DWP Bill of Rights Fit for Russian Gulag, Says Consumer Advocate

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Notwithstanding the fact that DWP kept the lights on in Los Angeles while Enron left the rest of the state in the dark back in 2000, there are a number of people who believe the city-owned utility sucks big time and is in dire need of a major overhaul. Among them is Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court, who says Angelenos are no better off that Soviet-era political prisoners once were when it comes to getting straight answers about a bill.

“It’s really like a Gulag. You can’t get an answer, you get wrong answers, even when you have TV cameras from news stations in the face of these managers, they can’t get the right answers. When we say on the phone, ‘Can you connect this consumer to the ratepayer advocate?’, they say ‘What ratepayer advocate? There’s no ratepayer advocate.’ ”

And yet the DWP does have a ratepayer advocate making almost $300,000 a year, according to Court. “But he works really closely with the bureaucracy and meanwhile, Rome is burning.”

The DWP also runs big cash surpluses which find their way into the City’s general fund, serving as a sort of invisible tax on residents.

“It’s almost like in a Mafia-like scheme, the ‘vig,’ that they’re paying to the City Council to keep operating the way they want.”

Court says Los Angeles should adopt a system similar to the one in Chicago.

“We need a citizen utility board. It keeps the municipal utility in line. The way it was created, in every Chicago utility bill, consumers get a right – voluntarily – to join. It’s live five dollars a year (for) a group that represents them and they go out there and they beat the hell out of the bureaucracy. And they let the public know what’s going on.”

Court was a guest on 790 KABC’s McIntyre in the Morning Show with Doug McIntyre and Rob Marinko.

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