Radio station KNX 1070 summed it up this morning with its teasers to an upcoming report about the DWP's changing leadership: "Is the new boss the same as the old boss?" announcers asked, playing off a famous line by the Who. True enough, the Department of Water and Power's general manager since 2007, David Nahai, turned in his resignation today and was replaced by his former boss, David Freeman. Nahai and his department have come under a steady drumbeat of criticism as one water main after another has mysteriously broken during an historic drought, some with devastating effects. Yet even before these embarrassing ruptures Nahai had become a public pinata in the eyes of DWP customers and policy wonks alike who were unhappy with the cash-rich department's perennial appeals for rate hikes and with its imposition of water-rationing schedules.
Even at the very start of the pipe breaks Nahai, a lawyer by profession, had sounded tired and somewhat defeated during radio interviews. Recently, his leadership was openly questioned by L.A. City Çouncil President Eric Garcetti, while councilman Greig Smith publicly announced his defiance of the DWP's lawn-watering proscriptions.
A press release issued by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's office, quoted by L.A. Observed,
alludes to Nahai's next undertaking, as the mayor wished Nahai "great
success in his new endeavor as Senior Advisor to the Clinton Climate
Initiative." Freeman, who reigned at the DWP from 1997 to 2001,
currently serves as Villaraigosa's Deputy Mayor for Energy and Environment and is expected to only be an interim chief at DWP.