Honestly, I don’t make this stuff up. DWP Commissioner Edith Ramirez actually said in public the other day that the people don’t need a Ratepayer Advocate because her board is “vigilant in assuring the public that the rights of ratepayers are being protected.”
And it’s not just the commission but the whole Department of Water and Power management who loves you the ratepayer so much and care so deeply that they are hiking rates as fast as they can with another 13 percent increase in water charges coming in January and such horrendous increases in the offing that nobody even dares to talk about yet.
It’s why DWP employees are getting 6 percent pay hikes and have huge pensions guaranteed by you while you are living in fear of losing your job, your house and your future as your retirement investments shrink to nothing.
It’s why the mayor and City Council who have squandered your taxes are already eyeing the bottomless pit of DWP ratepayer money to cover the $110 million deficit they’ve created this year and the $400 million shortfall next year.
It’s why Ramirez and her colleagues on the commission with the exception of Commission President Nick Patsaouras rolled over to the mayor and came out in opposition Tuesday to creating a Ratepayer Advocate. It’s an act of love not contempt, take their word for it.
Who do they think they’re kidding?
Don’t they know the DWP has no credibility in the community, that it’s seen as a thief stealing the public’s money to give to contractors and public employee unions while it lets the infrastructure rot, plans to pipe recycled toilet water into homes and pays huge premiums for “green power” so the mayor can boast he’s an environmental saint and get re-elected.
DWP General Manager David Nahai is so shameless he claims that the whole city government structure has no interest but the public interest on its mind and that with the board, the City Council and various committees there are “no less than 22 ombudsman ratepayer advocates.”
That’s not the view of Patsaouras who has been around City Hall for 30 years and made the point that
” we are political appointments, let’s be honest with ourselves.”
OK, Nick, let’s be honest with ourselves. With the exception of you, Jane Usher in Planning and a few other commissioners out of all the hundreds of them, there is no one with a record of showing independence, of serving as the public watchdog, ombudsman or advocate.
They represent a narrow class of people beholden one way or another to the politicians who appoint them. And the politicians are virtually appointed by the unions and various other special interests who put them in the jobs with campaign contributions and support.
This isn’t democracy. This is a tyranny of a tiny minority controlled by narrow and selfish interests who have failed miserably in their most fundamental function of managing the city’s resources to provide good police and fire services, pave the streets and sidewalks, solve basic problems like traffic congestion, plan for healthy neighborhoods and work for a business climate that generates good-paying jobs.
And so when something comes up as modest as proposing a Ratepayer Advocate to make sure the DWP spends the public’s money wisely and can ask tough questions so the public knows what is going on, the mayor and the power structure go ballistic.
They are scared to death of the truth coming out about their scandalous abuses of the public trust that they are sworn to uphold.
Ramirez is right about one thing If she and the elected officials and bureaucrats fulfilled their duties they would be vigilant of the public interest. But they aren’t.
They betray themselves and the people and go about their lives as if they had any honor left but there is no honor among thieves.
I don’t know how they say the things they say, or do the things they do. But I do know this:
If they can’t see their way to appoint a public advocate to help clean up the corrupt policies of the DWP as the LAPD and the MTA have done, they leave the public no alternative but to fight them every inch of the way in every way they can.
There is an army of thousands of community activists out there who have worked long and hard to try to partner with the city to make L.A. better. The power structure may dismiss them as amateurs, crazies, gadflies and Nimbys but they are mobilizing and breaking down the barriers that keep them apart and one of these days, the bills will come due as they always do — or there won’t be much of a city left to fight over.