Thu, Aug

Credibility Be Damned: Search for Ratepayers Advocate Gets the ‘C’ Team

LA WATCHDOG - Korn/Ferry International, one of the world’s most respected executive search firms, declined to even submit a proposal to assist the Citizens Committee in charge of appointing the Ratepayers Advocate to oversee the operations, finances, and management of our Department of Water and Power on a timely and continuous basis.  

But this seems so out of character, especially since Korn/Ferry is very familiar with DWP as a result of the successful hiring of the experienced Ron Nichols as our new General Manager.

The stated reason is very simple. Korn/Ferry did not believe it could meet the artificial timeframe of 60 days established by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Council President Eric Garcetti.  But underlying this unfortunate decision is the clear fact that the Mayor and the Garcetti-led City Council have not passed the necessary ordinances that define the role and budget of the Ratepayers Advocate, including the compensation package that would be necessary to attract a serious person with the necessary experience, expertise, and financial wherewithal.

Instead of considering the very real concerns of Korn/Ferry, the Citizens Committee, adhering to the artificial “stretch” deadline established by delay artists themselves, is hiring Ralph Andersen & Associates, a small Sacramento based firm that works exclusively in the public sector. And unlike our hometown firm of Korn/Ferry, this second choice, out of town collection of headhunters has not worked with DWP nor does it have the broad base of national and private industry contacts.

At the third meeting of the Citizens Commission on October 6, John Murray, the Chair of the Citizens Committee and the President of the downtown based Southern California Minority Business Development Corporation, stated ever so correctly that the “credibility” and “respect” of the Ratepayers Advocate is very important in assuring its success.

But the very credibility of the Ratepayers Advocate and the Citizens Commission, and even the reputations of its individual members, is being undermined by City Hall, which, after seven long months, has not even drafted the necessary ordinances defining the role and responsibility of the Ratepayers Advocate.

Underlying this negligence on the part of the Mayor and the Garcetti-led City Council is the continuing opposition of campaign funding Union Bo$$ d’Arcy to increased transparency and accountability into the operations and efficiency of our Department of Water and Power.  After all, the DWP is HIS Department of Water and Power and nothing happens with HIS royal blessing.

In the meantime, the DWP is hamstrung, especially in the Water System as it is trying to enter into significant contracts to meet various environmental mandates.

Are the Ratepayers going to be sandbagged once again as we were in November when the Garcetti-led IBEW Eight emasculated the Ratepayers Advocate ballot measure?  

Or is the City Council going to respect the wishes of 78% of the voters who demand a “well funded, empowered, and truly independent Ratepayers Advocate to oversee the operations, finances, and management of DWP on a timely and continuous basis,” even if campaign funding Union Bo$$ d’Arcy objects to increased transparency and accountability?

The City Council needs to act decisively before it destroys the reputations of the Ratepayers Advocate, the Citizens Commission, and its individual members.  

Note: The Citizens Commission will hold its fourth meeting at City Hall in Room 1060 at 3 PM on Thursday, October 13, Margaret Thatcher’s 85th birthday.

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:     [email protected] )

Tags: Jack Humphreville, LA Watchdog, Korn/Ferry International, Ratepayers Advocate, Citizens Commission, Ralph Anderson & Associates, IBEW, Brian d’Arcy, Eric Garcetti, Mayor Villaraigosa, City Hall

Vol 9 Issue 81
Pub: Oct 11, 2011