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DWP drops plan to hire former Assembly speaker as consultant

November 4, 2009 |  5:10 pm

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has dropped plans for retaining former state Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez as one of the utility’s subcontractors.

The DWP Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to pay Conservation Strategy Group $232,500 over the next six months to monitor legislation and regulatory matters in Sacramento, an amount considerably less than the utility planned to spend two months ago. The panel, whose members are appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, also decided that the utility no longer needs to hire Mercury Public Affairs, a firm that includes Nuñez, as a subcontractor at a rate of $120,000 a year.

The plan for hiring Nunez had drawn fire from some DWP critics. The utility already retains two other former state lawmakers: former Assemblyman Wally Knox, who was hired by DWP General Manager S. David Freeman as a top executive, and former Assemblywoman Cindy Montañez, who works as a $15,000-a-month consultant.

When the lobbying contract was proposed two months ago, DWP Commission President Lee Kanon Alpert questioned whether it was too much. The original proposal called for Conservation Strategy Group to receive up to $600,000 annually.

Freeman said earlier this week that he has also canceled plans for hiring the lobbying firm Group Q as a subcontractor at a rate of $90,000 a year. That Sacramento-based firm’s client list includes at least two Indian tribes, according to the California secretary of state’s website.

Earlier this week, officials at the DWP offered the board a reworked proposal that called for Conservation Strategy Group to receive $465,000. Freeman and the board decided to reduce the size of that proposal further, cutting the contract in half.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall