A Call for Open and Transparent Government in LA

Editor’s Note: This contribution came from community activist Gary Baratta who urged
people to write, email or call their City Council member regarding the imposition on Neighborhood Council members of financial disclosure requirements as the price of opening legislative files for City Council consideration. Baratta is chairman of the
planning, land use, housing and transportation committee for the Mid-town North Hollywood Neighborhood Council.
The Power of One
 
By Gary Baratta


I had the privilege of fulfilling my ethics training on Saturday March 21st at the Van Nuys government center.  Tom Griego made everything crystal clear as to the do’s and don’ts of volunteerism as respects city government.
 
This ethics training is the law by which the neighborhood councils live on a daily basis.  As Tom produced screen after screen of the financial limitations on gifts, and elucidated on all the ways in which we as voluntary advisors could somehow become embroiled in a conflict of interest; I was struck by this thought:
 
How could members of City Council not become embroiled in conflicts of interest on a daily basis?  That’s a thoughtful discussion I’ll have on another occasion.
 
After the Valley Secession movement was defeated, the L.A. City Council decided to create a system of neighborhood councils which would “advise” them as watchdogs of the public trust.  Independent and free of special interest influence, they would be allowed to tell “truth” to the corridors of power.
 
Fast forward to 2009.  The City Council has for the first time passed an initiative allowing the NCs to actually open a file for their City “elders” perusal and adjudication.  It must be seconded by another council (since we’re not that independent).
 
Enter City Council and before you know it, we’re required to fill out Form 54 in order to have this “privilege”.  For those of you who don’t know what this form contains, I’ll be happy to forward it to you on request.  It’s a complete financial history of you, your spouse and/or registered partner!  Further, according to the ethics commission; this is public information and will be given to anyone who calls and asks for it!
 
This is punitive, onerous and a complete violation of our rights to advise.  A deputy city attorney once told me that in law school the first thing you’re taught to do is look at the intent.  What other intention can we glean from this blatant attempt to silence our exercise in participatory democracy?!
 
I spoke against this in public forums before both the City Council, LANCC, BONC and anyone else who would listen.  My entreaties fell on deaf ears.  In each case, they knew what I would say and after allowing others to speak at length; just before I step to the microphone I’m told to be “brief”!
 
Now, it’s the law.  Will you stand up now?!  Will you simply give up this right without a fight?!  Will you now be silent?!  Will you quit the council system as they’re betting you will?!
 
These council files didn’t really mean anything until City Council took this action.  These files could have been tabled, delayed and ignored interminably.  Instead, they had to show us that if we truly wanted this to be “participatory”, we would have to be held to a standard even they are unwilling to abide by.
 
I want the Form 700’s made public on all City Councilmen, as well as Department GMs.  I want a transparent government.  Our policy will be Reaganesque “Trust but Verify”!
 
I want to know every donation to a campaign from a developer, real estate magnate or corporate entity.  I want the new City Controller to audit every vote taken over just the last year to determine if there is a single instance of conflict of interest.
 
When was the last time a City Council member recused themselves from a vote because of an obvious conflict?
 
Why are IEA’s considered “academic exercises”?  Why has there not been an infrastructure study done since 1998 when the City Charter mandates them yearly?  Why is the City Controller told that the mayor and city attorney are immune to such studies of their effectiveness?
 
Are we dogs to be beat down, chained and muzzled?!
 
I, for one; will not be silenced.
 
Will, but one of you; join me in protest?!  If ONE joins me and then ONE joins with you………………………………..

Thus Spake Brian D’Arcy: Nahai’s Kiss of Death

“Truthfulness (is) the highest virtue; this means the opposite of the cowardice of the “idealist” who flees from reality…” — Friedrich Nietzsche.

Sounding a lot like the German philosopher who believed God is dead and man as supermen must reign supreme, union boss Brian D’Arcy darcy1.jpghas suddenly emerged from the world of backroom dealings and stepped onto the public stage to assume his rightful place of power and prominence in the limelight of City Hall.

It’s been a long time coming.

D’Arcy, head of IBEW Local 18, has reigned supreme at the Department of Water and Power for years. He is armed with sweetheart contracts that give him more power than the utility’s general manager and so much money from his 8,000 members that he could spend $1 million in the recent primary to elect Wendy Greuel as City Controller and back his self-serving Measure B solar plan — a power grab that was beaten by the lowly mortals who call themselves community activists.

The newly visible union boss talks today with David Zahniser in the Times, heaping scorn on Neighborhood Councils as “dysfunction-palooza,” environmentalists as profiteers on clean energy and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s push for 20 percent renewable energy by next year as what sounds like the costly boondoggle it is.

” ‘Environmental leadership’ isn’t meeting some artificial deadline by
any means necessary,” he said. “Environmental leadership is actually
creating economic development while cleaning the air where you live,
putting people to work and linking the environment to it. That’s not
really what’s going on, if you ask me.”

D’Arcy — who fought every clean energy initiative proposed for the last decade and even warned they might bankrupt the DWP — suddenly reversed his ground 13 months ago when he announced his rooftop solar plan owned, installed and maintained by the utility.

It was a proposal largely put together in private discussions with various interests but not the DWP itself and made it on the ballot without going through Neighborhood Councils, the DWP Commission or any type of meaningful study, analysis or public discussion.

Although he spent heavily and campaigned publicly for Measure B, D’Arcy takes no responsibility for its defeat, and pointedly attacks DWP General Manager David Nahai, presumably hoping his close ally Raman Raj, the utility’s No. 2 man, will take over the top post.

“Even after the election, D’Arcy continues to speak out, using his dry
wit to skewer not only . . . Nahai, but
the utility’s efforts to secure solar power in the Mojave Desert and
geothermal energy in the Salton Sea,” Zahniser writes.

At times I found myself agreeing with D’Arcy and offer him faint praise as a political bully, saying: “Whatever D’Arcy wants, D’Arcy gets, and that’s because they’re so weak
and easily intimidated. I give him high ratings for doing
his job. I’d give them miserable ratings for not doing theirs.”: .

D’Arcy falsely accuses me of seeking to privatize the DWP like the mayor wants to do with the LA Zoo when the goal is to get the most clean energy at the lowest price in the shortest time.

In contrast, D’Arcy’s goal remains a monopoly on all energy-related jobs for his union no matter what it costs the public or how long it takes to end DWP’s reliance on the dirtiest coal-burning power plants in the country.

So he remains committed to using his clout to get his rooftop solar plan enacted despite voters’ rejection of it.

His position sets the stage for a showdown at City Hall that will reveal whether our officials have any political will at all or any respect for the public and whether the environmental leadership’s goal is clean energy or lucrative personal deals.

NAKED CITY: Same Old, Same Old . . . Worn-out Story of LA Public Policy Failures

FRIEND OF ANTONIO’S GOES BROKE, WHO GETS THE BILL?

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for nakedcity.jpgAntonio benefactor and profiteer Richard Meruelo is back in the news — it turns out even the $50 million payoff from the LAUSD board wasn’t enough to keep the downtown property owner out of bankruptcy.

His company Meruelo Maddox Properties expectsThumbnail image for meruelo.jpg to follow its subsidiaries into Bankruptcy Court as early as today, the Times reports.

You might remember it was Meruelo who was Antonio’s biggest contributor back in 2005, donating $193,000 to his cause — and that he got a healthy return from Antonio’s school board last summer when it agreed to pay him $50 million for the Taylor Yard property. The Downtown News broke the story two months after the board’s secret vote..

Back then, I posted about it, noting Meruelo bought the property out from under LAUSD’s nose at the of the property boom and sold it when the market had crashed and still made a $20 million profit.

Since Meruelo is the largest downtown property owner and the CRA has been so generous in funding his developments, it will be interesting to see just how much money the taxpayers have lost

CONFLICT OF INTEREST OR JUST OUR CIVIC CULTURE?

That’s the question Jerry Sullivan asks in a headline in LA Garment & Citizen in the latest story about questionable dealings involved in the purchase of a property in the 400 block of Spring Street downtown for a park.

The article focuses on role of Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer Sr., Director of Asset Management for the city’s Department of General Services and whether the city overpaid when it bought 0.8 acre for $5.6 million.

He is also secretary of the state Democratic Party and serves on its finance committee which connects him to such major local and state politcal contributors as developer Tom Gilmore, the Central City Association and Bill Witte of Related Cos., which is having so much trouble getting the Grand Avenue project going.

“Jones-Sawyer’s dual roles are the latest circumstances to raise questions about the deal, following concerns expressed by some local real estate professionals and others over the price of the land on Spring Street as well as the timing and approval process for the proposed acquisition,” Garment & Citizen says.

GOOD JOBS, GREEN JOBS — LET THEM EAT PROMISES

“It seems like we’re getting a stench of Chicago politics to have a continuation with an unreliable vendor.” — County Supervisor Mike Antonovich on the two-month extension MTA granted Italian rail car mark  AnsakdoBreda.

If only that were true, maybe we’d actually have a crooked political machine that works like Chicago instead of the one we have that doesn’t work.

In getting his way, Antonio had to shake up the MTA board and use his clout to keep alive a $300 million deal to build 100 rail cars that based on AnsaldoBreda’s past performance will be too heavy with seats too narrow and incompatible with the rest of the light rail system’s cars — if they ever get built at all.

But even the mayor was cautious as he brushed aside the recommendations of the MTA management, according to the Times.

He admitted there are “real questions” about the company which has promised numerous cities it will build local factories if the get lucratives contracts and presumably lucrative subsidies.

But having overseen creation of a budget deficit rapidly approaching $1 billion and one of the nation’s highest urban unemployment rates at 12 percent, the mayor is desperate to show he can attract businesses that pay more than the “living wage.”

Money, Power and Green Energy — Which Way for the Environmental Movement?

“When something that should be very popular doesn’t pass, it is a
wakeup call to the mayor and the City Hall establishment. There was
something that went on that the mayor and others need to look at and
understand. There is some discontent out there which is directed at the
powerful.”
Mitchell Schwartz in LA Weekly today.

You got to hand it to guys like Mitchell Schwartz who profit handsomely from good causes like the environment and are respected in the community for their good works and yet are able to escape responsibility for their mistakes like innocent lambs.

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for schwartz.jpg

Schwartz is the guy who boasts on his resume that he has worked on Democratic presidential campaigns since 1984, flacked for Secretary of State Warren Christopher, heads the political action committee that calls itself the LA League of Conservation Voters and chaired the California campaign for Barack Obama.

Along the way, his resume notes he launched the DWP’s Green Power Program, which “became
the largest and most successful green power campaign in
the country…(and) organized events
highlighting the Department’s commitment to energy
efficiency, water conservation, electric vehicles, and
renewable energy sources
.”

What doesn’t get a mention is that the DWP’s Green Power Program under then General Manager David Freeman led to scandal, the waste of tens of millions of dollars — including the nearly $200,000 paid to Schwartz for staging lavish publicity events — and virtually no clean energy production.

My gripe, in this case, isn’t with “greenwashers” or past failures. It’s with the instrumental role Schwartz played in developing Measure B in cahoots with IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy and promoting it as if it was going to achieve what it promised: “Green Energy and Good Jobs.”

As Schwartz is quoted on the campaign’s website: Measure B is an environmental and
economic stimulus package for LA. By going green, and voting yes, Los
Angeles can put thousands of people back to work, attract new green
businesses and train a new generation of workers for careers in the new
green economy.

That’s a pretty big boast for a proposal that had no studies or analysis behind it on, did nothing but give the DWP and IBEW a monopoly on solar energy in LA despite their 10-year refusal to embrace renewables and set the stage for the ripoff of billions of dollars in public money.

Schwartz took it several steps further by helping to line up support from the Sierra Club and other environmental groups, publicly suggesting opponents were anti-union and suing the Solar 8 to quash the ballot argument against Measure B.

It was the fatal mistake of an arrogant campaign that ramrodded Measure B through a docile City Council whose members never read it, kept secret a critical report that exposed what was wrong with it and treated voters as if they were too dumb to know they were being conned.

Schwartz and the City Hall political machine lost in court and they lost on election day — a result that shocked Schwartz.

“When something that should be very
popular doesn’t pass, it is a wakeup call to the mayor and the City
Hall establishment,” Schwartz told Daniel Heimpel in the LA Weekly.

“There was something that went on that the mayor and
others need to look at and understand. There is some discontent out
there which is directed at the powerful.”

Something that should be “popular” — not good. That’s the way political operatives think. It is not the way people committed to a green environment and social justice are supposed to think.

But it’s what Schwartz’ group, the Sierra Club, the Lung Association and others bought into and backed. They didn’t care that Measure B was nothing but blackmail by the IBEW. They didn’t care the public was excluded and lied to. They didn’t care whether we really got green energy or good jobs.

It was the slogan that counted, the association with the “powerful,” as Schwartz called them, that mattered, the illusion of progress instead of real change.

These are tough times and we need people of good intentions to head the “wakeup call” and put the public interest and solving the people’s problems ahead of their own interests and advantages.

Measure B is a black mark against Schwartz and the do-gooders who backed it.

We have heard the same bullying words from D’Arcy and the DWP. We have gotten lip service about openness and transparency and inclusiveness from the politicians but only fools would hold out much hope that they mean it.

We haven’t heard a word about whether Schwartz and the environmental organizations have learned anything at all from it. The same old, same old is worn out. Their credibility is on the line at a time when the public “gets it.” We do need green energy and good jobs — not more lies and con jobs.

Urban Farming — An Idea Whose Time Has Come

As “green” as he likes to claim he is, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa missed his chance to lead the growing urban farming movement.

That honor belongs to First Lady Michelleobamagarden.jpg Obama who last week gathered a group of students and began digging up the White House lawn to plan a vegetable garden — a symbolic step that harkens back to Eleanor Roosevelt planting a Victory Garden on the White House lawn during World War II.

California First Lady Maria Shriver quickly followed Mrs. Obama’s lead and announced today she will join the urban farming fever and plant a vegetable garden in Capitol Park in Sacramento.

I have to admit I’m not exactly the most environmentally-sensitive guy in the world but I’m learning.

For months, my wife has been talking about digging up the front lawn and planting vegetables. It has something to do with not wasting water on something as pointless as grass, saving money on food and having fresh, healthy organic produce on the dinner table.

I didn’t take it seriously but then I met Tezozomoc, head of the South Central Farmers movement who raised by consciousness.

The 14-acre community farm was bulldozedurbanfarm1.jpg in 2006 by developer Ralph Horowitz to build a warehouse for clothing maker Forever 21, whose executives have donated $1.3 million to the mayor’s various campaigns and fund-raising efforts.

Because of that connection. backers of the South Central Farm hold the mayor responsible for fumbling efforts to buy the land from Horowitz and preserve what was widely seen as a positive asset to the area, bringing people together in a healthy activity and serving as a center for community life.

The warehouse still isn’t built and the fight goes on and Tezozomoc has started a farmers’ cooperative and is growing organic produce for sale.

Then my friend Bob Singer got his own far-out ideas into my head about how we need to return to our agrarian roots to save the planet, how we need to become vegans, how we need to put people to work as owner-farmers in the absence of industry, and rebuild community life.

He introduced me to Duane Thorin and Evelyn Hansen and others who are at the forefront of the trend.

And he work Villaraigosa back in December with what seemed like a cockamamie plan to make him the volunteer head of a Commission on Urban Farming. When he didn’t hear back, he sent his letter to the mayor to OpEdNews.com which published it.

“Is the city or the nation prepared for the social dislocation, economic despair and breakdown in law and order that could occur as the crisis worsens? Are there enough police, National Guard or military to keep order when millions of out of work, out of home and out of food?

“You as Mayor can steps to mitigate the chaos and possible anarchy now before it is too late. One activity that can have the most far-reaching effects in these times of crisis is Victory Farms as put forth by Eleanor Roosevelt during the Great Depression.”

Well, he still hasn’t heard back from Villaraigosa and probably never will what with the mayor wanting to put up warehouses and factories and skyscrapers on every bit of open space in the city, and wanting the DWP to install solar units on what little is left unpaved under a program that’s supposed to let poor people buy shares.

Now that the First Ladies of the nation and state are aboard the urban farming movement perhaps the mayor’s desire to hang out with them and their friends will get the best of him and he’ll respond to Bob Singer or take the initiative himself.

His support would be nice but unnecessary. Urban farming is taking root because it makes sense. It conserves dwindling water supplies, makes little plots of land productive, reduces food bills, provides healthy produce free of salmonella and chemicals and gets people off the couch and in motion.

Personally, I’m ready to join the movement myself. Anybody got a back hoe to dig up my lawn?

Measure B, the Aftermath: Antonio the Salesman or the Sellout?

Antonio Villaraigosa just can’t stop selling even when nobody’s buying — and that’s not good.

Clean energy and good jobs was a great label for something everyone wants but the mayor couldn’t get voters to buy Measure B with its empty promise of solar energy when it was nothing but a giveaway to a mismanaged public utility, its greedy union boss and a long list of consultants, contractors, lobbyists and insiders.

Now we learn just how cheap it is to buy the mayor’s support, which is not to suggest that Stephen Bing’s $50,000 donation to the Yes on B campaign or his $100,000 for the mayor’s school board campaign represented some sort of quid pro quo.

That would illegal and so unnecessary. The pressure to contribute to the mayor’s campaigns has nothing to do with Bing’s decision or AIG’s Tim Leiweke acts of political generosity or the $100,000 that Bruce Khouri of Solar Integrated Technology felt impelled to donate for Measure B.

According to Maeve Reston in the Times on Monday, the mayor decided to go to bat for an Italian rail car maker in a $300 million MTA deal solely because of the prospect of new union jobs. His support has nothing to do with the influence of Bing, who has a lot to gain in the deal, or well-connected lobbyist, Chris Lehane, who represents the rail car firm.

Or at least that’s what mayoral spokesman Matt Szabo says. “We are talking about creating thousands of high-paying jobs at a
time when local residents need them the most.”

Well, hundreds maybe, but who’s going to quibble about that when similar exaggerations failed to convince anyone on Measure B.

The problem is the MTA has told the Italian firm, AnsaldoBreda that it doesn’t want to do business with it.

The company is three years behind schedule in delivering 50 rail cars previously ordered. And then the cars are too heavy and unreliable, incompatible with other cars in the fleet and has seats that are too narrow.

Says MTA chief Roger Snoble: “The real question is: Are we going to get the original 50 cars? All the commotion is over the future, and we tend to overlook the
present… Because of the difficulties we were having with Breda,
my decision — and this is my decision — is that we should go out to
bid.”

In response to that kind of attitude from Snoble and several board members, the company “has marshaled an intense lobbying effort over the last few months,
striking alliances with people known to have the mayor’s ear and
offering to open a rail car manufacturing plant in an industrial
stretch of downtown Los Angeles,” the Times says.

That’s where Bing comes in as founder of the green
building company Shangri-La Construction which has partnered with the rail car company.

County Labor Federation chief Maria Elena Durazo also weighed in with pressure on Snoble and the MTA board warning they should not let “this big opportunity to
be squandered.” She was promised that all the jobs related to the project would be for union labor only.

In the insular world of City Hall politics, no one — with the possible exception of Controller Laura Chick — would think there is anything wrong with story of insider dealing and the influence of campaign money.

It’s routine, standard operating procedure, how business is done. They all wish they were as slick as the mayor in putting these kinds of deals together and coming up with a story to sell to the public like clean energy and good jobs or in this case green factories, good union jobs.

I’m no moralist about these sorts of things. The corruption that bothers me isn’t in the grease that enriches insiders as much as it is the total disregard for the public interest.

That’s why LA’s super-salesman mayor faces another tough sell. The public just vetoed his solar energy plan that wasn’t even a plan, only a scheme that would have cost too much, taken too long and achieved too little.

In the case of this deal, we have ample evidence the rail cars don’t serve our public interest since they are too heavy, too unreliable, too incompatible, have seats that are too narrow and never get delivered.

Other than that you can bet the mayor thinks he can sell this deal to the MTA board.

Maybe he can, maybe he can’t.

The thing that concerns me most is what it says about Antonio’s state of mind. He just barely got a majority for his re-election running against no one who posed even a remote challenge, his gofer City Attorney candidate Jack Weiss got just barely a third of the vote and he lost outright on the surest thing ever on the ballot, Measure B.

I keep thinking somehow that he’ll wake up one morning and remember where he came from and the ideals he once held and go to work to serve the interests of the people instead of the special interests.

LA doesn’t need a salesman offering pipe dreams, and segmenting people into those who benefit and those who pay. It needs a leader who breaks down barriers and brings people together, who works for policies that improve the quality of life in our neighborhoods and our opportunities for the future.

UPDATE: Brian D’Arcy

A reader supplies this tidbit about Brian D’Arcy’s attitude toward public scrutiny that turned up in the PA Consulting charter-mandated IEA study of DWP operations and programs over the last  five years — a report that General Manager David Nahai has refused to show any interest in.

In Appendix A of the DWP IEA study there is a list of 72 individuals that were interviewed by the PA consultants in preparing their report.  Some Individuals were interviewed more than once.

Included on the list is David Nahai; all the LADWP Commissioners; all
the Directors of every DWP Department; Julie Butcher of the
SEIU; Richard Slawson, Labor Union leader with the Building and
Contractors Union. Just about everyone within DWP that has leadership
responsibility except for one individual: Brian D’Arcy.

Check out this footnote on page 4-185 of the DWP IEA study.


“Despite our best efforts we have been unable to interview Brian
D’Arcy, the Business Manager of the International Brotherhood of
Electrical Workers -Local 18
.”

Measure B, the Aftermath: D’Arcy, the Bully on a Power Trip

Brian D’Arcy is the most powerful figure inThumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for darcy.jpeg City Hall politics, or at least one of them. There is no uncertainty at all as to whether he is the most feared.

It is as if he had the letters H-E-L-P tattooed to the knuckles of his right hand and the letters H-U-R-T tattooed to the knuckles of his left hand.

Wendy Greuel knows about HELP from the hand of Brian D’Arcy and the price she will have to pay in due time for the IBEW boss’ coughing up $250,000 when the councilwoman panicked in the closing weeks of the City Controller race and thought she might be forced into a runoff.

Antonio Villaraigosa got even more money from members of D’Arcy’s union and has been paying him back ever since by signing off on a contract that gave the nation’s highest paid utility workers 6 percent pay raises during these troubled times. DWP workers, nearly all members of the IBEW, now are paid about $90,000 a year on average with lucrative lifetime benefits.

Few know exactly how D’Arcy hurts because only a fool would have the courage to cross him.

That’s what makes the aftermath of the defeat of Measure B so interesting.

Continue reading Measure B, the Aftermath: D’Arcy, the Bully on a Power Trip

Measure B, the Aftermath: Nahai’s Super Ego and the Role of Fall Guy

In a city that worships at the Temple of Ego,nahaibb2.JPG DWP GM David Nahai is a shining superstar — if a giant image of him flashing these days on digital billboards along Sunset Boulevard qualifies for entry into the Pantheon of Super Egos.

Not that Nahai’s credentials in this regard aren’t already impeccable. He’s plastered his image all over the DWP building, on every publication it produces, even in the bag of two CFL light bulbs he spent $3.5 million of our money to give us in expectation of our undying gratitude.

Last summer, the man who lectures us on conservation and hikes our rates every month while the blackouts get more frequent nahaibb1.JPGand the water less plentiful got caught with his own home power and water consumption at levels two or three times that of the normal person.

Now, the billboards at North Kings Road and Sunset show him as he thinks of himself — a larger than life figure who is ready to humbly serve the city’s peasants as the next mayor, if Antonio doesn’t fire him first for the humiliating defeat of Measure B.

Nahai, needless to say, is unrepentant and unmoved by the will of the people, saying he has long favored the DWP owning, installing and maintaining rooftop solar units for all of us. Of course, he never did anything about it until the mayor for his own political advantage decided it was a good thing.

So he slapped together a plan for three times as much solar as Measure B provided, and feigned objectivity as he ran all over town peddling his myth.

Now he wants to move forward as if the blank check for solar that voters denied him was sitting on his desk and ready to be squandered.

“This is not a time for finger-pointing,” he told the Times. “It is a time to
move forward. And as I said, this was not a vote against solar, nor was
it a vote against city-owned solar. The misgivings had to do with other
issues.”

Far be it for me to suggest Nahai tells lies when he’s not flattering himself — I leave that to his staff — but the fact is that voters rejected the propoal for a DWP monopoly on solar. This is not your grandfather’s DWP when it was run by professionals instead of politicians and egotists like Nahai and greedy power-hungry union bosses like the IBEW’s Brian D’Arcy.

Unfortunately for Nahai, D’Arcy is the leading finger-pointer, blaming the DWP GM for Measure B’s defeat.

As the man who bankrolled Measure B with nearly $1 million of his union members’ money, D’Arcy seems to think Nahai is the perfect candidate for the role of fall guy.

He accused Nahai of placing too much
emphasis on feed-in tariffs, which would give the revenue from solar installations to the home and business owners who buy the units. D’Arcy’s problem with that is it would actually stimulate business, really create thousands of jobs and get a lot of skilled trades workers out of the unemployment line.

“He is not a friend of Measure B, and the department as it relates to Mr. Nahai was not a proponent of Measure B,” D’Arcy said.

There is some truth in what D’Arcy said for a change. The department was not a supporter of Measure B because it was a fraud that could never deliver on its promises and the department is not a friend of Nahai’s.

A man without a friend in Brian D’Arcy is a man without a friend in the mayor’s office. Perhaps the news of that will take that ingratiating grin off of Nahai’s face.

We Beat City Hall — We Can Change LA Working Together, Yes We Can

The Highway Patrolman’s red lights were flashing as I stood outside my car just across the border into Arizona Thursday night waiting for him to write the ticket when I heard the “tweet” alert.

I reached for the cell phone in my pocket, slowly, and told him I was waiting for an important message. He stiffened but I went ahead and looked: “We won, Measure B Lost.” It didn’t mean a thing to him.

By the time I got to Phoenix, I realized this was a dream come true. David beat Goliath. The People beat the Machine. Business, labor and the community came together and showed Antonio Villaraigosa he’s living in a political fantasy world believing he can get away with pandering to special interests and smiling his way out of the failure of his policies.

This wasn’t an election about solar energy. We all want clean energy instead of the dirtiest power plants in America. We all want clean air instead of the dirtiest air in America.

It was an election about back room deals, about the DWP monopoly and whether it serves the public interest or private interests, about the IBEW and whether it has abused its power for the last time.

It was an election about the failure of City Hall and the demand of a broad coalition for open, inclusive and democratic processes on solar energy and billboards and budgets and everything else City Hall does.

The mayor and City Council can follow the lead of the IBEW’s Brian D’Arcy and the DWP’s David Nahai and ignore the will of the people. They can pay lip service and say they “heard” the people. Or they can change course and embrace the changes that are coming with — or without — them.

No, this wasn’t an election about solar energy.

The majority of LA voters repudiated City Hall itself and the way it has worked for far too long.

This is a mandate for change. The mayor could seize the day. Anyone on the council could step forward. Dozens of prominent and important people could see the momentum and step forward.

I hope he does and they do. But my belief is the future hopes for a prosperous and liveable city will rest on somebody who comes out of a new generation of leadership, someone who isn’t tied to the politics of the past, who puts the greater good of the city and its people ahead of the interests of the few.

The task at hand for all those who want to be part of something greater than themselves is to demand the kind of processes that bring us together instead of keeping us apart, to demand policies that serve the public interest, not the special interests, to elect the people who see themselves as public servants, not officials elected to high office who serve themselves.