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January 23, 2003

Former state PUC commissioner to return as consultant

From: San Jose Mercury News, CA - 23 Jan 2003

Associated Press

SAN FRANCISCO - The president of the state Public Utilities Commission has hired a former commissioner as a consultant for up to six months.

President Michael Peevey ordered the commission's executive director to hire Henry Duque to oversee the movement of money from the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program fund to the state treasury.

"Former Commissioner Duque is uniquely qualified to assist me and the commission based on his long experience as the lead commissioner on DDTP matters," Peevey wrote in an internal memo.

It's unknown how much Duque will earn for his work as a consultant. He was a PUC commissioner for almost eight years before retiring. His term expired Jan. 1, but to qualify for additional health and pension benefits, Duque must remain on the state payroll for several months.

Michael Shames, executive director of the Utilities Consumer Action Network, criticized the move as "payback." Duque and Peevey typically voted the same when Duque was on the board.

Duque came under fire for perceived conflicts of interest while he was on the board.

In April, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Alfred Chiantelli ordered Duque removed from office for investing $10,000 in mobile-phone company Nextel, which the PUC regulates. But earlier this month, the 1st District Court of Appeal overturned that ruling and said Duque should never have been removed.

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