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DWP Commission gets a new head in time for a March ballot fight over solar energy plan

San Fernando Valley attorney and civic leader Lee Kanon Alpert was appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to be president of the Department of Water and Power Board of Commissioners, the Valley Business Journal reported.

Alpert takes over for Nick Patsaouras who resigned to alpert_sm.jpgrun for City Controller after attempting to create a Ratepayer Advocate office within the massive publicly-owned utility — an effort that ran into stiff opposition from the mayor and others in City Hall and was rejected by a majority of the commission.

Councilman Jose Huizar has proposed a similar watchdog position. Community groups organized by Soledad Garcia, head of the DWP’s Neighborhood Council Committee and the ad hoc DWP oversight committee, strongly support the Ratepayer Advocate as needed to restore the DWP’s credibility and protect the public..

Alpert, a partner in Alpert, Barr &
Grant in Encino and member of the regional governing board of
Providence Health Systems, is a long-time civic leader in the Valley and winner of the Fernando Award for volunteerism.

“You feel like you are participating when you can be heard on issues that are vital to the survival of the city,” Alpert said.

Long-time public discontent about sweetheart deals with the IBEW, the union representing all but the top management of the utility, and lax contracting practices were exacerbated in recent years by a series of water and power hikes at the same time that power outages and other breakdowns in the aging infrastructure were occurring.

The DWP now is the battleground in the March 3 primary election because of a so-called “solar energy and job creation” ballot measure that would put virtually the entire city effort to expand the use of solar energy in the hands of the utility.

Critics point out DWP workers are paid far more and have costlier benefits than those in private sector and the measure was rushed to the ballot for political reasons without study, cost estimates and clear details.

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8 Responses to DWP Commission gets a new head in time for a March ballot fight over solar energy plan

  1. Still in Eagle Rock says:

    If ever there was a governmental agency that can be said to bite the hand that feeds it, it is the DWP. The praise that was heaped upon it for being resistant to the price hikes a few years ago during the electricity crisis that power brokers created is mostly a memory. The structure that allowed that was created years ago, anyway, and not really much credit was owed to contemporaries on the political scene.
    That praise is now replaced by the eye-opening realization that this agency has exploited the “rate payers” at most, if not every, opportunity that comes up. Financing it’s drive for an even deeper entrenchment in the infrastructure is done, literally, at our expense.
    The expense, much of it excessive in price and/or unnecessary, shows itself in direct and collateral ways. We’re keeping it’s employees in that upper-pay range that private sector counterparts don’t have, which also works in pushing other city employees to demand similar raises in their contracts; we have seen the DWP move on farming out it’s image-boosting campaign to a private PR firm over an in-house operation, with a premium price tag. How crafty does it have to be? DWP is a monopoly and where else could we shop for electricity? Waste, Waste, Waste. And on our own dime, too. It’s undoubtedly another pitch to generate more money for DWP in the form of their particular brand of deviousness. It’s pervasive from all observations.
    The attitude and tone of DWP’S management is reflected in small things that alone might be innocuous, like buying bottled water when it’s the supplier of water, including bottled supplies. You don’t see attention to detail that could show that they care about the consumers’ wallet, other than to get the maximum dollars out of it.
    If you conserve “too much,” they want rate hikes to compensate for lowered revenue; if you consume “too much,” they want to charge for to charge a higher rate for your callous consumption. You can’t win. They can’t lose.
    The city has created its own agency culture of entitlement in government services by allowing (or promoting) the DWP’s control of assorted activities.
    Let’s take a look at a more vivid and fresh example of what appears to be happening with DWP, one of those, “What’s wrong with this picture?” questions. The recent trip of the Detroit automakers CEO’s to D.C. in separate private jets that each have a $20.000 to $28,000 round trip-cost (compare to a $500 airline ticket) was made for the purpose of asking for $25 billion taxpayer dollars for a loan bailout program. Could they at least have toned it down some by coming in from Detroit on ONE jet? It just sounds like the magnified version of what the DWP does, including a big chunk of the arrogance factor.
    Solar energy, Hmmm? DWP of course wants to get a foot in the door on that source to make sure it won’t someday lose dollars in the big picture. At the same time, it can MAKE money by judicious handling of the conditions. City Council is all for it, acting hastily a week ago to add a ballot measure for voter approval in the next election in March; Council members may even get around someday to actually examine the merits of the plan they approved to find out HOW it will impact the lowly rate payers (the term not to be confused with “low-rate payers”, which may not exist). You already bet there is money headed for some industry-side person if and when the measure is approved. But City Council is a separate problem for the moment.
    To top off the quick recap of reasons for DWP’s earned demerits, let’s not forget the DWP-paid-for breast-feeding classes for employees, something that should be a part of the health insurance plan benefits, already within the package of job benefits of the employees. The redundancy and separate expense for this “essential” item just flows through as a “rate payer” paid expense that just goes on with DWP. The need for this from a health standpoint is not addressed here, or even the issue. The classes just already exist without being specially provided at a definite cost; and what other company HAS to add this feature as an independent item?
    “Austerity” might be a good word to add to the vocabulary and practices of DWP management.
    So, now, a new Antonio appointee is delivered to manage the DWP? Pardon me if I am a little reluctant to welcome him to the position since he might be getting my complaint letters in the not to distant future if things continue as Tony and Tony-selected David Nahai have been doing.
    As for Nick P- changing horses has now put him on the right side; and you can tell that by the commission’s responses now for consumer advocacy or involvement.
    Am I the only one who thinks there’s a problem with DWP? I hope not.

  2. Sandy Sand says:

    Three strikes against him.
    Tonio appointed him.
    He’s an attorney.
    He’s on another huge ripoff board, a medical one.

  3. Anonymous says:

    President Elect Obama is giving Americans hope by creating or saving jobs while Los Angeles City Council is ready to seize Public Cable Channels that will have the opposite effect.
    Full Disclosure
    http://www.fulldisclosure.net/Blogs/61.php

  4. Anonymous says:

    Angelenos complain and continue to reelect these same lame ducks over and over which is why the politicos do as he/she pleases with no accountability to their constituents. Don’t be fooled by the colorful fliers and twenty second media sound bites during elections.
    If Angelenos really want change, these Angelenos need to stay in tune with the facts by viewing or listing to City Council and Council Committee meetings that are readily available at the Los Angeles City Website. Follow the money trail prior, during, and after the elections by visiting the Ethics Commission and CA Secretary of State Websites, but most importantly at the end of the day, vote these LA Politicos out of office on March 3, 2009, General Election.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Nobody really knows whether the Genetically Modified (GM) grain, planted in India, was prematurely put into the fields and caused their crop failure. It may be that further testing would have found detrimental traits to disqualify it’s use in commercial applications. Widespread failure of these crops may or may not have been caused by an inadequate GM grain variety. India’s farmers may or may not have committed suicide after their decision to roll the dice and use GM crop seed.
    Progress falls on it’s face. I believe that the crop was inadequately tested. Don’t ask me why.
    dailymail.co.uk article

  6. Anonymous says:

    Nobody really knows whether the Genetically Modified (GM) grain, planted in India, was prematurely put into the fields and caused their crop failure. It may be that further testing would have found detrimental traits to disqualify it’s use in commercial applications. Widespread failure of these crops may or may not have been caused by an inadequate GM grain variety. India’s farmers may or may not have committed suicide after their decision to roll the dice and use GM crop seed.
    Progress falls on it’s face. I believe that the crop was inadequately tested. Don’t ask me why.
    dailymail.co.uk article

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