In the middle of the worst budget crisis in Los Angeles history, one department is thriving without mandatory job cuts, furlough days or loss of the perks they’ve come to enjoy. In fact, thanks to a new contract approved by the L.A. City Council in December, most of its already well-paid workers will get salary increases over the next five years. Which department is it? It’s the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) and this week SoCal Connected Anchor Val Zavala looks into how the DWP stays immune from L.A.’s fiscal problems.
In a rare sit-down interview, Brian D’Arcy, powerful head of the IBEW Local 18 (the union representing 9 out of ten DWP workers) defends the deal, saying the higher salaries paid DWP workers are merely the price of attracting talent in a competitive job sector. Confronted with the complaints of angry ratepayers, he responds that .” ..generally how they feel is not relevant.”
And if you’re expecting a different view from the management side, you’ll be disappointed. DWP Interim General Manager S. David Freeman echoes D’Arcy, arguing that DWP actually keeps its costs lower than privately-owned southland utilities such as PG&E; and Edison. But that may be cold comfort to customers. According to a former DWP commissioner, some L.A. residents should soon expect their utility bill to exceed their monthly mortgage. Find out what’s driving up utility costs and who’s in the driver’s seat at the LADWP, in “The Price of Power,” this Thursday, March 18 at 8:00 p.m.
Next, SoCal Connected Correspondent Angie Crouch peers into the future of California rail transportation in “Track to the Future?” In 2008, California residents approved $10 billion in bonds to jump-start a long-discussed high-speed rail system connecting Anaheim with San Francisco and points in between. Last January, Congress granted $8 billion for the high-speed rail project as part of President Obama’s push to develop infrastructure and create jobs. But critics argue that the real-world costs exceed the projected benefits and communities along the planned route wonder what price they’ll be made to pay in quality of life.
In addition to airing on SoCal Connected, “Track to the Future?” will appear as part of PBS’ Blueprint America, a yearlong multi-platform initiative examining infrastructure issues throughout America and the world. The series and its companion Web site (www.pbs.org/blueprintamerica) consist of content produced by national PBS shows, local stations and original documentaries distributed nationally on PBS. Major support for Blueprint America is provided by The Rockefeller Foundation and The Surdna Foundation.
Then SoCal Connected Commentator Marcos Villatoro adds up his own electric rates in his discussion of the LADWP.
“The Price of Power” is reported by Val Zavala and produced by Karen Foshay. “Track to the Future?” is reported by Angie Crouch and produced by Saul Gonzalez. The Executive Producer of SoCal Connected is Bret Marcus. Anchor is Val Zavala.
SoCal Connected, recent winner of six Emmys, eight Golden Mikes, including Best News Public Affairs Show, five LA Press Club awards for journalism, recipient of the Edward R. Murrow Award for Best News Documentary, and Los Angeles Magazine’s “Best New Local TV Program” of 2009, airs Thursdays (8:00 – 8:30 p.m.), Fridays (8:30 – 9:00 p.m.), Saturdays (6:00 – 6:30 p.m.), and Sundays (6:30 – 7:00 p.m.) exclusively on KCET.