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March 8 election: Can you trust the DWP's rate increases?

DWP While Measure L (for libraries) may be closest to voters' hearts, it's Measures I and J that may be closest to our pocketbooks. Measure I would put a ratepayer advocate in place for the Department of Water and Power, meaning we'd have a third-party independently advising for or against rate increases based on L.A.'s needs. Measure J would force the DWP, which has been known for shady behavior, to work withthe City Council on budget plans. Both measures aim to ensure DWP accountability and transparency.

When L.A. City Council President Eric Garcetti  stopped by our office in January, he explained his  impetus for Measures I and J. Here are snippets from the interview that helped the editorial board form its opinion for a yes on both measures.

"The problem is, the DWP seemed too remote. There wasn’t dependable independent information, and they weren’t abiding by the same rules that the rest of the city had to play by on ground budgeting in particular. Measure J […] says the budget should come in on time, the same time that the regular city budget occurs, and that it should be more detailed. It’s essentially just a summary that we’re given when it’s too late to do anything about it for our own fiscal year, and that was seen as a problem." [Read about last spring’s scandal here.] [...]

"I know for a lot of the advocacy community, the environmental community, the neighborhood councils -- they've always said, 'Can we get a real budget so that we can look through that?' I mean, the most basic part of government, which is to get documents, to look at them, and to make our own decisions hasn’t existed on the budget." [...]

"A lot of people say, 'Oh, you want a ratepayer advocate who is just going to argue for low rates no matter what.' We don’t want the lowest rates no matter what. We want the lowest rates given the priorities of building out our infrastructure, greening this utility; we know that it’s not going to be the cheapest power we have, we just don't trust when they do want to do these things that they actually are telling us the truth about how much they need."

RELATED:

Los Angeles Times Endorsements

Voter guide: March 8 Los Angeles Election

Decoding the ballot: Think measure L for Libraries, M for Marijuana and N for No-good-reason

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: DWP workers stand near a geyser created from a water main break in Van Nuys in November 2009. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times

 

Comments () | Archives (5)

The comments to this entry are closed.

Peter in Pasadena

The only problem with DWP rates is the L.A. City Council raids the profits the LADWP makes to balance the socialist budget they approve.

The profits of lthe LADWP should be reinvested in improvments or retuned to the ratepayers in the form of lower rates. That will nevre happen as long as the city spends more than the taxes it collects. They see the LADWP as a cash cow to balance the budget.

This ratepayer advocate is a sham.

Peter in Pasadena

Peter in Pasadena

The only problem with DWP rates is the L.A. City Council raids the profits the LADWP makes to balance the socialist budget they approve.

The profits of lthe LADWP should be reinvested in improvments or retuned to the ratepayers in the form of lower rates. That will nevre happen as long as the city spends more than the taxes it collects. They see the LADWP as a cash cow to balance the budget.

This ratepayer advocate is a sham.

Peter in Pasadena

John in Koreatown

Actually, Peter, I am in the City of Los Angeles and unlike you, I support this. The ratepayer advocate idea came from the Neighborhood Councils, and while not perfect, this is a really important step. You miss the point--this isn't about the council or the mayor. This is about the public getting the info. And I for one would much rather have a public utility whose profits help keep cops on the beat and pave our streets, so I don't have a problem. My neighborhood council leaders all support this and I am voting yes on both!

romeo ruan

Precisely because of the DWP, Los Angeles should follow the Wisconsin initiative. Whenever I see or hear about the DWP, it immediately reminds me of Bell and whatever happened there.

youareuniquelikeeveryoneelse

I trust this rate increase as far as I could throw a DWP employee, and judging by the obesity rates of DWP employees, that is not very far


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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.



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