Editor’s Note: DWP officials will hold a workshop Wednesday night from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the DWP cafeteria at 111 N. Hope St. and promises an open discussion of its rate hike plans with the community.
With the new fiscal year under way and the formalities of celebrating liberty, equality and justice out of the way, the City Council went back to work Tuesday calling on the Washington to end all ways and give the money to the cities and states which really know how to spend it.
Their work done just 34 minutes after they were called to order, the nation’s highest paid city officials adjourned and headed to the beach, presumably.
In contrast, dozens of volunteer community activists who could have been at the beach spent four hours in the sweltering heat in Hollywood learning about the city’s problems and trying to find solutions.
First, the citizen advocacy committee on the Department of Water and Power voted to call on the City Council and DWP officials to back off on plans to impose utility rate hikes in excess of 20 percent until the Office of Public Accountability is in place and able to conduct independent studies of what it is planned and why it costs so much. Immediately afterward, the LA Neighborhood Council Coalition endorsed the delay unanimously.
You might remember how after years of public demands for some protection from abuses by the discredited DWP and the mayor’s rate hike fiasco in spring 2010, the Council moved forward on creating the Rate Payer Advocate with independence, broad powers and a budget of at least $4 million.
Unfortunately, that great democrat Eric Garcetti exercised his authority as Council President to water down the RPA dramatically with a little political sleight-of-hand and abuse of power so funding was slashed by 75 percent, authority was limited and the misleadingly named Office of Public Accountability took the place of the Rate Payer Advocate.
Still, the public overwhelmingly approved the Charter Amendment creating the OPA although Garcetti has yet to act on appointing the committee of citizens who will hire the agency’s executive director.
Showing he is far too reasonable considering who he is dealing with, Jack Humphreville, head of the DWP Advocacy Committee, wrote on CityWatchLA
today that a small, short-term increase might be justified while the OPA is getting organized
than a rush to judgment, especially since the proposed rate increases involves
billions of Ratepayer dollars, the Energy and Environmental Committee should
recommend that DWP consider a one year increase that would cover the
Department’s Basic Needs and Strategic Investments.”
Neighborhood activists were less charitable with regards to plans to run roughshod over common sense and democratic processes to approve a deal with AEG to tear down half the Convention Center rebuild it at public expense when they construct an NFL stadium.on city land and two parking garages while reaping all the profits from naming rights, digital billboard advertising up against the freeways and Convention Center operations.
Some of the tax revenue will go to pay off the city’s $750 million in debt on the Convention Center while the rest will go into the bank account of Denver billionaire Phil Anschutz who has set up a dummy corporation in Delaware to run this deal outside of California law.
The city’s share for paying salaries, benefits, running parks, libraries, fire and police service is zero, zilch, nothing.
LANCC voted unanimously to oppose the deal as it is constituted now — an important gesture since AEG, one of the heaviest contributors to local politicians, has set a July 31 deadline for approval of the deal as they have proposed it.
Grreg Nelson, who was chief of staff to then Councilman Joel Wachs when he heroicially stood up to AEG and got the massive subsidies for Staples Center reduced, wrote a devastating report on City Watch on the anti-democratic processes being used by the Council with support from the City Attorney’s Office.
“UNLOCKING THE CLOSED-DOORS ATTITUDE – If you cherish democracy
and the public’s involvement in government’s decision-making process, be
glad that you missed the meetings of the City Council’s Ad Hoc
Committee on the Proposal Downtown Stadium and Events Center.
The committee was formed shortly after the Anschutz Entertainment Group
announced plans to build a football stadium next to the Convention
Center and Staples Center,” Nelson began..
“The first red flag was when
Councilmember Jan Perry was named as chair. That’s not a knock against
Perry personally, but the stadium is being proposed for her district so
it’s reasonable to assume that the interests of the city as a whole and
the city budget would take a back seat to an opportunity to erect a
shiny new building in her backyard.
“The conduct of the first
meeting several weeks ago, and last week’s second meeting would have
made any democracy geek run away screaming.
“Closely following the
Stadium Builder’s Guidebook, the agendas for each meeting weren’t made
public until the last minute, something that a committee chair would do
if the goal were to ensure that the gallery would be filled only with
“Weeks before last Thursday’s meeting, the stadium
developer was telling people which day the meeting would be held, but
the agenda wasn’t posted until 24 hours before the 9:30 a.m. start time
at City Hall. See the pattern?”
Nelson traces the back-room games and then concludes:
“At the end of last week’s meeting, Perry wanted the committee to meet
behind closed doors for a while. It wasn’t clear what the discussion
would be about, but the Chief Legislative Analyst said that the
negotiating team needed guidance on two or three issues regarding
development of the Environmental Impact Report.
“he deputy city
attorney explained that if it were to meet secretly its conclusions
would have to be affirmed by the City Council. Seemingly shocked at the
prospect of other elected officials being a part of the process, she
dropped the idea. It isn’t clear who answered the CLA’s questions.
the meeting ended, Perry took a verbal shot, but not by name, at
Councilman Bill Rosendahl for daring to ask questions about the
proposal, suggesting that the ad hoc committee follow the Brown Act, and
holding all of its discussions in public. Radical!
“Perry criticized those who were ‘grandstanding.
it’s grandstanding to ask the kind of questions that are reasonable to
expect from elected officials trying to ensure that the city gets the
best deal possible, then Rosendahl is guilty.
“But at least he…….
wasn’t standing shoulder-to-shoulder with the developer as the project
and the plan for a taxpayers’ subsidy was announced, tossing around
footballs and waving pom-poms for the cameras.”