A chapter 11 case often involves many different parties. At the center is the debtor, the company that is the subject of the case. The debtor generally remains under the control of the prior management during the course of the case, at least unless the court appoints a trustee. During the bankruptcy case the debtor is governed by its board of directors, and the board is appointed by the shareholders. In an ordinary corporate bankruptcy, the debtor operates under the supervision of the bankruptcy court and must obtain court approval for translations outside the ordinary course of business. In the bankruptcy of a public utility, like PG&E, the debtor is also supervised by the state public utility commission, which oversees and regulates all the utilities in the state. The California Public Utility Commission approved PG&E’s “2019 Wildfire Safety Plan” and the idea of using Public Safety Power Shutoffs under certain conditions. The debtor is represented by lawyers who are required to submit their bills to the bankruptcy court for review before they may be paid. Lead lawyers at two of PG&E’s firms have billed their time at $1,600 and $1,500 an hour respectively. Creditors are given a voice in the bankruptcy case through official and ad hoc committees. In PG&E’s case there is an official committee of unsecured creditors and a separate official committee for wildfire claimants. Certain bondholders have formed an ad hoc committee to represent their interests in the case. PG&E’s bankruptcy case will also affect its customers, sometimes called ratepayers, and the public at-large.
Joe Dworetzky is pursuing a second career as a Masters student in Stanford’s Journalism program. He practiced law in Philadelphia for more than 35 years. He represented private and governmental clients in hundreds of financial restructurings and commercial disputes. He served as City Solicitor for the City of Philadelphia under Mayor Ed Rendell and in that capacity, he led a 150-lawyer department responsible for all the city’s legal matters. From 2009 to 2013 Joe served as one of five members of the Philadelphia School Reform Commission with responsibility for the overall management of the city’s 250 public schools. He moved to San Francisco in 2011 and began writing fiction and pursuing a lifelong interest in cartooning. His first novel was published in 2013 by Indigo Sea Press and his short stories and creative non-fiction have appeared in dozens of literary magazines and journals. In 2018 he came to Stanford University as a fellow in the Distinguished Careers Institute, and his studies in that program kindled a passionate interest in journalism. He served as a staff writer and editorial cartoonist for The Stanford Daily and his reporting and editorial cartooning frequently appear in the Peninsula Press. In the summer of 2019, Joe worked on the metro desk of the L.A. Times as an intern. His wife, Amy Banse, is the managing director and head of funds for Comcast Ventures, San Francisco. They have four children ranging from 19 to 35 and live in San Francisco.