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City Hall’s Solar Energy Fraud Revealed

The City Hall political machine’s mouthpiece, attorney Stephen Kaufman, is dragging community activists who oppose Proposition B — the solar energy fraud measure — into court this morning to challenge most of their argument on the March 3 ballot.

Kaufman — who has long represented the mayor and boasts his clients include the City Attorney, a majority of the City Council, powerful city unions, numerous Democratic Party politicians, several insider institutions and Clear Channel billboards — filed a 15-page petition demanding opponents’ arguments be watered down and that they pay court costs and attorney fees.

He is representing Mitchell Schwartz, president of the League of Conservation Voters, one of the environmental groups that have signed on in support of Prop. B, which “which calls for unionized DWP workers to install solar panels on rooftops and parking lots across the city,”’ accordiing to the L.A. Times.


A copy of the petition was turned over Thursday afternoon to DWP
Committee activist Jack Humphreville, who wrote the “No on B” argument,
just hours before the Times published an article revealing that city
officials concealed a consultant’s highly critical study of the plan.

The
story by David Zahniser said  an analysis by a city-hired consulting
firm “called the solar plan ‘extremely risky’ and considerably more
expensive than was being portrayed” by the DWP.

“Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller warned Garcetti that the solar
measure could result in ‘substantial increases’ to the electricity
bills of DWP customers,” Zahniser reported.

“Neither Miller nor Garcetti made those findings part of the public record.”In the mad rush to get the measure on the ballot, he couincil
unanimously approved Prop. B without knowing that information except
for a few like Wendy Greuel who “concluded that the DWP had answered
all the questions raised by it” Of course, the DWP never saw the report
so it’s hard to see how they answered all the questions. The public
never knew anything about it until now which made public hearings such
as they were a farce.

Nonetheless, Kaufman accuses those who
signed the opposition argument — a group that I’m proud to be part of
– of “false and misleading statements.”

Speacifically, he
complains about the statement that there were no public hearings on the
measure even though the public had no details about the plan or
knowledge of the consultant’s critical report when perfunctory hearings
were held.

He complains about statements alleging the DWP union,
the IBEW, will get all the work and it will cost the public hundreds of
millions of dollars when that’s exactly what he does. He was even
developed by an IBEW front group and bought into by City Hall because
the union funds their political campaigns.

It will be
interesting to see how Judge David Yaffe handles his arguments when the
city’s own argument for Prop. B contains such false and misleading
statements as the measure creates good jobs with good benefits without
mentioning they are all IBEW jobs.

Or that it protects
ratepayers and solar energy will turn out to be cheaper than fossil
fuel energy when it’s three times as expensive now — and the
consultant’s report says it could lead to a 12 percent increase in
electricity rates.

Or that it will “save lives” in L.A. by
making the air cleaner when even if all the all the solar energy
envisioned by Prop. B were to come on line, it would just keep pace
with demand caused by the city’s densification efforts so there won’t
be less fossil fuel burned in L.A.

Or even the totally falso
claim that Prop. B will make L.A. a center for the solar energy
technology industry when the worst thing about it is that it will do
exactly the opposite — keep L.A. from being the capital of solar
energy innovation since the measure relies on silicon panels that will
almost entirely have to imported from other countries.

I’ll
concede there’s political hyperbole on both sides of this but the far
more important question is the council didn’t have the facts, the
public didn’t have the facts and Garcetti deliberately hid the truth
from the public

In a Nov. 4 e-mail obtained by The Times, as reported by Zahniser, “Miller told Garcetti that he
entered into a ‘quick contract with a very reputable firm’ to study the
solar plan at Garcetti’s request.

“He offered to keep the analysis from
other council members even as he complained that DWP officials had
failed to do their own thorough analysis of the measure. ‘It concerns
me greatly that the department did not come forward with this
information themselves, Miller wrote. ‘It would have been as available
to them as it was to me.’

“Miller later concluded: ‘Since this
request came directly from you, I am not sharing this with
[Councilwoman] Wendy [Greuel] or the other members until you clear it.’

At
the start I called Prop. B a fraud and the evidence is now clear that
it is. The ballots aren’t printed or finalized. The council should come
back into session and withdraw it until a real plan is put in place
that achieves the clean energy we all want at the lowest cost with the
best technology and with a strategy to make L.A. the capital of the
soler energy industry.

Garcetti and Miller can play down this
report and claim the entirely phony and baseless DWP report
whitewashing the costs and problems with Prop. B is valid. But that
doesn’t make it true.

We don’t know the truth. The
environmentalists were sold a bill of goods and ought to take a hard
look at this and demand something that really moves us forward toward a
cleaner and healthier future.

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

15 Responses to City Hall’s Solar Energy Fraud Revealed

  1. Dear Mr. Kaye,
    I read your piece in the Daily News about a week ago regarding the future of newspapers and I agree the future looks difficult.
    I comment here on that since it seemed the best way to reach you quickly.
    It would be a tragedy to lose all these local news gathering capabilities and the opportunity for some local focus which newspapers have provided.
    I forward to you below a strategy for saving these functions and the Newspaper’s behind them which popped into my mind while considering an alliance of Chagora (see FAQ) with Politics4All with whom I am in early discussions.
    For Additional Info on Chagora concept, biz model, monetization, etc:
    http://www.Chagora.com/faq
    http://CulturalEngineer.blogspot.com
    http://profile.to/culturalengineer/
    http://www.YouTube.com/CulturalEngineer
    P.S. I’d very much appreciate a chance to talk to you. Especially about how Los Angeles’ arthritic political structure could be a great place for a test case and lead to success for SLAP!
    ———- Forwarded message ———-
    From: Thomas Crowl
    Date: Wed, Dec 17, 2008 at 12:18 PM
    Subject: CONGRATS & An Idea!
    To: Politics4All/Thomas Cook , Politics4All/Stephen Morris
    Cc: John Battelle , HyTechPro/Rajeev Gupta
    Dear Mr. Cook,
    First of all, a very Big Congratulations to Politics4All for winning the Mashable open web award People’s choice Award!
    It’s got to be a great feeling after long, dedicated work and make the Holidays even more cheerful.
    Now, being the driven entrepreneur I’ll dive right in…
    In addition to the matters we’ve discussed there’s another idea that just seems too exciting to wait on mentioning.
    I believe by combining Politics4All’s existing and anticipated functions with the Chagora model’s neutral Political MicroDonation CATALYZING the User’s persistant Pooled-User-Determined (P.U.D.) Account attractive for all the user/donor’s Political AND Charitable contribution and NOT monetized in the transaction…
    (here comes the NEW angle)
    it forms an economic model that can save the newspaper industry (local-independent news gathering centers) and bootstrap both of us. And by preserving local centers under a viable business model serves to inhibit news concentration.
    Or another way to look at it is:
    I believe the waning Subscription base of the newspaper industry…
    could be attracted to NEW Online Versions (with weekly hardcopy) and anchored by a User/Subscriber’s P.U.D. Account offering the established local news gathering features and other functions they now perform but also connect the User to a localized neutral Civic Space enhanced with electoral/geographic networking facilitation and local political and charitable activity…
    as well as connecting the User/Donor/Subscriber to the rest of the network of local and national news centers…
    under a for-profit structure supported by advertising, charity/corporate sponsorships, campaign/charity services etc (with enhanced opportunities for LOCAL businesses, services and potential leaders to reach their own neighborhoods)
    and with substantial Donor/User profit participation.
    And leads to beneficial civic result as well as viability for the entity established.
    It, in fact, should lead to a better balance between the individual and the commons.
    At least it seems like it’s worth a shot to me!
    I’ll bet you a $1 people will like it!
    And a User’s account need not be funded to exist or have utility!
    P.S. If public funding of elections is ever established, it will work best through such a system where a small amount would go to each citizen appropriate for a given race and the individual would make contribution directly rather than having some government entity allocate.
    Anyway…
    Food for thought over the Holidays!
    cc: John Battelle (inspired by something on his blog) and Rajeev Gupta (HyTechPro)

    Tom Crowl
    Civilization Systems LLC
    CulturalEngineer@gmail.com

  2. Jack Humphreville says:

    This is just the tip of the iceberg.
    How did the ballot measure get so far without any input from DWP? 20 days start to finish. Actually, it was a done deal the day it was introduced. They spent more time on the elephants.
    There were no committee meetings to discuss this $3.6 billion project, the largest in DWP history and maybe the city’s history. And with the IBEW hard at work, that cost is porobably way low. Remember the cost of DWP work crews v private contractors on the water trunk lines back in April 2007. Twice as expensive and twice as long.
    No wonder DWP and the IBEW want a charter amendment: eliminate competition, no benchmarking.
    No on Prop B.

  3. neighborhoodwatchbear says:

    Let’s hope the judge understands that Kaufman is trying to put an end to First Amendment protected politcal free speech and freedom of the press.
    Please keep us posted Ron.

  4. davidr2b says:

    Lets not forget the Judge who will be hearing these arguments. Judge David Yaffe is the very same that first heard the complaints that Proposition R (remember that one: ETHICS ETHICS ETHICS and we also want another 4 year term of office) was unconstitutional as per California State Law about putting two unrelated items in one voting instrument.
    Judge Yaffe even after being told, by Rocky the City Attorney, that the Ethics portion of Prop R did not require a citizen vote, went ahead and advised that the Prop was satisfactory to put on the Ballot. Judge Yaffe works for the City Council and the Mayor, not the citizens of Los Angeles.
    I’m sure the folks at the IBEW have talked to the Judge and have advised him that the Union will not support him the next time he’s up for re-election if he does not support
    Attorney Stephen Kaufman.

  5. AnonymouslyYours says:

    It’s always something with these guys.
    They’re ethically challenged-ness is borderline criminal, if not totally criminal.
    Their lists of obfuscations, outright lies and law-breaking is endless, including:
    Prop. R, billboards, the mayor’s secret Gang of 50 anti-gang program appointees, solar panels, sweetheart deals for pals, playing musical political chairs, et al…
    Until the voters wise up and turn them all out of office, or they’re caught on tape like Gov. Blago of Illinois, nothing is going to change.
    Considering how apathetic, or dumb, or so wrapped up in their own problems L.A. voters are…there’s a better chance of them getting caught on tape before anything changes.

  6. Sandy Sand says:

    The Times article didn’t say, but who gets the largess of these solar panels? City buildings? My house?
    If it’s all City-owned property we’re really stuck with a big bill. We don’t even know if they’re buying the best quality panels from the best company at the best price, or they’re buying panels from re-made scraps from LAUSD’s payroll computers.

  7. spiffy says:

    Ron,
    Can you tell us if the coming Federal funds are going to be subsidizing any of these solar panels?
    I think the solar panels on roof tops of public buildings are long overdue. I have another idea too.
    Solar panels should be required on every new building in L.A. Ron, you say you have a beef with the developers. May I suggest you ask them to cover part of your DWP bill with required solar panels on their buildings.

  8. Dave 4LA says:

    Congrats for making them show their true colors. Is is too late to be included as a defendant?
    Remember Attorney Stephen Kaufman is the Mayors Treasurer and was part of the group who pushed Prop R forward. He alos represented the League of Women Voters and LA Area Chamber at the Appellate hearing for Prop R.
    If there is Defense Fund, please count on me for $500.00 now and another $500.00 next month.
    David Hernandez

  9. Anonymous says:

    Dear Spiffy,
    Regarding this Proposition, it would take a change in Federal law, and that is one thing the City will try to make happen. Of course that can’t happen for a year or two, if ever, and DWP ratepayer money would be spent in the meantime.
    I’m all for solar, but at what price? Even DWP says that this photovoltaic rooftop solar is twice as expensive as utility grade thermal solar. That’s probably why more than a dozen of those huge solar plants are in the works throughout the state, and it should be obvious that’s why there is, relatively speaking, so little rooftop solar throughout the United States.
    You really should read the PA Consulting report on this, available from Councilman Garcetti’s office.

  10. Sandy Sand says:

    Anonymous 1:04 a.m.: What should happen is Ron or “L.A.Weekly” or someone should post the PA Consulting report on their Web sites, so we can all read it rather than individually go to Garcetti. Post a permanent link to it, too, so it’s always there for reference.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Hooray for Ron. Here’s his link for the PA Consulting report.
    http://ronkayela.com/Solar_initiative_packet.pdf

  12. BOB FOCOSI says:

    http://www.infrastructureacadmy.org ,a program done under the REDI collaborative funded in part by the DWP and SCG and presumably done by them & under 3 additional grants, that; were to go to do it, but, where allegedly passed instead to LAUSD for this, (to this writer’s knowledge),for some unknown purpose.
    The IBEW has a pleasant rep on committee that meets at LATT with VP of Academic Affairs.
    The acadamy’s intention is to get students attention from local high schools in their sophmore years from LAUSD schools, initially; many from Santee HIGH, close to LATT; and engage them, in learning about opportunities by spending extra time after schoool and on Saturdays with the LIKE of Mayor V & presedent Garcetti escorting them to Tehachapi to see where new wind farms will be built, and the Sepulveda basin to see where cleaning up waste water billion dollar efforts are or will be underway.( or to places where they can jump off of high areas strapped with vest and slde down hi wires to safety.to kick up their adrenaline).
    ie To keep them engaged and cherry pick the interested students for potential jobs to replace the 50% of retiring employees, now with DWP in top IBEW dollar jobs.
    Designed to start in Sophmore year & summers and with placement interning or on the job in their or after their, senior year ( or encourage them into technical college programs, and later jobs.
    While starting with presumed or stated 600 candidates, the first class dropped quickly to around 45,or less, and; a second and third class may have been being developed at CSU LA and Soutwest college, since JAN 2008.
    The VP of LATT Academic Affairs has been reported to have commented at a ELA Skills center meeting on Greening Education Work force projects planning, that; we are not really getting the attention of students, ie they are not flocking to our programs.
    Lots of money, low return. Kis really aren’t overly interested.
    LATT is setting up a solar program now,to start Sept 2008, like the one at ELA Skills; which while developed and dedicated is really not as funded well as they would like, ie enough to do adeqately, what needss to be done.
    The old technology they use is hard flat solar photovoltaic hooked through inverters to control flow of electricities and meter it.
    There is newer-ish solar plastic like sheets that can be placed on flat roofs like roofing, maybe serving both purposes, and creates the same or maybe even more electricity, with installers being roofers like in their training.
    It was already installed in San Diego schools doing the job for a few years now.
    The point being Prop B as presented is not balancing and considering all that needs to be considered.
    Unions have controlled the entry into skilled trades, imho, for too long Without having donme all the research, I would expect that feveloping of the training at the detail level is done under sweetheart contracts by IBEW with taxpayers paying for it.
    An aside, the money to plaaned to back academy and possibly lost, is being loaned from another Not for profit working out of the mayors office until new sources are possibly found.
    All the best of intentions, but all the directions and misdirections that can be found.

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