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Measure RRR Opponents Call It DWP 'Power Grab,' Backers Say It's About Reform

KPCC 89.3 FM SoCal Public Radio
http://www.scpr.org/news/2016/10/31/65821/measure-rrr-opponents-call-it-dwp-power-grab-backe/

Ratepayers joined forces with consumer advocates recently to denounce Measure RRR, the proposed Los Angeles city charter amendment that would give the Department of Water and Power greater authority and flexibility when it comes to awarding contracts, hiring and setting rates. 

The measure is backed by the Los Angeles City Council, Mayor Eric Garcetti and the DWP itself. 

In opposition, Jamie Court, president of the nonprofit Consumer Watchdog, said last week that the measure would strip away oversight of DWP from the City Council and the mayor's office. 

"The mayor and the City Council seem all too happy to wash their hands of that oversight," he said. "Well, it's their job as elected leaders to oversee DWP."

Garcetti said in a statement that DWP and its general manager needs the tools in Measure RRR.

"I support Measure RRR because its [sic] a sensible reform package that will help bring DWP into the 21st century by providing the GM with day to day operational flexibility, requiring the Department to submit a strategic plan for city council and Mayoral approval every 4 years, and strengthening the role of the ratepayer advocate, among other integral changes," the mayor stated.

The Los Angeles Times has recommended a "yes" vote on Measure RRR, arguing it would allow the agency to take steps in the right direction toward reform. Los Angeles Daily News recommended a "no" vote, saying it leaves questions about whether increasing DWP's independence would reduce its accountability.

Measure RRR goes to voters after a series of DWP issues, including a major water line break that flooded parts of UCLA's campus, highlighting problems with the agency's ability to maintain old infrastructure; higher water and power rates started in April that will raise a typical residential customer's bill to $151.65 at the end of five years; and lack of transparency in how DWP spent $40 million over a decade for two nonprofits controlled by the agency's union.

In a finance report filed in October, the "No on RRR" coalition of consumer advocates, environmental organizations and employee organizations reported spending about $604,000 in opposition to the measure.

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