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They’re B-a-a-a-ck: New Mayhem in Store from the Council and DWP


EDITOR’S NOTE: The Daily News published an editorial Monday detailing dispassionately and intelligently the Department of Water problem. It’s headlined: Rewiring DWP: Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa must reform the city’s utility.

The nation’s
highest paid City Council has done no harm the last few weeks, preferring
instead to take one of its frequent vacations from doing the people’s business
so badly.

 

They are
back on the job Tuesday but it’s hard to know what they are up to and what
havoc they intend to cause because the Council Agenda website isn’t working.

 

Not so with
the rubber-stamp DWP Commission, facing a long agenda after enjoying an August
interlude that didn’t cost ratepayers even a penny.

 

Tuesday,
the commission will have the opportunity to sign off on a water rate increase
under a formula that is outdated, obscure and offensive as the 4.7 percent
permanent electricity rate DWP officials lied and connived to shove down the
public’s throat last spring in what is immortalized as the ECAF Fiasco.

 

This is the
WCAF Fiasco in honor of the little-known, and rarely used, Water Cost
Adjustment Factor.

 

The cost of
the WCAF, effective Jan. 1, is just under 10 cents per billing unit which means
they get only an extra $2.90 from me, having cut my water use in half. Others
will be hit harder and an increase in the base rate of 8 percent will soon be
up for approval.

 

The WCAF in
2007 and 2008 was zero, according to the DWP Commission agenda’s supporting
document and is six cents this year..

 

It is
interesting formula used to determine the WCAF.

 

It was
imposed in 1993 and uses only revenue generated by the base rate, not the
revenue that comes in from a wide variety of surcharges, including procurement
costs, quality improvement, security, revenue adjustment and Owens Valley
regulatory adjustment – all of which can lead to additional charges to rate
payers.

 

On the base
revenue side, DWP officials acknowledge that water use since conservation
measures were belatedly imposed led to a 9.8 percent reduction use, well below
previous claims by those officials.

 

They claim
a deficit of more than $21 million in base revenue based on the DWP’s own
projection targets for 2009-10. What isn’t said is that the Tier 3 surcharges
imposed as part of the conservation program actually covered the revenue lost
from reduced use and added by even more than 10 percent to the revenue brought
in.

 

So much for
Austin Beutner’s commitment to transparency and clarity that even ordinary
citizens can understand what is going on.

 

Simpler to
understand is the $232,206.47 being refunded to the Cheesecake Factory at the
Century City Mall for service between April 2008 and February 2010.

It seems
Cheesecake Factory was paying the entire bill for the whole mall and so was the
mall during that 22-month period.

 

In typical
obscuring language, DWP officials say that started an investigation of a “high
bill complaint” on Feb. 10 of this year without mentioning when the double-billing
complaint was filed.

 

It’s possible
Cheesecake Factory managers didn’t know their bill was out of whack with
reality for all that time or that the company’s complaints, like those of so
many residential customers, are ignored as long as possible.

 

Of greater
significance to every rate payer, and to every person on the planet worried
about global warming, is the reduction by up to two-thirds in DWP subsidies to
those wishing to make their homes and businesses more energy efficient and to
install solar energy panels.

 

The DWP is
cutting its subsidies sharply.

 

The main
justification is that the $2,000 cap on the federal tax credit for solar has
been lifted so our municipally-owned utility intends to pocket the savings
rather than using it to spur homes and businesses to go solar.

 

Why give
the public an incentive to do the right thing when that money can be used to
pay salaries and soaring pension costs?

 

You do get
a bigger subsidy if you let the DWP own your renewable energy credits rather
than selling them at a higher price to a private firm that pollutes the air,
like the oil companies that are backing Proposition 23.

 

Making
sense of the 10 different old formulas and 10 new formulas for the three
different classes of customers – residential, commercial, government/nonprofit -
with a variety of variable factors will prove difficult for anyone without a
degree is computational sciences.

 

The bottom
line is this: Subsidies to residential customers going solar get clobbered
while those to business fall the least.

 

It would be
nice to know about the $45 million being spent in a lost pursuit in the Owens Valley
but the website link is corrupted.

 

So we’ll
have to settle on why the DWP wants it s pension fund to suspend its
longstanding reciprocal arrangement with the LACERS, the civilian workers
pension fund.

 

The
reciprocity allowed workers to transfer to or from the DWP to other city
departments with full credit for city service and their own contributions going
with them but not the city’s.

 

Now, the
DWP is absorbing hundreds of city workers in makeshift jobs with raises up to
50 percent to utility officials want LACERS to make them whole in terms of
pension funding.

 

It’s almost
funny, really.

 

Here we
have the situation of one hand robbing Peter to pay Paul and the other robbing Paul
to pay Peter when we all know who will get the bills in the end.

 

The lesson
is there is no honor among thieves — or maybe we can’t wait another day to have a fully independent Rate Payer Advocate to protect us from the monster the DWP has become. 

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8 Responses to They’re B-a-a-a-ck: New Mayhem in Store from the Council and DWP

  1. Sandy Sand says:

    Isn’t there some federal, state or local authority to investigate this corrupt utility that acts like a private criminal organization and not a utility that’s owned by the public?

  2. Mariscal says:

    Don’t count on the City Attorney to do it. Trutanich is not good at navigating labyrinths. As for the County, find out if Cooley has accepted any “campaign contributions” from any person or organization with ties to DWP. You may be surprised at the results.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (“RICO”) Act
    http://www.ricoact.com/ricoact/theact.asp

  4. Anonymous says:

    Judicial Watch
    Judicial Watch, Inc., a conservative, non-partisan educational foundation, promotes transparency, accountability and integrity in government, politics and the law. Through its educational endeavors, Judicial Watch advocates high standards of ethics and morality in our nation’s public life and seeks to ensure that political and judicial officials do not abuse the powers entrusted to them by the American people. Judicial Watch fulfills its educational mission through litigation, investigations, and public outreach.
    The motto of Judicial Watch is “Because no one is above the law”. To this end, Judicial Watch uses the open records or freedom of information laws and other tools to investigate and uncover misconduct by government officials and litigation to hold to account politicians and public officials who engage in corrupt activities.
    http://www.judicialwatch.org/about-us

  5. Anonymous says:

    If you don`t think the City is not f…d up, then you are also f….d up. Parking meters broken, cannot pay w coins or credit card? Still you get ticket. As they say. Only in L.A.

  6. G. Shepherd says:

    According to the headline in today’s Daily News DWP customers will be paying less for water…an ENTIRE 11-CENTS a bill less.
    Oh, big WHOOPEE DOO!!! A whole 11-cents a month. Where will be spend all that savings? At that rate it will take a hundred years to save up for one bag of doggie treats.
    A far better headline would have read: DWP customers to see minuscule savings on water bills.
    So tiny, in fact, that they will need a magnifying glass the size of the Hubble telescope to find them.
    Grrrrrrrr!
    Bruno’s Pal, G

  7. Bob G says:

    Re: Judicial Watch
    Judicial Watch is a totally partisan, hack organization that accuses Democrats of unethical behavior. It publishes “top ten” lists which typically include a token Republican or two, missing the deep seated institutional evil that the Republican leadership represents.

  8. Anonymous says:

    3 words, Class action lawsuit. And vote the bums out dummies..

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