Longtime City Council gadfly Joyce Dillard has sent letters to council president Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Carmen Trutanich alleging that the city illegally passed its electricity rate hikes last week without proper public notice -- 72 hours in advance -- required by the state.
Dillard argues that the rate hikes did not fit the definition of an "emergency," which would have allowed the city to forgo the notice. "This item does not fit under the criteria of a 'special' or emergency," she wrote in an email. "A 72-hour notice is required."
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She said the next move could be a lawsuit, and she notes that the city lost a similar suit recently. The 72-hour notice provision is required under the state "open meeting" law known as the Brown Act, which requires governments to act in a transparent manner that can be viewed by constituents with proper notice.
Dillard writes in the email that, "The City Attorney may have the jurisdiction to take up the Brown Act Violation ... to void that action [the rate hike]."
She says the council can provide a remedy by reconsidering the matter with proper public notice within 30 days of her letters, which were dated Thursday. "We demand transparency, fiscal accountability, a plan and a voice," Dillard wrote.
The council passed a nearly five-percent rate hike for customers of the Department of Water and Power last week. The increase was set to take effect July 1, but now there is a question of whether or not the body was hoodwinked by the department: It had intended to put forward only a three-month increase, but the language it voted on seems to approve an indefinite rate hike.