Mon, Feb

Ratepayers Advocate: Union Bo$$ Fiddles and City Hall Churns


LA WATCHDOG - How will the newly formed “Citizens Commission for the Appointment of the Executive Director of the Office of Public Accountability” be able to make a considered decision when the vacationing City Council has not drafted or passed the necessary ordinances to define the duties and responsibilities of the Executive Director?

But maybe this is all by design as the Eric Garcetti led IBEW Seven (Garcetti, Zine, Wesson, Alarcon, Reyes, Huizar, and LaBonge, now less its eighth d’Arcy sycophant, Janice Hahn) continues to kowtow to campaign funding Union Bo$$ Brian d’Arcy, the public be damned business manager of the IBEW, the Department of Water and Power’s domineering union.  

But why is Union Bo$$ d’Arcy so dead set against a well funded, empowered, and truly independent Ratepayers Advocate to review and analyze the operations, finances, and management of DWP on a timely and continuous basis?

Very simple!

The Union Bo$$ views the DWP as his personal fiefdom, where no decision is made without his tacit approval. And as a result, transparency and accountability are not in the IBEW’s vocabulary.

If there was a well funded Ratepayers Advocate, would Measure B, the Mayor’s payoff to Union Bo$$ d’Arcy that would have cost Ratepayers billions and billions in higher rates, have made it to the ballot?   

If there was an empowered Ratepayers Advocate, would the recommendations of the last two charted mandated Industrial, Economic, and Administrative Surveys to establish benchmarking program to determine the efficiency (or more likely, the inefficiency) of DWP’s operations been trash canned?

If there was a truly independent Ratepayers Advocate, would the IBEW Labor Premium of $250 million still remain a state secret and a verboten topic at City Hall?  

Or would the December 2009 statement that the 11% to 19% IBEW wage increase resulted in “savings” of over $300 million by mathematically challenged wannabe Controller Dennis Zine pass the smell test?  

Absolutely not!  

To the contrary, there would have been greater transparency regarding many topics, including, but certainly not limited to, the stealth hiring of 1,600 City employees and the assumption of $200 million of unfunded pension liabilities, the IBEW’s overly restrictive work rules and resultant featherbedding, the inefficient IBEW construction work crews that cost twice as much and take twice as long as private contractors, the over $10 million slush fund to finance the Joint Safety and Joint Training Institutes, and the failure to bid out health care contracts that now cost twice as much as City healthcare benefits.

Rather than delaying the process further, the City Council and the Citizens Commission need to endorse the September 2010 Ratepayers Advocate Term Sheet that calls for a “well funded, empowered, and truly independent Ratepayers Advocate to review and analyze the operations, finances, and management of DWP as well as other matters not explicitly excluded from its role.

“In addition to all matters relating to rates and the reliability and quality of service, the Ratepayers Advocate would have the right to review and analyze, among other matters, DWP’s credit rating; its long term strategy; the Integrated Resources Plan; the Urban Water Management Plan; the Recycled Water Master Plan; the state of its infrastructure and information technology systems; its Customer Relation Management systems; the implementation of the recommendations of the IEA Survey and Independent Fiscal Review; the efficiency of its operations; its procurement, contracting, and inventory policies; its relationship with the City and its departments; and all material contracts, including those with the Metropolitan Water District and its unions.”

Furthermore, the “Ratepayers Advocate will have a “seat at the table” at any meeting of the Board of Commissioners or any of its committees and at any City Council meeting or any of its committees when the DWP is being discussed.  The Ratepayers Advocate will be given equal time.”

Fortunately, the Council Members are familiar with the Ratepayers Advocate Term Sheet because most, if not all, participated in the six community meetings around the City where they explicitly or implicitly endorsed the Term Sheet.

The Energy and Environment Committee (the “E & E Committee”) also spent considerable time working with City Administrative Officer and the Chief Legislative Analyst in developing the proposal that was later emasculated by the IBEW Eight, using the flimsy excuse that they were concerned about campaign funding Union Bo$$ d’Arcy’s reaction.

But now that 78% of the voters approved Measure I, the IBEW Seven need to acknowledge that this is OUR Department of Water and Power, not Union Bo$$ d’Arcy’s personal feed bag, and collaborate with those Ratepayer friendly Council Members who supported the Term Sheet: Jan Perry, the Chair of the E & E Committee, her fellow Committee Members, Tony Cardenas, Paul Krekorian, and Paul Koretz, as well as other supporters, Bernard Parks, Bill Rosendahl, and the now retired Greig Smith.

The Ratepayers Advocate Term Sheet is an excellent blue print for the Citizens Commission to begin its mission of selecting an Executive Director who has the requisite experience and expertise to represent the Ratepayers.

If the process of selecting an Executive Director is viewed as crooked or less than transparent, and does not have the input of the Neighborhood Councils and other Ratepayers, the lack of trust and confidence in City Hall, the City Council and its Members, and DWP will once again surface in the 2013 City wide elections, just like it did in 2009 when the underfunded and outgunned Ratepayers rejected the City Hall and IBEW concocted Measure B.

No TRUSTED Ratepayers Advocate, No Rate Increase.

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:  [email protected] ) –cw

Tags: Brian d’Arcy, IBEW, Garcetti, Wesson, Hahn, LaBonge, Alarcon, Reyes, Huizar, Ratepayers Advocate, Citizens Committee

Vol 9 Issue 66
Pub: Aug 16, 2011