New LADWP Board Close to Confirmation

The headqarters for the L.A. Department of Water and Power in downtown L.A.
The headqarters for the L.A. Department of Water and Power in downtown L.A. Photo: waltarrrrr/Flickr/Creative Commons License

A Los Angeles City Council committee cleared four mayoral nominees on Monday to join the Board of Water and Power Commissioners.

The Energy and Environment Committee signed off on Mayor Eric Garcetti's slate of appointees to the five-member board that oversees the Department of Water and Power.

The nominees will go before the full City Council Wednesday for final confirmation hearings.

Councilman Felipe Fuentes, who chairs the committee, said he met with each of the appointees last week and felt satisfied by their answers to his questions on a variety of issues, though he did not elaborate today on what issues were discussed.

Jill Banks Barad, a public relations executive from Sherman Oaks, told the committee that she plans to represent both commercial and residential customers of the utility.

"Clean power and water affect every pocketbook in Los Angeles, businesses and residents," she said.

Former Rep. Mel Levine, a resident of Pacific Palisades, said the electric and water utility manages "two of the most important areas that affect every one of our lives."

Levine said the appointment offers him an "opportunity to take a close look at critical issues involving" the two utility services.

Also confirmed at the committee hearing today was Michael Fleming, a Los Feliz resident and executive director of the David Bohnett Foundation; and William Funderburk, a partner at law firm Castellon & Funderburk who lives in Hancock Park.

The committee's former chair, Councilman Jose Huizar, said the newly composed board should work to push through structural changes at the utility.

Story continues below

In addition to recently adopted alternative energy programs such as a pilot solar panel purchasing program and steps taken to wean the city completely off of coal energy, the board should also look at purchasing more water from local sources, Huizar said.

Last month, Garcetti announced an overhaul of the board amid heated talks over a labor contract covering 90 percent of employees at the city-owned electric and water utility.

The contract was seen as an opportunity to close a salary disparity between DWP and city employees and to control an expected rise in electric and water fees.

The board has the power to set DWP worker pension tiers, which impact how much retirement benefits the utility pays workers.

"I was elected with a mandate to reform the Department of Water and Power, and that's what I am going to do," Garcetti declared as he named his appointees. "These accomplished Angelenos will help me shake up the status quo at the DWP."

If confirmed, the appointees will join Christina Noonan, executive of real estate services at investment firm Jones Lang LaSalle. She has been a commissioner since 2010 and was the only one picked to remain on the board.

For ongoing environmental coverage in March 2017 and afterward, please visit our show Earth Focus, or browse Redefine for historic material.
KCET's award-winning environment news project Redefine ran from July 2012 through February 2017.

We are dedicated to providing you with articles like this one. Show your support with a tax-deductible contribution to KCET. After all, public media is meant for the public. It belongs to all of us.

Keep Reading