Saturday, April 27, 2013

"Rita of Sunland" Fights Even Higher DWP Bills

They want MORE money?
Anne Marie Wharton, known to both Sunland-Tujunga residents and talkradio fans as "Rita of Sunland" recently attempted to speak out at the Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council against a program that would  hire an additional $55 million per year worth of IBEW DWP employees whose purpose would be to snoop on how we're using electricity with the "goal" of reducing how much energy the utility gets from coal fired power plants and "improve the environment." The program, sponsored by the activist group, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, is called "RePower LA."

The true purpose of this plan of course is to hire more DWP employees who would be forced to join the IBEW union and thus using ratepayer money to further enrich the union.

Sunland-Tujunga residents already know our DWP bills are too high. DWP employees make significantly more than the same employees at other public and investor owned utilities nationwide and more than their fellow City of LA employees. For example, a secretary at the DWP makes 30% to 50% more in annual pay than say, a secretary at the Department of Recreation and Parks or even, the Los Angeles Police Department.

LA Weekly: Greuel "Insider"
IBEW is one of the richest unions in the country and has spent millions to attempt to elect Wendy Greuel Mayor, who as a City Council members and City Controller engineered significant DWP employee pay hikes and ratepayer increases. The union has made it clear they've gone "all in" with Greuel to keep the money machine rolling. They're terrified of the prospects of a Mayor Garcetti, who has declared independence from the unions. 

Wharton, a Sunland area homeowner for over two decades, at a recent Sunland-Tujunga Neighborhood Council meeting, expressed her concern that she and her neighbors simply can not continue to afford these rate hikes. Wharton alleges that following her opposition to the "RePower LA" program, the representative of the program became "unhinged." Wharton further claims that while she made her public comments, the camera recording the meeting was shut off. 

An STNC official has told this blog however that the camera was not turned off due to Wharton's comments, but prior to Wharton speaking, the camera operator had assumed the public comment period had completed and he had begun to break down the equipment. We were also told that several members of the leadership of the STNC had expressed concerns similar to Wharton's about the program and are equally opposed to the DWP's efforts. 

Concerned by what she believed to be an attempt to censor her comments, Wharton visited a subsequent Los Angeles City Council meeting and made further comments about the incident as well as the "RePower LA" program. You can watch video of Wharton's remarks here

Whether the failure to record/publish Wharton's remarks at the STNC meeting was simply a mistake or, as speculated by Scott Johnson at MayorSam not to embarrass the IBEW and the Wendy Greuel campaign, will need to be investigated. The bigger picture however, as Wharton correctly notes, is the ever increasing and growing efforts to continue to add more workers and cost to the DWP and suck that money right of working class ratepayers' pockets. 

Stay tuned.