reform Network (TURN)

Too often, the confirmation process for Gubernatorial appointees is just a rubber stamp, with well-connected officials easily winning seats on influential boards and commissions. But when we stand up and speak out, the public can have an impact.

Such was the case in the recent decision by the senate rules committee not to confirm Rachelle Chong to another 6 year term on the California Public Utilities Commission.  

Consumer groups have been urging rejection of Ms. Chong because of her close ties to AT&T and hard line ideological bent toward deregulation, which have resulted in higher prices and fewer rights for phone consumers. But unseating a sitting Commissioner is especially difficult, so even we were surprised when Rules Committee Chair Darrell Steinberg announced that the Committee would not hold a confirmation hearing for Ms. Chong, allowing her nomination to expire.