The Election Nobody Was Supposed to Care About

EDITOR’S NOTE: Join the Political Ad Truth Squad. It’s nearly election day and it’s getting real, news developments, charges and ads and ads and ads. Post your comments on the messages you’re seeing on TV and in the mail and email lto links to videos and other material that you see as defining the closing days of the campaign.

The blitz is on — for an election nobody was supposed to care about.

The City Hall political machine was supposed to have their way with us. But in the final week of the election that nobody was supposed to care, we find the shoo-in insiders campaigning for their lives or at least their political careers.

The mayor himself who could wind up with sunburn from Measure B is racing around town in a bus trying to drum up votes so he doesn’t wind up with less than 60 percent of vote when he’s challenged only by the likes of Walter Moore, Zuma Dogg and David Hernandez.

Wendy Greuel is so afraid she might lose to city watchdog Nick Patsaouras that she just gave her campaign $110,000 of her own money and compromised her integrity and ability to actually do the job of City Controller by taking $200,000 from the IBEW. You might remember Greuel sponsored Measure B, championed it through City Council at breakneck speed without knowing anything about it except that it gave the IBEW a monopoly on all the jobs of a $3 billion solar program.

And when you talk about desperate, there’s nobody like Jack Weiss. Here’s a guy who never actually gets anything done and annoys even the people who like him and he’s spending day and night dialing for campaign dollars so he can fill our TV screens and mailboxes with attack ads aimed at Michael Amerian, an assistant City Attorney who Weiss wants to boss around all day when he’s formally crowned the City Attorney.

Why Amerian? Because Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich is going to come in first and Amerian is running ahead of Weiss, which would leave him out of the runoff and leave the mayor and police chief without anyone to uncork and pour fine bottles of wine for them.

Who would have thought when back room deals were being cut, when environmental groups were being seduced with cheap promises and business and labor intimidated, that the dominant issue in the election nobody was supposed to care about would be solar energy, the one thing we can all agree on?

The Big Mistake in a campaign that is nothing but one Big Lie after another was the decision to sue the Solar 8 over the No on Measure B ballot argument.

It brought hundreds of community activists together like never before. City Attorney candidate Noel Weiss rode to the rescue of the Solar 8 and the judge laughed the big shots out of court, saying Measure B was so vague and contradictory and the process so flawed you could say just about anything you wanted about it and not be lying or misleading.

Their intimidation gave us a focus and the more we learned about Measure B, the more we understood how it is nothing but a blank check for higher rates and dirty deals, nothing but pie-in-the-sky promises from the DWP, IBEW and City Hall that have failed to deliver on one promise after another for clean energy and good jobs.

Now business and labor and every community group in the city that has taken a stand are opposed to Measure B.

This is the election nobody was supposed to care about. If you don’t care,  you get what you deserve. If you do care, then this is the election where you can make a difference.

Protest the re-election of Antonio Villaraigosa by voting for any other candidate.

Deny Jack Weiss a place in the runoff for City Attorney.

Elect Patsaouras who has the courage, the experience and the passion to live up to the tradition of public service that Controller Laura Chick has established.

And understand this even if you disagree with me on everything else: Defeat Measure B and you change the entire political dynamic of LA. You will open the doors and windows of City Hall to transparency, you will give the people a seat at the table of power, you will guarantee that political games and personal agendas take a back seat to the public interest.

Those are new rules of the game articulated by the President of the United States. Those are our rights as Americans.

Do you care enough to vote?

Jack Weiss Running Third, Measure B Too Close to Call — Panic at City Hall

The word leaking out of City Hall is that poor Jack Weiss has awakened from his long smug slumber and is having a panic attack at the very real possibility of finishing out of the money in the City  Attorney’s race.

Nobody inside the leaky City Hall political2007-05-recalljack.jpg machine actually likes or respects Jackie Boy — except maybe Chief Bratton who enjoys sending him out for coffee and other errands — so the news that Carmen “Nuch” Trutanich and Michael Amerian might make the May runoff and not Jack is getting more laughs than tears.

Tears are, however, being shed over the prospects that Measure B — the ultimate pay-to-play money machine — will fail.

Let me repeat that a little louder: MEASURE B IS NOW A TOSSUP, TOO CLOSE TO CALL, 50-50!

That’s right, your vote on Tuesday could change the whole political dynamic in LA, send City Hall the message that the people are fed up with failure and self-service and will no longer tolerate a government of, by and for special interests.

Make no mistake: Clean energy and green jobs is something that has support from everyone — something that everyone has wanted for a decade or longer. But Measure B is on the verge of being rejected by a majority of voters on Tuesday because it is so bad, because it doesn’t do anything to create clean energy or green jobs as it claims. Because we want clean government, too.

Millions of dollars being spent to con the public are being beaten by a grassroots citizens campaign that has nothing but the truth on its side and the energy of hundreds of community activists who care about the future of LA when all their elected officials care about is themselves and the special interests that keep them in office as the nation’s highest paid municipal officials in America.

Virtually everyone who has listened to both sides of the Measure B debate or read what both sides of the debate have to say have come to the same conclusion: Measure B is a fraud.

That’s the conclusion reached by the LA TImes, Daily News and the Breeze; by labor organizations like the Carpenters Union and Laborers Union; business groups like the LA Chamber, Apartment Owners association, United Chambers of the Valley, VICA, by every homeowner and resident group and  Neighborhood Council and NC coalition that put it to a vote, which is most of them.

There’s a lot reasons why Controller Laura Chick says Measure B “stinks.”

It’s a boondoggle that was put together in back room deals. Critical information was kept secret from the City Council and the public. It was ramrodded through the council in three weeks without any meaningful debate, without ever being brought before Neighborhood Councils or the DWP Commission as required by the City Charter. The DWP management has done no analysis, planning or studies of its feasibility, costs or financing.

As if those are not enough reasons to vote against Measure B, try this: It’s a Charter Amendment that undermines every safeguard against graft and waste with the exception of annual unfunded audits by the City Controller and oversight by a hand-picked commission appointed by the mayor and council who can’t wait to get their hands on the billions of dollars in public money Measure B would authorize.

The trouble with that oversight is if Wendy Greuel beats NIck Patsaouras for City Controller, the watchdog will be a lapdog. Greuel is an author of Measure B and if she wins she will owe her election to the IBEW, the union that represents 95 percent of DWP workers, and has lavished a fortune on her campaign.

Brian D’Arcy, the all-powerful head of the IBEW, actually Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for darcy.jpegwrote Measure B after doing everything in his power to block every attempt to bring solar energy to LA for the last decade.

But as the special interests who are funding the Yes campaign like to argue: Solar power is an idea whose time has come. Actually, it’s long past that time but who’s quibbling.

So D’Arcy’s play is to get a DWP monopoly on the $3.6 billion Measure B so only his union gets the jobs and to have a shot at getting any other jobs that might flow out of the other solar programs the DWP has suddenly slapped together to try to get this passed.

We can do so much better than Measure B.

Environmentalists, the solar industry, experts in technology and finance, the DWP, the public and others could sit down on March 4 and develop a plan that gets us clean energy faster and cheaper than Measure B and actually brings solar manufacturing and research facilities to our region.

The choice is clear. The outcome depends on who shows up to vote. There’s no excuses in this election. You can put Jack Weiss on the scrap heap of the city’s political history. You can trash Measure B and join the rest of the world by joining the clean energy movement. You can even keep Wendy Greuel in her place on the City Council and put someone into the Controller’s office who will carry on the tradition of Laura Chick.

LA Weekly Blockbuster: Wretched Excess at City Hall

Los Angeles on $300,000 a year

Why next week’s City Council “coronation” will cost you far more than money

Those are the headlines on lacouncil.jpg
Patrick Range McDonald’s
devastating story in the LA
about what the princes and princesses who serve on the City Council are really paid in salary and perks — and how little they do to earn it.

Filled with telling detail, McDonald condemns “the council’s double standards for itself, its frequent hypocrisy and
its continual self-congratulations for performing “services” and
official favors that subvert municipal processes…”

Here’s the heart of the story:

“With the highest city council salaries in the nation, at $178,789 per
year, Los Angeles City Council is possibly the highest-paid elected
city body on the planet. Its pay far outstrips that of councils in
costlier New York City, whose members earn a mere $112,500, and San
Francisco, whose members earn $95,868. Los Angeles council members earn
about 70 percent more than the piddling pay of the Chicago City
Council, at $110,556…

“The L.A. City Council salaries are not just overinflated in an era of
belt-tightening. They are only a hair below the salaries of Congress,
and are higher than those of federal judges. They amount to a
staggering 400 percent of Los Angeles’ median household income of
$46,000 — and no other city council, in cities poor or rich, comes even
close to that troubling disparity between public servant and the

“Each council member enjoys a free car, maintenance and gas costing
$6,000 to $15,000 annually (Garcetti’s electric-car lease costs
taxpayers $3,900 but saves on fuel); each gets a petty-cash fund of
$5,000; and each receives a dubious, $100,000, yearly taxpayer-financed
slush fund, which amounts to walking-around money that they can dole
out to anyone — family members or gangbangers if they choose — as long
as they don’t spend it on religious proselytizing or political races.”

LA Times: Vote no on Charter Amendment B

Editor’s Note: Here’s the full LA Times editorial on Measure B.

The proposed charter amendment and ordinance proposition is less about solar energy than it is a grab for political power.

Set aside, for a moment, the secretive and rushed process to get the
March 3 solar power charter amendment commonly known as Measure B on
the ballot, the disingenuous campaign for it and the outrageous
attempts to make voters equate this measure with the city’s entire
solar energy program. The question The Times sought to answer in the
weeks it has examined the measure was whether, if passed, it would
leave Los Angeles and its residents better off than they would be
without it.

We conclude that it would not, and that it would in
fact undermine both the city’s solar energy efforts and its political
oversight and accountability. The Times urges a no vote on Measure B.

Let’s start with some
basics. First, despite false claims you’ll read in ballot arguments and
see on the city’s cable channel, the solar power to be created under
the program would not hasten the shutdown of any coal plant or
otherwise replace the fossil fuel burning that generates the city’s
electric power. It would generate power only when the sun is shining,
and although there is nothing wrong with that, that “peaking power”
would supplement, but could never replace, the noxious coal burning
that has long made the city’s energy so inexpensive. Department of
Water and Power officials acknowledge that.

Second, the warring
“studies” on the cost to ratepayers are inconclusive, no matter how the
campaigns try to spin them. Sunshine is free, but converting it to
usable electricity is not. DWP and union officials acknowledge that
solar power will likely never be as cheap as coal is today. But it’s
equally true that the cost of burning coal will soon rise to reflect
its effect on the environment. The most straightforward statement on
costs comes in the financial impact statement in your ballot, which
notes that the DWP would draft (and the City Council would approve or
modify) an implementation plan, and until then, “the specific costs and
financial benefits of the program cannot be determined.”

third: Much of what Measure B promises to deliver is good; The Times
wants it, and Los Angeles needs it. A program to produce at least 400
megawatts of power from the sunshinethat beats down on the
city’s rooftops makes perfect sense, and the DWP should get moving on
such a program. There’s also nothing wrong with trying to make the city
the capital of solar power generation and manufacturing, or with trying
to create new solar-related jobs.

But here’s the problem: Los Angeles can do all
of those things without Measure B. In fact, the DWP is already working
on programs to generate about 900 megawatts of solar power, and it
didn’t stop to ask voter permission. It should do the same with the 400
megawatts of in-basin rooftop energy.

So it ought to make voters
wonder: Why is Measure B on the ballot, if it’s not needed to produce
the energy? Proponents say they’re acting out of concern for full
disclosure and transparency. That’s simply laughable.

else is going on here. It’s a grab for power — the political kind, not
the solar stuff — by the City Council and the union that represents
DWP workers. That might be OK if it got the city its best possible
solar program, but it doesn’t. Measure B doesn’t even make clear what
the city’s solar program will be. It simply sets a goal, requires the
DWP to create a plan, then allows the City Council to adopt it or not,
as it sees fit.

The important parts are not in the ballot
arguments or the campaign literature. Measure B, if passed, would
transfer oversight of in-basin solar power from a five-member
commission, with at least a modicum of political independence, to the
City Council. But because the measure would allow the council to change
or suspend everything that’s in it, the council’s new authority would
not be accompanied by new accountability.

On the contrary, this
measure would give the council sweeping political cover. If it’s in the
council’s interest to proceed with the plan, it can claim voters told
them to do it. If it’s in the council’s interest to stop well short of
the 400 megawatts the voters think they’re getting, they can claim
voters told them to do it.

Meanwhile, instead of having
guaranteed themselves 400 megawatts of in-basin solar power, voters,
perhaps unwittingly, will have waded into the middle of an ongoing
policy battle over whether private enterprise could make solar energy
production more efficient by being allowed to sell or distribute excess
energy. Measure B would eliminate much of the private role. In so
doing, it would protect the city’s utility and its union jobs, and
that’s not necessarily a bad thing — but it’s not what most voters
believe they have been asked to decide.

This is an
extraordinarily bad way to make policy, and it is becoming typical of
the way Los Angeles operates — though Measure B breaks new ground in
hiding the truth from the public. It’s a City Hall measure presented as
though it were a voter-sponsored initiative to demand that city leaders
take some particular action. In fact, it’s the city leaders who crafted
this measure, supposedly to instruct themselves to do something, but in
fact to get preemptive absolution from the electorate.

Angeles can have smart solar power without a deceptive and rushed
charter amendment. The Times urges voters to reject this cynical
attempt to manipulate the policymaking process. Vote no on Measure B.

We Can Defeat Measure B: Top 10 Reasons to Vote NO

Editor’s Note: Listen to the Measure B today on KPCC’s Air Talk with Larry Mantle as Councilman Bill Rosendahl and I debate how to get solar energy in L.A. at the best price in the fastest time. Click on Air Talk or click here (airtalk.mp3 ).

We’re in the final days of a long political campaignmantle-airtalk.jpg that has seen community activists from Neighborhood Councils, residents groups, business and labor come together to try to defeat Measure B so we can finally get a solar energy — and not more hot air from City Hall and the DWP.

Even the mayor’s own polls show us within striking distance of pulling off a stunning upset to stop a phony proposal that is nothing more than a blank check to the people who have failed to deliver on promise after promise to deliver green energy and good jobs to Los Angeles.

They know their campaign is in trouble against all odds since there is nearly 100 percent support for solar energy but nearly everyone who actually listens to a discussion of their pie-in-the-sky promises and hears what’s wrong with Measure B as process and policy comes to the same conclusion: Let’s go back to the drawing boards and come up with a better plan than the drawn up in back room deals by insiders who only want to serve their own interests.

Measure B has become the hot button issue of this campaign because it is so seriously flawed that its supporters have only one argument: Solar energy at any price.

The truth is the solar industry, unions, business, the community and everyone else with a stake in the city’s future could come up with a better clean energy program well before the June 3 deadline the DWP has if Measure B passes to actually develop the plan it should have developed years ago.

Larry Mantle on KPCC’s Air Talk revisited the Measure B debate today inviting Brian D’Arcy who heads the DWP’s union, the IBEW, but he backed out. Councilman Bill Rosendahl who ardently supported Measure B, then decided he wasn’t sure and then decided he was for it again, took his place and discussed the issue with me but hung up early for what he said was important business in the City Council chamber. Listen to the show here (airtalk.mp3).

And here’s the Top 10 Reasons to Vote NO on Measure B from the VoteNoMeasureB website:

10) The success of Measure B depends on tax credits and depreciation
schemes that were “listed” by the IRS on October of ’08. In other
words, the plan’s success depends on “tax shelters” that are hardly
attractive to billion dollar investors.

9) The
number of DWP customers having their utilities disconnected for failure
to pay is at an all-time high. These are tough times economically for
everybody. Can we afford rate increases?

8) The DWP
commissioned the Huron report, (favorable to Measure B) while
dismissing the PA Consulting report (unfavorable to Measure B) all the
while ignoring their own DWP report that supports the unfavorable
findings of the PA Consulting report.

Suggestions that a multi-billion dollar program can be implemented with
only a $1 a month impact on the average customer requires us to accept
that the $20 million a year would somehow service the debt. This is
simply bad math.

6) The DWP’s most recent hiring
authorization resulted in 1000 jobs of which 76% remain unfilled. If
the DWP has so many open spots, why the suggestion that Measure B is
necessary for the creation of good jobs? It appears they have
difficulty filling the current openings.

5) With 5
other solar-certified unions standing by and ready to work, the
exclusive relationship with one union hardly seems like the most cost
effective approach to maintaining a competitive labor expense for the
proposed plan.

4) Suggestions by DWP management
that Measure B is necessary in order to lock in the plan through
transitions in City leadership are contradicted by reality. Measure B
actually allows the City Council to make revisions to the plan without
coming back to the people of Los Angeles. City Charter be damned!

Measure B does absolutely nothing to replace any of the fossil fuel
power generation plants now operating and any claims that Measure B
will reduce the air pollution in Los Angeles are simply false.

33 Neighborhood Councils stand in opposition to Measure B and are
joined by the LA County Republicans, the Progressive Democrats,
Chambers of Commerce, Unions, City Leadership and Political Candidates
and our City’s Watchdog, Controller Laura Chick who says “I will be
voting NO on Measure B, because I think the entire process of how it
ended up on the ballot stinks. I don’t think it’s been done in an open
and understandable, much less thoughtful, way.”

1) Measure B is a 3 Billion Dollar Boondoggle!

Apathy, Defeatism and the Solar-At-Any-Price Argument for Appeasement

The heart of the argument I hear over and over from people who intend to vote for Measure B is the moral equivalent of those who believe in peace at any price.

“I know,” they say, “everything you say is true. The DWP is a disaster and has failed in its promises to deliver solar energy. City Hall is a bad joke of corruption and incompetence. Measure B won’t clean the air. It will cost too much. But we just got to have solar.”

That’s the heart of the solar-at-any-price argument. It’s based on a fundamental belief that there’s nothing we can about the failure of our city government, people are too apathetic, they have too much money from special interests. So if we got to appease them by giving the DWP a monopoly on solar energy, it’s worth the price.

Joel Kotkin, the insightful critic of L.A. urban affairs, captures the sense of that in a sweeping article entitled “The Decline of Los Angeles” now online at It’s subtitled: “From real estate to unemployment, the city has suffered under Antonio Villaraigosa. So why is he getting re-elected?”

Kotkin quotes real estate developer Rick Caruso, one of L.A.’s last private sector power brokers who pulled out of the mayoral race at the filing deadline, ascribes
Villaraigosa’s lack of significant opposition to a growing sense of powerlessness, even among the city’s most
important business leaders.

“People feel it’s kind of hopeless. It’s a dysfunctional city,”
Caruso said. “They don’t think there’s anything to do.”

Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who wavered in his support of Measure B and now has emerged as its spokesman, sounded a similar tone during the discussion he and I had Monday night on Which Way LA? with Warren Olney on KCRW.

Rosendahl promised to be the public’s watchdog to make sure DWP delivers on the long list of promises being made for solar energy and to make sure the billions of public dollars it will cost are spent wisely.

Frankly, I think we have a lot better chance of defeating Measure B at the polls next Tuesday than seeing the City Council stand up to the DWP or the mayor on anything let alone when there are billions of dollars to be ripped off. End the apathy and defeatism. Vote No on Measure B and help restore hope to LA.

Daily News, Green Party Oppose Measure B; Laborers Union Members Confront DWP Officials

As momentum against Measure B continued to grow, the DWP — still claiming its a neutral information source — held a series of forums in the last few days around the city but attracted only a few dozen people, most of them protesters from Laborers Union 300.

The Laborers, like other unions of construction workers, feel the measure is a direct attack on them and their members because it gives a monopoly on solar installations to the DWP and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

Meanwhile, the Daily News came out strongly against Measure B on Sunday, saying it’s an unnecessary charter reform and was rushed to the ballot without adequate public discussion or knowledge of the costs.

The editorial said that “frankly, ratepayers have little reason to trust
an agency that has been hiking rates repeatedly in recent years, with
few results to show for the money.

“As well, this particular initiative would write into the
city charter a requirement that all solar work would be done by DWP’s
highly paid unionized workers — despite the fact that they don’t have
the skills to install and maintain solar panels…

What’s more, this measure would give the utility an
airtight excuse when residents start complaining about
higher-than-expected rate increases to cover the costs of the program:
“Hey, you guys voted for it.'”

Like the Daily News, the Times opposed Measure E, a charter amendment that gives City Hall a blank check to give businesses incentives without proper safeguards, but delayed announcing its position on Measure B until Thursday.

It said that despite serious concerns about the use of such charter amendments, Measure B is “a special case requiring extra attention” because of its “complex and controversial” nature.

In deciding to oppose Measure B, the Green Party of LA County noted the growing opposition from labor, business, community organizations, political groups and politicians.

The Green Party cited “violations of Social Justice concerns, of shortcomings in
Ecological Wisdom, of the absence of Grassroots Democracy, of the
imposition of a centralized framework over Decentralization, of
closed-bid rather than Community-Based Economics, of pitting union
against union, instead of Respect for Diversity, of cronyism, not
Personal and Global Responsibility, and misplaced and misguided Future

:Defeat of this top-down, anti-union,
payola underwritten Proposition does not stop solar development within
the City of Los Angeles. Measure B will be defeated and then we will
make a real plan for clean energy and clean government, with a place
for all Stakeholders at the table to refine it and move swiftly ahead.”

All Hands Aboard: Volunteer to Stop Measure B So We Can Get Solar Energy Faster, Cheaper, Better

Ten days to go o stop Measure B and we’re launching a massive mail and phone bank campaign so we need your help to put us over the top in what is going to be a close race.

A few hours on the phones can change minds and get people to the polls to stop this blank check for soaring electricity rates, put the lie to the pie-in-the-sky promises of the DWP that has failed to deliver on three major solar initiatives in the last decade and ensure that we get a real clean energy plan that actually gets the clean air we all want.

Here’s how to help:


or email me:

McIntyre’s Election Eve Party to Take Back LA

kabc.jpgKABC’s Doug McIntyre is mad as hell about Antonio’s political machine and he’s not going to take it any more — so let’s party on election eve, March 2.

“Join McIntyre as he rouses the rabble to turn out the vote and the political machine that�s run Los Angeles into the ground!   An election eve TAKE BACK THE CITY rally, LIVE, Monday, March 2nd from 6 � 10PM at the Four Points Sheraton Hotel at LAX!

“It�s time to stop bitchin� and start pitchin� the incumbents out of office!”

It�s Taxpayers vs the Unions! Homeowners vs the Developers! Democracy vs the Big Fix!  Say NO MAS to Illegal Alien Gang Bangers. Say YES to Jamiel�s Law. Say No to Villaraigosa, say YES to a FREE LOS ANGELES!   

Vote as many times as you want!