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José Huizar supports ballot measure, which will bring better oversight to the Department of Water & Power
LOS ANGELES (Nov. 19, 2010) — As the City Council ended its debate on what provisions to include in a March 2011 ballot measure on oversight for the Department of Water and Power, the final product looked a lot like what Councilmember José Huizar first offered up as a solution two-and-a-half years ago.
The City Council voted Wednesday to create an Office of Public Accountability “to provide public independent analysis of department actions, as they relate to water and electricity rates.”
In July 2008, Councilmember was the first Councilmember to call for an oversight position at DWP. His legislation came after concerns over several rate hikes by the DWP following 15 years without any price increases and asked to establish a fully independent ombudsperson position “to provide independent and neutral analysis on future proposals for rate increases and rate restructurings.”
In 2008, neither the DWP nor the City Council was ready to engage in a conversation about creating such a position. This summer, following a contentious battle over rate increases and allegations the DWP withheld delivering $73.5 million to the City’s General Fund, the tide turned and several other councilmembers called for such a position.
“While I had hoped we would have gotten here a lot sooner, I am pleased that the voters will now have the opportunity to create an oversight position for the DWP that in the end will benefit everyone involved, most importantly the ratepayers,” said Councilmember José Huizar. “This new office will help the DWP, City leaders and the public engage in informed conversations about rate adjustments and long-range energy projections in a timely, thoughtful and deliberative manner.”
Since 12 votes were not secured, the City Council will need to vote once more next week on the Office of Public Accountability, along with another measure to give the Council the power to fire the DWP General Manager as well as remove members of the DWP Commission via a vote.