In 2011, the voters of the City of Los Angeles approved a Charter amendment that created an independent Office of Public Accountability and Ratepayer Advocate for the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. In 2012, after the creation of implementing ordinances, a Citizens Committee selected the Executive Director of this new office to serve a five-year term. The current Executive Director has served that term and is now in the sixth year of service. A new Citizens Committee has conducted an extensive search for candidates for the next five-year term and is about to review those candidates.
There are five members of the current Citizens Selection Committee. All five have expressed their concern, in open meetings, that the Ratepayers who are served by this independent office have not taken advantage of opportunities to provide public comment on the selection process for the Executive Director for the next five years.
LADWP is the largest municipal utility in the United States. It has approximately $5 billion in annual revenue. It has $26 billion in assets, or about $6,550 for every resident of the City. It is governed by a five-member Board of Commissioners who are appointed by the Mayor, with the requirement that many decisions must be or may be reviewed by the City Council.
The Department is in the middle of a dramatic reconfiguration of its water and power systems to meet the challenges of water scarcity and climate change. It also has a large backlog of improvements that are needed in its infrastructure, items like power poles and transformers and water distribution mains. Meeting these needs will be increasingly expensive. Those costs will be reflected in LADWP rates, which are currently lower than most investor owned utilities.
The only INDEPENDENT analysis of the plans for systems change by LADWP and City officials is the Office of Public Accountability. The OPA and its Ratepayer Advocate is funded by LADWP ratepayers. The people who have the biggest stake in this selection of a candidate for the next five-year term are the ratepayers themselves.
At its next regular meeting on Thursday, July 19, at 2:00 pm at Los Angeles City Hall, the Citizens Committee will hold its last public meeting before the selection process begins. Members of the Citizens Committee urge everyone who is able to appear at the meeting to provide public comment. If you are not able to attend, you may send your public comments by email to email@example.com.
To assist with forming your public comments, the entire selection process is documented on the Citizens Committee website, opacsc.lacity.org. That site includes audio recordings of all public meetings.
This survey is similar to the survey that was conducted during the selection process for a new Chief of Police. The work product of the current Office of Public Accountability for the past six years is held on the official website of that office, opa.lacity.org.
The search for candidates for the position of Executive Director of the Office of Public Accountability has been conducted by the City’s Personnel Department. The Citizens Committee understands that 28 applications were received, at least two of which are from out of state. Members of the Citizens Committee do not know who has applied for the position. After the public portion of the meeting on July 19, the meeting room will be closed, and the Citizens Committee will see for the first time, in closed session, information on the applicants.
The selection of a candidate for Executive Director is a confidential process to protect the interests of the applicants. The Citizens Committee will meet in closed session to do that work. Public comments and survey results will still be accepted as described above and will be available to members of the Citizens Committee. The candidate selected by the committee must be confirmed by the City Council and the Mayor.