I’m Don Kelly, Executive Director at UCAN since November 2012.
Protecting individual rights has been the centerpiece of my career, starting with law school here in San Diego. As many know, UCAN’s origin goes back to 1983 and Robert Fellmeth's students at the University of San Diego School of Law. One of the original seven “Nader’s Raiders,” Professor Fellmeth was an inspiring example to me, and I was subsequently recognized for my student work in Public Interest Advocacy.
Since graduating from law school over 20 years ago essentially all my professional work has been advocating for individuals, first as a public defender then later in my own practice as a defense attorney and litigator. Helping individuals to navigate complex legal and administrative situations is truly deep in my DNA! When the position at UCAN opened up it gave me the opportunity, once again, to be in the “little guy’s” corner making sure each of us gets a fair shake when it comes to California utilities.
My arrival at UCAN was in the wake of a trying period in our organization’s history. Whistleblowers, finger pointing, investigations and lawsuits nearly derailed UCAN from its mission, even as important rate cases demanded attention. UCAN’s dissolution or being absorbed by another group were serious considerations. Ultimately the continuing need for a dedicated San Diego County ratepayer advocate won out and so UCAN is now in the process of “rebooting” itself with a new Board, staff and executive leadership.
I want to assure you that the new Board has put in place governing rules that will prevent a recurrence of the issues that nearly took us down. Going forward I am committed to running UCAN in a completely transparent fashion for the benefit of San Diego ratepayers and our members. You should already see evidence of this transparency on our new website, particularly in the financial disclosures, and our small but diligent staff are working hard to get more posted there for your scrutiny.
Our new organization is intent upon emerging both stronger and more committed to our long-term mission than ever before. After all, the utilities have gotten increasingly sophisticated – and are incredibly well-funded – in their efforts to influence both legislators and regulators. San Diego ratepayers have never needed an advocate on their side as much as they do now!