City Hall

LA 2020 Commission makes recommendations

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Before Mayor Eric Garcetti could give his first state of the city address this afternoon, the LA 2020 Commission appointed by Council President Herb Wesson stole his thunder a bit by announcing yesterday the civic group's ideas to improve LA. The proposals are big, such as merging the rival ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, creating a new commission to oversee the DWP, raising the minimum wage and shifting the year of city elections. But the group's report hasn't exactly been received as a region-changing body of work, despite a heavyweight membership that includes former City Hall jobs czar Austin Beutner and macher-about-town Mickey Kantor, who were co-chairs. Kantor acknowledged that the panel's research wasn't groundbreaking: "We're 13 people without staff," he said. "So we dealt with … what we understood."

Garcetti's spokesman simply said thanks for your time, and the reaction elsewhere in City Hall was pretty quiet. The Times editorial board said "taken in totality, the report is disappointing in that its modest recommendations do not offer city leaders a persuasive plan to reverse the city's 'decline'....Turns out that it's a lot easier to declare 'a crisis in leadership' than to build the consensus needed to recommend major, comprehensive reforms that will, by necessity, alienate one constituency or another."

LA Weekly's Gene Maddaus pointed out that the members included the heads of the chamber of commerce and of labor — plus DWP union chief Brian D'Arcy — and so of course the recommendations would go the direction they did. From Maddaus:

Finally, after a year, the commission's agenda is becoming clear: to empower the powerful.

The commission is drawn from the leadership of the city's business and labor communities, and its reports reflect the insularity and self-interest of its membership.

Let's start with the DWP....For some unfathomable reason, D'Arcy was put on the L.A. 2020 commission. Worse, it looks like he was allowed to write the section on the DWP. In fact, the commission's report might better be titled: "A Time for Action: Brian D'Arcy's Plan to Restore Faith and Confidence in the DWP."

The report's flaws begin with the diagnosis. Quick, what do you think is the big problem at DWP? Out of control salaries? Rates that go up 5 percent a year? The union is too powerful?

Not according to the L.A. 2020 Commission. No, the commission believes that the big problem at DWP is "political interference" from the mayor and the City Council, who lack the "experience and expertise" to make decisions for the utility.

What a coincidence - that's also Brian D'Arcy's big complaint! He hates politicians meddling in his domain.

More coverage: LA Times, Daily News, KPCC, New York Times

Full report as a PDF
Group's Dec. 2013 report

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