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 run 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.