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Your DWP: Hollow Promises, Cheap Talk, Insider Deals, Mismanagement, Secrecy, Illegalities, Lost Credibility, Waste…FAILURE!

Under the leadership of the mayor, the DWP has asserted repeatedly that it is a $4 billion-a-year business, not a municipal utility owned and accountable to the public.

If so, its stock would be falling sharply and ripe for a takeover with liabilities mounting, its products faulty and obsolete, its costs out of control, its management in disarray and consumer confidence at all-time low.

Just look at the facts, a litany of long-term mismanagement, lack of transparency, sweetheart deals with unions and contractors, failure to upgrade the water and power systems, illegal actions and ratepayer ripoffs.

On Thursday, state officials announced the DWP agreed to pay other utilities in California  $112 million for price gouging during the 2000-01 energy crisis when then — and current — General Manager David Freeman overcharged for our utility’s cheap and dirty coal power.

It was Freeman who turned over most of those ill-gotten gains to the city’s general fund depleted by the impact of the dot-com boom, even as he squandered tens of millions on a phony solar energy plan that a decade later still hasn’t generate enough electricity to light my little neighborhood and turned over running the DWP to union bully boy Brian D’Arcy.

Then there’s the $130 million in water revenue his successors — perpetuating his policy of using the DWP as the city’s cash cow — illegally put in the general fund and still haven’t refunded and the $150 million owed families over the deadly disaster at the Utah mine it partially owns.

Is it any wonder that the DWP has let the water system deteriorate to the point that pipes are bursting all over town or that it is so far behind in the clean energy race that it is paying huge premiums to try to catch up and meet the state-mandated goal of 20 percent renewables by next December and the mayor’s politically-inspired artificial target of 40 percent in 2020?

Is it any wonder that Freeman wants advance approval for virtually unlimited electricity rate increases and doesn’t have a coherent or detailed plan to put before the public?

It was just a year ago this week that the mayor’s lawyer sued the Solar 8 to squelch citizens who questioned Measure B, the DWP scheme to own, install and maintain billions of dollars in large-scale rooftop solar in the city.

Voter rejection of that costly boondoggle did nothing to stop DWP from moving forward on virtually the same plan with a few crumbs offered to the business community, private sector labor and environmentalists.

To the degree that hapless ratepayers know what’s going on, the only certainty is that we will get the bill for a program that is ill-conceived and does little to solve the problem of having the nation’s dirtiest air and dirtiest power-generating system.

As far as we can tell, the DWP’s answer to getting rid of its reliance
for coal-burning plants for nearly half of its electricity is to jack
up rates and borrow heavily to build gas-burning plants, which
continues our reliance on fossil fuels instead of turning to the vast
array of fools from solar thermal, geothermal, biomass and alll the
other technologies now available or coming on line.

The mayor
can spend our precious money traveling the globe first class and
staying in $1,000 a night hotels with his entourage of hangers-on and

He can show slick videos produced at our expense
and promise the world and talk about how clean-tech corridors and green
energy jobs but it’s all just talk and empty promises when his city is
falling apart, slashing staff and services and suffering from massive
unemployment and soaring poverty.

The DWP raised new concerns
this week with its mysterious backing down on a large-scale solar
project on the utility’s property at the Salton Sea it announced with
great fanfare just a few months ago.

The Board of Commissioners rolled over on the Niland Solar Farm back in August and the CAO’s office
glowingly recommended approval but the City Council sat on for three
months out of concern for the wrath of the public of moving forward
without a plan.

They finally got around to talk about it in committee on Tuesday and hit Freeman & Co. with some harsh comments:

“The public doesn’t trust the Department of Water and Power,” said
Councilman Richard Alarcon. “They believe they are being overcharged.”

Cardenas added: “We have listened to presentation after presentation
where the department has downplayed the renewable energy costs.”

Jan Perry made it clear creating an independent office of Ratepayer
Advocate Office was more important than all sales pitches.

“The public is frightened. People are out of jobs. There is a jobless
recovery. I understand that completely, and these elected public
officials who are reacting to the views of their constituents,” Freeman responded.

he announced he was killing the project entirely even though it would
start generating electricity by summer and four times as much power in
18 times as DWP’s 10-year-old in-basin solar program.

explanation for canceling the deal with the the top firm First Solar
was it costs too much because it would have to extend transmission
lines to the site — which didn’t make sense to anybody since the cost
of the project was fixed and problem well known months ago when it was
pushed as a giant leap forward.

Freeman added to the confusion
and mistrust by pushing for a “pilot project” at Owens Lake (which DWP
drained of water a century ago) to skirt environmental review laws and
then went before the state Lands Commission on
Thursday to sell a fanciful notion that it will cover most of the 100
square miles of the lake with solar panels and run moats through so it
was also parkland.

The real issue is the DWP faces massive fines
because of the dust problem it caused. Commissioners were forgiving of
that temporarily despite DWP officials inability to exactly explain
what they intend to do since they don’t know and are flying by the seat
of Freeman’s pants.

There also were indications the pilot
project would have to be scaled back from more than 600 acres to just
80 acres to appease critics. It wasn’t the Lands Commission’s job to
question whether the project even makes sense, whether it is the best
use of ratepayer’s money and whether it will actually provide solar
energy efficiently and at the best price.

Clearly, this is no way to run a business, let alone the nation’s largest municipal utility.

the DWP does is a political game, not a public service. It didn’t start
with Antonio Villaraigosa but he has politicized the DWP and other city
departments like no one since the scandal-ridden administration of
Mayor Frank Shaw in the 1930s.

The Council’s growing support for
a Ratepayer Advocate, its resistance to blank checks to the DWP, its
questioning of the glib promises and plans enunciated by Freeman are
all positive signs that members are listening to the community and
fearful of voter vengeance at the polls.

They ought to be but the message hasn’t registered on Freeman.

“In city government, it’s hard to get anything done and there are all
kinds of people who can say no,” he complained. “We’re
running a public business that requires action.”

We can all agree with him on that but not before the DWP lays out a comprehensive long-term plan with real costs.

Anything less will explode as surely as the DWP’s aging electrical boxes.

This entry was posted in City Hall, Hot Topics, Los Angeles and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

24 Responses to Your DWP: Hollow Promises, Cheap Talk, Insider Deals, Mismanagement, Secrecy, Illegalities, Lost Credibility, Waste…FAILURE!

  1. Anonymous says:

    “Just look at the facts, a litany of long-term mismanagement, lack of transparency, sweetheart deals with unions and contractors, failure to upgrade the water and power systems, illegal actions and ratepayer ripoffs.” Is there any differences in actions between Gang Programs and DWP?
    Will $24 Million Redeem L.A. Gang Members In Mayor’s Intervention Program?
    ORGANIZED CRIME – According to Sgt. Valdemar, a retired L.A. County Sheriff and Gang Specialist, indicates that by paying gang members it will ASSIST THE GANG MEMBERS IN FURTHERING THEIR ORGANIZED CRIME.
    Issues Wire
    Los Angeles City Council and Mayor are allocating money for Intervention Training Program of gang members “Crisis Intervention Workers” that they claim will not have an impact on the GENERAL FUND. Sgt. Valdemar indicates “The use of gang members to intervene during gang violence will not work.”
    Los Angeles Council members Tony Cardenas and Janice Hahn’s Motion

  2. Anonymous says:

    The ratepayers revolt is on and the leadership is imitating Antoinette. They better hit the history books and read what happened to her.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Mayor’s Copenhagen Tab: $120,266

  4. AnonymouslyYours says:

    It would be much nicer if we rate payers got that refunds on our next bills.
    My bills are now averaging $400 a month and we’ve cut back as much as possible; there’s no more water or power to deny ourselves.

  5. AnonymouslyYours says:

    It would be much nicer if we rate payers got that refund on our next bills.
    My bills are now averaging $400 a month and we’ve cut back as much as possible; there’s no more water or power to deny ourselves.

  6. AnonymouslyYours says:

    It would be much nicer if we rate payers got that refund on our next bills.
    My bills are now averaging $400 a month and we’ve cut back as much as possible; there’s no more water or power to deny ourselves and still live like modern civilized human beings.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Ron might be more effective if he didnt elaborate or outright lie so much.
    Dave Freeman publicly fought with then Mayor Riordan over how much to charge the rest of the state for DWPs power. Freeman said ‘you dont rip people off after a hurricane’.
    During the 2002 campaign, Riordan was forced to defend himself against charges that he bilked the rest of the state.
    Ron, there is so much abuse and fraud in city government that you dont need to lie so much to make your point.
    Stop being so lazy!

  8. anonymous says:

    DWP thinks they’re a business and not a municipal utility owned and accountable to the public? That’s funny. Their website says they’re a municipal utility. Elected officials approve their contracts and rates. What part of this equation do they not get? Oh, yes, I forgot-they own the politicians and that is big business.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Los Angeles problem is the elected officials because they are more concern with taking pictures with celebrities than taking care of the peoples business. Here’s Los Angeles Councilmember Eric Garcetti, not a future mayor candidate, in front of the camera like Mayor Villaraigosa, while Academy Award-winning director James Cameron received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
    MyFOX LA
    Councilmember Eric Garcetti

  10. Anonymous says:

    Freeman gives us now all the b.s., we should trust the GM to do the right thing, blah, blah, blah.. and therefore we don`t need a RPA. If Riordan made him do it, why he did not resign and make a public statement? 6:39PM you must be greasing your pockets from some of Freeman`s deals.

  11. Anonymous says:

    12:15 P.M. I read the hotel rooms were 1000 euros per nite. Last time I checked the Euro was 1.44 in dollars. Wow! Did they stay in Presidential Suites? Unbelievable!

  12. Anonymous says:

    L.A.Times. “L.A. city retirements threaten a deep and lasting legacy”. (Antonio`s). Armagedon is coming to L.A., while the Mayor is in Copenhagen to save the planet, and staying in $1500 per nite hotel rooms.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Ron, the price gouging settlement of $112 million dollars according to the master spinner Freeman, “….is a victory for the city”. Go figure!

  14. Anonymous says:

    City government is in melt down mode with Villaraigosa and Garcetti leading the way.

  15. Anonymous says:

    To December 18, 2009 6:39 PM – You got it completely backwards. Freeman is as corrupt as the come and no “good guy” cowboy.
    Another example of double-talk from Freeman, on his first run as “full-time” General Manager, during a talk with employees in the auditorium, he admitted that he couldn’t take responsibility for DWP “looking good” during the deregulation and sell-off of power generation. He said that he was sent in to sell off DWP’s generation, but the City Charter wouldn’t make it easy. By the time the “Electric Energy” crisis hit, DWP looked good because it still owned its generating capacity. After leaving DWP, Freeman was hailed as quite smartly staying out of deregulation, even though it had nothing to do with him.
    Then he ordered DWP staff re-work the numbers to show an ownership interest Coalstrip, Montana was not making money when it was. Freeman doesn’t have any morale or ethical conscience.
    Today as the “Interim GM” Freeman he violated contract administration rules keeping on a lobbying firm after the contract expired and then going to the board to retroactively renew it as shown on this blog recently. He was also duplicitous on buying out Nahai and trying to hide who approved it.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous on December 18, 2009 6:39 PM
    Why accuse Ron? Can you not tolerate the
    truth anymore?


    There are two important issues:
    1st is what you are pointing out about lack of transparency.
    2nd is a bigger issue of the whole issue of renewable energy and their true costs. Coal power does has a negative impact on the environment, however natural gas fired newer emission-controlled combined cycle units have a very low impact on the environment and are cost effective. Renewables are not reliable for and cannot be used for base-load power. So with renewable energy sources, you really need both, just adding the expense to consumers.
    Both from a Federal, State, and City level, we need to take a realistic view of these foolish regulations mandating renewables over clean burning natural gas. And other, not as well covered, are new regulations on ocean cooling which will affect all existing ocean-cooled power plants.

  18. James McCuen says:

    We used to have a City Controller with guts. Rick Tuttle refused to authorize payments from the DWP manager for certain dinner (with expensive wine, etc) expenses and trips.
    I wonder if he would have had the authority (or guts) to do the same to the Mayor.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Ron for whatever reason believes you can use renewables for 100% of LA’s base load . He bases all his DWP renewable criticism off the assumption you can get rid of all fossil fuel based generation and power LA entirely off wind, solar, and geothermal. It’s a faulty, uneducated assumption.
    Concerning the First Solar deal, Freeman was right to kill it. The deal stated if First Solar was not connected to the grid by this summer, DWP would have to pay them a premium for all solar energy generated that was wasted. There’s no way in hell it would have been connected by this summer since it would have required the construction of an additional substation (which would take about 2 years to build) and the cooperation of the local utility to provide a transmission entry-point. That utility is notorious for not being able to adhere to schedule. Bottomline, if Freeman hadn’t killed it, ratepayer money this summer would be going to pay off First Solar for energy we wouldn’t receive because the deadlines were unrealistic to begin with. Basically, First Solar was trying to screw LA with that deal.

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