Last year, state officials changed the law to allow power companies to be more aggressive shutting down electrical lines in areas where strong, dry winds were predicted so that even if they were downed, they wouldn’t spark a fire. The idea was that the outages would be used only as a last resort and that, ultimately, a little bit of pain and inconvenience was worth avoiding another deadly wildfire. Nearly all the deadliest fires over the last 20 years have been blamed on electrical lines and equipment.
The state’s two largest utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison — employed that preventive move in a big way last week, plunging millions of people into the dark from Humboldt to Ventura counties, bungling communications with the public and prompting questions about whether the weather in the end had justified such an extreme reaction. The PG&E shutdowns were staggeringly broad in scope, affecting hundreds of hospitals, thousands of homebound ill and infirm Californians, and hundreds of thousands of students whose schools were temporarily closed. All this by a company that has lagged badly on its tree-trimming efforts and other fire safety programs.
Now that the winds have died down, state officials should hold utilities executives to account for answers. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Monday asked the Public Utilities Commission to undertake an immediate review of PG&E’s outage of 738,000 customers. And it should do so, ideally, before the Santa Ana and Diablo winds return.
The review should include Edison’s outages as well. Edison was much less aggressive, shutting down power to only 24,113 customers at the peak, but the outages were still disruptive.
Among the questions that need answering is why the power was cut to some communities and not others. We know that shutting down power lines has ripple effects, but without explanation, the outages felt random. Also, why were the utilities not better prepared to communicate with customers about what was coming? Edison and PG&E had been working with the PUC for more than a year to hammer out rules governing “public safety power shutdowns.” Yet last week, both had website problems when customers logged on to find out if they were on the outage list. Honestly, these two utilities collectively serve most of California. How could they not have foreseen this demand for information?
Shameful behavior at soccer match
It was vile, hateful and shames a country.
The behavior of some Bulgarian fans during their team’s match against England in Sofia on Oct. 14 was more than just a passing disgrace.
It demands a direct and tough response, because the racist chants and gestures that fouled the Euro 2020 qualifying match were sadly not a surprise.
They had been predicted — even if, absurdly, Bulgaria’s coach Krasimir Balakov had suggested that England had a bigger problem with racism in football than his own country.
... Anyone who turned on their televisions and endured this nasty display of hate from some in the crowd could see the truth.
England’s players took a stand against this racism on the pitch, and the match was interrupted.
Should they have walked off and ended the game for good? Some will say yes. But there is no reason why England should have had to enforce decent standards of behavior alone.
It shouldn’t have to be up to one team to act: Uefa (the Union of European Football Associations) needs to do it — and fast. That means it should show that zero tolerance of racism is real. It should suspend the Bulgarian team from international competition.
On the pitch, England’s players stood firm: “Feeling sorry for Bulgaria to be represented by such idiots in their stadium. Anyway ... 6-0 and we go back home, at least we did our job,” tweeted Raheem Sterling after the match. Meanwhile, Bulgaria’s feeble performance in the game was matched by disgrace in the stands.
Racism can be kicked out of football. Over to Uefa to act.