5. Marybel Batjer
Marybel Batjer is the president of the California Public Utilities Commission, one of the state’s most powerful regulatory bodies, with a vast sway over telecommunications, railroads, investor-owned utilities, and more. That’s a big deal, especially now. Last year, the PUC gave its blessing to PG&E’s bankruptcy plan, a major decision after the giant utility was on the hook for billions of dollars worth of damages to property owners, in part because of PG&E power lines that sparked blazes. The five-member PUC also fined PG&E $1.9 billion – the largest penalty the commission ever levied. A key player here is Batjer, who only has one of the five votes on the commission but who has wide influence in setting the agenda. Batjer, a troubleshooter, is no stranger to state government. Jerry Brown named her the first head of the Government Operations Agency – known as “GovOps” – in 2013, and Newsom placed her at the head of the panel to reorganize the complaint-plagued DMV, which she did successfully. Earlier, she was Arnold Schwarzenegger’s cabinet secretary.
Updated Aug. 25, 2021