Eric Garcetti showed his true color Tuesday — yellow, the color of the coward.
After months of effort by concerned citizens and three months of Council public hearings, the man who would be mayor cut a last-minute deal with IBEW union bully Brian D’Arcy to gut the proposed Charter amendment to create a Rate Payer Advocate to protect the public from the DWP, its long-term mismanagement and outrageous.rate hikes.
“Gutted” is the word Greig Smith used for it, Tony Cardenas called it a deliberate attempt to make the Rate Payer Advocate’s role “ambiguous.”
It took all Garcetti’s leverage as Council President to twist the arms of his weakest colleagues to win an-8-7 vote to pass a Charter amendment proposal for the March 8 ballot that is all but meaningless.
Remember who knuckled under: The indicted fefon RIchard Alarcon; Jose Huizar, Tom LaBonge and Herb Wesson, all frightened to death the IBEW will spend heavily to defeat in their re-election bids; the irrelevant Janice Hahn and Ed Reyes, and the duplicitous Dennis Zine.
Those with half a brain and an ounce of courage and integrity stood behind the specific and clear language worked out in a long public process and was drafted by the City Attorney’s Office last week and sent to the Council on Friday.
But well into the meeting with an IBEW lobbyist lurking in the background, Garcetti pulled key paragraphs from the proposal, describing in detail the broad authority and power of what has become the Office of Public Accountability (OPA) and deleting any mention of the Rate Payer Advocate.
“The role of the OPA shall be to (1) promote efficiency and effectiveness of the department; (2) provide a centralized focus on ratepayer protection and consumer complaints; and (3) provide independent analysis of department actions, particularly as they relate to water and electricity rate actions. The OPA shall advocate against
excessive rates and shall provide expert advice on rate actions and strategies which most economically accomplish the City’s policy goals and protect the department’s long-term interests,” the draft said.
When Garcetti was done, the OPA will keep an eye of some sort on water and power rates and have vague authority as to even what information it can obtain.
What the OPA really will do and how the office is structured and the executive director is chosen will be decided later by the City Council — if the public is gullible enough to vote for this sham.
You can trust people like Garcetti and his colleagues do the right thing,. can’t you? After all, they have done such a great job of looking after the public’s money and paving the street and sidewalks and protecting our neighborhoods, haven’t they?
You better be able to trust these people who have for so long betrayed the public trust because just about every one of the nearly one dozen ballot measures they approved Tuesday leaves what voters approve up to the Council to decide what it really means — after the public votes in March.
Take the requirement that they maintain a healthy emergency reserve fund in case of a riot or earthquake. The ballot measure is so full of loopholes, the Council can raid the reserve any time it wants just by getting 10 votes together and declaring a fiscal emergency like the one invoked to raid the reserve fund the last two years.
Then, there’ s the hollow measure to lift the cap on public financing of campaigns and put $3 million in it every year. It doesn’t do anything to provide more money to challengers to the incumbents so heavily financed by special interests and the Council can take the money back any time it wants.
That measure is lumped together with one banning contractors with the city from contributing to political campaigns but it doesn’t effect developers who supply most of the dirty money and does nothing to stop contractors, unions or anyone else from spending as much as they want through independent expenditure committees.
You can go through the whole list and I’m sure there is anything of consequence that anyone who cares about the city’s future should bother to support.
From what I saw watching them make a mockery of good government for more than five hours, it won’t make a difference whether we pass or reject these measures.
They do nothing to fix the budget crisis, the pension crisis, the disaster that has become the DWP or anything else.
Surely, the symbol of this phony reform ballot is the tax they approved on sales of marijuana — sales that are illegal under state law and possession of which is a federal crime.