Life is a mystery and the only certainty is change — those are beliefs I live by as I try to figure out what the hell is going on from the scraps of clues that are left lying around.
There’s a lot of scraps for an inquiring mind to play around with from Antonio’s bungled attempt to rip off the public to the tune of nearly $700 million a year supposedly to get rid of LA’s coal-burning power plants, build new gas plants, nearly triple the green energy portfolio, rebuild the electrical grid, erase the general fund deficit and enrich his cronies — all by 2020!
By my math, 700 million times 10 equals 7 billion which wouldn’t even pay half the cost of just fulfilling the Integrated Resources Plan that DWP claims it doesn’t have — a claim defies all probability given its best and brightest have been working on it as part of their yet-to-be-adopted strategic plan for years.
So why would Antonio reject union bully boy Brian D’Arcy’s advice, send his Three Mediocrities — Carson, Carr and Szabo — to destroy the last vestige of credibility of the DWP Commission by taking over its climactic meeting last Wednesday, call a recess for 45 minutes and order the sinister CEO Raman Raj to claim the utility would go bottoms up if it didn’t get $6 million more than the City Council was willing to approve?
Think about it: $6 million for just three months or just six-tenths of one percent of what the DWP rakes in per quarter when the board is prepared to spend tens of millions, if not hundreds of millions, of dollars at its meeting Tuesday.
It doesn’t make sense unless a lot more is at stake, especially when you consider the Council will roll over in three months and approve far bigger increases unless there is a popular uprising.
Could it be he needed the money so jobs czar Austin Beutner can use it as play dough to subsidize job creation to justify his dollar-a-year salary and the $100,000-plus it cost the city to figure out how to give him free health benefits?
Could it be he needs the money to put hundreds of “green doctors” on the permanent DWP payroll to get gang members off the streets and into your homes to keep crime from soaring?
Could it be his party pals Keith Brackpool and Ari Swiller among others have so much money tied up in power and water speculative ventures they are desperate for cash the DWP can send their way?
There are so many possibilities and so many connected interests like the “green-washers” feeding off the environmental movement that believes we need to go green even if it bankrupts the city’s residents and businesses
And then there are the green profiteers.
Swiller, for instance, drives Antonio’s numerous fund-raising operations that channel favors for cash to various special interests. Before he got rich himself and set up Renewable Resources Group to profit from alternative energy and Hydrogen Now with partner David Freeman, now the interim DWP general manager, he used to work for supermarket tycoon Ron Burkle, who put Antonio on his payroll when he was out of work and now invests heavily in green energy and completes a circle that connects to such figures as Bill Clinton, Henry Cisneros and Stephen Bing to name a few..
He also managed to out-duel the DWP for the Rudnick property in Kern County which is perfect for a wind farm with DWP power lines running through it, a deal he instantly made a handsome profit on by selling half the land to the city of Vernon and while keeping the other half available to sell to the DWP should the opportunity arise someday.
Then, there’s Brackpool, the Cadiz water project “visionary” who also had Antonio on his payroll as well as Susan Kennedy, the governor’s chief of staff who previously played a key role for Grey Davis, another best pal of Brackpool’s..
Last June, Michael Hiltzik in the LA Times wrote a brilliant article tracing the Kennedy connection to Gov. Schwarzenegger’s startling decision to revive Brackpool’s Mojave Desert water project, noting the British promoter “continues to attract political sycophants happy to attest to his wisdom
in the ways of water policy — while they accept campaign contributions
and consulting fees from him and his company.”
Hiltzik concluded that Brackpool’s maneuvers show “how to mix politics and water: For a catalyst, try liberal amounts
Throw in all the money he bestowed on Kennedy and Antonio, all the campaign cash he throws around to various politicians, his tight connections to Davis, his role as Antonio’s closest adviser and provider of his vacations to Iceland where he has a large estate, and you have a guy with clout and perhaps the foresight to join Burkle, Swiller and his longtime partner, DWP General Manager David Freeman in the solar energy market.
You can believe, as some do, that Antonio is simply so stressed out and over his head that he’s lost his mind or you can wonder about what deals have been cooked behind the scenes that might explain his desperation to soak the public for as much as he can get in rate hikes while calling himself a bold and courageous “new idea” leader.
I, for one, tend to see the dark side of things when there’s so much evidence that belies the notion that dramatic increases in power rates that will destroy jobs at a time commercial property is in the tank and millions of residents are having trouble paying their bills.
It is a mystery, no doubt, but given the history of the games these people have played in the past, it appears the more things change, the more they stay the same.