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It's 'Musical Chairs' at the CPUC

It's 'Musical Chairs' at the CPUC

After more than five months of operating short-handed, the five-member California Public Utilities Commission has gone through its version of governor's appointees "musical chairs" in less than a week. First, there were two "temporary" appointees announced informally at the end of last week. Then on Wednesday two permanent, six-year appointees were named by Gov. Gray Davis.

The new members are: Joel Z. Hyatt, 49, a lawyer and high-tech businessman from San Mateo, CA, near the Silicon Valley, who assumed one of the two vacant CPUC policymaking spots June 10; and Carl W. Wood, 51, a Utility Workers of America national leader on deregulation issues from San Diego and a former electrical technician with Southern California Edison Co. Wood joins the CPUC June 21. Both commissioners are subject to confirmation over the next 12 months by the state Senate. In the meantime, one of the "temp" commissioners stays on the CPUC until Wood comes aboard.

Gov. Davis' somewhat belated action came less than a week after two "temporary" CPUC appointees were named with no formal notice to address some major telecommunications issues that were being delayed with the short-handed regulatory body. Both temps hold other appointive positions in Gov. Davis' five-month-old administration. The first new set of commissioners were rushed onboard the five-member commission June 3 so they could participate in some controversial telecommunications cases. Loretta Lynch, a former law partner in a California firm and now the head of the state Office of Planning and Research, and Tal Finney, also a lawyer and currently policy director in the governor's office, both were literally sworn in and whisked into their first CPUC meeting all in the same day. Lynch is staying on until later this month when Wood starts his new job. California law allows gubernatorial appointees to serve up to a year without legislative confirmation. Beyond that point, a person has to have the state Senate's approval to serve. Unlike the first appointments, the most recent ones were made official by the customary news release from the governor's office.

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