“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.
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
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.