Comment on this post

My Sunday Column: Restructuring a Municipal Utility — Will It Work for the Public’s Benefit?

Like dominoes tipping over, one after another, cities — first Vallejo, now San Bernardino, next Compton — are seeking relief from their fiscal incompetence and reckless irresponsibility by hiding behind bankruptcy laws that leave creditors and employees in the lurch, and the citizens to protect and serve themselves.

You have to wonder how many others will follow suit as the state of California and the hundreds of government agencies under its jurisdiction keep on budgeting fictitious spending cuts, improbable tax and revenue increases and ineffective long-term public employee pension reforms as if the four-year recession soon will end and the good times are just around the corner.

With that as a backdrop, the drama in recent months over what is going on with Glendale Water & Power is worth examining to see whether city leaders are, like so many others, masking over problems or coming to terms with past mistakes to fix what got broken.

The utility’s general manager was replaced, water rates were increased, electricity rate hikes are being sought, a credit rating agency downgraded its water bonds, and the utility workers bolted from the city union to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers — but have yet to get a contract, despite 19 negotiating sessions.

“GWP is in transition in every sense, from the labor standpoint, from the leadership standpoint, from a financial standpoint; but the takeaway for us is that at least we know where we are going,” City Manager Scott Ochoa said last week as he talked about the “fundamental restructuring” he is carrying out in the utility’s management and culture.

“Where GWP is going is where the rest of the organization already is. GWP is like the moon orbiting the earth. The attitude is, ‘We’re separate. We have our own money. We are doing our own thing.’ That’s what has to change going forward as we reconcile our finances, zero-out capital expenditures, and achieve cost attainment, better leadership, strong management — all those things are the future of GWP.”

The point man for carrying out the changes is Steve Zurn, the city’s public works director who is serving as interim GWP general manager and likely will get the position permanently in the fall after a top-down analysis of the organization is complete.

Most people take utility services for granted. Turn the faucet, the water flows. Flip a switch, the lights come on. But there are critics who question the need for rate increases, regard smart meters as a waste of $60 million, and denounce the $20-million-a-year transfer of “surplus” electricity revenue to the general fund — a common practice among public utilities — as an illegal tax.

(READ FULL STORY)

This entry was posted in Glendale-Burbank and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to My Sunday Column: Restructuring a Municipal Utility — Will It Work for the Public’s Benefit?

  1. Wayne from Corruptopia says DWP SHOULD FILE FOR BANKRUPTCY TOO! says:

    …Then the Chinese can buy DWP out of the auction and move all the jobs to China! HA HA HA HA! Outsource our Electric and Power! HA HA HA!!!

  2. Teddy says:

    Ron, when I read about the bankruptcies, why was I not surprised? We can’t just “CHARGE” every new, “wonderful” action for the state and its cities.

    The “officials” we elected (don’t forget that these people won their elections and
    somebne voted for them) actiually believe that is their job.

    Meantime all the rest of us manage our households and earned money with
    more finesse. We realize we cannot afford every “new” gadget that comes
    out of technology. Or some expensive building project to make LA
    THE most wonderful city in the world. It ain’t going to happen.

    People – we have to vote our kind of people in to help u solve our problems.
    Not as a career “manager” but how to stop raising our taxes until finally
    we are living within our means.

    I think the next election in which we vote in new people and defeat encumbents
    is a good start, We also need “right to work” law instead of the bossy unions.

  3. Wayne from Corruptopia visiting Malibu says:

    Traffic South on PCH is JAMMED. Travel North and it moves pretty good. When you order a french fries at Malibu MCDONALDS===the manager demands you pay extra
    for a single BARBEQUE SAUCE!!!! cALL 1-800-244-6227 (mCDONALD’S CUSTOMER CARE NUMBER ON THE BAG) AND TELL THEM ABOUT THIS STUPID DAMN POLICY, ESPECIALLY THE OTHER MCDONALDS IN OXNARD, ENCINO, AND VENTURA GIVE YOU A FREE SAUCE WITH A PURCHASE OF FRENCH FRIES!!! tHEY CHARGED ME $2.50 FOR THE DAMN FRIES, AND WANT ANOTHER .25 CENTS FOR A TINY bbq SAUCE? wtf?
    Good news—going up to heaven soon (Ventura County) to continue the search for a new home.

    • Anywhere But L.A. says:

      I’m sure you’ve done your homework on Ventura County, so you know you’ll be trading the DWP for Southern California Edison, which I’ve heard is even worse than the DWP.

      Every place has its up and down sides. A friend moved from “paradise” (Oahu) to Ashland, Oregon and found Ashland has as much craziness as his former island home minus the vog and tsunamis.

      Good luck finding “utopia,” which is like finding a good friend or mate. We have to accept the bitter with the better and hope the bitter is sweetened by more better than bitter.

  4. GWP needs an experienced General Manager that understands the utility business. And the greater the distance from City Hall, the better off the Ratepayers will be.

  5. Wayne from Corruptopia subbing in for Ron 7/24/2012 says:

    Ron must be on assignment. From the newsdesk, this is today’s headlines for your City of Corruption, Corruptopia: aS OF 2:50PM 7/24/2012
    1/CITY COUNCIL TO VOTE ON BANNING POT HEADS FROM INFESTING COMMUNITIES WITH STUPID POT SHOPS
    2/CITY OF EL MONTE TO ALLOW SPECIAL ELECTION OF WELFARE MOOCHES TO TAX SODAS AND DRIVE MORE EMPLOYERS OUT OF L.A. COUNTY;
    3/LORD MIKE ANTONOVICH TRIES TO EXTEND HIS REIGN ON HIS THRONE FOR 8 MORE YEARS;
    4/ Stock Market blows a head gasket for 3rd straight day (107 pt loss, sitting at about 12,690 overall or something close to it)
    5/ Dennis Zine rumored to have closed escrow on a home in WEST HOLLYWOOD CITY. Is it true or just a rumor?
    6/ KABC radio has LEO “THE LION” TERRELL ON from 9pm-12am tonight, and all this week. Also, JOHN PHILIPS GETS 9AM-12PM ALL WEEK. Seems there is a God as both TILDEN AND GERALDO ARE OFF AT THE SAME TIME! and yes THEY TAKE REAL CALLERS LIVE ON THE AIR! Will KABC’s management wake up and ADMIT THESE CHANGES SHOULD BE PERMANENT?
    7/ My neighbors Chihuahua gets loose and bites my shoe! MUST BE A RELATIVE OF COUNCIL=CLOWN MITCHEL ENGLANDER?
    8/ THOUGHT OF TODAY===Which of the following is bigger== An average Rotweiler or Mitch Englander?
    (Ron may possibly delete this post—so if you like the levity, share it with friends (except Mrs. Englander of course!)
    A BIG SHOUT OUT TO BRUNO-=WUF WUF!

  6. Anonymous says:

    With Ron MIA, we have this blog to ourselves, so here is a reminder to folks about Dennis Zines’s duplicity on the Council’s marijuana ban- “But Councilman Dennis Zine, who voted for both the ban and the plan to allow some dispensaries to stay open, suggested that police might not enforce the ban against the city’s original pot shops while the new ordinance is being drawn up”. Such a dubious man should not be allowed to win another city election. Send him into retirement to enjoy his 6-figure pensions. We need honest people in city positions.

  7. Wayne subbing in for the missing Ron 7/25/12 says:

    With Ron away, the Bloggers will play!!!
    Great post on the Pot Heads above and
    ZINE SUCKS!!!!!!!! VOTE AGAINST THE DUMMY AND FOR ANYONE ELSE RUNNING FOR THE CONROLLER SEAT! Imagine a COP like Zine saying the cops SHOULD NOT ENFORCE LAWS AGAINST TURNING KIDS INTO POT HEADS!!!
    Also Today’s headlines….
    1/ ZINE AND DUMBTANICH ORCHISTRATE THE PROSECUTION OF A CAMERA MAN WHO TRIED TO SNAP A PIX OF JUSTIN BEEBER ON THE 101!! They’re trying to get the guy a fine and jail for trying to take a picture of this dumb signer who himself was going over 110 mph on the freeway.
    2/ KABC update—Leo “the lion” Terrel and Lawrence Elder wont take my calls on the air and HUNG UP ON ME WHILE ON HOLD WAITING TO TALK TO THE HOST! Leo is writing a book about his career, I suggested he call it “I’M NOT LARRY ELDER.” Thus, good to see KABC is shutting out Angelinos from speaking about their City. I wonder what talk radio sounds like in Ventura County? I’ll let you know soon…
    3/ DOG OWNERS demand apology—Apparently some are angry that I suggested their beloved pets (Chihuahuas) were like Council Clown Mitchell Englader. Turns out Chihuahuas are FAR SUPERIOR to the Councilman. I agree and thank those dog owners for pointing this out to me.
    4/ 405 freeway from 101 to Olympic is a disaster area with the construction going on.
    TRY TO AVOID THIS STRETCH OF FREEWAY! After 10pm IT IS A TRAFFIC HAZARD TO GO NORTHBOUND ON ESPECIALLY.
    5/ Brad Sherman CONTINUES TO MAIL ME (AND ANOTHER 100,000 OTHER VOTERS probably) his propoganda color brochures AT TAXPAYER EXPENSE!!! I’ve gotten 5 of these already this year!!!! VOTE FOR MARK REED ON THAT RACE…
    6/ L.A. Times Monday had a plumber advertise this “DWP SEWER SERVICE CHARGE TO INCREASE 70%, TIME TO GET A SECONDARY WATER METER…”
    eeekkkk!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You can get a 2nd water meter installed for your lawn and pool, that way THAT WATER YOU USE DOESN’T GET HIT WITH THE SSC charges!!! If you have a big lot and use alot of water for the lawns and pools—LOOK INTO THIS IDEA.
    7/ Dow Jones finally gained today a mere 70 points. Gold, however bounced up over $1,600 an ounce today.
    8/ MORTGAGE RATES TO DROP HARD AGAIN THIS WEEK—will be the ALLTIME LOW according to 2 reports I heard today. 7 year fixed interest rate loans go for 2.87% with no points!!!!!!!!!!! INTEREST ONLY TOO!!! Listen to Al Rantell from 12pm SaTURDAYS and then there are a bunch more of these lender shows. Then VISIT A CREDIT UNION or 2 or 3, and see their offer sheets. WOW! Sounds like a get-out-of-L.A. Card to me?

  8. Kk says:

    Maybe Ron is having a life or taking a well deserved vacation. He nver moderates the comments anyway. Hope you are having fun, Ron. You deserve it.

  9. Wayne from Corruptopia subbing in for Ron 7/25/2012 says:

    RE: kk—WRONG!!! RON DELETED MY EARLIER POST!!! Thus, I’ll have to post LIBERAL crap instead of anything of news:
    REPUBLICANS: bAAAAAAAAAAAAADDDD
    DEMOCRATS: gOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOODDD.
    I did manage to call into Leo “The Lion” Terrell tonight around the end of the 9pm timeframe. Ha Ha Ha Ron!! I got to speak despite your CENSORSHIP. ha ha ha!!!
    (read it while you can, you know where this post will go.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>