- Written by Jack Humphreville
16 Dec 2011
LA WATCHDOG - The delays in the establishment of the Ratepayers Advocate caused by Mayor Villaraigosa and the Garcetti led IBEW Ring Kissers on the City Council (Wesson, Zine, Alarcon, Huizar, and Reyes) is starting cost real money.
On Wednesday, Fitch Ratings downgraded the Water System’s credit rating, citing the Department of Water and Power’s “inability to receive consideration of its rate proposal resulting from the City’s delay in getting a Ratepayers Advocate in place.”
This downgrading will cost DWP and ultimately Ratepayers over $200 million, if not more, over the 30 year life of the $2.5 billion in bonds that the Water System anticipates issuing over the next five years to finance $3.8 billion in capital expenditures.
This inexcusable delay will also increase the Water Systems costs associated with the $600 million of capital expenditures required to meet the drinking water quality compliance standards mandated by the California Department of Public Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.
As a result, DWP, much to its chagrin, has been forced to request an interim rate increase in water rates of around $75 million to fund these mandated projects, especially those involving the five remaining open reservoirs (Silver Lake, Ivanhoe, Elysian, Upper Stone Canyon and Los Angeles).
This legitimate request is unfortunate since DWP spent considerable time and effort this past summer educating Ratepayers, the Mayor, the City Council, and the public about the need for increases in our water and power rates that are necessary to fund numerous environmental mandates and the repair and maintenance of its infrastructure.
In defense of this interim increase, DWP should not be punished for the sins of the self serving Mayor and the IBEW Ring Kissers on the City Council.
While this interim increase in our water rates comprises about 40% of the overall water rate request, it represents less than 8% of the total water and power increases over the next three years.
And last week, the interim rate increase was approved by the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils, but by the slimmest of margins; provided, however, that these funds be used only for water quality, that this interim rate increase be subsequently blessed by the Ratepayers Advocate and PA Consulting, and, most importantly, that the interim bump not increase our water rates over and above the three year rate proposal that was presented this summer.
Underlying the failure to establish the Ratepayers Advocate on a timely basis is campaign funding IBEW Union Bo$$ Brian d’Arcy who abhors increased transparency and accountability for OUR Department of Water and Power. Of course, this is understandable given the $250 million IBEW Labor Premium, the inefficient IBEW construction work crews that cost twice as much and take twice as long as private contractors, and the burdensome work rules that result in overstaffing by his members.
Probably the most egregious example of Union Bo$$ d’Arcy’s abuse of power was Measure B, the Mayor’s Solar Initiative that was payback for the $400,000 of campaign contributions to the Villaraigosa war chest in 2005. Fortunately, despite millions spent by the Mayor, Union Bo$$ d’Arcy and their partners in crime, the shenanigan plagued Measure B was rejected by the voters in March of 2009 as they realized that Ratepayers would have been hit with literally billions in extra costs.
Ratepayers have a right to be upset. Nine months after 78% of the voters approved the Ratepayers Advocate, the Garcetti led City Council has not even drafted an ordinance defining the role and responsibilities of the Ratepayers Advocate.
Nor has a Ratepayers Advocate been selected, although there are 47 qualified candidates being reviewed by the politically appointed Citizens Commission.
More than likely, it will be over a year from the election before the Ratepayers Advocate is up and running.
But Ratepayers still have two trump cards.
In March of 2013, Ratepayers will be able to express their frustration with Garcetti and Zine in the City wide elections for Mayor and Controller.
And Ratepayers may also have the right to approve the $250 million, 8% Power Transfer Fee pursuant to Proposition 26 (the Supermajority Vote to Pass New Taxes and Fees Act) that was approved by California voters in November of 2010.
We need a well funded, empowered, and truly independent Ratepayers Advocate who will respect the wishes of 78% of the voters and not the self serving interests of the Elected Elite and campaign funding Union Bo$$ d’Arcy.
Tags: Jack Humphreville, Ratepayer’s Advocate, Union Boss d’Arcy, DWP, water rates, water rate increases, City Council, Eric Garcetti, Dennis Zine
Vol 9 Issue 100
Pub: Dec 16, 2011