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Antonio’s ‘Lockbox,’ D’Arcy’s Greed and the Arrogance of Environmentalists

Remember back when Antonio told us he was tripling the trash fee and going to put all that money in a lockbox and use it solely to hire cops to make us safe on the streets and in our houses?

He never mentioned his “full cost recovery” policy applied only to homeowners except for the 60,000 who were getting the trash picked up free.

Remember when the state got rid of public access TV and the mayor promised to put $10 million of the $25 million they get from cable franchise taxes into a special account that would used to run Channel 35 and restore our opportunity to provide our own shows about important issues to the public?

He never mentioned he was going to use most of the money to run other departments and that he had no intention of ever restoring public access.

Nor did he bother to tell us that he was going to take all the rollover funds in Neighborhood Council accounts and put it into the general fund along with every other cent that piled up in all the dozens of other “special” accounts and do the same as his mismanagement of the city’s financial affairs reached the crisis point.

So when the mayor tells you he’s going to create a lockbox for his “carbon surcharge” to replace coal power plants with clean solar and wind power, only a fool or an environmentalist would believe him.

There is no such thing as a lockbox or a special fund the way City Hall does business. In their desperation, they have made a mockery of their own processes and destroyed the integrity of nearly every special from the money set aside for new community art centers, to libraries, to parks through one deceit or another.

City Hall cannot be trusted. Look at the record and the truth of that statement is indisputable.

How so many from Al Gore to Arnold Schwarzenegger, from Mary Nichols to the Sierra Club, can be so ill-informed or so indifferent to the public interests as to buy into the mayor’s plan to double and triple electricity rates starting with increases of 20 to 30 percent this year is a sad commentary on the depths of political corruption of our time.

Knowing Antonio as well as they do, and we do, do they really think he came up with his costly green energy plan all by himself late one night after downing a couple of $1,000 bottles of cabernet his friends bought him?

No, the carbon surcharge and the virtually unlimited and unscrutinized increases in the Energy Cost Adjustment Factor that lumps together all kinds of DWP costs is nothing but the bastard son of Measure B that voters rejected a year ago.

Measure B was the clumsy handiwork of Brian D’Arcy, bully boss of the IBEW, who is the No.1 reason that LA has lagged so far behind other utilities in going green, relies for nearly its power on labor-intensive (i.e. IBEW labor) coal-burning plants and is paying a huge premium to buy renewable energy at premium prices on the open market.

D’Arcy got his grossly overpaid members 6 percent raises from the mayor in good times and now are getting up to 4 percent raises in tough (and deflationary) times. In return, he is the No. 1 financial backer of the mayor , Controller Wendy Greuel and nearly everybody else at City Hall.

So who do you think came up with this new attempt to soak the public for billions of dollars in the name of green energy, in the name of getting rid of cheap coal power, when there isn’t even a remote plan in the bowels of the DWP to achieve either goal?


The best informed among us point to no one other than D’Arcy and they say his motives are anything but environmentally friendly.

At is issue is plans by the Air Resources Board under Mary Nichols, the governor’s appointee as chair, to implement the four-year-old AB32 legislation intended to roll back carbon emissions in the state to 1990 levels.

On July 1, Nichols intends to announce drastic measures she swears will create more jobs than they kill, eventually, to pressure utilities and every business in the state to invest heavily in green technologies and efficiency measures.

The costs, of course, will be passed on to people like us, the consumers, the ordinary folks, the taxpayers and ratepayers who go to work every day and try to make ends meet even as our wages and benefits shrink and we or our spouses lose jobs or live in fear of losing jobs.

The issue of AB32′s implementation already is a big element in Meg Whitman’s campaign for governor and will explode in importance come summer. There is a rational, methodical and value-based way to achieve its goals but not in Mary Nichols’ or the environmental movements’ minds.

“No matter what it costs” — that’s the Sierra Club’s motto. Because, you know, the end of the world is coming, the end of the world is coming, and we’re supposed to repent our sins and starve to death because it could happen a century, or 10 centuries, or sometime in the long away future.

I, for one, don’t doubt that 7 billion people and hyper-consumerism, particularly by Americans, has caused terrible damage to the planet and great changes are needed.

But if they put it to a vote, nearly everyone would be on the side of protecting their own jobs and their current standard of living versus the if-come-maybe of what will be the consequences some day.

Brian D’Arcy most of all takes that view: To hell with everything else as long as his workers have jobs and more of them are created and their wages keep going up and up along with the union money he needs to control City Hall.

For D’Arcy the dream goal is the ECAF becoming carte blanche for the DWP to control 
of rate increases without sharing any plans or facing any oversight. And if the public gets mad, as they have, and scares the City Council into intervening, as it has, and AB32 implementation gets stalled, it’s all the better.
 
And that’s the crime in all this.

We could move forward without destroying jobs, bankrupting or chasing away good jobs, overtaxing the public in the middle of the Great Depression, the Sequel, reduce consumption and replace dirty coal with cleaner energy sources.

It’s what nearly everyone wants. But not the people who have power and influence.

They want to profit handsomely from it or serve some ideological belief that makes them feel superior. As bad as the corruption of our environment is, the corruption of political environment is worse and more deadly for the human spirit.

Frankly, I’d rather to choke on CO2 than let these people get away with what they are trying to do. Of course, I’m a heavy smoker and never thought I’d live forever.



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14 Responses to Antonio’s ‘Lockbox,’ D’Arcy’s Greed and the Arrogance of Environmentalists

  1. Anonymous says:

    How so many from Al Gore to Arnold Schwarzenegger, from Mary Nichols to the Sierra Club, can be so ill-informed or so indifferent to the public interests as to buy into the mayor’s plan to double and triple electricity rates starting with increases of 20 to 30 percent this year
    Lol how can Schwarzenegger be so ill-informed? Do you follow state politics at all Ron? It’s because of Schwarzenegger’s RPS that every utility has to go green to begin with. If you’re going to mention his name, he should be on the hook instead of treated as an observer.
    So who do you think came up with this new attempt to soak the public for billions of dollars in the name of green energy, in the name of getting rid of cheap coal power, when there isn’t even a remote plan in the bowels of the DWP to achieve either goal
    This remote plan you forgot about has been around for a couple years now. There were 4 parts:
    1. Put in-basin solar on top of city owned property (AKA Measure B)
    2. Encourage in-basin solar and net metering on private residential and commercial property
    3. Build Out-basin solar stations like the one at Owens Valley
    4. As a last resort, purchase solar energy of the energy market.
    Since Measure B was shot down in the name of transparency/accountability and isn’t going to be resurrected anytime soon and #2 is up to the private property owner, there are now only 2 options – outbasin solar like the Owens Valley station you don’t want to be built. And buy green energy at a premium on the market which you’re complaining about as well.
    Brian D’Arcy, bully boss of the IBEW, who is the No.1 reason that LA has lagged so far behind other utilities in going green, relies for nearly its power on labor-intensive (i.e. IBEW labor) coal-burning plants
    You should have known this already but LADWP does not operate any coal plants and no IBEW members work in coal plants. So your assumption that D’Arcy is invested in coal because it gives his union more jobs is wrong. All DWP owned generation plants with the exception of Pinetree Windfarm and Castaic hydroelectric are natural gas.

  2. Heavy Smoker says:

    I knew there was a reason I like you.
    The environmental nuts and food fascists are selling a fantasy that if we follow their fanatical, costly and time consuming dictates we’ll all live forever.
    If we all do all these healthful things we may not live longer, but we may not, it will just seem longer and we won’t be having any fun choosing our own poison.
    In the end there is an end. Everyone is going to die!

  3. Anonymous says:

    Where is the LEADERSHIP Mr. Council SET PRECEDENT Eric Garcetti and City Council?
    Angelenos only need 10 lack of leadership council members who can exercise their independence and override the mayor, but elect to rubber stamp everything the mayor brings forth.
    A SAD start for the 21st Century.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Its just plain foolish to put the blame on the Union whose job it is to look after their membership. That works into the hands of the leadership of the City – the Mayor and City Council. Focusing on the Union takes the light off them and refocusing the light (including the Press) on the Mayor and City Council gives a better chance to accomplish your goals of transparency, openness, planning, and good government practices.
    The statement made by 4:57 PM regarding the 4 options is misleading in many ways and re-writes history. DWP under two Mayors have been pushing renewables. But their focus has been on the last option – buying energy on the open market at a premium. This has been the focus for 10 years without much success.
    The problem is that the focus on environmental issues, while very important, blinds people from making sound BUSINESS decisions to operate DWP as a reliable and low cost utility.
    More importantly, DWP has been used as a political tool to green-wash politicians and to transfer monies to the city as a de facto tax. Instead of being smart, and pushing for the Citizens, the Mayor and City Council have pushed deadlines at any cost and ratepayers will be paying the price for several generations.
    The problem with the push for green jobs is that instead of supplementing and enhancing existing businesses and industries, the Mayor and City Council don’t care that they are losing small and medium business to other municipalities and suffering a net loss in jobs.

  5. Anonymous says:

    If we all do all these healthful things we may not live longer, but we may not, it will just seem longer and we won’t be having any fun choosing our own poison.
    In the end there is an end. Everyone is going to die!

    using your logic, it’s probably in everyone’s best interests to kill themselves immediately

  6. Anonymous says:

    Patty, you have been very quiet with your pretty face, worthless Eric. With all his degrees, I don`t think he can spell leadership.

  7. Bob G says:

    Hi Ron
    I think that one of the things to consider is that environmental groups, like political parties, are the products of diverse memberships, and their positions involve lots of compromises, giving in to the loudest advocacy groups within their own memberships, and to a certain extent, adherence to their base principles. I suspect that at some point a few decades ago, the “environmental” movement bought into an ideology that treats comsumption as ultimately bad because it is at a level of unsustainability and has clearly become bad for the survival of habitats, thousands of species, and the stability of our planetary surface’s climate patterns.
    These are real and serious issues. But how a local issue such as DWP development fits into that overall ideology is not always clear. The result is the reflexive response to support lowered consumption, in this case by raising prices on energy use. The fact that the timing is bad, the motives are suspect, and the likelihood that the “green” development will occur is modest at best, are all counterarguments. The problem is that within the sacred walls of the enviro community, such counterarguments are treated the way a Democratic proposal would be viewed at a tea bagger rally.
    One way to replace or at least supplement carbon based electric power generation is to build nuclear plants. Even to suggest such an approach gets you villified, as your own site OurLA.org discovered when it dared to challenge the antinuclear community over the Santa Susanna issue.
    One last point. The danger to planetary health due to human population growth was brought up forcefully in the 1960s, but it has been either ignored (by the enviros, for instance) or disputed (by the Bush administration and lots of right wingers). If our human population was 3 or 4 billion instead of twice that number, the problems of global warming, deforestation, damage to the oceans, and many others would be enormously lower.
    But Ron, you should not dispute the reality of global climate change based on what scientific illiterates and blowhards say. Planetary science has gotten better from one decade to the next, and the flow of data, ability to analyze it, and the theoretical underpinnings of the calculations are getting pretty hard to dispute unless you are the three monkeys combined.

  8. anonymous says:

    Anonymous on March 28, 2010 8:24 PM wrote:
    “Its just plain foolish to put the blame on the Union whose job it is to look after their membership. That works into the hands of the leadership of the City ”
    I think it’s both-union leadership and elected (by the public) leadership.
    The union leadership has pushed the buck so far, beyond what can be afforded, that many members will be laid off (not counting IBEW, of course). Their threats of strikes and their campaign endorsements (paid for by membership paychecks, which are paid for by our rates and tax dollars) hold all hostage. The publicly elected leaders lack the ethics and fortitude needed to have drawn the line now and long ago. They have been told, time and time again, what steps are needed and have given into the unions.
    I use to be a union supporter, but not anymore. Their leaders are as corrupt as those billionaire developers and other corporations. It’s just the other side of a very tarnished coin-enabled by existing campaign finance laws.

  9. Anonymous says:

    To March 29, 2010 12:47 AM,
    I hope that you aren’t suggesting that new campaign finance laws will help.
    Even under current campaign finance laws, it is possible to prevail – just look at Paul Krekorian victor over his opponent who was backed by both Developers and the Union.
    So again, let me reiterate, it is wrong to demonize or blame the Union or Developers, its the elected officials and until you get that straight, you will play into their hands – they can continue accepting support and handing out favors to those special interests as long as you don’t focus the light on them, the elected officials.
    Anything else is just plain foolish.

  10. anonymous says:

    Your point that it is the blame of our elected officials is well taken. That they bend over to the power these union leaders have does, ultimately, put most of the blame on them. However, I do also blame the union leaders. They have enormous power and wealth. As long as money buys elections, corruption will happen. Union leaders can also rally their membership and threaten cessation of services. The money and power that did the buying is also to blame. Just ’cause it’s legal, doesn’t make it clean. That is why I think campaigns should only be publicly financed.
    Krekorian was a victory. He also had the backing of influential groups (Sierra Club, etc), as well as democratic and Latino leaders. That’s not to minimize the grass roots effort that helped him get elected….an anomaly. But, can we “afford” so few anomalies at this time?

  11. Anonymous says:

    8:24 PM, I didn’t rewrite history. Ron claimed there was no plan. I stated a plan existed since before Measure B was voted on. And yes DWP under previous mayors has been pushing for renewables but the utility was always exempt from the state RPS until 2009.
    I agree with not putting the blame on the unions. A union leader would not get elected or remain union leader if he wasn’t fighting for his consitituent. The council, on the other hand, is elected to represent the people.
    The fact that the timing is bad, the motives are suspect, and the likelihood that the “green” development will occur is modest at best, are all counterarguments.
    Timing, motives, and green jobs are all beside the point. If not enough green energy is incorporated into the portfolio, the city gets fined by the State and ratepayers will eat those fines. That is the driving force. Timing is negated by the state deadline. Motives, while important, aren’t the core of the policy. And even if zero green jobs were created the city would stll have to go through with this.
    One way to replace or at least supplement carbon based electric power generation is to build nuclear plants.
    I’m pro-nuclear as well but because it’s such a politicized and expensive technology, there’s no way ratepayers would agree to fund such a project. The interim GM by the way is one of the most anti-nuclear people on the planet.

  12. anonymous says:

    7:41 AM wrote: ” agree with not putting the blame on the unions. A union leader would not get elected or remain union leader if he wasn’t fighting for his consitituent. The council, on the other hand, is elected to represent the people.”
    I don’t believe union leaders are representing their constituents. I think they are representing their own re-election. The two are not always synonymous.

  13. Anonymous says:

    I don’t believe union leaders are representing their constituents. I think they are representing their own re-election. The two are not always synonymous.
    Can you give me an example of a union leader who did not benefit his consistuent and got reelected by them anyway?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Wait.
    AB32 passed the Assembly and was approved by the Governor in 2006. This law requires the state to adopt regulations and to monitor and enforce compliance on a certain timetable.
    Mary Nichols is the Governor’s appointed chair of the California Air Resource Board and it’s her job to implement this law.
    We live under a rule of law. Surely you must agree it would be a serious problem if our politicians were free to ignore laws they didn’t like. Actually I suspect you would go out of your way to call out politicians who break laws.
    So go back and rethink your tack on this story, because the ship on AB32 has sailed.
    You have a much better point to make about transparency in the calculation of the Energy Cost Adjustment Factor. You could have done some investigative reporting to that end.
    You could call for better transparency and accountability in terms of how the ECAF monies are spent.
    But you buried all that substance and chose instead to rant about political leverage from unions and the utilities and so forth.
    It’s easy to name an enemy and start pointing fingers, “it’s all their fault”. All that fingerpointing may draw eyeballs to your site and thus advertising revenue into YOUR pocket. (So how about a little transparency there?)
    But all this achieves nothing constructive in terms of solving the problem.

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