Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa whined to the Los Angeles Times this week about leadership at the city's rebellious Department of Water and Power, which seems sometimes to be the money rich tail that wags the dog that is City Hall.
"For four years, I've battled a bureaucracy that just won't respond to the policy direction ... ," he told the paper. "It's been an absolute war." Funny thing is, however, that the mayor appoints the commissioners who control the department and, even though he complained about the influence of the electrical workers' union there, he has received $7,250 that we can count in campaign contributions from the group.
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The mayor says that top managers at the DWP undermine the general managers who he chooses to run the organization, and that the top bureaucrats basically can't be fired because of civil service rules.
"The biggest problem is that you have people at the highest levels who are in the union...," Villaraigosa said. "They're the biggest defenders of the status quo."
So, by this argument, nothing can be done and we must accept the department's wishes. It's a strange pronouncement from a mayor who just last month was lobbying for HUGE rate increases that would have benefited the department by hiking some electricity bills as much as 28 percent.
The mayor was clearly carrying water for the DWP in the council's debate over the rate hikes, which were ultimately rejected in favor of a nearly 5 percent bump. The mayor was also a catalyst for raises given to many of the members of that union, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18. Those raises are kicking in this year as the city faces a $485 million deficit in July.