Exclusive: Fiery response from Camp Huizar after the jump! Originally posted at 11:30 a.m.

To be an L.A. City Councilmember last Tuesday, voting on the creation of an Office of Public Accountability for the Department of Water and Power, was a lose-lose situation.

The councilmembers who voted 'Yes' were agreeing to a lite version of the original measure: The new, gutted office excluded the position of Ratepayer Advocate, a crucial bridge between the corrupt, insular DWP and its customers. The councilmembers who voted 'No' were risking that a DWP Office of Public Accountability not be created at all.

So Rudy Martinez, host of “Flip This House” and $200,000-strong challenger to the District 14 throne in City Hall…

… could have slammed incumbent Jose Huizar no matter which side of the devil he fell on. This is how Martinez (or at least his campaigners) chose to do it, in a Nov. 20 press release:

“In what proved to be one of the most critical votes the Los Angeles City Council has faced in years, Councilmember Jose Huizar denied Department of Water and Power (DWP) rate payers real accountability over the DWP by casting the decisive vote in favor of a watered-down Charter Amendment instead of the stronger reform measures backed by seven other council members and DWP reform advocates.”

The document even quoted the piece neighborhood councilmember and DWP gadfly Jack Humphreville wrote after the Tuesday meeting:

“'This vote provided a bright light between the real reformers and those who support the proposed ballot measure. The final language is disappointing.' said Jack Humphreville via the CityWatch site.”

After Wednesday's final vote, the Ratepayer Advocate position is back on the March ballot within the Office of Public Accountability (although the definition of the office on a whole remains sadly diluted; see bottom of page). Huizar quickly approved the measure, along with the rest of councilmembers, after weathering a hailstorm of criticism from city watchdogs like former LA Daily News editor Ron Kaye and Humphreville. (For once, pressure from the liberal media was greater than that of DWP union boss Brian D'Arcy).

Martinez has enough personal wealth to dig for days into the millions of terrible decisions Huizar has made, along with his unanimous cohorts.

With this calling out of his opponent, sure to be the first of many — lord knows there's no shortage of material — Martinez looks quick, noble and DWP-savvy. Does make you wonder, though, if the newcomer would have chosen the opposite route and voted against an Office of Public Accountability altogether, a decision that could just as easily be slammed.

Or would he have been the hero who stood up to measure-diluter and City Council President Eric Garcetti with a dramatic speech and cobra septor to suck fear/apathy from the other councilmembers — enough for them to want to rewrite the measure all over again? Martinez may have star power, but that's a stretch. And it's probably not even him who's researching council-floor minutiae. His press release quotes “lead consultant” Eric Hacopian, probably the real mastermind here, scouring the blogs of said city-watchers on the daily:

“'Jose Huizar chose to place the demands of the Downtown special interests above the interests of the residents of CD 14 and DWP rate payers all over Los Angeles,' said Eric Hacopian lead consultant to Rudy Martinez campaign. 'His betrayal will be fully noted on March 8th by Council District voters when the voters are given the opportunity to vote for true reformer like Rudy Martinez who will bring real change to Los Angeles City Hall.'”

Mayor Sam humorously compared a Huizar victory billboard from 2007 with Martinez' snazzy new campaign ad. Hasn't Martinez campaigner and sudden city-brain Hacopian caught wind that the watchdogs don't like billboards?

Only dirty incumbents use italics; Credit: Mayor Sam

Only dirty incumbents use italics; Credit: Mayor Sam

Currently, the DWP Office of Public Accountability, up for approval by Los Angeles voters next March, is defined vaguely, and will no doubt undergo a heap of open-ended changes once it's passed (if it is):

“The role of the OPA shall be to (1) promote efficiency and effectiveness of the department; (2) provide a centralized focus on ratepayer protection and consumer complaints; and (3) provide independent analysis of department actions, particularly as they relate to water and electricity rate actions. The OPA shall advocate against excessive rates and shall provide expert advice on rate actions and strategies which most economically accomplish the City's policy goals and protect the department's long-term interests.”

Exclusive update: Michael Trujillo, campaign manager to Huizar, just fired back with this sass-rocket, sent directly to the Weekly:

“Councilman Huizar was the first elected official in Los Angeles to introduce an advocate for ratepayers in 2008 and he is proud of that and will continue to move the football forward on issues of DWP transparency and protecting ratepayers. But, I suppose when you are an out of touch, out of sync, millionaire bar owner writing press releases without offering any solutions may seem like a new hobby to try out now that the real estate market isn't quite so hot.”

Dammmmn! Can we get you some calamine there, Martinez? If the heat between these two flame-throwing District 14 campaign managers is any indication, this is going to be the sexiest City Council race since 2003, when Villaraigosa devoured Pacheco.

LA Weekly