Thu, Aug

DWP’s Runaway Rate Train Can Be Stopped

PUSH BACK - Dialogue:  “An exchange of ideas or opinions on a particular issue, especially a political or religious issue, with a view to reaching an amicable agreement or settlement.”

Seems simple enough so when I heard the DWP was planning a “Dialogue to receive input” on upcoming needs of the utility it appeared for a moment as if the LADWP was actually going to engage in a transparent discussion with Neighborhood Councils and rate-payers .

This is precisely the manner we intended 7 years ago when we spent 18 months hammering out a Memorandum of Understanding between the department and Neighborhood Councils. Apparently, the DWP has a different definition of the word dialogue.

The first sign of trouble was the press release announcing these “dialogue” sessions. 448 words and not once was Neighborhood Councils mentioned. DWP planned to bypass Neighborhood Councils and instead of going to the community, they had the community come to them at pre-arranged venues. Once there, the public was deluged with justifications for rate increases.

This wasn't a dialogue by any definition. This was a carefully orchestrated rate-payer funded campaign not to seek input, but to provide political cover for the department as they seek a massive multi-year rate increase.

This kind of deception and contempt for rate-payers is precisely what caused 40 Neighborhood Councils to rise up and strike back 7 years ago when they defeated the then-proposed 18% rate hike. The iron is white-hot again as residents of Los Angeles get tired of being treated like fools.

The LADWP needs to straighten up and straighten up quick. The anger is palatable.

People are tired of the games played in this city. They are tired of being legally mandated to conserve water only to have water rates raised because they conserved water. They are tired of being double taxed on utilities. They are tired of the DWP transferring ¼ of a Billion dollars a year to the City's general fund. I know, I know... it's for cops and firefighters. Except the City has been promising us 1,000 new cops for over a decade, raised taxes, tripled trash fees and the cops never came.

And the firefighters? The City is now closing stations so save us the public safety mantra. Our politicians need to stop hiding behind cops and firefighters, stop using the DWP as their personal ATM and tighten their belts like the rest of us. The people have heard every excuse on the book from terrorism to State mandates for decades and time after time we have been misled.

The group, “Push back The Tax” (www.PushBackTheTax.com) has been formed by some of the very people who started the successful battle against an unjust hike years ago.

The group is in the process of organizing Neighborhood Councils, Home Owners, and the Business Community to push back against this rate hike and demand a true dialogue. One that ends with our voter-mandated Rate-Payer Advocate in position with the resources and access to determine what the DWP's needs are, what can be put off, and if a rate increase is needed, that it is done in a fair and transparent way for all Angelenos.

This is a fight that can be won, if the people of this city stand up and get involved. I have often said that we have two choices in life: to stand on the sidelines and throw rocks at the train as it speeds by, or get in front of that train and lay down the tracks to a destination of our own choosing.

Proof that pushback works: In the impressive campaign response department, after the “PushBack The Tax” press release was issued, DWP notified NC’s that they want to give them a presentation on 7/6/11.  

In these troubled economic times, LA simply can't afford another massive increase, and we're running out of rocks. If you want to help lay down some track.

Please visit my friends at  [hotlink]  and push back against these hikes.

(Jim Alger is a long-time political activist. He spearheaded the ‘pushback’ effort that culminated in the MOU Agreement between neighborhood councils and the Department of Water and Power. He also served as President of the Northridge West Neighborhood Council.)


Vol 9 Issue 51
Pub: June 28, 2011