Thursday, August 22, 2013

"Today, the Balance of Power With the DWP shifts to the People," Eric Garcetti, Mayor of the City of Los Angeles.

At this morning's press conference announcing the new labor agreement with the largest DWP union, Mayor Eric Garcetti's opening statements make it clear that the DWP was from now going to be run by and for the people of Los Angeles.  And that message was far more important than any of the reforms reached in this contract. 

It was both Garcetti's acknowledgement that the DWP had NOT been run by or for the citizens of Los Angeles for many years and his commitment that this situation will no longer be allowed to continue.

All this was made possible when Brian D'Arcy, the business manager of  Local 18, an affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW),  decided to spend millions of his union members dollars to not just select a city council that would do his bidding, but to also elect Wendy Greuel as Mayor. That decision not only doomed her bid, but guaranteed the election of Eric Garcetti.  

This gave Garcetti the clearest possible mandate to retake control of the DWP and return it to the city and to also - hopefully - end the ability of a single union to largely determine who can be elected to public office in this city.  

But Eric Garcetti couldn't have done this without a lot of support.  And among his many supporters, he has had the support of the city's neighborhood councils on this issue and the support our new city controller, Ron Galperin, the first neighborhood council board member ever to be elected to citywide office.  And Ron was not just a neighborhood cornily board member - he was also active with many of us on DWP issues and we served together as budget reps where he first began to get citywide notice for his innovative ways at looking how the city spends - and how it receives - money.  

And if any one action in the past few weeks changed how the public and the press felt on this issue (which then emboldened city council members to change their positions) - it was Ron Galperin's  brilliant review of how the DWP pay scales and job rules and financial/accounting tricks that had taken hundreds of mullions of dollars out of rate payer's pockets over the years.

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