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Villaraigosa vetoes measure that would give council power to fire DWP leadership

December 7, 2010 |  5:08 pm

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on Tuesday vetoed a measure that would have asked voters to give the City Council power to fire the top executive at the Department of Water and Power.

The mayor issued his veto message a few hours after the Council voted 10 to 1 to put the proposal on the March 8 municipal election ballot. In his veto message, Villaraigosa said that if the council wants to change the city commission system, it should look at every agency, not just the DWP.

“I am disapproving the proposed ballot language inasmuch as it seems to reform the governance of one city department before we have had an opportunity to take a comprehensive assessment of all city departments,” he wrote.

The council voted on the plan, which would allow the council by a two-thirds vote to fire the DWP general manager. The proposal would also have allowed council members to remove any of the five DWP commissioners, who are also chosen by the mayor.

The election ballot will be prepared early next month, said Julie Wong, spokeswoman for Council President Eric Garcetti. That means that if the council wants to override the mayor’s veto, an action that would require 10 votes, they would need to do so by Jan. 7, Wong said.

Critics have warned that the ballot measure, one of three dealing with the DWP, could complicate the effort to hire a new general manager, the utility’s sixth in three and a half years. Several council members disagreed, saying the proposal would enable the public to exert more leverage over the utility.

“The more accountability we have at the Department of Water and Power, the better for the ratepayers and the better for the people,” Councilman Tony Cardenas said.


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