Your utility rates are rising steadily, and will continue to do so.
The city and the DWP have an obligation to the residents and ratepayers to hold the line on operating costs. While rate increases are needed in order to upgrade or replace water and electric infrastructure, every opportunity to reduce expenses must be made to mitigate the impact on us.
We have a Mayor committed to controlling operating costs. Eric Garcetti wants to see more concessions from the IBEW Local 18 in the latest contract proposal. He especially wants to see DWP employees contribute towards current health benefits (they pay zero).
Unfortunately, we have a City Council led by Herb Wesson, who has been aided and abetted by Council Members Krekorian and Fuentes, trying to force-feed us a contract that has been negotiated behind closed doors. The so-called concessions in the contract only delay a scheduled raise to IBEW employees who are already paid at least 20% more than their industry counterparts. The ratepayers are still left holding the bag on employee healthcare costs.
The savings touted by Wesson, Krekorian and Fuentes are hypothetical. It is as if you characterized personal savings as the difference between buying a Ford Focus instead of a Mercedes. In other words, the contract is less painful than it could have been – it does not change the fundamental cost structure of the DWP. Such savings!
Angry citizens appeared before the City Council on Friday to protest the contract. Their arguments were heard only after a dog and pony show put on by the Council praising the deal.
What’s more, the City Council wants to approve the contract by August 30th; the Mayor plans to veto it, but it is likely the Council will override it.
There is an emergency meeting of the Neighborhood Council Budget Advocates this Monday, 7 PM, August 19, at City Hall to discuss the crisis. I only wish I could attend.
You can reach out to your Council Member and urge him to delay the vote on the contract by 90 days and support a city-wide series of town halls to air the details. For those of you in Council District 2, please contact Paul Krekorian at (818) 755-7676 or e-mail his office: Councilmember.Krekorian@lacity.org.