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Parks reelection challenger boasts of endorsements from two key L.A. unions

January 12, 2011 |  5:04 pm

A challenger to Los Angeles City Councilman Bernard C. Parks boasted Wednesday that she has secured the backing of two major public employee unions in the March 8 election, including one that represents workers at the Department of Water and Power.

Forescee Hogan-Rowles, a former appointee of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to the DWP board, said she picked up the endorsement of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, which serves more than 8,600 DWP workers. That union was upset at Parks last year for attempting to give the council more control over pension benefits for utility employees.

Hogan-Rowles also said she had received the endorsement of the Service Employees International Union Local 721, which represents thousands of civilian employees at City Hall. That group has voiced disappointment with Parks, who heads the council’s budget committee and has repeatedly pushed for layoffs as a way of addressing a major financial crisis.

The city faces a shortfall of nearly $63 million this year and is expected to confront a $350-million gap in the fiscal year that starts July 1. So far, 2,400 workers have taken early retirement, while more than 360 have been laid off.

Hogan-Rowles, who heads a nonprofit group focused on community development, served on the five-member DWP board last year in the middle of a standoff over a package of electricity rate increases  proposed by Villaraigosa. During that fight, the utility threatened to withhold $73 million from the city budget unless council members approved one of the rate hikes.

A second candidate is also seeking to unseat Parks in the South Los Angeles district that includes USC and a stretch of Crenshaw Boulevard.

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-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

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