I know beloved Chief Daryl Gates was buried Tuesday but the funeral was over at 11 a.m. and the Council convened half an hour later and just before 1 p.m. voted to allow the con job DWP rate increase to become permanent on a 9-5 vote.
Sellouts Alarcon, Cardenas, Hahn, Wesson and Garcetti as expected provided the five votes to reject taking jurisdiction of the sleight of hand they pulled off to turn a one-quarter increase of nearly 5 percent in power rates into a permanent rate increase.
The mayor’s boys don’t feel a need to listen to the public because they think they are so secure but Cardenas and Wesson will be facing organized challenges for re-election next March from the Clean Sweep Campaign (lacleansweep.com) and Hahn suffers delusions of grandeur that ignoring the public in exchange for union money will carry her into the office of lieutenant governor — a heartbeat away from becoming governor of the formerly great State of California.
The critical 10th vote was missing in action, Bernard Parks, the former police chief who had every reason to pay full respect to Gates’ controversial service to the city.
Yet, less than half an hour after he chose not to support his ally Jan Perry and fulfill his commitments, Parks appeared at the City Council Chamber to run the first Budget and Finance Committee hearing on the mayor’s new fictitious budget plan. (Corrected: LA Times reports Parks walked in right after the vote and said he didn’t know the issue was coming up but opposed making the increase permanent.).
Parks was assuming his favored role as the public’s guardian on the city’s finances — a role he has done so well we are faced with seeing our libraries and parks closing, our building code enforcement and community planning abolished, our Neighborhood Council system decimated and our DWP rates rising in what is just the first step in a massive escalation.
Parks — the half-million dollar a year man with his pension and salary and lucrative perks and benefits — was a no-show when it counted.
He must be preoccupied with his war against senior lead officers and the three-day work week for cops and thus forgot that he could have pressured the DWP to deliver the $73.5 million it promised to the general fund and given ratepayers a fair shot and forcing the utility to come clean about all the hundreds of plans and costs it has done such a good job of hiding for so long.
It would be charitable to let him off the hook as nothing but a lapse in memory. But that isn’t the truth. It was a rigged vote and Parks made it happen intentionally.
The Council has a long tradition of fixing the vote on controversial issues so that they appear to be close and gee whiz the public lost again.
That’s what happened a week ago when Zine and Krekorian rolled over and let them get away with making the DWP rate hike permanent without anyone except maybe the Machiavellian Garcetti really knowing what they were doing.
So with five “no” votes secure and Parks taking a dive, everyone else on the Council was free to pander to the anger and resentment of their constituents without disrupting the flow of money to a secretive and demonstrably incompetent agency that represents the city’s most valuable asset.
For all his talk about fiscal responsibility, for all his knowledge of penny-ante fine points of the city budget, Parks has allowed the city to paper over its overspending, make promises to workers and the public it cannot keep and pushed the city to brink of bankruptcy as much as anybody.
For a cop, always being there when duty calls is what makes them better than the rest of us. The greatest failing of Gates was that he was off partying when the Rodney King riots erupted and got out of hand.
For Parks, it was that he wasn’t there when we needed the Council to stand up to the DWP on behalf of the four million people of this city. He can posture and nitpick all he wants from now on, but he was the missing man when it counted.