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Conserve your electricity because these media guys need the watts

This morning while getting ready for work my little mutt, er.. dog began barking insistently at the front door. As I headed out the door ten minutes later, I nearly tripped over a small brown bag with the words LADWP printed on the front of it. Since it is City election season all sorts of thing are being given away so this made sense.

billboardsInside the bag (100% recycleable of course!) was a bunch of freebie items including two 20 watt Compact Fluorescent light bulbs (CFL) that are advertised to put out more lumins than a 75 watt incandescent, a pamphlet entitled “Bright IDEAS from the LADWP”, a flyer shouting “It’s time to turn on the savings!” and a paper calculator called “Saving water – Has never been more important”

In the pamphlet LADWP General Manager David Nahia says that “not only will CFL’s reduce your energy use but they can also help make Los Angeles a ‘Green’ city.”

Yes conservation is important but does he really mean it? Over the last four years it seems that the City of Los Angeles and the LADWP have contradicting goals in marketing power. One is the ‘green’ goal and the other is making their campaign contributors happy. Together they make little dent on the city’s conservation effort.

On one hand they prod us into conserving electricity by encouraging us to switch to CFL bulbs but then on the otherhand they issue permits to billboard companies to convert 880 billboards to digital, each using enough power for 20 homes. That’s just the billboards in the settlement that the City of Los Angeles “won” and it doesn’t include hundreds of more signs that the city of allowing in the so-called “sign districts.”

Between the two, residents will have to give up millions of incandescents to simply makeup for the power hungary 24 hour, 7 day a week electronic billboards that the city is allowing and in the case of sign districts, even encouraging. Who is benefiting?  Residents or media companies? Not residents.

One interesting fact I noted on the freebie CFL box was how much 75 watt incandescent bulbs cost compared to CFL’s. The LADWP say’s that 75 watt incandescent’s cost $9.75 each as opposed to the $5.50 each for CFL’s.   A quick visit to Lowes Hardware store’s web site however say’s that an 8 pack of 75 watt incandescents cost only $3.98 each. A 2 pack of 23 watt CFL’s cost $6.88 each.

On another note. Supposedly the City of Los Angeles Department of  Building and Safety (LABS)  is going to submit a long sought after report next month on just how many billboards (illegal and legal) there are in the city. This has taken LABS literally months to do since they have told us that they don’t know where all of the boards are and they have to have twenty city inspectors working full time to fan out around the city to find them.

Was there a simpler answer? billboards-003I would bet that the LADWP has a record of each and every billboard in the city that has a flood light on it including street addresses since everyone of those billboards has an electric METER attached to it just like our homes do.  How else does the city charge them for the power they use?

It would have been easier to just place a call to LADWP General Manager H. David Nahia and ask him for a printout of all of Clear Channel, CBS, Regency, Summit Media and Van Wagner billboard accounts? 

A good accounting department could have that information in 24 hours, not 3 months like the city claims.

Villaraigosa’s report card
and a looming $400 million deficit

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa

Editors note: Posted originally on 2-09-2009

Mail-in ballots are arriving in homes right now. City elections are coming up in March. Here is why Mayor Villaraigosa should not be granted a second term as mayor. Imagine another four years?

The report card for Antonio Villaraigosa’s first term as mayor.

F-    The city’s fiscal condition crumbles under his administration. Not enough money to fix sidewalks, hire police, keep libraries open. Next year, we expect the city’s deficit to rise to $400 million.

D- Villaraigosa’s spends only about 11% of his time dealing with city business. Refer to  L.A.Weekly – The all-about-me mayor and LA Weekly Story – The still all-about-me mayor.

F Villaraigosa continues to promote L.A.’s massive housing growth, policies that are largely responsible for increased gridlock and drought.  The California Department of Finance projects 19 million new residents in Southern California and the mayor is bending over backwards to meet L.A.’s  share. Even if it lowers the quality of life for L.A.’s current residents.

crane_2 F Villaraigosa declares the Crane as the official bird of Los Angeles. Not the feathered sort. He was referring to the construction cranes throughout downtown and West Los Angeles used to build those multi-story high density housing projects that bring with them more vehicles and less water availability to L.A. residents.

F  Villaraigosa lamely attempts to capture the energy of angry grid locked motorists and translate that into his high density solution. What he doesn’t get is that with high density, we get more people and more cars thus more grid lock. Sorry but there will never be enough bus routes or buses to serve a city of  500 square miles and 4 million people.

bulldozed homesF    Villaraigosa continues to remain mum on LAWA’s march to expand the airport despite promises in two mayoral campaigns to not allow airport expansion. Villaraigosa SIGNED the ARSAC Promise not to expand the airport, yet he keeps the door open to moving the run way 340′ north and leveling yet more of the Westchester business district and more homes.

F-    Villaraigosa asks city residents to use less water despite his own super-sized requirements of 386,716 gallons per year (L.A. Times Story) while the average Angeleno uses only 55,576 gallons.

F-    Going further, Villaraigosa imposes an emergency water ordinance that fines residents for watering their lawns during the day. However, he doesn’t impose new restrictions on developers while they add roughly 16,000 new housing unit a year. Each new housing unit connected to the water supply adds 100,000 gallons of water to L.A.’s fixed water allocation.

F    Villaraigosa quietly negotiates a “settlement” on the evening of Yom Kippur leaving L.A. residents on the hook for $2.8 million in ‘Dog food’ Tennie Pierce suit. This was $100,000 more than the first settlement he vetoed months earlier. Patterico’s Pontifications

C-  Villaraigosa’s LAUSD takeover bill AB1381 was found to be unconstitutional in court.  Villaraigosa still manages to obtain control of a few schools under the iDivision partnership.

trashcans1F   Trash pickup fees were hiked 330% to add 1000 LAPD officers but only 1/3 of the 137 million raised went to hiring new officers. The rest went to police vehicles, raises and perks to the police union. L.A. Slams Residents With Stiff Fees and Taxes

F  Villaraigosa replaces an illegal phone tax with a new tax measure to replace it. He sells the new tax to the voters as a 10% cut over the old illegal tax.

F   Continues to support Special Order 40 which prevents LAPD officers from obtaining immigration status of detained suspects.

F   Two years after he campaigned as a family man, Villaraigosa leaves his wife and kids to begin dating a Telemundo TV reporter. He previously fathered two children out of wedlock with two different mothers. 

F    Jon Coupal give Villaraigosa an F.  “I think it’s one of the most poorly managed cities in the country,” Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said of Los Angeles.”

2106416_41.jpgF   Villaraigosa, the “Green candidate” agrees to a settlement allowing billboard companies to “digitize” 877 billboards throughout the city in exchange for a list of billboard locations throughout the city, many that are illegal. Digital billboards threaten to alter the quality of life for all residents in the City of Los Angeles.

The digital billboard plan is clearly at odds to Villaraigosa’s ‘Green LA’ plan since each digital billboard, rated at 23,000 watts per hour uses enough power to supply 20 single family residents.

F   Villaraigosa agrees to more electricity rate hikes even though the city receives hundred of millions of dollars in power fund transfers from the DWP each year. Money deemed as ‘excess funds” by the DWP. So why is trash and electricity going up if there is too much money?

F   While promoting public transit and urging the council and other departments to cut usage of their take-home cars – the Mayor is driven around in a 2005 GMC Yukon at an average rate of 73 miles per day or that’s about $7,900 a year in gas ($4.19 using city government’s own fleet-fueling pumps).

emeraldF   Villaraigosa promised to help create an “emerald necklace” of parks throughout Los Angeles when he ran for mayor in 2005.  Los Angeles never got those parks.

F  The mayor doesn’t want to debate any of the candidates in this election. Shouldn’t L.A.’s residents have an opportunity to hear his policies debated side by side with the other candidates for mayor?

It’s time for CHANGE!


Wrecking L.A.’s residential class

leakyfaucet.jpgYes it’s bad and it will get worse!

I’ve been writing, charting and trending about this going on two years now and frankly there have been a number of people that have dismissed me. Until now.

Now all that I have been writing about is coming to reality.

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – With a recent flurry of winter storms doing little to dampen California’s latest drought, the nation’s biggest public utility voted on Tuesday to impose water rationing in Los Angeles for the first time in nearly two decades.

Under the plan adopted in principle by the governing board of the L.A. Department of Water and Power, homes and businesses would pay a penalty rate — nearly double normal prices — for any water they use in excess of a reduced monthly allowance.

The five-member board plans to formally vote on details of the measure next month.

The rationing scheme is expected to take effect in May unless the City Council acts before then to reject it — a move seen as unlikely since Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa called for the measure under a water-shortage plan last week.

We are running out of water and it is because our elected officials have choosen to insert their heads-in-the-sand while believing in a few select city officials such as Villaraigosa, Garcetti, Reyes, Perry and Gruel that they can continue to build and build more housing without any consideration for infrastructure. With these penalties there is NO excuse for this anymore.

It’s bad enough that residents will see penalty rates that will nearly double their water bills when, not if, they exceed their reduced monthly “allowances”.

Imposing penalties on residents is bad policy given that the drought was created by ill-managed housing policies throughtout Southern California and not mother nature alone.

The problem is.. our elected officials “build at all opportunities” housing policy. As if there are no other Southern California regions participating in the larger equation. Participants such as the other five counties including Imperial, Orange, Riverside, Orange and San Bernadino counties who all have similar myopic goals to meet California’s populaton projections. This is classic “silo mentality” thinking at the county and city level.

Even worse are the city’s “reduced allowances” and penalties that are not based on household sizes but on comparable lot size and housing square footage of nearby residential properties. These penalties will wreck the middle class.

If you live in an area of neighborhoods like LADWP General Manager H. David Nahia you will be less affected by the drought than if you live in the middle of Mar Vista  or if you have a family larger than Nahai’s.

The real culprit is the failure of the L.A. City Water and Power Commission to advocate for today’s ratepayer (residents) and advise the city council and the Mayor to press for a moratorium on new housing projects.

Because the entire Water and Power Commission is appointed by the mayor, they are answerable -only- to the Mayor. Not the residents that pay for water, power and trash that amounts to hundreds of dollars a month.

While current economic conditions appear to be having an effect on depressing housing investment by developers, a moratorium is still necessary both on its real impact and on reducing additional burdens on a limited water supply. Just as important it sends a messege to Sacramento that there are real limits to growth in Southern California.

Mayor Villaraigosa and many of the city’s planning staffers believe that the city can -buy its way out- of a city budget crisis by allowing developers to build more and in turn the city can collect more property tax.  Property taxes however will not magically increase the amount of water that mother nature will provide.

Villaraigosa’s 0% communication with the L.A. residents

villaraigosa1The L.A. Weekly reported that Mayor Antonio Villariagosa only spends 11% of his time doing city business for the people who elected him.

At 0%, Villaraigosa is even worse at spending  time discussing the issues in to his constituents with other candidates for mayor. 

The mayor failed to show up at a candidate forum in the Valley hosted by the Valley Alliance of Neighborhood Councils and sponsored by the Daily News.

If he can’t show up in the Valley to discuss issues that are important to Valley residents.. he deserves none of their support. Equally if he can’t show up in the Westside to discuss issues that are important to Westside residents he deserves none of our support.

Tomorrow the Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa is holding a candidate forum  for local and citywide offices. Will our mayor show up to talk about issues important to us? Or will he continue to ignore his peoploe and let the photo-op speak for him?

Neighborhood Council holding citywide candidate forum next Tuesday!

The Neighborhood Council of Westchester/Playa is holding a candidate forum  for local and citywide offices.

candidate-forum-flyerMeet the candidates! Come and hear candidates for Mayor, City Attorney, City Controller, and Council District 11 describe their plans for the city. Participate in a question-and-answer from the participating candidates in advance of the March 3rd city elections.

Where: Westchester Christian Church at 8740 La Tijera Blvd.
When: 6:30 P.M. on Tuesday,  February 17th

Bring your best, well thought out questions (airport, water, housing, billboards, budget deficits, Prop B, schools, to name a few) and find out which candidate is best qualified to represent OUR city for their respective office.

My City Election Votes are in the Mail

With ten candidates running for the Mayors office, this election may very well lead to a runoff. As I noted in a previous post, the last four years have been a catastrophe for this city and unfortunately this has been under Villaraigosa’s watch.

There are two viable choices for Mayor of Los Angeles and those are Walter Moore and David Hernandez. 

My pick is Walter Moore. Moore explicitly told me that LAX should not be allowed to move the north runway towards Westchester and further encroach into the community. Moore is fiscally conservative and he believes that LA has enough money to operate without taxing and increasing service fees that clearly hit families in the bottom line. Have you looked at your recent LADWP bill?

Vote for Walter Moore

My choice for City Attorney is Noel Weiss. Not “jack” Weiss the current city council member. Noel is a common sense community advocate and attorney. I’ve spoken with Noel and he is for real. Read his own words on City Watch Column at http://www.citywatchla.com/content/view/1851/

Vote for Noel Weiss

It’s going to be difficult to follow Laura Chicks intense review of city spending. Chick has challenged the City Attorney, LADWP, The Los Angeles Unified School District, LAX, Trash fees and many other city departments. She has left no stone unturned. But I sincerely believe the Nick Patsaouras will challenge city hall as Laura Chick has done.

Patsaouras has already begun that fight by his questioning a number of issues including Measure B and is a watchdog on public spending and public policy. Patsaouras was the head of the Department of Water and Power Board and he ran afoul of City Hall’s corrupt political culture by trying stand up for ratepayers. He finally quit and is now running for City Controller.  EXCELLANT move Nick and right on time.

Vote for Nick Patsaouras

Only two are running for CD 11 and I know little about Bill Rosendahl’s challenger Harry Wilson since he as had no real campaign effort. Rosendahl has been on the forefront of No LAX Expansion issues, holding town halls, and being personally vested the studies and research on Airport Safety.

Rosendahl does however come with some baggage. You can only go so far by claiming your a novice when you voted to approve such idiotic ordinances such as 800+ digital billboards (he since has backtracked and is completely against them). Other baggage includes his past support for higher density projects, engaging in federal issues (please stick to city issues! It’s bad enough here already without dwelling on Washington DC too!)

Vote for Bill Rosendahl for City Councilman.

I have no choice for this seat. Both candidates are UTLA members and frankly I don’t think one board member is going to make any inroads into reforming our school district. Marlene Canter couldn’t do it. Certainly NO UTLA rep or supporter will have any positive influence on Los Angeles’s public schools. If any candidate came out in support to breakup the 700,000 student school district I would support them in a heartbeat!

Until then, I have no pick for this seat.

Honestly, I have no idea what these people do! Maybe if we eliminate the board there will be more to spend on community colleges!

No Vote for any Board of Trustees Seats.

Measures A
I would rather the city auditor appoint an Independent Assessor.  The board of Fire Commissioners are appointed by the Mayor so don’t expect any real independent authority by voting for Measure A.

Vote No on Measure A

Absolutely NO, NO, and NO. The city is not forthcoming on the cost of Measure B to ratepayers. The city will not gain any jobs from the so-called Solar Energy measure.  Hardware will be purchased from China so there will be no domestic gain by voting for this measure. The installations are done only by LADWP personnel (IBEW members) and not by independent contractors. Every independent report paid for by the city says Measure B is a huge risk to LADWP customers.

Vote -NO- on Measure B

The fire and police pension plan is pretty generous already.  They argue that there is only a limited number of dependent children who would receive benefits -after- marrying or adoption. So why not let the pension plan pay for it out of the pockets of it members?   

Vote No on C

Retired Police and Fire members pay for this. There is no cost to L.A.’s residents.

Vote YES on D

NO BLANK CHECK to businesses for so-called “economic development.” This will simply create a new source of contributions for mayoral and city council campaigns. It’s bad enough as it is now with billboard and high density developers contributing to local campaigns. Developers were even contributing to the mayors favorite LAUSD board memberstwo years ago.  If the city provides incentives for them to develop, business interests will in turn find ways to contribute to office holders as they seek business favors in return.

Vote -NO- on E

SF beats LA’s deficit? – They’re both Broke!

money_toiletSan Francisco’s (population 799,183) deficit of $500 million beats LA’s (population 3,849,378) deficit of $400 million?  

Newsom? Villaraigosa? There has got to be a trend here somewhere. Both cities are broke.

Teachers flatly reject the community in WHS governance vote

Despite the fact that nearly 700 community members turned out to vote on how Westchester High School should be governed, this vote was designed to fail at the start.

cometlogo_reformIt didn’t matter if 30,000 community people voted and Proposal 3 got 100% of their vote. It didn’t matter if only 2 teachers showed up as long as at least one of them voted for Proposal 2.

The governance vote used a bizarrely weighted voting scheme that locked in the vote so that the community could only get as high as 19% of the vote if they all voted for Proposal 3. The vote it turns out was completely up to the teachers as to whether they wanted Proposal 1, Proposal 2 or Proposal 3.  It only took 52 teachers to set back reform by voting against Proposal 3.

At best Westchester/Playa del Rey could only have hoped for a tie and that could only happen if both SCHOOL PARENT and COMMUNITY voted unanimously for Proposal 3.

I am frankly stunned that LMU/iDesign officials didn’t recognize this beforehand and step in to correct the problem before the vote. Neither they nor the transition team made any effort to advise the community on how the vote would be counted.

The transition team who’s representation was already leaning heavily towards in-trenched interests such as the UTLA, the district and permit availability appeared to have been reaching over backwards to protect them from being overrun by a community turning out en masse and intent on reforming the school. Can’t let that happen or the school lest the school become a California Distinguished School. 

The one and only positive note that came out at the end of last weeks vote was that 683 community members were compelled enough for change that came out to vote and they overwhelmingly supported Proposal 3 with 93% support. Yes they demonstrated, we do want reform at our high school.

Teachers on the other hand flatly rejected the community with 60% of them voting for Proposal 2. This proposal reserves only 2 seats for the community on a board of 17. (Students also get 2 voting seats so you can see just how much importance they place on the community.)

Proposal 3 would have set up a governing council with representation equally split between 5 teachers, 5 parents, and 5 community members along with the principal and a classified employee but the weighting scheme decided by the transition team essentially eliminated our community’s role to fairly represent our stake in our public high school.

If it were not for the community efforts over the last 2 years, WHS would still be part of Local District 3. The school would not have replaced the last principal and allowed a local transition team to interview and hire a new principal instead of acquiescing to the normal district practice of having principals assigned to the school. The school would not likely have had its band back.

All of this was driven by a community longing for change but last week the teachers threw it out the window because they valued their own interests over the communities or their students and they failed to acknowledge the communities progress towards reform in the last two years.

At this weeks NCWP education community meeting, Westchester parent David Voss stood up and said that “with this vote, the teachers have rejected the community.”

He summed it up exactly. 

Change is not coming soon if it ever comes at all.  Shame on this schools teachers.