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L.A. voters set to decide March 8 if council should get more control over DWP

December 7, 2010 |  1:14 pm

The Los Angeles City Council sent voters a ballot measure on Tuesday that would allow council members to remove the top executive of the DWP by a two-thirds vote.

The measure, one of 11 scheduled to appear on the March 8 ballot, would also give  the council power to fire DWP commissioners, who are picked by the mayor but confirmed by the council. And it is one of three that would change the way the DWP is run. The only person who can currently fire the DWP general manager and commissioners is the mayor.

Councilman Tony Cardenas said the proposal would help create “checks and balances” at the DWP between the mayor and the council. Councilwoman Jan Perry, who also backed the measure, said it would help council members get more timely information from the utility, regardless of who is running it.

Two weeks ago, the council deadlocked 7 to 7 on the plan, with neither side prevailing. At the time, some council members said they feared Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa would veto the ballot measure.

When the matter was reconsidered Tuesday, the proposal sailed onto the ballot by a 10 to 1 vote, with only Councilman Jose Huizar opposed.

Critics of the proposal have warned that the ballot measure will make it more difficult to recruit a replacement for Interim DWP General Manager Austin Beutner, who is also the mayor’s “jobs czar.” Villaraigosa is attempting to find a new DWP general manager -- his sixth in 3½ years.
Villaraigosa spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton did not respond to a request for comment.


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-- David Zahniser and Patrick McDonnell at Los Angeles City Hall