LA DWP must be reformed

The Los Angeles Department Of Water And Power is an immense entity and is beholden mostly to itself. That’s the problem, it’s a behemoth that even the mayor and city council have trouble controlling, assuming they want too.

The Los Angeles Daily News calls for change, noting DWP’s multiple failings.

Mass power outages in 2006 and rampant water line breaks in 2009 revealed how the utility had failed to maintain its aging infrastructure. Rich raises for DWP employees awarded during a recession, coupled with rapidly increasing rates antagonized customers. Measure B, the flawed and failed solar initiative written by and for benefit of the DWP union, stoked the public distrust. But the final blow to the utility’s reputation came this spring, during an amateurish fight between the DWP and the mayor and the City Council over rates that nearly left Los Angeles insolvent.

Unfortunately, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s recent lack of leadership and his willingness to pander to the DWP employee union have only weakened the utility. But he has three years left as mayor to undo the damage.

They suggest

  • Hire the right general manager
  • Support the creation of a ratepayer advocate
  • Stand up to the DWP employee union
  • Invest in infrastructure
  • Go green – responsibly

Battles like this are happening everywhere now. Entrenched entities resist change, even as budget crunches and shortfalls impact the economy, making the situation even worse.

I worked in the West Texas oil fields in the 1970’s and am quite aware of what happens when there are no unions or even the threat of a union. They just grind you into the ground. But I also know that in our era, talk of unions nobly supporting workers and fighting for the common good is mostly wishful thinking. Unions today can be just as recalcitrant, obstructive, self-centered, and petty as management.

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