By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The opposition surfaced on neighborhood council websites and in blog posts by people like DWP ratepayer advocate Humphreville, DWP Advocacy Committee activist Soledad Garcia, Citywatchla.com’s Ken Draper, MayorSamBlogspot.com’s Michael Higby and former Los AngelesDaily News Editor Ron Kaye, who blogs at ronkayela.com.
On January 3, DWP officials presented Measure B to a meeting of the Los Angeles Neighborhood Council Coalition. Michael Trujillo, a consultant who ran the Yes on B campaign, disingenuously warned the crowd that without voter approval, “the DWP won’t do it” — when in fact, bloggers had already reported that DWP has a backup plan to embrace most of Measure B with or without voter approval.
“After the meeting, we started grappling with the idea that we had been dealt the hand of being a ‘No’ group,” says Stephen Box, a bicycle activist who wound up running the on-the-fly communications effort against Measure B.
Using sites like Twitter and Facebook, Box started organizing. By February, No on Measure B was trading punches with the mayor, City Council, IBEW and DWP, tapping into neighborhood councils and other groups to hold 80 town hall meetings and debates in February alone.
The blogging and social networking created a buzz, while the Los Angeles Daily News and L.A. Times both published editorials against the measure. A blog on the New York Times Website reported “dueling Facebook groups” fighting over Measure B. The City Council’s small group of just three fiscal conservatives, Bernard Parks, Dennis Zine and Greig Smith, broke ranks to slam the measure. City Controller Laura Chick, seen by some as the most popular politician in Los Angeles, warned that Measure B “stinks.”
This set the stage for a brilliantly sunny Election Day on March 3, when just under 18 percent of eligible voters showed up, and turned down Measure B by a margin of 2,644 votes.
“The public actually shut down a multimillion-dollar campaign” led by Villaraigosa, Box says. “They got a taste of real political will.”
Can rag-tag Facebookers and neighborhood council activists blog and tweet their way to a solar future and a real stake at the political table?
Mayoral spokesman Matt Szabo says Measure B’s opponents “will play an important role as citizen journalists in holding policymakers accountable as we move forward with our solar plan.” Garcetti’s office sounds less vague. “Eric did talk to Ron Kaye and Jack Humphreville and he does want to work with them,” says Garcetti spokeswoman Julie Wong.
But Brian D’Arcy, in a back-patting statement in which he insisted he was all about transparency, is already urging DWP and Villaraigosa to “swiftly implement a solar energy plan” that many experts say is not ready for prime-time.
Measure B’s opposition is wary about rushing a Measure B lookalike through City Hall. “The council members pay some lip service about transparency,” Kaye says. “But we haven’t heard [a plan for activing transparent] out of the mayor’s mouth or David Nahai’s mouth, and D’Arcy says, ‘Fuck you people, we will do whatever we want.’ ”