The latest here now on our battle with the (Public) Utility Commission and what I know about the next speaker of the Texas House.

But first I want to address Clark Howard, whom I consider one of America’s most respected consumer advocates.

Howard offered his large following bad advice on a story I shared with you about the U.S. Postal Service inadvertently helping identity thieves steal your mail and your identity.

Informed Delivery is a program in which USPS will send you an email every day showing photos of the outside of envelopes coming your way for delivery.

It sounds good, and I signed up for it. But Chris Torraca of Grapevine informed me that thieves used the free service to steal photos of his mail and opened a credit account in his name.

It took me several days to test the system and learn that signing up for the program at your address isn’t going to keep crooks from doing the same. They can get pictures of your email even if everyone in your household signs up.

Howard didn’t figure that out. He told his readers at, “Here’s the key takeaway for you: Sign up for Informed Delivery right away if you haven’t done so already. That way, you can stop a criminal from signing up as you.”

Wrong! I wrote Howard, as did Torraca, but Howard didn’t respond to either of us.

The Watchdog clarifies: The only way to block thieves is to permanently block your address by sending an email to and include your full name, mailing address, phone number and email address. Request that an individual account be blocked.

But know that if you block your address, then forevermore that address will be ineligible for the program.

It’s a flawed system. The post office needs to add two-step authentication to the signup process. The public needs to know the risks. Most don’t.

KrebsOnSecurity website reports that USPS is signing up 20,000 new residential accounts a day.

Next speaker grew up in Texas House

Do you know who Dennis Bonnen is?

He’s the Republican state lawmaker from suburban Houston who is expected to become the next Texas House speaker in January.

He matters to The Watchdog because if we want a roofer’s license, property tax reform and electricity shopping fixes, all that will go through him.

What’s he like?

I met him 20 years ago when he was a rookie and watched as he found friendship and solace with two other first-term House members who, together, called themselves “The Three Amigos.”

Bonnen was only 26 at the time, one of the youngest lawmakers. I wrote a story about the three amigos hanging out at Texas Motor Speedway.

Back in 1998, I asked Bonnen what it was like to be a state lawmaker. He answered that in his new job he was always on stage.

The rookie explained: “It doesn’t matter whether you go to the football game or the baseball game or out to dinner. The odds are you’re going to get hit up for something. My mother has learned not to send me to the store for a loaf of bread.”

I found Bonnen to be a young man without pretense, logical, funny and straightforward. Great attributes to lead the raucous House 20 years later.

The other two amigos were idealistic souls who lost bids for higher office. Tommy Merritt of Kilgore ran for state agriculture commissioner and lost. Todd Smith of Euless ran unsuccessfully for state Senate.

Only the youngest amigo stands ready to make it to the top. I don’t know if Bonnen has changed much since that rookie year, but if he kept his ego in check (toughest part about being a legislator), he could be a fine speaker.

Battling the (P)UC

A quick update on our “P” campaign to force the (Public) Utility Commission to get tougher on electricity companies.

The UC — I took away the “P” for public until they earn it back — has a meeting scheduled for Friday at which the commission will recommend changes to the 2019 Texas Legislature.

Many of us say that after almost 20 years of deregulation, it’s time to update the state’s electricity shopping system to make it more fair.

I bought a few large “P’s” at the crafts store, and I’m going to place the name of everyone who has joined my “Cheap Electricity Campaign” in the past two years on it. Lotta names.

I’ll send the “P” to the UC in Austin before the next meeting.

If you want to get in on this protest, send an email to and tell the UC you support the “P” campaign and add “P.S. Say hi to Andrew” — their spokesman Andrew Barlow, who is trying to work with commission critics.

By the way, you can follow the exploits of the “P” campaign and other Watchdog adventures on my Sunday night Facebook live videos at 8 p.m. at The next one includes a surprise musical guest.

Tuna lawsuit update

Longtime citizens of my Watchdog Nation will remember back to 2015 when I recommended that those of us who are tuna lovers file for free cans of StarKist.

Free tuna was promised to us as part of a settlement in a class-action lawsuit charging StarKist tuna with underfilling its little 5-ounce cans.

We never got the tuna.

The lawsuit is almost 6 years old.

Here’s the latest: An appeals court has moved the settlement process forward. But we’re still waiting for the promised $25 or $50 worth of free tuna vouchers to make up for the terrible harm we tuna lovers endured when we were slighted.

I wonder if we’ll ever see any tuna money — or if the lawyers will gobble it all in fees.

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