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Briefs (right)

Californians to
Vote on Utility Switch

By David Cay Johnston

Gene Stille says he is tired of paying the Pacific Gas & Electric Co. roughly $300,000 a year in extra electricity bills for his small chain of Nugget supermarkets. If his stores were just a few miles east in the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, he said, his costs would be that much lower.

“I can’t see any reason to pay all that extra money” to PG&E, he said, considering that it charges roughly 40 percent more than its publicly owned counterpart based in the state capital.

Stille cannot move his stores, but he hopes to do the next best thing: switch the utilities.

On Tuesday voters will decide whether Stille’s stores and 77,000 other Yolo County customers will switch to the municipal utility. Such a move is a rare event these days in California, where corporate-owned and publicly owned power systems fought long and bitter battles going back more than a century over the role of electricity in state politics and the economy.

If the switch takes place, Stille, like other residents of this table-flat farming area, will not necessarily enjoy significantly lower electricity costs right away.

But he and many others here are tempted enough to abandon PG&E that the company has poured $10.4 million of its shareholders’ money into trying to defeat the plan, even though it would lose just 1.5 percent of its customers. The utility, which is worried about Yolo County setting a precedent, is the sole donor to the no campaign.

Duke Rape Accuser Was at Work
10 Days Later, Club Owner Says

By Duff Wilson

The woman who accused three Duke University lacrosse players of raping and assaulting her after she was hired to strip at a party on March 13 went back to work at a strip club 10 days later, the owner of the club said in an interview on Thursday.

Defense lawyers said that information undercut the woman’s credibility because she would have been performing even as she continued to complain to doctors about pain.

The degree of the woman’s injuries has been central to the case. According to case files, detectives found that she had difficulty walking or sitting in the days immediately after she reported being attacked and that she told medical personnel up until several weeks later that her neck and back pains were a result of the attack.

Last month, “60 Minutes” broadcast a video excerpt that it said showed her dancing at a club two weeks after the party.

Victor O. Olatoye, owner of the Platinum Club in Hillsborough, N.C., where the woman worked, had signed an affidavit for the Durham district attorney saying she had not performed at his club since February, and that the video had to have been taken before March 13.

But in the interview Thursday, Olatoye, 44, said that after filing his affidavit on Oct. 18 he found records showing that the woman had worked on March 23, March 24 and March 25. Olatoye also said he recognized her dancing on the video, even though her face was obscured.

“I saw the clip and I believe that was her, yes,” he said, adding that she has not worked at the club since March 25.