Beholden Chris Holden’s Big Utility Tent

First, we carolers had to convince some beefy Pasadena police that we didn’t come to Assemblyman Chris Holden’s Christmas open house at his district office to disrupt the festivities and dirty up the place (though we did leave a lunch bag of coal behind). Politely, we explained we were there in good fun to sing adapted Christmas carols to the man instrumental to a giant corporate bailout of Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, Sempra and other utilities responsible for sparking deadly wildfires. 

Next, we tried to find Holden to sing him our creatively-adapted lyrics That was more of a challenge as he wasn’t in the main buffet area, instead he was tucked into a tent out back.

We went to warn Chris Holden, who helped craft and voted for a giant utility wildfire bailout in the last session, that his plans afoot for another utility bailout in the new session, were unacceptable. Pacific Gas & Electric face billions in potential liability for destructive and deadly fires in both Northern and Southern California in the last two years.  

In the last legislative session, utilities didn’t get all they wanted. They won the outrageous right to pass through to ratepayers billions in costs from wildfires sparked by their equipment, including in instances of negligence as long as the Public Utilities Commission rubberstamps that. 

What they were really after but failed to get because of staunch opposition from wildfire victims, advocates, consumer attorneys, and insurers, was the decimation of a consumer’s right to utility reimbursement for the costs of wildfires that their equipment sparks, regardless of negligence. With Jerry Brown’s support, they wanted to throw consumers and victims of wildfires under the bus, leaving them to duke it out with utilities in court, instead of honoring the state constitution. In that compact, utilities get the right to seize your property to provide vital energy services. But that tidy monopoly comes with the responsibility to pay you back when fire they cause wipes out your property.

That’s a fair deal we fought to preserve, but what we also need is a Green New Deal. Break up negligent, monopoly utilities that want to privatize profits and socialize the costs. Help independent green energy purchasing and delivery expand. Chris Holden is in the way.

Holden is the third-largest recipient of utility largesse in the Assembly, having taken $80,550 in contributions from the state’s three investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Edison, and Sempra since Jerry Brown was elected Governor in 2011. He knows where his bread is buttered. Last session, he sponsored a bill, foiled by environmental advocates, to hand California’s power grid over to Donald Trump and his federal energy appointees. That would have led to the overturning of California’s green energy laws and forced it to accept big coal power imports from the likes of Coal King Warren Buffett. 

Our attempt to go carol in the big tent ended in a phalanx of police blocking our way while a Holden “political consultant” held us at bay. Staff finally got the message after we explained that the optics looked bad for Holden on our livestream feed. He finally came out an hour later with a friendly, albeit frozen, smile and listened to a carol that a bunch of us from The California Progressive Alliance, San Gabriel Valley Progressive Alliance, Californians for Energy Choice, Consumer Watchdog, Food & Water Watch, Our Revolution Los Angeles, SoCal 350 Climate Action, Bernie Sanders Brigade, March and Rally Los Angeles, California For Progress



The song went like this:

Santa Holden (To the tune of Santa Baby)


Santa Holden

Your bailout bill is really so bad, so sad

They just need to go broke, we spoke

Santa Holden

So, listen to the people right now


Santa Holden

You have a chance to do the right thing, we sing

Public power is great, we state

Santa Holden

So, listen to the people right now


Think of all the fees we ditch

Instead of making shareholders and CEOs rich

You have a chance to save the day

So, break up those bastards and make them pay


Santa Holden

Don’t be a shill for P G and E, you see

Use your office for good, you should

Santa Holden

So, listen to the people right now

Listen to the people right now

Listen to the people right now.

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