Legislation authored by Hayward Assemblymember Bill Quirk that would allow PG&E to pay off damages related to the destructive NorCal wildfires last year with state-backed bonds has been labeled by some critics as a bailout for the utility.
The bill currently under consideration in the assembly is likely to face a rising tenor of opposition after it was reported Tuesday that Quirk’s son works for PG&E.
Quirk’s office acknowledged Ian Quirk works for PG&E, but denied any connection to the legislation, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. PG&E downplayed Ian Quirk’s employment as one of nearly 20,000 who work for the state utility, the Chronicle added.
Assembly Bill 33 has been described by Quirk as a tool to ensure victims of the NorCal wildfires are made whole following the loss of life and property. In addition, an onslaught of lawsuits against PG&E following multiple reports that its power lines caused many of the fires, could bankrupt the utility, according to Quirk.
But critics say because the legislation would lead the state to issue bonds to help payoff PG&E’s lawsuit, state taxpayers would end up footing the bill.
Ian Quirk’s move to the corporate world, meanwhile, is relatively recent. In 2013, the San Francisco Bay Guardian featured Quirk’s band Trails and Ways. Described as “dream pop,” Quirk, who was the drummer, posed semi-nude with his band mates for the article.
Although there is little direct evidence at this point that Quirk authored the legislation at the behest of his son, the perception that he has carried legislation for major corporations has been raised by his critics in the past.
During Quirk time as a Hayward councilmember, his support for the Russell City Energy Center, a natural gas-fired power plant on the Hayward shoreline, raised eyebrows, especially after the owner of the plant Calpine, was one of his biggest campaign donors. After being cited for polluting the air, Quirk called the plant, “quite healthy.”
Later, Quirk was criticized for authoring legislation that favored large telecom companies by speeding up the approval process for erecting cell towers. The bill was opposed by the Hayward City Council and others for circumventing local control of zoning for the towers often derided by neighbors as unsightly.