PG&E’s falling stock price worries

fire victims eyeing deal

BERKELEY, Calif. (AP) — The stock market turmoil triggered by the coronavirus pandemic is raising worries that Pacific Gas & Electric’s $13.5 billion settlement with victims of catastrophic wildfires may be worth far less by the time the beleaguered company emerges from bankruptcy.

A lawyer who represents more than 81,000 wildfire victims flagged the escalating concerns during a Wednesday court hearing held by conference call.

Attorney Robert Julian told U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Dennis Montali that the stock market’s steep downturn during the past month may require PG&E to provide more reassurances about the money intended to compensate victims for trauma and property losses suffered during the fires in 2017 and 2018 blamed on PG&E equipment.

PG&E agreed to set up the $13.5 billion fund for the victims as part of its plan to emerge from bankruptcy this summer, with half the amount coming from stock in the company. The prospect of owning stock in the company that ruined their lives has never been popular among the victims, but it has become even more unsettling during the market upheaval.

Since hitting a six-month high of $18.34 on Feb. 11, PG&E’s stock has lost roughly half its value. The shares rose 42 cents Wednesday to close at $9.25. That decline is even more severe than the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index, which has fallen by about 25% during the same stretch.

Darius Swann, who fought for

school integration, dies at 95

The Rev. Darius L. Swann, whose challenge to the notion of segregated public schools helped spark the use of busing to integrate schools across the country, has died at his Virginia home. He was 95.

The Rev. David Ensign, interim pastor at Burke Presbyterian Church, where Swann’s family attended church, confirmed in an email that Swann died on March 8.

Swann’s wife, Vera, told The Washington Post that her husband died of pneumonia.

On Sept. 2, 1964, Swann wrote a letter to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg school board, asking that his son James be allowed to attend Seversville School, two blocks from his home, rather than the all-black Biddleville School, which was more than twice as far away. He was allowed to argue his case at a subsequent meeting of the school board, which suggested that the Swanns enroll James in Biddleville, then request a transfer.

The Swanns said no thanks.

“We figured that the system was really protecting segregation,” Swann told The Associated Press in an interview in 2000. “What they wanted to do was decide things on a case-by-case basis, when what they needed to do was change the whole system; there was a systemic problem.”


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