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DWP board president says he plans to resign

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's top appointee at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power said Tuesday he would step down from his post at the end of the year, the latest example of churn in an agency that has experienced frequent leadership turnover since the mayor has been in office.

DWP Commission President Lee Kanon Alpert said the volunteer post had forced him to spend huge amounts of time away from his law practice and his family.

"I just can't any longer continue to do it," Alpert told the audience at the board's regular meeting.

Fighting back tears as he spoke, Alpert thanked Villaraigosa, the City Council and Brian D'Arcy, the head of the powerful DWP employee union. "We have worked exceedingly well together," he said, referring to D'Arcy.

The announcement comes as the utility is considering a plan to raise electricity rates by an average of 5% to 8% each of the next five years. The departure also follows a period of upheaval for the nation's largest municipally-owned utility as it attempts to meet the mayor's lofty environmental goals by dramatically expanding its use of renewable energy.

The agency has had five top executives in the last three and a half years and has lacked a permanent general manager since October 2009. Meanwhile, the five-member DWP commission, whose members are chosen by Villaraigosa, has had four board presidents since 2006.

Alpert was at the center of a nasty fight over electricity rates last spring, one that nearly pushed the city to the financial brink as the DWP threatened to withhold $73.5 million from the budget that pays for police officers, firefighters and basic services. In one extraordinary night meeting in March, members of the City Council warned the DWP commission that ratepayers could not afford Villaraigosa's proposed rate hike and implored the panel to approve an alternative plan that would give Villaraigosa three-fourths of what he wanted.

Instead, the panel abruptly took a break and went into rooms behind the meeting chamber where Villaraigosa's three top aides were already assembled. After phone calls between the mayor, Alpert and Villaraigosa chief of staff Jeff Carr, the panel reconvened and approved a rate hike that was closer to the mayor's in size, according to two people familiar with the sequence of events.

That decision spurred several members of the council to complain that Villaraigosa's DWP commissioners lack the ability to turn down the mayor's wishes, even when such a move is in the interest of the department.

“That clearly was something that only could have occurred in a situation where there’s no independence, where they felt they had to do what the mayor said," Councilman Paul Koretz said.

RELATED:

DWP's green strategy could come with rate increases, the agency says

DWP quietly scales back Villaraigosa's ambitious renewable energy goal

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

 
Comments () | Archives (15)

Awsome! DWP is going to give its customers a 25-30% increase in rates over 5 years, maybe even higher! And for what?

Presume he'll need to hire a psychologist for his transition out of the ladwp

How about if the enrtire DWP resigns?

Our utility rates in Los Angeles are ridiculous.

I pay $400/month to keep my house 78 degrees in the winter with baseboard electric heat and I'm just one person. When I lived in Washington State, electric heat cost half as much and winters were colder.

The retired head of the DWP is paid a $500,000/year retirement pension -- the LA Times said this themselves.

Time to bust the LADWP union that demands managers get paid as much as possible to do as little possible for as long as possible on the public dime. There are undocumented workers waiting outside Home Depot who will lay pipes very happily for minimum wage.

Bill, we will get the 25-30% increase because that is what the Pint Size Mayor wants. That will be the time when the rate payers should stand up, and be counted. We have to sue the Pint Size Mayor, and DWP. Just maybe we get the AG to look at DWP's books, and we can find out where the money is really going. As I have said before we can thank the people who fail for his Lies Again.

When I moved to LA 3 months ago I was greeted by a $215 charge by DWP to turn the electricity on. I'm always curious to know how my money is really spent, after seeing multiple stories of employee fraud (can the Times run that company credit card story again). The rate increase isn't going to higher electricity prices, it's going towards higher salaries and pensions for DWP employees. google search LADWP salaries and enjoy!!!

wish I was on the DWP gravy train.

With unemployment at the level it is at the leadership of DWP and Mayor of this city need to be hung from the highest city flag pole there is. No regard for human compassion, to allow an increase such as this to go forward is truly a crime.

Spread the facts: 40 cents of every dollar on your DWP bill is going to pay for the pension costs of current and future department employees.

40% of your bill for employee benefits! Call you Councilmember and tell them you won't stand for it anymore. All this complaining in the LA Times comments section won't change a thing. PRessure the decision makers!

AUSTIN BEUTNER. That's right, this proposal is coming under the leadership of Mr. Austin Beutner, First Deputy Mayor for Villaraigosa. Beutner is proposing raising the utility rates on Los Angeles residents. He is literally a billionaire, so he won't feel the impact of increased rates one iota. Before the end of the year we'll have another GM for LADWP who can take the blame. But just remember that it's AUSTIN BEUTNER who is bringing Los Angeles residents higher utility rates. You just might want to remember this fact when you see his name on the ballot for LA Mayor.

ddd

Jonah, the reason why your electricity was so much cheaper in Washington state was because of the immense abundance of hydro power from the rivers up there, and the lower demand for electricity, even in the winter time, than in Los Angeles. Los Angeles either generates its own electricity via natural gas, which is comparatively more expensive, or imports coal power, which is fairly cheap.

It's time we return the leadership of DWP to the engineers and DO AWAY with the politically-appointed General Manager. There was a time when the head of DWP was called the "General Manager and CHIEF ENGINEER." Only Department engineers know what's wrong with the water and power systems and how best to fix them. There are plenty of ambitious people at DWP that would clean it up and improve its infrastructure to provide for us for decades to come.

Green power is all well and good, if you are willing to pay for it, but the infrastructure MUST be upgraded first. That is where DWP needs to spend its money. And it needs a leadership that recognizes these problems and knows how to fix them.

LADWP must have a citizen oversight committee.
The residents of LA are totally disgusted with the way the City is run; there is no trust and no confidence. It is time for the residence to exercise their rights to an honest government with integrity.
Our constitution states "It is a government for the people by the people" Let us all exercise our right and vote to replace any politician who is not representing the people.
Let the people’s voice be heard.
YJ Draiman for Council

YJ Draiman for City Council said...
We need honest government with integrity.
“Good leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion”

Public confidence in the integrity of the Government is indispensable to faith in democracy; and when we lose faith in the system, we have lost faith in everything we fight and spend for.

YJ Draiman for LA City Council

Politicians should be paid commissions only – performance based compensation R1

I say that politicians should be paid - compensated on a performance based via commissions only, for example on every tax dollar that they save. Example, if a politician cuts government spending 1 Million dollars, the tax payers would pay him X% of 1 Million.
If it hits them in the pocket, they are going to be much more cautious how they spend our money.
A politician running for office should reimburse any matching funds after the election.
A politician should run the country like any non-profit corporation, with checks and balances, fiscal responsibility and not committing funds that our great grandchildren would have to pay.
Any politician who violates the oath of office will lose his job and forfeit his benefits and pension.
It is time we should hold our politicians accountable for their deeds and behavior, any deviation from honesty and ethics will be punished severely.

Honesty, integrity and accountability is the motto.

YJ Draiman, Energy/Utility Auditor

Draiman is a candidate for the Mayor of Los Angeles

PS
We should not rush to give our money to foreign countries, if we do give, it is a loan and must be repaid; the loans should also be collateralized with real estate and assets of the receiving country.

Value-based Management of the Government
Value-based management makes an explicit link between a government's strategic and operating decisions and their impact on the country and its citizen’s benefits. It does so in part by aligning politicians incentives with citizens' interests.

Politicians should earn the public trust, which, in turn, is based on openness and accountability. Excessive compensation, self-dealing and hidden agenda’s are detrimental to earning public trust.


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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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