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L.A.’s Solar Energy Fraud: Is this what President-elect Obama stands for?

The trail of responsibility for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s fraudulent solar energy proposal leads straight to President-elect Obama, raising questions about whether all that talk of change and citizen participation and democracy was just so much lip service.

The mayor himself was named to Obama’s transition team of economic advisers.

Deputy Mayor Nancy Sutley — architect of the Proposition B plan as his environmental expert — was just named chair of Obama’s council of environmental advisers.

Mitchell Schwartz, the political operative who was Obama’s California Campaign Director, is the point man for the City Hall political machine who is using the courts to try to intimidate ordinary citizens who have dared to challenge the lies, the secrets, the back room deals that have gone into Prop. B.

And Schwartz, who is represented by Stephen Kaufman, the legal mouthpiece for the mayor and the Democratic Party’s Hall of Fame, wants to stick these citizen opponents, myself included, with a hefty bill for court costs and attorney fees for having the temerity to stand up for what’s good for the city, good for the environment.

Prop. B is an outrageous fraud. It was created by and for the benefit of the DWP union, the IBEW which is led by City Hall’s Mr. Big, Brian D’Arcy, the long-time pal of the mayor who has gotten nearly 6 percent raises for his union in the middle of the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression.


Under the City Charter changes proposed by Prop. B, all the work of
installing and maintaining all rooftop solar energy panels on
industrial, commercial and government buildings would belong to the
IBEW and the panels themselves would belong to the DWP — something
that will probably need a battery of lawyers to create a legal fiction
to be able to get federal clean energy subsidies intended only for
private companies.

And those subsidies — $2 billion worth –
are the key to the whole plan even having any possibility of all of
achieving anything without bankrupting the city.

Sutley’s
appointment to the Obama administration and Schwartz’s connections
point to the likelihood that the $2 billion will be forthcoming in a
hurry when the president-elect actually takes office.

If you
listen to the mayor and the environmentalists who sadly would rather
take a dirty deal than stand up and fight with the rest of  us for
clean energy and a clean city, the massive federal subsidy will create
good-paying jobs with good benefits, save lives by cleaning up the
nation’s dirtiest air and stimulate the L.A. economy.

The truth
is those jobs are all IBEW jobs — which are already paying 30 percent
or so more than comparable jobs in the private sector.

The truth
is the solar energy plan won’t lead to closure of any coal-burning
plants that pollute the L.A. air. The energy they generate won’t even
keep up with the increase in demand caused by City Hall’s approval of
high density projects that are destroying our neighborhoods and
worsening traffic congestion.

The truth is raising electricity
rates to pay for this sweetheart union deal will take money out of the
economy that would otherwise be spent on goods and services that create
private sector jobs — the same problem caused by the huge increases in
fees, rates and taxes under Villaraisgosa.

The truth is that
most of the $3.6 billion this boondoggle will cost won’t help stimulate
the economy in L.A. or anywhere else in America. Most of the money will
go to China. That’s right, the only place the DWP is going to be able
to buy solar panels from is China.

The DWP is far behind
privately-owned utilities in turning to clean energy. In exchange for
discounted rates, it has barred under contract its largest users from
installing solar energy units and this has gone during the entire time
Villaraigosa was a city official.

The entire production of U.S.
solar panel companies is backlogged for three years so most of the
money in this program will go overseas and the only people who find it
economically stimulating are the Chinese.

This isn’t even the worst of what’s wrong with this plan.

The
real problem is it isn’t a plan at all. There has been no planning. The
DWP’s own consultants report the utility’s management isn’t even
capable of planning something as big as this — something that in
theory would nearly double U.S. solar energy generation.

This
plan was rushed through the City Council in a couple of weeks with only
perfunctory hearings. DWP briefings given under the MOU with
Neighborhoods Councils contained almost no details.

Council
members — who in recent days have admitted they didn’t know what they
were doing when they approved such simple deals as a $42 million
elephant exhibit at the zoo and catastophic settlements with billboard
companies after they beat them in court — didn’t have a clue about
what was contained in this measure.

They were told to support it, knew they would be cut to pieces if the opposed it or even raised tough questions.

City
Council President Eric Garcetti even withheld a report made by the firm
that has conducted an extensive examination of all DWP operations from
the council and the public, claiming it was no more public than his
private telephone conversations.

The public never stood a
chance. Both the mayor and council president argue that their own fears
about this deal were allayed so there was no reason to inform the
public and engage in a legitimate democratic process that affects the
lives of everyone who lives and works in this city.

This is the
biggest solar energy initiative in American history and there has been
no planning, no public debate, not even a semblance of democracy.

Is
this what Barack Obama stands for? Is this the kind of change he talked
about? Is this participatory democracy he promised us?

I know
the cries of outrage from one old newspaperman don’t count for much in
a world gone mad and on the brink of what in the darkness of night
seems like unimaginable catastrophe.

I know it’s going to take
an uprising of the people to be heard. But if all you dream walkers out
there won’t wake up now, when will you? Will you wait until it’s too
late to make a difference?

This entry was posted in City Hall, Hot Topics, Los Angeles, Solar Energy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

21 Responses to L.A.’s Solar Energy Fraud: Is this what President-elect Obama stands for?

  1. 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.

  2. Anonymous says:

    I agree – our votes are the only thing that can help us. I like that vote new people in who are not part of the gang network. No more career public servants. March 3 is the next election. We need to know who is running so we can help get their names out to our friends and families. Otherwise, confusion will reign.
    And union members should vote with their personal interests in mind, not the union leadership. There is no way to find out who you voted for – that is a very old ploy using fear and innuendo.

  3. AOracle says:

    I am shocked, shocked, to find obfuscation and duplicity going on at City Hall!
    What is this world coming to?

  4. Anonymous says:

    Independent Expenditures
    Alarcon for Councilmember 2007
    02/16/07 – $20,000.00
    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 PAC
    02/16/07 – $20,000.00
    Local 18 Water and Power Defense League (IBEW)
    Villaraigosa for Mayor
    05/02/05 (Radio Buy) $200,000.00
    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Committee on Political Education
    03/23/05 – 05/12/05 – $108,424.87
    Local 18 Water and Power Defense League (IBEW)
    Late Independent Expenditures
    5/18/2001 – $18,997.00
    International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 11 PAC
    The lists just go on and on.

  5. Anonymous says:

    get a message to obama drop this scum bag he is full of dirty laundry we will be slaughtered in the streets like in mexico if we don;t stop him now

  6. Sandy Sand says:

    So far I haven’t seen any stats, but I’m wondering how much power the electronic billboards will chew up if that group get its way.
    Everything else stinks, too. Most expensive; least efficient; single no-bid installer; criminality and/or backroom dealings; and the damn solar panels aren’t even manufactured here.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the heads up on this, Ron.
    Yes, it is time we all wake up and stop buying into the myths:
    MYTH #1: Unions protect the little guy against Big Business.
    TRUTH: That may have been so in the beginning, but it is no longer so. Today, Big Unions ARE Big Business. All city and state employees are unionized. It is the business of unions to increase membership numbers and maximize the income of individual members. Ergo, the bigger and more bloated the government payroll is, the better the unions like it. Some believe that the Mayor and the Council don’t run this city–the unions do. When union bosses sit across the bargaining table and “negotiate” a binding contract with elected officials — officials paid for by that same union’s funds — taxpayers need to understand that the outcome is stacked from the outset.
    MYTH #2: The DWP is a public utility owned by the people of Los Angeles.
    TRUTH: The DWP is a taxpayer-subsidized energy monopoly. Monopolies protect their own interests. From the moment solar energy technology was invented it was only a matter of time before energy monopolies figured out way to corner the market on solar energy production and use. Proposition B is nothing less than a blatant attempt by the DWP/IBEW to annihilate competition and corner the Los Angeles solar energy market.
    MYTH #3: Everything GREEN is good.
    TRUTH: Green is not a religion. Green is not a solution. Green is not even a coherent philosophy. Green is just a color. It’s the color of money and the color of camouflage. Slap a green label on something, we’re all expected to genuflect. Eco-activists have been tricking out NIMBY issues in green garb for so long that they’ve become self-deluded and can no longer recognize business-as-usual if it’s wearing a green dress and sporting a solar cell hat.
    MYTH #4: The California proposition system is grassroots democracy in action.
    TRUTH: The California proposition system is end-run lawmaking through private legislation. That sacred cow, Prop 13, started a trickle that has turned into a flood of bad, but popular, law. The only way to stop it is for California voters to vote NO on ALL propositions (no matter how tempting). The only proposition I’d vote YES for is a proposition to end propositions.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Los Angeles City Council
    On December 16 and 17, 2008 the Council is “Awaiting a Quorum for council members who were late.
    Here’s a snap shot of what was said as several constituents spoke on non-agenda items on December 16, 2008.
    One constituent spoke how Controller Chick has a job to do, but the Council is not allowing her to do her job. This is as bad as Illinois. Council member Alarcon got in office because the other two people backed off, but they have good jobs now.
    A second constituent complained how one needs three dollars in change for parking meters near city hall, for one hour parking.
    A third constituent asked the council, “Did you do the best for the constituents this year?” People are getting tired of the same nonsense. Ms. Chick I know you need to raise $100,000. If one hundred thousand people could give one dollar toward the $100,000 that Ms. Chick needs. The constituent had the first dollar and asked if he could give this dollar to one of the officers. Council President Eric Garcetti advised the constituent that he could give the money symbolically to Zuma Dogg. He will spend it well or Matt Dowd to put it in the meters (Garcetti remarks were not necessary and needs to practice what he preaches). Where was Deputy City Attorney Dion O’Connell?

  9. ellen vukovich says:

    I have often said to people that if each resident/household gave just at least $100 to a candidate of their choosing (running for city council)that would have a profound impact on who rules city hall. Obviously, this community based fund raising would have to be a coordinated effort. Of course, all of this was before the big “R” impacting all fund raising attempts, etc.
    In a perfect world, it would be nice to follow the money right to people.
    As far as Obama is concerned, let’s give the guy a chance…we need that hope right now.

  10. ellen vukovich says:

    I have often said to people that if each resident/household gave just at least $100 to a candidate of their choosing (running for city council)that would have a profound impact on who rules city hall. Obviously, this community based fund raising would have to be a coordinated effort. Of course, all of this was before the big “R” impacting all fund raising attempts, etc.
    In a perfect world, it would be nice to follow the money right to people.
    As far as Obama is concerned, let’s give the guy a chance…we need that hope right now.

  11. Anonymous says:

    “MYTH #4: The California proposition system is grassroots democracy in action.
    TRUTH: The California proposition system is end-run lawmaking through private legislation. That sacred cow, Prop 13, started a trickle that has turned into a flood of bad, but popular, law. The only way to stop it is for California voters to vote NO on ALL propositions (no matter how tempting). The only proposition I’d vote YES for is a proposition to end propositions.”
    I agree with Anon’s first three myths but need to
    give some advice on Propositions. The answer is not to take away our only chance to audit what is going in City Hall is to be able to vote our
    opinion. But we need to vote.
    As for Prop 13, that was extremely important for any of us some 40 years ago and actually still is. Prop 13 did not set the property tax at 1 percent of assessed valuation lightly. The rates were going sky high and 1 % was a tax break. Now that property values have gotten so high, 1 percent seems outrageous to all today.
    And it is. We need another proposition to reset the tax rate to 1/4 percent – or the assessor needs to scale down the assessments to more realistic values. A $500,000 home probably should be assessed not at the purchase price but at some realistic figure like $250,000. 1% of that would half of the current tax rate. Since houses may go down further in value, the assessments should be changed as well. TH

  12. Matt Dowd says:

    Matt Dowd’s first comment on this site. {because Mayor Sam censors comments].
    First of all, nice thread Ron Kaye.
    Second, they’ll never stick you with court costs, not until they ‘prove’ you were duplicitous in the ballot argument. and I don’t think you have been. you guys been around way too long to have to resort to ‘garcettiness’.
    Finally, thanks to anonymous above who reports about the parking meter comments I made. its actually a 100% increase. I used to put in 6 quarters to get an hour. Now its 12!!!!!
    that’s 25c for 5 minutes. and now I see so many parking spaces vacant. dumb antonio just pushed everyone into the private parking lots. goodbye to the revenue. and you can pay the parking lot guy with folding.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Is Caroline Kennedy entitled?
    By Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post
    Posted: 12/18/2008 06:56:48 PM PST
    “I don’t know what Caroline Kennedy’s qualifications are. Except that she has name recognition, but so does J-Lo.”
    - Rep. Gary Ackerman, D-N.Y.
    Yes, the Founders were not democrats. They believed in aristocracy. But their idea was government by natural – not inherited – aristocracy, an aristocracy of “virtue and talents,” as Jefferson put it.
    And yes, of course, we have our own history of dynamic succession: Adamses and Harrisons, and in the last century, Roosevelts, Kennedys and Bushes. Recently, we’ve even branched out into Argentine-style marital transmission, as in the Doles and the Clintons.
    Nor is Ms. Kennedy alone in her sense of entitlement. Vice President-elect Biden’s Senate seat will now be filled by Edward Kaufman, a family retainer whom no one ever heard of before yesterday. And no one will hear from after two years, at which time Kaufman will dutifully retire. He understands his responsibility: Keep the Delaware Senate seat warm for two years until Joe’s son returns from Iraq to assume his father’s mantle.
    This, of course, is the Kennedy way. In 1960, John Kennedy’s Senate seat was given to his Harvard roommate, one Ben Smith II (priceless name). He stayed on for two years – until Teddy reached the constitutional age of 30 required to succeed his brother.
    In light of the pending dynastic disposition of the New York and Delaware Senate seats, the Illinois way is almost refreshing. At least Gov. Rod Blagojevich (allegedly) made Barack Obama’s seat democratically open to all. Just register the highest bid, eBay style.
    http://www.dailybreeze.com/opinions/ci_11265953?source=rss

  14. David Berger says:

    There are reports that Garcetti shared the “risky” memo with only a few other council members – isn’t that a Brown Act violation?

  15. Anonymous says:

    Los Angelenos, like all Americans are dumb.
    They are too stupid to see that the live under Collectivism.
    Officialdom is the realm in which they live, run by and for the Political Class.
    American-style Collectivism isn’t like the old-style Soviet Communism. No.
    Corporatism is the name of American Collectivism.
    However, the true enemy is every street-level Los Angelenos, every street-level American who sells his soul, willingly, for a few crumbs of Political Class largesse, a bribe, typically in the form of welfare or a government related job.

  16. Smack MacDougal says:

    Los Angelenos, like all Americans are dumb.
    They are too stupid to see that the live under Collectivism.
    Officialdom is the realm in which they live, run by and for the Political Class.
    American-style Collectivism isn’t like the old-style Soviet Communism. No.
    Corporatism is the name of American Collectivism.
    However, the true enemy is every street-level Los Angelenos, every street-level American who sells his soul, willingly, for a few crumbs of Political Class largesse, a bribe, typically in the form of welfare or a government related job.

  17. Smack MacDougal says:

    Los Angelenos, like all Americans are dumb.
    They are too stupid to see that the live under Collectivism.
    Officialdom is the realm in which they live, run by and for the Political Class.
    American-style Collectivism isn’t like the old-style Soviet Communism. No.
    Corporatism is the name of American Collectivism.
    However, the true enemy is every street-level Los Angelenos, every street-level American who sells his soul, willingly, for a few crumbs of Political Class largesse, a bribe, typically in the form of welfare or a government related job.

  18. Anonymous says:

    DWP post is just a second job for Cindy Montanez
    The former assemblywoman may keep her six-figure state appeals board position in addition to a new utilities gig.
    By David Zahniser
    June 07, 2008
    Former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez made a splash earlier this week when the head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced that he was hiring her as his special advisor at a cost of $12,500 per month.
    But even as she began a job that could pay her up to $150,000 per year, the DWP general manager H. David Nahai said today that he also wants Montanez to keep her other post – as a member of the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, which pays $130,000 annually.
    Montanez was named to the state board last year by then-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-L.A.), a few months after she dropped out of a Los Angeles City Council race against then-Assemblyman Richard Alarcon. In addition to the state appointment, MayorAntonio Villaraigosa – who had endorsed Alarcon – put Montanez on the city’s Planning Commission, a volunteer post.
    The city utility’s hiring of Montanez, reported earlier this week by the Los Angeles Daily News, was spelled out in a news release Thursday by the DWP. The release said that Montanez “also has served as commissioner for the City of Los Angeles’ Planning Department and state commissioner for the State of California, Unemployment Insurance Appeals.”
    The release did not mention that Montanez could possibly keep the latter post.
    Officials said that City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo is trying to determine whether there are rules barring Montanez from staying on the state board. Still, Nahai said that state officials have already concluded that Montanez will have no conflict of interest if she holds both jobs.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/07/local/me-dwp7

  19. Anonymous says:

    DWP post is just a second job for Cindy Montanez
    The former assemblywoman may keep her six-figure state appeals board position in addition to a new utilities gig.
    By David Zahniser
    June 07, 2008
    Former Assemblywoman Cindy Montanez made a splash earlier this week when the head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power announced that he was hiring her as his special advisor at a cost of $12,500 per month.
    But even as she began a job that could pay her up to $150,000 per year, the DWP general manager H. David Nahai said today that he also wants Montanez to keep her other post – as a member of the state’s Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, which pays $130,000 annually.
    Montanez was named to the state board last year by then-Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-L.A.), a few months after she dropped out of a Los Angeles City Council race against then-Assemblyman Richard Alarcon. In addition to the state appointment, MayorAntonio Villaraigosa – who had endorsed Alarcon – put Montanez on the city’s Planning Commission, a volunteer post.
    The city utility’s hiring of Montanez, reported earlier this week by the Los Angeles Daily News, was spelled out in a news release Thursday by the DWP. The release said that Montanez “also has served as commissioner for the City of Los Angeles’ Planning Department and state commissioner for the State of California, Unemployment Insurance Appeals.”
    The release did not mention that Montanez could possibly keep the latter post.
    Officials said that City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo is trying to determine whether there are rules barring Montanez from staying on the state board. Still, Nahai said that state officials have already concluded that Montanez will have no conflict of interest if she holds both jobs.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2008/jun/07/local/me-dwp7

  20. Anonymous says:

    If this is true:
    “This is the biggest solar energy initiative in American history and there has been no planning, no public debate, not even a semblance of democracy.”
    Would that be a breach of public official’s duty to disclose details on matters that the public has the right to disclosure? (You said,”there has been no planning, no public debate, not even a semblance of democracy.”)
    Fraud seems to be established by these elements (Check with a lawyer on definition of fraud)(1) Intentionally mislead or to defraud (2) The public is defrauded (3) The misleading is the cause of the fraud.
    I think you can ask your lawyer to DEMUR AND MOTION TO STRIKE COMPLAINT. (That is, even if what the plaintiff alleges is true fact, the defendants are not liable for facts complained of ( I guess the plaintiff complained of defamation by libel?) for the truth is that “there has been no planning, no public debate, not even a semblance of democracy.”
    Proof of truth is a defense against complaint for defamation.
    Anonymous

  21. Rehoboth has the best beaches!

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