Los Angeles DWP Ratepayer Advocate, Measure I (March 2011)
Measure I creates a position of "ratepayer advocate" with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.
The DWP is the nation's largest municipally owned utility, and has an annual budget of about $4 billion. It has 9,000 employees and 1.4 million customers. The DWP contributes about $200 million each year to the general fund of the City of Los Angeles.
The commission that governs the DWP is composed of five persons appointed by the city's mayor.
The DWP has indicated that in order to reach its goal of a set percentage of renewable energy by 2020, it needs to increase its rate about 5% to 8% each year.
Measure I was one of 10 ballot measures on the March 8, 2011 City of Los Angeles ballot.
Measure I details
Measure I will:
- Authorize the position of an executive director for an office of accountability to function as an advocate for DWP customers.
- The executive director would be appointed by a nine-member citizens commission.
- The mayor's office, the City Council and the neighborhood councils each would appoint three members to the commission.
- The official voter guide arguments in favor of Measure I were signed by Council President Eric Garcetti and Councilman Greig Smith.
- City council member Paul Krekorian was in favor of Measure I because that the Department of Water & Power has "had a culture of a lack of transparency and secrecy" and because the DWP has "pretty much blatantly lied to us."
- Stephen Box, a writer for LACityWatch, said, "this is a huge victory for the people from the community who have fought so hard to bring oversight and accountability to the DWP and to City Hall. A small and diluted first step, but an important one."
- Nick Patsaouras, who was once the president of the DWP Commission, is said to have been the driving force behind Measure I. He said, "When I served as president, it became obvious to me the public and elected leaders were not getting all the information, in a timely manner, that they should have. Everything that was done there was driven by a political agenda of the management and not the public concerns."
Stuart Waldman, who is the president of the Valley Industry and Commerce Association, said that Measure I adds a layer of bureaucracy that is both unnecessary and expensive. He said that the actions of the DWP, under existing law, are already reviewed by a 5-member board chosen by the mayor, the city controller and the city council. In 2010, Mayor Villaraigosa sought four utility rate hikes. Three of the 4 proposed rate hikes were rejected by the city council. Waldman said: "The [existing] system worked. No one can deny that the system worked. And having another layer of bureaucracy won't change that."
- The Los Angeles Times supported Measure I, writing, "This measure creates an office of ratepayer advocate to oversee accounts at the Department of Water and Power. Although we're skeptical that the office could be more successful than past consultants and auditors in prying open the utility's impenetrable finances, it could bring a measure of transparency to the department and boost public trust."
- The editorial board of the Daily Breeze endorsed a "yes" vote on Measure I, saying, "The Office of Public Accountability should be above politics. If Measure I is approved by voters, the deciding factor for the office's success will be the selection of a truly independent and apolitical executive director."
Text of measure
The question on the ballot:
|Measure I: Shall the Charter be amended to establish an Office of Public Accountability for the Department of Water and Power, overseen by an Executive Director appointed by a citizens committee and confirmed by the Council and Mayor for a five-year term, to provide public independent analysis of Department actions as they relate to water and electricity rates?|
- Official Voter Guide/City of Los Angeles/March 8, 2011 election
- Language of proposed charter change
- Text of ballot question
- DWP Oversight: Hollow and Symbolic Without a Cop
- List of March 8, 2011 ballot measures published on "The City Maven"
- Los Angeles Daily News, "Reform measure for ballot in doubt", December 8, 2010
- Los Angeles Times, "Villaraigosa's DWP pick an outsider", December 15, 2010
- Los Angeles Times, "City ballot measures would rein in DWP", February 23, 2011
- The Argonaut, "Proponents of change at DWP begin public campaign for ratepayer advocate measure in March municipal election", January 27, 2011
- Encino Patch, "3 City Councilmen Explain Support for Upcoming Ballot Measures", January 12, 2011
- LA City Watch, "Ballot Measure for Measure: City Hall’s cry for help!", February 8, 2011
- Daily Breeze, "Two measures giving city more DWP oversight head for March 8 ballot", February 7, 2011
- Los Angeles Times, "Times endorsements for the March 8 city elections", March 6, 2011
- Daily Breeze, "Vote `yes' on DWP ballot measures", February 21, 2011