If You Think This DWP Rate Hike Is Bad, the Next One Will Be Worse and
Then the Next . . .
It seemed like the good old days Tuesday when long debates on controversial issues would inevitably end up 8-7 with the majority on the side of what’s good for City Hall and the special interests that it serves.
Those who voted “No” were given a “pass” from the desired unanimity in the name of putting up a front for their constituents and saving their jobs.
That’s more or less what happened Tuesday when Smith, Zine, Parks, Huizar, Alarcon, Krekorian voted against the “emergency” 4 percent DWP power rate hike while Garcetti, Perry, Wesson, La Bonge, Rosendahl, Hahn, Koretz, Reyes voted for it — an 8-6 outcome with Cardenas missing in action. Since the other four Valley members got a pass, you can bet he would have too.
Still, there was a grim satisfaction to the debate climaxing a 2 1/2-week drama set off by the mayor’s sudden declaration that the DWP, despite double-digit rate increases over the last two years and $1 billion in cash on hand, was in financial trouble and that LA desperately needed 20 to 30 percent rate hikes this year to turn its coal plants into clean energy resources overnight.
What little satisfaction there was came from watching the mayor dangling in the wind, repudiated by the Council from almost every direction after having to change his rate hike plan on an almost daily basis. He was finally left with only Richard Alarcon standing with him while the rest of the Council was tearing apart the DWP for deceit, incompetence, secrecy and a host of other deadly sins.
Transparency, accountability, rate payer advocate, public involvement were the catch-words of the day and so was green energy. And that may be the key to the charade we saw — necessary prerequisites for endless rounds of rate hikes that they will impose in the months and years ahead.
The Council voted unanimously for a .1 cent slush fund in the name of green energy, only a third of what the mayor wanted, in addition to the .5 cent increase for the vague catchall Energy Cost Adjustment Factor that also includes funds for green energy. Overall, it’s a 4.5 percent hike when the mayor wanted 6 percent. Grim satisfaction.
What was set in motion was an improved process for screwing the public, driving away business and jobs, cutting deals for green energy that will enrich the mayor’s pals and the unions that live directly and indirectly off the largess of the hostage customers of the DWP.
The DWP Commission will carry out the Council’s orders at 4:30 p.m. today so the rate hikes can take effect Thursday, appropriately April Fool’s Day.
The performance of the DWP Commission as nothing more than a rubber stamp ought to be the nail in the coffin of what was supposed to be a system of citizen watchdogs on government but has become a system of lapdogs providing cover for City Hall’s corruption.
Nonetheless, the debate Tuesday had moments worth sharing: Krekorian’s cogent tearing apart of the myth of a DWP financial crisis, the huffing and puffing of Council members so distraught that Reyes demanded a report on how much the DWP’s power system would bring if sold on the open market and smug performance of Alarcon, a lone wolf legislator who has never gotten anything done except for himself.