Holober, Richard


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Richard Holober is the Executive Director of the non-profit Consumer Federation of California a leading consumer advocacy organization.

Prop 46 Opponents Are Privacy Hypocrites

By Richard Holober

Consumer Federation of California

Health care industry-funded ads sounding the Prop 46 privacy alarm flunk the straight face test.

The ads allege Prop 46 sets up a secret medical record database that will be vulnerable to hacking. Not only is this absolutely false, it's galling when you consider that the hospitals and insurance companies funding the ads have exposed millions of their own patient records through their negligence.

CPUC Ignores Cell Phone Privacy

By Richard Holober

Consumer Federation of California

On January 16, 2014, the California Public Utilities Commission majority voted to bury their heads in the sand regarding cell phone privacy.

Commission President Mike Peevey and Commissioner Carla Peterman joined Commissioner Mark Ferron in voting 3-2 to approve Commissioner Ferron’s proposed decision denying the existence of any cell phone privacy concerns. Commissioners Catherine Sandoval and Mike Florio voted no, expressing their preference to approve an alternate proposed decision inked by Commissioner Sandoval. The Sandoval proposal would have acknowledged that privacy-invading smart phone technologies in use today are vastly different than those that existed in the copper wired world of 28 years ago, when the PUC last addressed telecom privacy.

Audit Vindicates PUC Intervenor Compensation Program

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

The California State Auditor’s has reported that the Public Utilities Commission’s Intervenor Compensation Program “has generally awarded compensation to intervenors – individuals and groups that represent the interests of utility ratepayers – in accordance with state law.”

The audit report - long awaited by consumer groups and utility corporations - surely dismays AT&T, Verizon and PG&E. The Intervenor Compensation Program provides consumers an effective voice before state regulators when for-profit gas, electric, telecommunications or water utilities seek unwarranted rate hikes, or rules that harm residential ratepayers.

Prop 33 Defeated: Voters Say No to Billionaire's Money Grab

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

California voters rejected Proposition 33, an initiative placed on the ballot by billionaire George Joseph, owner of Mercury Insurance. Led by Consumer Watchdog, opponents came out of nowhere to stop Mercury Insurance's attempt to lure voters into deregulating automobile insurance. Outspent 70 to 1, we overcame a $17.5 million campaign of deception from Mercury's George Joseph.

Prop 33 Billionaire Admits His Company Doesn't Give Promised Discounts

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

In a stunning admission, billionaire George Joseph stated that his company, Mercury Insurance, does not offer its own customers the "persistence discount" that Proposition 33 promises all Californians would receive by "shopping their discount" around if the initiative is approved. Mr. Joseph has poured $17 million into the Prop 33 campaign.

The central Prop 33 argument is that consumers would benefit if they could ask other insurers to honor a "persistence" or "loyalty" discount their current insurer may grant them for being loyal customers for many years. Prop 33 ads promising voters would save if you could "shop your discount" verge on false advertising given the actual practice of the company Mr. Joseph owns.

College Students Speak Out: No on Prop 33

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

Leading college student newspapers editorials are urging a NO vote on Proposition 33, a measure that threatens graduating students with massive auto insurance rate surcharges.

A sampling of student opinion:

The Daily Guardian, UC San Diego:

Proposition 33 is another way for insurance companies to squeeze more money from drivers … This is especially bad for lower income people who don't have insurance yet or are inconsistent with their insurance … With this proposition, graduates will be forced to pay higher insurance, even if they're perfectly safe drivers.

George Joseph Dumps Another $500k into Sputtering Prop 33 Campaign

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

The Yes on Proposition 33 campaign reported yesterday another contribution of $500,000 from George Joseph, billionaire owner of Mercury Insurance. This brings Mr. Joseph's total contributions to the Yes on Proposition 33 campaign to $16.9 million.

Joseph's contribution comes as the Yes on 33 campaign appears to be sputtering toward defeat. To wit:

Prop 33: Mercury Insurance's Lemon is a Tough Sell

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

Mercury Insurance has just about the worst customer satisfaction ratings in the auto insurance industry. And its billionaire chairman, George Joseph, is spending a fortune on Proposition 33 to make it easier to manipulate the marketplace and cherry pick the customers it wants, while raising rates for millions of Californians, including motorists with perfect driving records.

This isn't the company's first attempt to rig the insurance market in its favor. In 2010, Mercury spent $16 million on Proposition 17, but voters said no. Prop 33 on the November ballot is a re-run of Prop 17, with a modest facelift.

AB 439 Would Weaken Medical Privacy Law

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

California lawmakers are poised to weaken a patient privacy law despite its overwhelming voter support.  

AB 439 (Skinner) is before the Senate Judiciary Committee for a vote on Tuesday July 3. The bill would create loopholes in the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act (CMIA), placing patients at risk of repeated unauthorized release of confidential health information on a massive scale.

Assembly member Skinner is carrying the bill for McKesson Corporation, a healthcare business that ranks 15th on the Fortune 500 list. McKesson, a distributor of pharmaceuticals and manager of healthcare information systems, reported revenues of $122 billion in its 2012 Annual Report. Drug store chains, hospitals and other health care corporations are also supporting AB 439.

Take Toxics Out of Our Furniture

By Richard Holober
Consumer Federation of California

Californians are exposed to dangerous levels of toxic chemicals in our homes, thanks to a 37 year old state furniture regulation. While the regulation never served its intended goal of reducing fires in our homes, its legacy of toxic harm lives on. Click here to ask the Governor to take toxics out of our furniture.

In May 2012, a remarkable investigative series in the Chicago Tribune exposed decades of lies, coercion and influence peddling by flame retardant manufacturers. The report describes how a chemical industry front group paid a medical school professor to travel to Sacramento to testify on two separate occasions before the state legislature. This burn doctor described in vivid detail how he held in his hands a dying seven week old infant who was horribly burned when a pillow she was lying on burst into flames when a candle ignited it. He lectured lawmakers that the pillow was not chemically treated, and warned that changing the California regulation would only lead to more tragic deaths.

There was one problem with the doctor’s heart-wrenching story - he made it up.