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L.A. Water And Power Union Head Doesn't Care About Angry Ratepayers

Val Zavala.

KCETVal Zavala.

Amid the shameless-but-failed attempt to raise L.A.'s electricity rates by as much as 28 percent, a limping city budget that has caused layoffs, a reduction of police on the streets, and one less day of public library access, most Department of Water and Power employees are enjoying raises as part of a deal negotiated with the City Council and mayor last year.

SoCal Connected's Val Zavala got a rare interview with Brian D'Arcy, leader of the electrical workers union (IBEW Local 18), which represents those nine out of 10 DWP employees who apparently received raises. For Thursday's show (8 p.m. KCET) she asked him what he thought about those utility customers who were angry with the DWP's largess, attempted rate hikes, and enriched employees. His answer?

" ... Generally how they feel is not relevant," D'Arcy said.

That probably explains a lot. It could explain why the DWP is withholding $73.5 million from the city's general coffers despite a promise to pay up (and despite some legal rationale that the money in fact belongs to the larger government of the people).

It might also explain why Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a longtime union backer and former union activist, fought so hard, using cloak and dagger, to try to push through a series of massive DWP rate hikes at a time when the city is facing historic unemployment and economic malaise.

It would explain, at the least, the historic arrogance that rumbles from a city power source (both literally and metaphorically) that draws its energy from the democratic institution that is City Hall.