Ted Lieu Wants My Money, Wants My Vote, But Doesn’t Want To Talk About AB 920

Assemblyman Ted Lieu, 53rd DistrictI’m beginning to think that Ted Lieu only co-authored AB 920, the Feed-In Tariff bill as window dressing in order to try to pad his environmental resume.

Ted doesn’t talk about the bill in public, won’t put anything about it on his own web site, and looks down at his shoes and changes the subject if you ask him about the bill personally.

Why shouldn’t we conclude that Ted is practicing political greenwashing when he won’t show any backbone or courage and lobby on behalf of his own  bill even when you ask him to?

Until Ted proves otherwise, that’s the conclusion I have reached.  And in case you’re wondering, I’m a registered Democrat and a member of the Beach Cities Democratic Club, but fellow Democrat Lieu gets zero slack cut on this issue from me.

Ted Lieu used to be one of my city councilmen here in Torrance, but he didn’t stay local long because Ted had much bigger political ambitions than that.

Ted didn’t leave Torrance any significantly better than he found it before his stint on the city council, but he ran to become my state Assemblyman anyway and got elected to serve in Sacramento.  Political pros said that Ted raised impressive amounts of money to get in office.

It’s pretty damn safe to say that Ted Lieu has not left the state of California or the 53rd district any better than he found it, and you can make a winnable argument in saying state government and the state itself are far worse off then they were back in 2005 when Ted arrived on the scene.  But that’s not all Ted’s fault.  He just bears the 53rd district’s share of the blame.

But the 53rd District is just one stepping stone on Ted’s political path.  He’s got bigger political ambitions than the state legislature and today Ted’s running for Attorney General.  And if you think Ted plans on stopping there then you don’t understand the incessant drive of burning political ambitions.

You probably didn’t realize that the race for Jerry Brown’s current office already began, but so far I’ve received one letter in the US Mail and two emails already, including one from Ted’s wife, Betty Chim who just happens to be one of my very favorite members of the Torrance Environmental Commission.  All of these letters have asked me to send Ted money for his Attorney General campaign.

I’ve been asked to endorse Ted too.  It’s so very faux flattering to be asked, don’t you think?

None of these letters mention that Ted has already amassed one of the biggest campaign treasure chests of anyone running and that Ted really doesn’t need a single dollar from me during this Not So Great Depression in order to out-raise and out-spend anyone else daring to run.

My good green friend Dency Nelson – who just happens to be the 53rd Assembly District’s Democratic Man of the Year for 2009 – is a strong supporter of Ted’s and tells me that Ted is a real good guy and a good environmentalist too.  That may well be true, although it makes Lieu’s actions on AB 920 even more suspicious.  And I can’t help but feel that Dency’s past support and monetary contributions to Ted’s campaigns gets him different treatment from Ted then I get as “just a constituent.”

But I don’t like to give campaign contributions to politicians because frankly it only encourages them.  I’ll donate my time and I’ll donate my skills to work on issues I have in common with the politician but giving them money to spend on campaign mailers, or on fundraisers for the fat cats I don’t want to spend quality time with, seems more like outright bribery to me.  And if I’m going to pay a bribe I want something substantial in return not just the right to be a FOT – a friend of Ted’s.

It doesn’t take a top analyst to conclude that Ted Lieu’s campaign staff is a lot more proficient and productive in soliciting me for some cash dough-ray-me and endorsements than his assembly staff is in responding to my constituent concerns and questions and keeping in touch with me overall.  That makes it easy to see what Ted’s priorities are.

You’ve got to admire the efficiency of a campaign operation that can take a business card I handed Ted a year ago at an event I was a volunteer for and made sure that all my data got entered correctly and that I was including in mailing and e-mailings from both Ted and Betty.  If only he had been that good hustling votes for a new California budget.

And you’ve just got to say “WTF?” about the weak and wimpy boiler plate response Ted’s staff generated to the following message I sent to Ted’s office using his own ultra-annoying on-line “contact us” form.

I’m writing specifically about AB 920 which I strongly support and proud of you for co-authoring.

I believe AB 920 is the second punch of what will be the one-two combination that drives the rapid adoption of solar energy production in California.  The first punch – AB 811 – is now starting to fund the loans that make the purchase of solar PV systems financially possible for California property owners. I’m working hard to bring that loan program and the necessary funding here to the South Bay through the SBCCOG Green Task Force.

AB 920 and the feed-in tariffs that result from it will drive a rooftop real estate boom just like they are now seeing in Gainsville, Florida, the first city in the USA to pass solar feed-in tariff legislation.

The results of these same feed-in tariffs have driven Germany and Spain’s hugely successful adoption of solar energy with rates that far exceed our own.

Our conditions for producing clean, renewable solar power here in Southern California far exceed those in Germany and Spain.  And our state’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 mandates that we increase our production of renewable energy from the current 13.5% to 20% by next year, 2010.  We’ve got to increase it all the way to 33% in just 10 years, by 2020.  So our need to rapidly drive the adoption of rooftop solar that is already connected to the existing grid is obvious and urgent.

Please tell me how I can more actively support AB 920’s passage and what the most effective citizen lobbying on behalf of this legislation would be.

Thanks in advance for your time and consideration and thanks too for all you do on behalf of our environment here in the 53rd District.

And by the way – forcing constituents to send e-mail messages by going on your web page to leave it in your predesignated AOL era form is a lame and antiquated way to communicate with the people you serve today.  In fact, forcing citizens to do it this way is a tactic designed to make sure your office gets less email.  There’s no excuse for this 1994 behavior in 2009 unless your goal is to serve fewer of the people you’re supposed to be representing.

It only took Ted’s office a month to mail me a letter via snail mail.  Here’s everything Ted had to say:

Dear Mr. Galliani: Thank you for contacting me regarding your support for Assembly Bill 920 (Huffman) – Solar and wind distributed generation. This bill passed the Assembly Floor on June 1, 2009 and has moved into the Senate.  This is an imperative bill that will help the implementation of solar and wind energy in California and I am pleased to have co-authored the bill.  Please continue to sen me your thoughts and concerns regarding legislation and current issues.  If I can be of further assistance, please contact me at (310)615-3515

I’m guessing Ted defines “imperative” differently than the dictionary does, because there has been nothing “extremely urgent; essential” about the way Ted is trying to get AB 920 passed.  Maybe that’s because Ted’s sense of urgency about responding to climate change or meeting the mandates of AB 32, the Global Warming Solutions act are nothing compared to Ted’s sense of urgency about moving up the next rung on the political ladder.

So I’m going to have to look elsewhere for leadership on the issues I care about because I won’t be getting any leadership from Ted Lieu.

And I don’t expect Ted to pay any attention to this Creative Greenius post either – because after all, the kind of green Ted Lieu wants from me he just ain’t going to get.

6 thoughts on “Ted Lieu Wants My Money, Wants My Vote, But Doesn’t Want To Talk About AB 920

  1. Yikes! Talk about not cutting anyone any slack….

    I continue to be proud of you and your work, Joe, and your amazing passion for the environment. I appreciate the information you share through Creative Greenius…. but I have to say, this post seemed unnecessarily harsh to me.

    Nonetheless, you’ve given me a lot to think about, as always.


    Well Kaaren I can appreciate your desire to be nice and unharsh, but I’m afraid we’re too far down the path of climate change to be cutting elected officials the slack you’re hoping for. Perhaps if you had read this month’s White House report on climate change impacts on the United States you’d feel differently about how “mellow” I should be to elected officials who are more worried about their professional futures then they are the future health and well being of entire generations.

    I submit to you if you’re not ready to be “harsh” here in June of 2009, then with all due respect, you’re not well enough informed on the issue of climate change.

    And to tell you the truth, I don’t think I’m being harsh at all. Your comment reminds me of the well known anecdote about President Harry Truman. During a speech a man in the crowd shouted out, “Give ’em hell, Harry!” To which Truman replied,
    “I just tell the truth and they think it’s hell!”

  2. Thanks for the comments on Ted Lieu, who is also my assemblyman all the way up here in Mar Vista (LA 90066). AB920 is of great interest to me (see below); I would like to track its progress online but do not know how. Please tell me if you know in your reply to this comment.

    Just this week my 3KW solar PV system (15@200W STC) started feeding the grid. The system was sized to our maximum historical demand, so there is a good chance we will have a net negative meter in some years. Had our system been built significantly larger to generate payments to us if AB920 were enacted, the excess size would have not received an LADWP rebate. Our system only made economic sense for us at the rebatable size we installed.

    As long as solar PV system costs are what they are now, nobody is going to overinstall because their capital costs for the excess array size will not be paid back over the life of the panels. So, whether we personally like the German all-you-can-eat feed-in tariff or not, it is a false argument to say that AB920 will cause massively-oversized residential systems. All it will do is cause people with systems like ours to be paid honestly for what we deliver–a little better than breakeven in fat years.

    Meanwhile, the CPUC argument against AB920 boils down to whining bureaucratic p*ss and moan: ‘We didn’t agree to this, so let’s put it off for a couple of years.’ They said nothing about how close we have come in the last few years in Southern California to brownouts and load shedding in peak times–exactly when solar PV is most useful.

    Whether or not Ted Lieu sincerely supports AB920, it is up to the State Senate now. If enough people contact their senators about this obscure bill, it might get passed.

    Right on, Lee. I couldn’t agree with you more.

    But even though the bill has now gone to the Senate, that’s still no excuse for Ted doing so little to support it or be responsive to those of us who do.

    Here’s the California Legislative website where you can track any bill and where you can sign up for free email updates whenever the status of a bill you’re tracking changes in any way.

    And here’s another cool website, Total Capitol.com, I like to use to track AB 920 and other bills:

    If you read my piece about SCE and solar last week then you know that they’re not being too honest about feed-in tariffs either. Guess they’re happy with only 70,000 houses going solar as part of the million roofs project. “Aim high, land low,” must be their motto.

  3. What’s up Big Joe G?

    I’m sure you probably already know, but you could inform your readers of this little tidbit: you can contact your representative (State and Federal) at the Congress.org website. Just enter your zip code at


    I wrote a little note about AB 920 that went something like this:

    “Dear Government Officials,

    California can prove that it’s serious about clean, renewable solar energy.

    I urge you to support AB 920 (Assembly Member Huffman) to help California
    reach the goals set forth in AB 32 mandating renewable energy generation.
    As stated in the text of AB 920, the bill “would require the electric
    utility to offer a standard contract or tariff to eligible
    customer-generators that includes compensation for the value of net
    surplus electricity.”

    A feed-in tariff similar to the one proposed in AB 920 is the major reason
    that cloud-wreathed Germany has become an unlikely leader in the race to
    harness the sun’s energy. If you truly want California to shine as a
    world-leader in producing clean, renewable energy, then support of AB 920
    is a major step.

    Let the world know California is serious about solar energy. Support AB

    True Regards,”

    Let ’em know Joe, let ’em know!

    Great comment, Shawn!
    Nothing more I can add, except Thanks!”

  4. Dear Mr. Galliani,

    Hello. My name is Rebecca Wayne and I am the District Director for Assemblymember Ted Lieu.

    Assemblymember Lieu has asked me to respond to your email on his behalf and relay to you the following response.

    Assemblymember Lieu is a co-author of AB 920 this year and co-authored it last year too. Mr. Lieu voted for this bill on several occasions. One of the strongest things a legislator can do to advance legislation is to co-author a bill.

    If you have specific things you would like Assemblymember Lieu to do in connection with this bill, please share them with us.

    With Assemblymember Lieu’s support, this bill is moving through the legislative process and is scheduled to be heard next week on July 7th in the Senate Committee on Energy, Utilities and Communication.

    Thank you for your advocacy work on behalf of environmental protection and energy conservation.


    Rebecca Wayne
    District Director
    Assemblyman Ted W. Lieu, 53rd District
    500 Center Street
    El Segundo, CA 90245
    phone: 310-615-3515
    fax: 310-615-3520
    email: rebecca.wayne@asm.ca.gov

    Thanks so much for your speedy reply Rebecca. I appreciate you relaying Ted Lieu’s response for him.

    We’re all real grateful that Assemblyman Lieu co-authored the bill and that it passed the Assembly and is now in the state Senate. It’s a shame the budget fiasco is overwhelming all other issues in Sacramento.

    And since you asked, it seems more than obvious that what we supporters of feed-in tariff’s and AB 920 want is for Ted to actually speak up on the bill’s behalf, especially when he’s at environmental events in the district. Like last month’s Environmental Fair in Torrance for example. Or at Ted’s garden party fundraiser for another example. How about showing some real public leadership and acting like the bill’s champion? Is that asking too much? Because that’s the kind of effort we’re looking for in this crucial time.

    And while you’re asking, how about Ted speaking out against SCE’s opposition to his bill? Does he have any verbal stand to share with us on that? We’d sure be receptive to some public leadership there too. It would sure beat his current silent communication approach.

    I heard the current Attorney General, Jerry Brown, speak in Santa Monica on Tuesday and he didn’t have any problem publicly stating his support for feed-in tariffs. So I know how possible it is for politicians with the courage of their convictions to speak out publicly for the issues they really care about.

  5. Joe,

    I have a 40′ x 5″ tall fence facing a major street. I’ve been thinking about putting up a sign encouraging people to not vote for Ted for AG. Are you interested?


    From the Greenius:
    Thanks Chris, but I don’t think we need to actively campaign against Ted Lieu for Attorney General and there’s certainly no reason to mess up your nice big fence. Despite the $700,000 in Ted’s campaign war chest it looks like SF District Attorney Kamala Harris has this race sewed up long before all that paper and postage gets wasted on 20th century style direct mailings. So I think termed out Ted is on his way to becoming toast. Maybe that’s why everywhere I go on the green scene someone else tells me that Ted’s staff has their panties in a bunch over what I’ve said about him. Of course, none of them has had the courage to say it to me. Or maybe they’re just too busy celebrating the great job they did on the new California budget!

    1. Just a postscript to say that I correctly called the winner of this month’s primary for the California AG’s race way back in July of 2009.

      Termed Out Ted now has till November to find a new way to get taxpayers to fund his salary. Knowing how big a priority that’s always been for Mr. Lieu I have great faith that he’ll get himself named to a commission or other cushy job that provides him with the income and prestige he’s grown accustomed to. Just as I don’t have a single doubt that Ted Lieu will continue to be a nonfactor and no help in solving any of the budget problems that are his responsibility as our Assemblyman in Sacramento. The scoreboard doesn’t lie and the scoreboard says we’ve all been big losers with Ted representing us.

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