Monday, October 20, 2014

Skingraft Opens New Store in Downtown Los Angeles

Image via Skingraft
 After I helped Skingraft lease their first store in the Banco Popular Building at 4th & Spring (from a client of mine who incubated his own company in part of his space and then leased several spaces to other new ventures) - and then invited them to participate in their first Fashion Week show the day they moved in - I still had no idea, until the day of that show,  they would become of the great LA brands. 

 And, even then, I still never imagined how fast - and how far - Johnny Cota would take Skingraft in just a handful of years to New York Fashion Week and a store in New York - along with distribution throughout the world.   Here is RACKED's coverage of the new store and they also have a link to Skingraft's second New York Fashion Week:
LA's leather laden brand, Skingraft, has been on a steady rise to stardom since debuting the line locally back in 2006. Cut to this past New York Fashion Week, where designer Johnny Cota's 2nd NYFW show commanded a glittering front row complete with celebrities including Skrillex and Whoopie Goldberg.
Rihanna, A$AP Rocky and much of the fashion and music set are all fans of Cota's tailored leather pieces and now celebs and clientele alike can stop by his newly opened downtown flagship store to pick up items such as a women's $925 high waist, leather trimmed pencil skirt or a men's $996 gold wool and leather varsity jacket and more.
Moving from its former space in the Banco Popular building to a sprawling 2550 square foot store with 30 foot ceilings near Spring and 8th streets, the new Skingraft flagship boasts a robust retail space, plus a private design studio, where no doubt Cota will be whipping up the custom-made creations and future collections soon to be seen on massive music tours and at red carpet events.
Housed in the historic Great Republic Lofts building, the store's decor is primarily a palette of muted greys. Polished cement and custom leather furnishings, add a modern and severe tone to the ornate architecture of the building.
The Skingraft Flagship store is open 7 days a week, 11:00 am to­ 7:00 pm.
· 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

New Section in the One Dollar Room at The Last Bookstore! Sixteen Shelves of Memoirs, Biographies, Letters and Diaries! And Dawn Kohler, Deanna Neil & Desiree Zamorano will read & discuss their work today from 4 - 6 PM

Yes, due to popular demand, sixteen shelves in the Literary/Words section in The Last Bookstore's One Dollar Room are now devoted to memoirs from people from all walks of life - along with biographies, autobiographies, interviews, diaries, letters and journals with a special emphasis on literary figures.  As of this morning, we presently have seven books regarding Marcel Proust and five by or about Norman Mailer to illustrate two of the  more extreme ends of the literary world.

And, as an additional enticement to visit the store today, this October 19th Sunday afternoon - from 4 - 6 PM we are honored to have three noted authors, Dawn Kohler, Deanna Neil, and Desiree Zamorano, read from and discuss their latest work. 

We  are also continuing to receive books for our  fifty other non-fiction sections in the One Dollar Room and our range of novelists is the broadest we have ever had.  And this Sunday hours for The Last Bookstore are from 10 AM to 9 PM while Monday to Tuesday we are open from 10 AM to 10 PM  and on Friday and Saturday we are open from 10 AM to 11 PM at 5th & Spring in the Spring Arts Tower  at 453 S. Spring Street.  Lastly,  I have again resumed my Saturday & Sunday morning Two Hour Walking Tours of Historic Downtown Los Angeles, further details here.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Finally Writing My Book on Los Angeles - But I Need Some Help



I am now deep into writing my book on Los Angeles (and particularly Downtown Los Angeles) – and its past, present and future after a lifetime of researching and studying our city’s past, being born in LA and walking its streets since the late 1950’s and, finally, after fifteen years of working 365 days a year to plan and help build a better Los Angeles. 

My biggest challenge, I had thought, would be how to integrate the three different stories (past, present and future) into a single larger story but I was wrong.  After having thought about this for so long – and talking it out for 3 years on my walking tours – the structure of the book not only almost instantly became obvious but the way past, the present and future – from the first page - seamlessly wove together into a single story became so compelling, I found myself writing all three sections book at the same time.

That has created a new problem.   What I most lack is first-hand information from the individuals who took part in each of the previous attempts to revitalize DTLA – starting with the 1950’s and continuing into the late 1980’s.   Even though I closely watched was happening during of those periods and have since read extensively about them, I was not a first-hand participant in those events (other than in very minor ways), as I have been since the 1990’s and I feel I need to talk to those who were most actively involved during those periods.

So if you know of any person – or persons -  I might  consider talking with (and I already have my own list, of course) – please send me an email - Bradywestwater@gmail.com - suggesting who I should consider talking with – and why.  And if you have their contact information – that would also be appreciated.

Thanks!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Two Hour Walking Tours of Historic Downtown Los Angeles Every Saturday & Sunday of 2014

With temperatures predicted in 70's  this Saturday and Sunday, October 18th and 19th, I am resuming my 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM  Saturday tours until the end of the year (except a change of time for Saturday October 25th to a 2 PM start since that is the date for the LA History Achieves Show at USC) and my Sunday tours from 11 AM to 1 PM every Sunday also until at least the end of the year.

The Last Bookstore (and its  2nd floor with 50,000 books at ONE DOLLAR each!)  Presents  10:30AM Saturday and 11AM Sunday START TIMES FOR 2 hour walking tours  of the The Secret Lives of Historic Downtown Los Angeles -  FEATURED In GQ MAGAZINE and Endorsed By - LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE!
 
There will be a HISTORIC DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES 101  2 hour walking tour every Saturday from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM and every  Sunday there will be a start time of 11:00 AM and an ending time of 1:00 PM. And among the many things you will learn this weekend is that if a friend of Wyatt Earp's had not built the Alexandria Hotel - it would have been impossible for George Gershwin to have written his iconic Rhapsody in Blue.

And all tours start at THE LAST BOOKSTORE in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring and they are still only $15 per person.

And  besides our regular scheduled tours, we will be offering customized tours on different days and different times and from one to three hours including weekdays - depending on your schedule.  With a minimum of four reservations, we will design a tour of any part of Downtown focusing on any subject matter you choose.  These tours can be after work, during lunch breaks - or??

FOR MORE INFORMATION  - contact Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 - or bradywestwater@gmail.com
BRADBURY BUILDING
All tours begin at THE LAST BOOKSTORE at 453 S. Spring Street in the Spring Arts Tower and will be led by long time Downtown resident Brady Westwater who, besides being involved with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, the Historic Downtown BID, Gallery Row, Art Walk, and the BOXeight and the CONCEPT Fashion Weeks, has brought over 150 businesses, artists and non-profit institutions to Downtown.  All tours are only $15 per person.  
Wyatt Earp

If you are a participant in 'Historic Downtown Los Angeles 101' Tour, you will see the first motion picture theater built,  the place where Babe Ruth signed his contract with the Yankees, the hotel where Charlie Chaplin lived when he made his early films (and the place where he made his Los Angeles vaudeville debut in 1910) - plus the homes and haunts of everyone from actor Nicholas Cage, the Black Dahlia, Rudolph Valentino, LA’s version of Jack the Ripper, President Teddy Roosevelt, the Night Stalker, western outlaw Emmet Dalton,  actor Ryan Gosling and more.  And you will also visit where O. J. Simpson bought his knife.

You’ll explore an intersection where all four buildings were often visited by gunfighter/sheriff Wyatt Earp since they were all built or occupied by friends of his from Tombstone during the shoot-out at the OK Corral.  At this intersection you will also discover what John Wayne, a prime minister of Italy, Houdini, Winston Churchill, boxer Jack Dempsey, Greta Garbo, President Woodrow Wilson and multiple Mexican boxing champions all had in common here.

You will also see where the first new lofts were opened, the places where Gallery Row and the Art Walk began and where Fashion Week returned to Downtown.  You will see many of the new boutiques, designer showrooms and stores that have recently opened in the area along with getting a sneak preview of what will soon be happening in the area.

Tickets for either tour are only $15 per person - free for children under 8 - and reservations can be made by calling Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 or emailing bradywestwater@gmail.com.  All credit card orders will be processed  at Last Bookstore and cash payments may be made at the start of the tour.   All proceeds will go towards the revitalization and the study of the history of the neighborhood.  
Lastly, future tours will feature specialized areas of interest such as architecture, art of all kinds, shopping and food, single streets, sports (from steer wrestling to luchador wrestlers to a Sumo wrestler), transportation, specific periods of history, the hidden Wild West history of Los Angeles, movie locations, Downtown after hours and many other aspects of the neighborhood. And custom designed can be developed by request  for groups of four or more.
We will also be soon starting weekday and evening tours on what it's like to live in Downtown Los Angeles. You will be introduced to the many of stores, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues (and often their owners, too) - along with being given previews of one of a kind special events - so you can get a feel for what it is like to live in Downtown Los Angeles.

We expect this tour to be popular with not only people considering moving to Downtown and people who work in Downtown and who would like to know what to do after hours in Downtown - but also to recent and even long established Downtown residents who want to know more about their neighborhood.




Saturday, October 11, 2014

Box Office Mojo - Serems to Return From The Dead! But - Is It Really Alive?

 For now, at least....

And the site is still lacking the Friday box office numbers.

6 AM Sunday October 12th Update -  Still no Friday numbers up on Box Office Mojo. 

Walking Tours of Historic Downtown Los Angeles Resume This Sunday Oct. 12th at 11 PM and Next Saturday at 10:30 AM and Next Sunday at 11 AM

Yes, with the Sunday morning fog keeping  temperatures down tomorrow until after the post 1 PM burn-off, I am scheduling a two hour walking tour from 11 AM to 1 PM this Sunday October 12th.  And with temperatures predicted to return to 70's next Saturday and Sunday. October 18th and 19th, I will also have a 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM  tour on Saturday and a tour on Sunday from 11 AM to 1 PM.  And there will be walking tours of Historic Downtown Los Angeles every Saturday and every Sunday for the rest of the year - weather permitting - starting at The Last Bookstore at 5th & Spring in the Spring Arts Tower.  See below for more details:

The Last Bookstore (and its  2nd floor with 50,000 books at ONE DOLLAR each!)  Presents  10:30AM Saturday and 11AM Sunday START TIMES FOR 2 hour walking tours  of the The Secret Lives of Historic Downtown Los Angeles -  FEATURED In GQ MAGAZINE and Endorsed By - LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE!
 
There will be a HISTORIC DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES 101  2 hour walking tour every Saturday from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM and every  Sunday there will be a start time of 11:00 AM and an ending time of 1:00 PM. And among the many things you will learn this weekend is that if a friend of Wyatt Earp's had not built the Alexandria Hotel - it would have been impossible for George Gershwin to have written his iconic Rhapsody in Blue.

And all tours start at THE LAST BOOKSTORE in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring and they are still only $15 per person.

And  besides our regular scheduled tours, we will be offering customized tours on different days and different times and from one to three hours including weekdays - depending on your schedule.  With a minimum of four reservations, we will design a tour of any part of Downtown focusing on any subject matter you choose.  These tours can be after work, during lunch breaks - or??

FOR MORE INFORMATION  - contact Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 - or bradywestwater@gmail.com
BRADBURY BUILDING
All tours begin at THE LAST BOOKSTORE at 453 S. Spring Street in the Spring Arts Tower and will be led by long time Downtown resident Brady Westwater who, besides being involved with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, the Historic Downtown BID, Gallery Row, Art Walk, and the BOXeight and the CONCEPT Fashion Weeks, has brought over 150 businesses, artists and non-profit institutions to Downtown.  All tours are only $15 per person.  
Wyatt Earp

If you are a participant in 'Historic Downtown Los Angeles 101' Tour, you will see the first motion picture theater built,  the place where Babe Ruth signed his contract with the Yankees, the hotel where Charlie Chaplin lived when he made his early films (and the place where he made his Los Angeles vaudeville debut in 1910) - plus the homes and haunts of everyone from actor Nicholas Cage, the Black Dahlia, Rudolph Valentino, LA’s version of Jack the Ripper, President Teddy Roosevelt, the Night Stalker, western outlaw Emmet Dalton,  actor Ryan Gosling and more.  And you will also visit where O. J. Simpson bought his knife.

You’ll explore an intersection where all four buildings were often visited by gunfighter/sheriff Wyatt Earp since they were all built or occupied by friends of his from Tombstone during the shoot-out at the OK Corral.  At this intersection you will also discover what John Wayne, a prime minister of Italy, Houdini, Winston Churchill, boxer Jack Dempsey, Greta Garbo, President Woodrow Wilson and multiple Mexican boxing champions all had in common here.

You will also see where the first new lofts were opened, the places where Gallery Row and the Art Walk began and where Fashion Week returned to Downtown.  You will see many of the new boutiques, designer showrooms and stores that have recently opened in the area along with getting a sneak preview of what will soon be happening in the area.

Tickets for either tour are only $15 per person - free for children under 8 - and reservations can be made by calling Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 or emailing bradywestwater@gmail.com.  All credit card orders will be processed  at Last Bookstore and cash payments may be made at the start of the tour.   All proceeds will go towards the revitalization and the study of the history of the neighborhood.  
Lastly, future tours will feature specialized areas of interest such as architecture, art of all kinds, shopping and food, single streets, sports (from steer wrestling to luchador wrestlers to a Sumo wrestler), transportation, specific periods of history, the hidden Wild West history of Los Angeles, movie locations, Downtown after hours and many other aspects of the neighborhood. And custom designed can be developed by request  for groups of four or more.
We will also be soon starting weekday and evening tours on what it's like to live in Downtown Los Angeles. You will be introduced to the many of stores, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues (and often their owners, too) - along with being given previews of one of a kind special events - so you can get a feel for what it is like to live in Downtown Los Angeles.

We expect this tour to be popular with not only people considering moving to Downtown and people who work in Downtown and who would like to know what to do after hours in Downtown - but also to recent and even long established Downtown residents who want to know more about their neighborhood.




BOX Office Mojo Site Goes Dead - And Redirects to (also Owned by Amazon) IMBd's Site


My best - or worst - I should say, guess is that  everything currently free on Box Office Mojo - other then the daily overview chart - might soon be hidden behind the  IMDbPro pay wall.

Here is the opening of the article at The Wrap:   

Box Office Mojo Absorbed Into IMDb.com

Box Office Mojo Absorbed Into IMDb.com
The site has been quietly redirected to its parent company
Box Office Mojo website has been shut down, as the site currently redirects to IMDb.
Box Office Mojo was acquired by IMDb in 2008 and seems to have been absorbed by its parent company, which itself is owned by Amazon. At the time, Box Office Mojo said it would remain a stand alone company.
Also read: NeonGrid Is Building IMDb for YouTube Stars

Box Office Mojo is a critical tool for movie industry executives in Hollywood who look to the site for real-time box office results and historical and comparative data. It was founded in 1999 by Brandon Gray as a three-person company headquartered in Burbank.
IMDb has a vast collection of data on films, but is lacking in detailed data on box office metrics. It is unknown how IMDB will incorporate the Box Office Mojo data into its system. The layout for Box Office Mojo is set up solely for an in-depth look at box office metrics, while IMDb fills many roles, highlighting trailers, movie stills, cast lists and fan commentary.
IMDb has not yet responded to TheWrap's request for comment and there has been no official word or message posted from IMDB or Box Office Mojo's official Twitter accounts.



Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Walking Tours of Historic Downtown LA Return Starting This Weekend September 27th & 28th from The Last Bookstore

Yes, with temperatures returning to the upper 70's  this Saturday & Sunday September 27th & 28th,  there will be walking tours of Historic Downtown Los Angeles this and every Saturday and every Sunday starting at The Last Bookstore after a two month break due to 90 degree plus temperatures.
The Last Bookstore (and its  2nd floor with 50,000 books at ONE DOLLAR each!)  Presents  a 10:30AM Saturday and a 11AM Sunday START TIME FOR 2 hour walking tours  of the The Secret Lives of Historic Downtown Los Angeles -  FEATURED In GQ MAGAZINE and Endorsed By - LOS ANGELES MAGAZINE!
 
There will be a HISTORIC DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES 101  2 hour walking tour every Saturday from 10:30 AM - 12:30 PM and every  Sunday there will be a start time of 11:00 AM and an ending time of 1:00 PM. And among the many things you will learn this weekend is that if a friend of Wyatt Earp's had not built the Alexandria Hotel - it would have been impossible for George Gershwin to have written his iconic Rhapsody in Blue.

And all tours start at THE LAST BOOKSTORE in the Spring Arts Tower at 5th and Spring and they are still only $15 per person.

And  besides our regular scheduled tours, we will be offering customized tours on different days and different times and from one to three hours including weekdays - depending on your schedule.  With a minimum of four reservations, we will design a tour of any part of Downtown focusing on any subject matter you choose.  These tours can be after work, during lunch breaks - or??

FOR MORE INFORMATION  - contact Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 - or bradywestwater@gmail.com
BRADBURY BUILDING
All tours begin at THE LAST BOOKSTORE at 453 S. Spring Street in the Spring Arts Tower and will be led by long time Downtown resident Brady Westwater who, besides being involved with the Downtown LA Neighborhood Council, the Historic Downtown BID, Gallery Row, Art Walk, and the BOXeight and the CONCEPT Fashion Weeks, has brought over 150 businesses, artists and non-profit institutions to Downtown.  All tours are only $15 per person.  
Wyatt Earp

If you are a participant in 'Historic Downtown Los Angeles 101' Tour, you will see the first motion picture theater built,  the place where Babe Ruth signed his contract with the Yankees, the hotel where Charlie Chaplin lived when he made his early films (and the place where he made his Los Angeles vaudeville debut in 1910) - plus the homes and haunts of everyone from actor Nicholas Cage, the Black Dahlia, Rudolph Valentino, LA’s version of Jack the Ripper, President Teddy Roosevelt, the Night Stalker, western outlaw Emmet Dalton,  actor Ryan Gosling and more.  And you will also visit where O. J. Simpson bought his knife.

You’ll explore an intersection where all four buildings were often visited by gunfighter/sheriff Wyatt Earp since they were all built or occupied by friends of his from Tombstone during the shoot-out at the OK Corral.  At this intersection you will also discover what John Wayne, a prime minister of Italy, Houdini, Winston Churchill, boxer Jack Dempsey, Greta Garbo, President Woodrow Wilson and multiple Mexican boxing champions all had in common here.

You will also see where the first new lofts were opened, the places where Gallery Row and the Art Walk began and where Fashion Week returned to Downtown.  You will see many of the new boutiques, designer showrooms and stores that have recently opened in the area along with getting a sneak preview of what will soon be happening in the area.

Tickets for either tour are only $15 per person - free for children under 8 - and reservations can be made by calling Brady Westwater at 213-804-8396 or emailing bradywestwater@gmail.com.  All credit card orders will be processed  at Last Bookstore and cash payments may be made at the start of the tour.   All proceeds will go towards the revitalization and the study of the history of the neighborhood.  
Lastly, future tours will feature specialized areas of interest such as architecture, art of all kinds, shopping and food, single streets, sports (from steer wrestling to luchador wrestlers to a Sumo wrestler), transportation, specific periods of history, the hidden Wild West history of Los Angeles, movie locations, Downtown after hours and many other aspects of the neighborhood. And custom designed can be developed by request  for groups of four or more.
We will also be soon starting weekday and evening tours on what it's like to live in Downtown Los Angeles. You will be introduced to the many of stores, restaurants, bars, and entertainment venues (and often their owners, too) - along with being given previews of one of a kind special events - so you can get a feel for what it is like to live in Downtown Los Angeles.

We expect this tour to be popular with not only people considering moving to Downtown and people who work in Downtown and who would like to know what to do after hours in Downtown - but also to recent and even long established Downtown residents who want to know more about their neighborhood.




Friday, August 01, 2014

Private PG&E Replaces Power Pole for $11,000; City of LA Owned DWP - Costs $42,000! Almost 400% More!

 photo courtesy of Daily News
While researching the present day labor costs for the DWP water main replacement program to update yesterday's post on why it takes DWP crews twice as long - and twice as much money to replace a main water line than it does private contractors  (now posted on CITY WATCH) - I accidentally discovered that costing only 200% more turns out to be a bloody bargain compared to what it costs DWP work crews to replace old power poles.

According to the Daily News, an internal audit shows that  (even though privately owned PG&E in Northern California bills costs its customers $11,000 per power pole and even the City of - when it comes to difficult to reach poles - needs $14,000 to replace a pole) - the DWP estimated with all the union drafted work rules - or non-work rules, to better define the true intent of those rules - it would cost a staggering $25,000 per pole for them to replace their old poles.

And yet they were still wrong!  The real cost ended up being $42,000 to replace a each power pole - which is just a hair under 400% more than a privately owned company.  And, by the way, PG&E workers are all - unionized.  So unions are not the bad guy here.   It is one person running one union - and a generation of politicians who enabled him.

Click here for the entire story by Mike Reicher of the Los Angeles Daily News and after you finish reading it - let me know what the chances are you would vote for a massive bond issue - along with much higher water and power costs  - BEFORE something was FIRST done to bring DWP costs down to no more than the costs of other utility companies.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Neighborhood Councils Know The REAL Reason LA Has 90 Year Old Plus Water Mains Exploding - UPDATE



A lot of ink was spilled this morning on why Los Angeles hasn't rebuilt its decaying infrastructure after a good portion of  UCLA was flooded by water main break on Sunset Boulevard.  Most commentators - including  Jon Christensen and Mark Gold at LA OBSERVED - gave reasons why this has continued to be a problem - and discussed potential solutions to the problem.  None of them, however, addressed a major - if not even, the single major reason why the DWP has not replaced our oldest water mains - much less proposed any solution to that problem.

That reason was first made public clear back in 2007 after an internal audit by the DWP showed that if the DWP had to use their own employees - rather than those hired by an outside contractor -  it took both twice as long to do the work - and then also cost twice as much money - for the DWP crew to rebuild the truck line than if it had been done by the private contractor.

And the extra time and extra cost was not blamed on the skills or work ethic of the DWP workers.  It was attributed to the union designed work rules which were designed in a way that made the work take twice as long - and cost twice as much money.

But - other than Kerry Cavanaugh of Daily News which first reported the story - most of the media didn't follow up on this story - and there was no demand - from anyone - that something be done about the situation, other than by the neighborhood councils

This all happened not long after the neighborhood councils had already asked the City of LA do  an audit of millions of dollars the DWP and its rate payers gave to the union's private slush fund - and look at how long it's taken before the Mayor and the media are now - suddenly - also demanding the same audit we had asked for over seven years ago.

Hopefully, this time - the corrupt work rules situation can be addressed well before any new bond issue is written, much less put on the ballot to rebuild those water lines.  Because if it is not done now - before any bond issue is drafted - than that bond issue will be going down to defeat just as the solar energy proposal did once it became obvious that the rate payers were going to be ripped off by the main DWP union for hundreds of millions of dollars.

UPDATE - I decided to look for a mention in my blog about the Neighborhood Council's oversight of the secret 'educational foundation' that the DWP has millions of dollars to without any public disclosure about what happens with the money.  Well, it turns out the two stories are connected.

When the union finally agreed to allow some of the trunk lines to be built by far more productive private crews (at half the price and in half the time, if past practices are followed) - the union first insisted that a second DWP (and a far more expensive and far slower crew if the existing union work rules were followed) had to be created (which would further delay the work getting down and would reduce how much of the trunk line could be rebuilt) - and the union's second condition was that the DWP give even more money to their secret foundation.

A lot more money.  And not just once - but every year.

The union leadership dropped their demand for even more union members jobs if  - and only if - the DWP gave their secret foundation 2.1 million dollars - every year.  And that's what now really makes me want to know - what the hell are they doing with all that money?

And in the... seven years... since then - I'd also like to how many miles of trunk pipe have been replaced?  And how many miles still need to be replaced?  And how many miles have been done by DWP crews and how many have been done by private crews? And how much has the cost differential been?   And were the work rules reformed enough to allow the DWP crews to be cost competitive? And I'd really like to know when was the part of Sunset Boulevard that just blew up supposed to be replaced?  This inquiring cowboy wants to know all that - and a lot more.

Here is my link to the Daily News article.

And here is the Daily News Editorial that summed up the whole corrupt mess:

Thursday, April 19, 2007


Daily News Editorial On DWP Scandal!

This is only the beginning of the examination of the contracting mess at the DWP. Lots more to come - and I have an article that will be published on CITYWATCH first thing Friday morning.

DWP blackmail
Public held hostage by utility's all-powerful union
Article Last Updated:04/18/2007 08:28:46 PM PDT

THE Department of Water and Power has a long-standing practice of misusing the public's money to benefit its employees, contractors and good friends - and then extracting more money from ratepayers to cover what was squandered.

There is only one word for this practice: blackmail.

That's exactly what happened this week.

A Daily News review of reconstructing the city's aging water pipes found that costs doubled when the department quit using outside contractors in favor of unionized in-house crews.

Not only did the DWP workers cost twice as much as private-company workers, but they took twice as long to do the same work.

Despite this revelation, the DWP Board of Commissioners voted Tuesday to expand the number of in-house crews. The deal was called a compromise, but really it was nothing but surrender to extortionists.

The DWP employee union wields so much political power that all but a few dozen of the utility's executives are forced to join the International Brotherhood of Electrical workers. The IBEW's clout is so great that DWP workers earn as much as 30 percent more for the same work as their well-paid counterparts in other city agencies.

Unlike previous DWP

It was obvious to the board that water-pipe reconstruction was a job that should be outsourced. Just one comparison makes that clear: A $6.2 million proposal to install a 42-inch pipeline beneath Burbank Boulevard and White Oak Avenue in 250 days by a private company was ignored in favor of DWP crews, at the urging of the union. The job took 439 days to complete and cost $13.8 million.

This was not a difficult choice to make, unless you factor in political power at City Hall.

The result was that instead of dismantling the two DWP crews doing this work, a third one will be added. If there's any work left undone, private firms will be hired. Don't count on it.

If you wonder how the DWP can afford this kind of wasteful spending, look in the mirror. The public pays.

Last fall, after approving salary increases potentially twice those other city employees are getting, the City Council endorsed a DWP proposal for a 5.5 percent water-rate increase over two years. Those come on top of other recent rate increases and more are sure to come in the years ahead.

This water torture of the people of L.A. is just one more example of how the city government operates primarily for itself, its employees and their special interests, and not for the people.

We wouldn't pay blackmail to criminals, and we shouldn't pay blackmail to people who are supposed to be our public servants.