It's the kind of strange fact you might imagine Chinatown detective Jake Gittes coming across: The city is set to spend $2.3 million on hotel rooms in the Owens Valley town of Bishop. Actually, it's the Department of Water and Power's money. On Tuesday it's asking for the council to approve an additional $1.8 million of its own spending on rooms at Holiday Inn Express, Creekside Inn B.W., Dow Villa Motel, Frontier Motel — an amount that would brings its total spending on stays for last year and this one to $2.3 million.

Now, as the city faces a $400 million deficit, layoffs, fire company “brown outs,” and a possible police-hiring freeze, why in the $%#$@! are we paying good, public money for motel rooms a world away east of the Sierras? Blogger Walter Moore, who brought this to our attention, has a theory.

The DWP, he writes, is trying to establish a solar park in the area. We're not sure. The Owens Valley is where L.A. gets its water from, and the DWP has an office there. And you don't have to go to so far to tap the sun. But still, he has a point about the city's spending priorities.

You'd think if the department had so much staff working there for so long that it needs so many rooms they would just have employees relocate and find their own housing (LIKE EVERYONE ELSE IN THE WORLD).

But Moore thinks they are definitely mapping out solar power in a move that he argues is against the will of those voters who turned down a local solar initiative, Measure B.

“I enjoy room service and a mint on my pillow as much as the next guy,” he writes, “but this is ridiculous.”

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