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
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.
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.
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.
is those jobs are all IBEW jobs — which are already paying 30 percent
or so more than comparable jobs in the private sector.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
this what Barack Obama stands for? Is this the kind of change he talked
about? Is this participatory democracy he promised us?
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?