GPW: Self-Tempered Anarchy since 2009


Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
Send us your stories, ideas, and information. Insiders welcome - confidentiality guaranteed.



stories along The Way

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Disney Didn't Have A Permit. Did LADWP Have A Clue?

When your chief environmental engineer is named Goofy, Dopey or Stromboli, it may be time to rethink your corporate infrastructure.
The greater caution may be, however, if any of these gents decide to leave the private sector for public service in a municipal utility, it might be time to shut down the town and head for the hills.
We know from previous documents that LADWP had oversight of Headworks, hereinafter "Hexworks."
We now know that Disney reportedly did not have a permit (page 6 here). The U.S. District Court found that allegations were sufficiently supported that Disney violated the Clean Water Act (CWA) by discharging a pollutant from an "identified point source" without a permit and the EWW plaintiffs were allowed to continue with their case.
Reasonable people would have to agree that in order to get an environmental suit thrown out of court or at least specific allegations tossed aside, one should show up with permit in hand and say, "Look at this!"
Disney didn't.
Probably because they couldn't.
Perhaps because LADWP, the regulating authority, didn't issue one.
Watch out for high winds today...
And if you see newly placed tarps out on the Hexworks field, do let us know.
It would mean Jiminy Cricket has finally taken over the project.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Disney Has Been Using Headworks as Spreading Ground for Treated Water Since 1961

According to public comment by the Upper Los Angeles River Area Watermaster in a 1993 document on the USEPA site page 11 here, the Walt Disney Co. has been using Headworks as a Spreading Ground for its treated water since 1961.
The doc concerns a cleanup strategy at the San Fernando Valley Superfund Site (Region 9). Since it only outlines basic plans, some contingencies and comment from early 1993, there is not much to conclude other than LADWP appears to have had oversight while Disney appears to have held the rights.
Exactly who put the Hex in Headworks is still anybody's guess.

Friday, December 24, 2010

What Is The Hex 6 Cancer Risk In Headworks Soil?

With the exception of being stuck in holiday chitchat with a local Land Use chair on new and exciting zoning proposals, few things can make an unwitting conversant's eyes glaze over quicker than a holiday conversation (or, frankly, any conversation) with an enviro in command of "all the numbers."
With that in mind, we'll do our best to keep it as simple and as accurate as possible. If you have facts, figures or any other mitigating formulas to offer, by all means, please use the comments section to offer correction. We're all ears.
Here's what we have:
Hex 6 in dirt carries a different cancer risk than Hex 6 in water.
For the New Jersey Environmental Protection Agency, the "dirt multiple" for health risk is 20 ppm (parts per million)...
According to NJEPA...
In December 2009, the industrial use Headworks area reportedly tested Hexavalent Chromium 6 soil levels at 530 ppm.
530 ppm divided by 20 ppm = 26.5
26.5 x 2 cancers = 53 additional cancers per 100,000 humans exposed daily over a lifetime (70 years).
Good thing nobody got exposed to this high a risk.
Except, possibly, the horses and the people on the horses and the bike riders riding bikes next door.
And the hardhats without breathing masks running the heavy machinery to move Headworks soil around.
That's probably it.
Unless, of course, big dry winds kicked up and a lot of dust went flying from the site.
That wouldn't be good.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Headworks and Hex 6: Dirt At Sky High Levels


Earlier this week, Environmental Working Group (EWG) came out with a national survey on Hexavalent Chromium (aka Chromium VI) in the drinking water of major US cities, including Los Angeles.

Reacting to the findings, U.S. Senators Boxer and Feinstein quickly put together a press conference about how they are now rapidly creating federal legislation to address the Chromium VI problem.

Chromium VI is a nasty little metallic element. To many scientists and health professionals, even at 1 ppb (parts per billion) there are no safe levels of this deadly chemical.

California's state target for safe levels of Chromium VI is less than or equal to 6 ppm (parts per million). The Fed's target has been 10 ppm.

EWG's report weighed in at 20 ppm for Los Angeles water; double the Fed and more than three times the state target level.

Speculation (and it is speculation) is that EWG took its water samples near the Headworks in Griffith Park and nearby public access water sources.


But here's where it gets interesting:

According to our sources, in December of 2009, Regional Screening Levels for Hex Chromium in the adjacent residential area soil came in at roughly one-third of what USEPA would be concerned about. Concern level in soil would be a measured concentration of .86 mg/kg (86 ppm) of Hexavalent Chromium or greater.

Not a big deal at all.

But the kicker?

In December of 2009, industrial soil from Headworks tested at an astonishing 5.3 mg/kg (530 ppm).

Disneyfication of Griffith Park advances with two new carousels

Quiz:

Where in CD 4 can you find free land to collect all those little things that you dreamed about but weren't allowed to have as a kid?

Answer:     Yep - Griffith Park.

A trusted source wishing to remain anonymous tells GPW Sources say that there are plans in place to add two more Merry-Go-Rounds to Griffith Park in 2011, bringing the total to three. After all, in CD 4, is one of any shiny object ever enough?
The first of the new additions is the Lincoln Park Carousel -LA City Historic Monument #153. The Lincoln Park Carousel was destroyed by scumbag arsonists in 1976, then rebuilt and reopened in 2007 and has continually faced repeated threats of closure due to low interest since then.

The other is a $1 million project proposed for the LA Zoo which will increase the amusement park atmosphere at the soon-to-be-privatized attraction. The Zoo sits on free Griffith Park land, too. When another handing over of public assets to select private parties is complete, that free land will be managed and controlled by  GLAZA rather than the City of Los Angeles and its citizens - the latter being to whom the land was actually dedicated for their free enjoyment by Griffith Jenkins Griffith.


It's just so gosh darned swell to see precious public land being so carefully managed by our conscientious public servants.


Wondering what the owners of the historic Griffith Park Merry-Go-Round think about the impending competition. 

Also wondering where the needs assessment is that says Griffith Park could use not just one, but three carousels.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Status of the Cr VI lawsuit against Disney et al.

From the  website of plaintiffs Environmental World Watch Inc. "updated 1/08/2010":
The case in downtown Los Angeles Superior Court is moving along nicely. The next hearing is scheduled for January 2010. The previous demurrer motions by defendant were denied by the court and the case will proceed in accordance with the time frame established at the case management hearing.

Keep in contact with this web-page for monthly updates and/or BREAKING NEWS. CBS Television in Los Angeles and other media outlets have taken significant interest in the case and are waiting for the next chapter to this 1939-2010 story of enviromental [sic] damage.

Further testing and evidence gathering has revealed a much larger case and contamination isopleth. New EWW counsel Girardi/ Keese, LLP will announce the filings of pertinent information in new jurisdictions soon. Preliminary findings and subsequent back-up testing have revealed in early 2010 that most of the City of Los Angeles Equestrian Center, Griffith Park trails, portions of Burbank and Glendale appear to be contaminated with Cr. VI at unsafe levels.

The recent announcement by the State of California Office of Enviromental [sic] Health Hazard Assessment [OEHHA] that the Public Health Goal [PHG] for Cr VI is going to be lowered to near the level of detection [at or about 1 part per trillion] impacts the No Significant Risk Level [NSRL] for carcinogens. The significance of this scientifically formulated enforcement tool could be devastating for companies that have left a Chromium VI contamination plume in California.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Breaking: Chromium VI in Griffith Park?

A documented lawsuit against Disney Studios may lead to a reveal of major Chromium VI contamination of sections of Griffith Park, the Los Angeles Zoo, the LA River, and perhaps much of Los Angeles's drinking water.

The Wrap reported back in January that Disney is being sued for an alleged decades-long Chromium VI dump from air conditioning runoff at their Burbank property. From the piece:
An environmental lawsuit against Walt Disney’s 50-acre Burbank film and TV production facility that has been quietly winding through federal court may soon be getting more attention -- and not just for its "Erin Brockovich" connections. At the heart of the controversy is the alleged half-century of dumping by Disney of polluted air-conditioning water into storm drains surrounding its studio complex at 500 Buena Vista St. – affecting nearby homes, the Burbank Equestrian Center, Johnny Carson and Polliwog parks, and parts of Griffith Park.

The August 2009 federal lawsuit, filed by Environmental World Watch and several individuals who live near the Disney studios, alleges the discharge contained excessive levels of the carcinogens Trichloroethylene (TCE) and Tetrachloroethylene (PCE), as well as hexavalent chromium, more familiarly known to viewers of “Erin Brockovich” as Chromium 6.
Now come reports of the possible spreading of Cr VI from this source via the LA River and the Griffith Park property alongside the river and the 134 freeway called the "Headworks".


View Larger Map

This is the land that the DWP was supposed to be installing underground water tanks to take the place of the Silverlake Reservoir in the City's water distribution system.  Construction at the site unexpectedly came to a halt earlier this year. DWP representatives at public meetings stated at the time that the delay was due to drilling hitting previously unknown sediment layers that were unstable. It is unclear whether the delay has anything to do with the breaking rumors of Cr VI contamination.

Read the plan for Headworks at the DWP site.

Plan discussion from LA Creek Freak.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Music To Watch The Lunar Eclipse By...(when you're watching with Tom LaBonge)

Couldn't help myself.

Griffith Observatory eclipse viewing ruined

Yes, ruined.

No- not by the rain, but by Tom LaBonge interjecting himself into the event tonight. It's hard to imagine anyone less scientific or educational than LaBonge. Unless you are talking about William Mulholland or which high school you attended, that is.

If you can stand the councilman's tiresome puffery, tonight's eclipse viewing is taking place rain or shine.


From the Observatory web site:

How High the Moon:
Total Lunar Eclipse!

A public event to view the total lunar eclipse
Monday, December 20, 2010
8:00 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.

ADMISSION IS FREE

On December 20, 2010, Griffith Observatory celebrates the last total lunar eclipse of the decade by opening its doors to the public from 8:00 p.m. to 1:30 a.m. Los Angeles is perfectly situated for viewing this lunar eclipse. The eclipse occurs on the longest night of the year, and its maximum is only about fifteen hours before winter begins. It is also the highest in the sky that a totally eclipsed Moon has appeared from Los Angeles in 1,591 years and it will not be this high again for at least another millennium.

Events and special programs include
Building and exhibits are open 8:00 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.
Griffith Park inbound access via Vermont Ave until 12:00 midnight and via Ferndell / Western Canyon until sunset: Outbound gates on both roads will remain open until event ends.

Samuel Oschin Planetarium shows (there is a nominal charge for planetarium show tickets)
* 8:45 p.m. - Centered in the Universe
* 9:45 p.m. - Light of the Valkyries
* 10:50 p.m. - Centered in the Universe

Special free lectures about the lunar eclipse in the Leonard Nimoy Event Horizon (8:30 p.m., 9:30 p.m., and 10:45 p.m.)

Public telescope viewing

Stellar Emporium gift store open
Cafe at the End of the Universe open

Presentations during key eclipse moments by Griffith Observatory Director, Dr. E.C. Krupp, and Councilmember Tom LaBonge

Sunday, December 19, 2010

This Just In: First Little Pig Had The Right Idea....

This is a hay bale house courtesy of EarthFlow Design Works. If you look back at the Magavern interview comments, you'll find the exchange between Poppy and Mr. Greenwrench that led to my posting this pic (courtesy: www.earthflow.com). Earthflow also has a "Swan Song for the Lawn" tab featuring lawn conversions done in Encino, Burbank, Culver City and Santa Monica.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Four More Years! (of asthma, autism, cancer, heart attacks, strokes and other alphabetized ailments...)

California's Air Resources Board declared victory today for everybody except poverty-stricken children living along transit corridors, near industrial sites, or next door to gigantic corporate farm operations in the San Joaquin Valley.
(Yikes, I can't start the holiday vacation like that. I need a more positive spin.)
(Okay, here we go:)
California's Air Resources Board declared victory today for dirty diesel construction, cancer-causing school buses and unemployed health care workers by delaying, uh, "giving bonus time" to the construction industry so they can better meet California's new, rigorous diesel rules.
In four years.
Unless, of course, in four years they choose to delay the delayed rules because some other industry is negatively affected by CARB's bothersome efforts to protect public health.
I'd post a link to the AP article, but I'm too busy celebrating all the construction jobs that have been saved.

9/11 responders react to GOP filibuster

A GOP filibuster on Thursday killed the James Zadroga 9/11 Health Bill  - a bill that would provide medical benefits and compensation for emergency workers who were first on scene and who stayed there working tirelessly for ten month or more.

Meanwhile, Mitch McConnel cries as a close lunch buddy of his retires fat and happy from the US Senate.

Merry f*$#ing Christmas, Senators.

9/11 First Responders React to the Senate Filibuster
www.thedailyshow.com

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Five Quick Questions with: Bill Magavern

As director of Sierra Club California, Bill Magavern is a leading voice on California environmental policy and advocacy. It would be rare for an article on a statewide environmental issue to not contain a quote from Mr. Magavern, so I wanted to hit him up for a few quick questions before all the new electeds got "all swore in."
BH: Democrats now hold all the major statewide offices in California along with a majority in the State Legislature. On the face of it, environmental protections should become stronger, then again, we are talking California politics here. What specific environmental actions do you hope to see the Jerry Brown administration taking in the next two years?
Bill Magavern: Jerry Brown campaigned on a rapid ramp-up in clean energy, which will carry with it a welcome boost in green jobs. We especially hope his administration will quickly realize his promise of “Building 12,000 megawatts of Localized Electricity Generation,” reducing our dependence on big utilities and long (and expensive) transmission lines. We also hope that he will back updated car standards from the Air Resources Board that make the auto companies move quickly to electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids.
You have been a leader in the Green Chemistry movement and have successfully pushed major legislation for our state, but budget cuts and a lack of political willpower have hampered the state's commitment to protecting us (and our kids) from thousands of toxic substances arriving on the market daily. Was Green Chemistry just a plastic pipe dream? What do you see as the future of Green Chemistry in California and what needs to happen?
Now that the outgoing administration has given away the Green Chemistry store to industry, we need Jerry Brown to restore the original intent of the law -- that California’s scientists will require manufacturers to remove toxic chemicals from their products. Right now our chemicals are considered innocent until proven guilty, which is a sound constitutional standard for judging whether a person should be locked up, but is not the right way to make chemicals policy.
Hugged any trees lately?
No, but I have fond memories of a dip in a mountain stream in Yosemite on a sunny October day this year. This is a beautiful state we’re trying to protect, and I love to get out and enjoy it when I can.
What specifically is on your Environmental Legislative Wish List for 2011?
Requiring electric utilities to get 33% of their power from clean-energy sources by 2020, putting water meters in new multi-unit residential buildings, and adequately funding public transit for a change.
Renewable energy, climate change, water, air, forests, habitat, land use, toxics...you work on these issues and many more. What do you see as the biggest threat to our California environment and what can us "regular folk" do about it?
All of these problems stem, to some degree, from the disproportionate influence of big corporations on our political and governmental systems. Regular folk can vote for candidates who are willing to confront polluter power. In addition, you can let your elected officials know that if they want your vote they had better put people’s health ahead of the profits of the big oil, chemical and utility companies.
Thanks, Bill!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

And the new DWP fall guy is....

Ron Nichols! 

Congratulations Ron, you're now the sixth sucker lucky person selected to run the DWP on Villaraigosa's watch.

From Navigant Consulting's web page:
Ron Nichols is a Managing Director in the Energy practice has over 30 years of experience in utility asset and enterprise financing, utility mergers and acquisition, and power supply portfolio planning and procurement. Mr. Nichols was the lead business and regulatory advisor on the two largest revenue bond issues ever completed and has advised public power, investor-owned utilities, governmental agencies and non-regulated energy suppliers on over $30 billion of value of transactions.
Now it's time to start digging for all those little business links between King Beutner and Nichols.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Krekorian, Zine & Hahn To Decide On NC Emergency Bins

If you're an NC member who believes in local empowerment and happen to be hanging around City Hall on Wednesday afternoon at 2p, you might want to check out the ongoing inter-city services controversy on NC emergency preparedness bins being discussed by the L.A. City Council's Education, Neighborhood and Whatnot Committee.
Better yet, you might want to take two minutes out of your busy holiday to offer public comment. Something like, "Yeah, I think when the Big One hits, we should have 20-foot emergency supply bins for CERT 3 qualified community members to use to help out LAFD and LAPD. I don't care who digs me out of the rubble as long as somebody digs me out."
The backstory involves me, so if my part in it appears rather bloviated to you, it's only because I'm angling to get one of those cool 2010 inkjet Certificates of Recognition from the mayor or, really, any elected willing to give me one for my tireless, selfless and anonymous commitment to the public good.
The story: several years ago, I was the first president of a shiny new NC in Lake Balboa. My job was to chair the board meetings and find ways to support our stakeholders in District 6 (and eight blocks of District 12). In our first year, we were given $50, 000 to make our community a better place to live. Only thing is, our boardmembers acted like it was their own money. They wouldn't spend a dime on anybody. They were tighter than a pair of bike shorts on Rush Limbaugh (not my line, I stole it, but it's funny). This board turned down money for scout troops, the Red Cross, a couple requests from LAPD, homeless shelters, orphans, widows...
After the first year, I think we had spent a whole $2,500 and had actually succeeded in making our community more miserable. The only committee that had anything going on was chaired by Linda Pruett. If memory serves me correctly it was called the... (snaps fingers) oh yes, the "Emergency Preparedness Committee."
Unlike many of the NC board mannequins who had done nothing more than serve as placeholders for empty space, Linda had spent the first year organizing first aid, CPR and CERT trainings. She had a wish list for emergency preparedness supply bins. I was no longer on the board, but my wish list included spending our unspent balance before it got taken away by the city. So I wrote a proposal for two EP bins to be placed in our district and presented it as a resolution to the Lake Balboa NC. Turns out, it was a great night to present it because the board had taken a beating on some land use issue and was finally ready to do something nice. They adopted the resolution. Price tag: $50,000.
Fast forward a couple years, Linda was now on her way to having the most CERT-trained community in Los Angeles and had purchased the bins ($10,000), filled one with $20,000 worth of supplies and was ready to take the second order while several other NCs had followed suit and were planning their own bins based on her model when she received a letter from DONE.
DONE said "don't."
A city attorney, Tom Griego -- no longer around according to my sources -- had expressed the city's default liability screed (seriously, do these guys work for us or the insurance companies?) and DONE followed up without question.
That was in late 2009.
Since then, one EP bin has sat locked and full and one has sat empty.
$20,000 has continued to roll over in anticipation of the day when it can be used to save lives in our community.
The city has effectively said, "Don't worry about emergency preparedness, we got this," while cutting back on funding for, well, everything.
Smith and Zine have a proposal for DONE to study the EP bin idea. I love and respect Greig Smith, but I think it might be better if the L.A. City Council's Education, Neighborhood and Whatnot Committee conducts its own study on how to get this done -- instead of DONE. This is an issue for leaders, not lackeys.

CARB's Proposed Dirty Diesel Retreat (Op-Ed from Mercury News)

California has succeeded in environmental protection where few other states dared go by clamping down on pollution while building a mighty economy over the past 50 years.
In choreographed synchronicity, air quality improved, jobs multiplied and technology flourished. California not only allowed people to breathe better, but it also enabled innovations such as hybrid cars, low-emitting power plants, and clean paints and solvents. The brilliance of California's environmental leadership is that regulation has created new markets, which in turn created jobs and saved lives.
So it is profoundly disappointing that the state Air Resources Board is poised to retreat from this formula and roll back health-protective pollution controls that target the most conspicuous pollutant -- sooty emissions from big diesel-powered trucks, buses, bulldozers, backhoes and other equipment.
On Dec. 17, the air board will consider repealing its own rules, forgoing diesel pollution reductions that would benefit the breathing public. Specifically, the board proposes to eliminate all requirements for existing diesel-powered construction fleets to reduce their particulate matter footprint; delay compliance so most vehicle fleets do nothing until 2017; and push back deep cuts in smog-forming nitrogen oxide emissions five years until 2022.
Even worse, the proposal would eliminate requirements to retrofit diesel-powered equipment with state-of-the-art filters thatare cost-effective, reliable and can immediately make old equipment nearly clean as new by knocking down diesel soot almost 90 percent. That proposal alone represents not only a threat to public health, but a mortal danger to a fast-growing clean technology sector that supports more than 4,000 green jobs and counting in California alone. That provision means that about 250,000 diesel engines that could be cleaned up now will instead be left unregulated until they are retired from service, adding about 35,000 tons of smog-forming nitrogen oxide annually, according to estimates by the air board.
Why would the air board do such a thing? The agency says explicitly that the change is needed to help alleviate hardship on the recession-ravaged construction industry. The air board staff says it will make up the increases in emissions in the short term with gains over the long term.
But that's small consolation to Californians who breathe the most polluted air in the nation. By the air board's own estimates, about 9,200 Californians die from air pollution annually, and diesel soot accounts for most of the risk. Much of the burden falls on low-income families living near major highways or ports, warehouses or railways. Preliminary estimates show that the rule changes could potentially result in up to 30 percent more diesel pollution in the Los Angeles basin.
Meanwhile, the proposed diesel rule amendments will have a chilling effect on investors, including banks and venture capitalists. Investors have poured more than $2 billion nationwide into clean diesel technology, but they will have little incentive to continue under the proposed rule changes. The result: a lost opportunity for more than 10,000 additional jobs in the diesel filter retrofit industry. It hardly seems fair politics or prudent public policy to change the rules in midstream to benefit one industry while ruining another.
Green jobs and protecting the planet from climate change were constant themes for both the outgoing Republican governor and the incoming Democratic governor in California during the recently concluded election campaign. California would do well to heed those calls and adhere to its history of smart regulations that grow jobs as it weighs amendments to the diesel pollution regulation next week.
JOE KUBSH is the executive director of the Manufacturers of Emission Controls Association. NIDIA BAUTISTA is policy director of the Coalition for Clean Air. They wrote this article for the Mercury News.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Cal ARB to L.A.'s Asthmatic Kids, "Merry Christmas! Now Die, MotherF**kers!"

So this is what happens when Democrats are voted in to every major office in California...
And this is what happens when nearly 60% of California's voters show up at the polls and crush Prop 23...
This week, California's Air Resources Board (CARB) will consider a proposal to delay Dirty Diesel Construction regulations an additional four years.
Four years.
According to CARB's own research, that would mean more than 36,000 lives will be lost.
36,000 dead.
As a direct result of air pollution.
And because of CARB's proposed delay, not one of those lives will be saved.
But that's okay with Allan Zaremberg and the familykillers, uh, I mean "job protectors" in the California "Gas Chamber" of Commerce.
It's okay with them if they sacrifice your child's health or a few extra years of having grandma or grandpa over for the holidays for the sake of their profits.
Hey, CalChamber's gotta get this economy moving somehow and, during this season of giving, your family seems like the perfect place to start.
Of course, another benefit to maintaining the current death rate from air pollution would be the boost given to California's Mortuary Industry. Time to shift the 401K, Dad...
With help from CalChamber lobbyists, CARB recently discovered that when the recession hit, Dirty Diesel Construction all but halted in our state. This slowdown meant fewer particulates accumulating in our lungs resulting in "cleaner" air from this business sector.
By essentially being out of business, the Dirty Diesel Construction Industry was actually more in compliance with, uhm, the new weaker regulations that CARB has yet to adopt. Go figure...
This week, CARB will vote on whether to let the Dirty Diesel Construction Industry catch up to its old polluting, killing ways before considering stricter regulations -- like the tougher ones CARB has been working on for the last couple of years through public workshops -- while adopting the aforementioned weaker regs for that future date four years from now when they predict this California economy will really take off.
Then, for sure CARB will stick it to those Dirty Diesel polluters...
After 36,000 Californians have died.
Magical thinking for a magical time of year.
Ho ho hosed...

Friday, December 10, 2010

CP Therapy Dog Could Use A Little Christmas Cheer

Barron is a 10-month old Golden Lab who has proven to be an earnest student (gifted and talented!) in his training to become a Cerebral Palsy therapy dog. But, being a Lab pup, he also can be all legs and paws and somehow tore a cranial cruciate ligament requiring a nearly $3,000 surgery. So, if you're looking for an extra special gift to give this season, try http://barrontplosurgery.chipin.com/barrons-tplo-surgery

How quickly we forget

Daniel Ellsberg, who released the Pentagon Papers, reminds us of why Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Information, and Freedom of the Press is so important.

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
International Manhunt for Julian Assange - Daniel Ellsberg
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogMarch to Keep Fear Alive

From Wikipedia:
As an editor of the New York Times was to write much later, these documents "demonstrated, among other things, that the Johnson Administration had systematically lied, not only to the public but also to Congress, about a subject of transcendent national interest and significance". They revealed that the government had knowledge, early on, that the war could most likely not be won, and that continuing the war would lead to many times more casualties than was ever admitted publicly. Further, the papers showed the government had lied to Congress and the public.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Be careful out there

The sad death of Michelle Yu on Mt. Baldy should be a sobering reminder to all of us who play hard in the great outdoors that we need to be darned careful when we play.

Yu, an accomplished hiker training for an alpine event, was missing for four days while search and rescue workers scoured the area around the mountain. Her body was found yesterday northwest of the Mt. Baldy summit in a canyon area known as Fish Fork (see image below). The topo map image shown on broadcast news last night indicated that the body was located in a very steep area. The current theory is that she may have become disoriented at the summit due to fog and slipped.

Yu's death, and the recent death of Sally Menke in Griffith Park during a heat wave are a graphic reminder that nature isn't always forgiving to those who take risks. Make certain you do what you need to do to minimize those risks:
  • Be prepared, including proper training and gear for the location.
  • Take weather conditions seriously.
  • Carry emergency equipment appropriate for the activity.
  • Tell someone exactly where you are going and for how long.
Prairie Fork (left) and Fish Fork (right). The snow caped peaks from left to right are: Pine Mountain (left of skyline dead center), Dawson Peak, Mount Baldy and West Baldy. (Image by a guy named Al who is really into the Moody Blues.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Put up or shut up in CD 4

According to the City Clerk's website, Mr. Stephen Box has successfully gathered enough signatures to qualify for the CD 4 election.

More importantly, we hear through the grape vine that Box has opted for a more professional look. If true, this makes him far more competitive. That fact is indeed a sad commentary on the shallowness of the American electorate. Shallow as it is, if you are a serious candidate you really must conform and it looks like Box is putting up.

As soon as Box releases a new publicity shot, we'll post it.

Another infamous lame duck.
For those of you who get night terrors at the thought of a Lame Duck Tom LaBonge, remember that to run a winning campaign a candidate needs roughly $150,000. To avoid the night terrors, you may want to consider making a donation to Box's campaign.

If you're afraid of the revenge of the Labonge - and some CD 4 denizens are, which is a truly tragic commentary in and of itself - then perhaps you have a friend outside CD 4 who might (want to) donate some funds to Box in their name if quietly slipped to them.*


Otherwise, no crying when LaBonge is re-elected and the NBC Universal mega-expansion sails through without a hitch.

It's time to put up or shut up in CD 4.


Interesting article from the LA Weekly on Box's mastery of the social network.

*Update - one of our readers points out that this is a violation of some campaign law, although one imagines it happens all the time. No one is advocating violating campaign ethics laws. So the reader's suggestion is a donation of $99 which remains anonymous. If you have a big family, have everyone of voting age donate $99. 1500 anonymous donations gets Box there.


Scary park pic of the day

We had two choices for the headline of this one, the other being 'Tom LaBonge Wet Dream.'

The latter may be a more accurate headline given LaBonge's thwarted attempt to sneak cable cars to the Observatory into the Griffith Park Master Plan.

Hat tip to LA Observed for the Stuart Rapeport response to a proposal for an Angel's Flight fare increase.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

"...officious, rude, patronizing, bullying, and hostile."

"If they tried to finish a thought, he would rush to the podium and hulk over them in an intimidating manner."

The above is how senior community garden patron Don Feinstein described Dept. of Recreation and Parks Assistant General Manager Kevin Regan at a meeting in which a 500% increase in community garden fees was discussed. Each speaker was given two minutes.

This fee increase primarily affects senior citizens who use the City's community gardens to grow fruits and vegetables to supplement their diets on fixed incomes.

The really ugly details of the encounter between public servant Regan and 100 senior community gardeners can be heard in this segment from right-wing radio dudes John and Ken. If you don't like John and Ken, ignore their 'act' but pay attention to the information provided to them from Mr. Feinstein.

According to the City Salaries database,  Regan makes a paltry $160,000 per year to utilize his people skills as the face of the public-service-based City parks department.  That's a bargain - equivalent to just 1600 seniors facing community garden fee increases.

Original story on fee increases at the Daily News.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

NCJW/LA's Annual Clothing Giveaway Serves Thousands

CD2 Councilman Paul Krekorian, 42nd Assemblyman Mike Feuer, and the Mayor sorting clothes at today's event.

On Sunday, the National Council of Jewish Women/LA (NCJW/LA) held their annual free clothing, books, and gifts giveaway at the NCJW/LA main office on Fairfax. The NCJW/LA thrift store employees spend months setting aside donations in preparation for this event, and today's turnout  (one report says 7,000 attended) proved those efforts were sorely needed!

The NCJW/LA operates 9 Thrift Stores in the Los Angeles area, and as anyone can tell you, these are some of the top thrift stores around in regards to quality and selection. And as today's giveaway proves, the NCJW/LA Thrift Stores give back to the community in a huge way.

Our favorite NCJW/LA Thrift Store is located at 12203 Ventura Blvd in Studio City  because the store manager is STA co-director Abby Diamond. Stop by and tell her GPW sent you!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Los Feliz Holiday Festival this Saturday



The Los Feliz Village Business Improvement District is hosting a holiday festival this Saturday, Dec. 4 from 6-10pm. Different businesses along Vermont, Hollywood and Hillhurst streets in Los Feliz will have sales, offer holiday treats and extend hours to welcome neighbors and friends to enjoy what Los Feliz has to offer. A trolley and open-air bus will run from 6-10pm and look out for magicians, musicians, elves and carolers as you walk the village.

For more info visit www.losfeliz.biz

"Save the Peak" celebration Dec 9

Per an email blast from the Trust for Public Land, we are all invited:
Earlier this year, you all helped us save Cahuenga Peak, and now it's time to party! Join Councilmember Tom LaBonge and The Trust for Public Land at:

The Save the Peak Community Celebration
Thursday, December 9
3 p.m. until sunset
Lake Hollywood Park
3204 Canyon Lake Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90068

Eat Pink's Hot Dogs, dance to music from Martel Fuller, and enjoy the view.  For more information, contact sharon.shapiro@lacity.org
Everyone interested who doesn't actually work for a living during normal business hours should go. While you are there, make sure you ask LaBonge - UCLA's Local Legislator of the Year -  to explain how 138 acres of land offered to the City not too terribly long ago for $1.6 million ended up costing $12.5 million on his watch.

While you are at it, you could ask him if he feels he has a conflict of interest being both the President of the Sister Cities of Los Angeles, Inc and the CD 4 councilmember who funds Sister Cities programs in Los Angeles with public funds, too.

Just wonderin'.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Alarcon says he's innocent. Again.

City councilmember Richard Alarcon, who was indicted by Steve Cooley on 20+ perjury and voter fraud charges back when Cooley thought he would be the next Attorney General, today demanded that the charges be dropped. 

Alarcon has a new story this time - his home in his district was being renovated, which is why he wasn't living there.  This is a change from his previous story: that someone was breaking into his home and he didn't feel safe staying there.

There's a word for this behavior. Pathological? Yes. That's the word.

Let's see if Cooley still has the will and the stomach to keep doing his job. Odds - 50/50.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Griffith Park's Acorn Woodpeckers

Beautiful photographs of Griffith Park's very healthy Acorn Woodpecker population were taken by David Da Costa on November 29th. These deserve far more than a simple Park Pic of the Day nod.

See David's fantastic photos here.


Saturday, November 27, 2010

Green Tech No Joke To Chinese

“China is moving,” says Hal Harvey, the chief executive of ClimateWorks, which shares clean energy ideas around the world. “They want to be leaders in green technology. China has already adopted the most aggressive energy efficiency program in the world. It is committed to reducing the energy intensity of its economy — energy used per dollar of goods produced — by 20 percent in five years. They are doing this by implementing fuel efficiency standards for cars that far exceed our own and by going after their top thousand industries with very aggressive efficiency targets. And they have the most aggressive renewable energy deployment in the world, for wind, solar and nuclear, and are already beating their targets.” (from op-ed by Thomas L. Friedman, New York Times, 7/4/09)

A year and a half later.......

In other news...

In a downtown workshop this Tuesday evening, DWP will present plans that retreat from its 2007 targets for renewable energy for Angelenos....

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Sticker Shock...



Yep, this is the EPA label for the new Nissan Leaf.

Comparing fuel cost? For us old-school-internal-combustion-engine-types, $1,617 is the estimated annual fuel cost based on a given number of miles and fuel price, which are listed lower on the label (15,000 miles per year and $2.80 per gallon for this example).

As for the first production run being "sold out" at 20,000 units, a better phrase might be "reserved out" as customers would have to accept delivery at a 100% level. Between 50% to 80% acceptance might be more in line with industry expectations.

The Hope of Thanksgiving

As time hurtles onward and our lives become more compressed with each passing year, certain undeniable truths begin to arise within ourselves about ourselves as individuals and as a society -- particularly around the holidays. In this Age of Information, we have greater access to data, facts, figures and historical timelines. However, if we do our searches with proper key words in full bandwidth at lightning speed, we run the risk of stripping away our most comfortable lifelong assumptions perhaps too quickly for the community psyche to assimilate.

Case in point: the origin of Thanksgiving Day. Real history dictates there was far less romance, much more bloodshed, and plenty of alcohol.

Some might say this is still well represented at our family gatherings.

But that’s not the issue.

Last year, I watched my five year old son’s kindergarten class put on a play about the first Thanksgiving. There were no massacres of the natives, no hangings, no murderous double-dealings, no chains of slavery. Just children in construction paper pilgrim hats welcoming other children in construction paper feather headdress. They shared saltines and jelly beans and at the end of the play, they all coupled up and danced The Turkey Tango.

To the children, this interpretation of the story had meaning. It was a lesson in everybody getting along.

Thank goodness they chose not to represent Thanksgiving as it really was in the 17th century.

So perhaps we need to view Thanksgiving as a promise renewed every year. Not to candy coat atrocities against native peoples with an annual buffet, but as a promise to continue to try to work together and to get along as best we can.

And then we can all dance The Turkey Tango together.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

It's Silver and It Runs On Batteries


Good comeback story.

Remember the folks who killed the electric vehicle in the mid-90's? (In fairness, it wasn't "just" GM...)

Calling it "one of the most ground-breaking vehicles Motor Trend has tested in 60 years," the magazine recently announced its 2011 Car of the Year: GM's Chevy Volt.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

5 Quick Questions With Cal "Poppy" Activist Kate Allen


The Wicked Witch of the West may have tried to take Dorothy and Co. out with a field of poppies on their way to The Emerald City, but in the Antelope Valley, a field of poppies just took out plans for an entire motorsports racetrack to be located near the California State Poppy Reserve. According to environmental activist Kate Allen, "We didn't have much hope when we started this, but thought we had to try to stop it. All the letters, emails and testimony at several LA Co. Planning Commission hearings paid off."

The developer, in his own words, "was met with overwhelming opposition that eventually snuffed it out" according to the Antelope Valley Press and has decided to sell the land to a solar company, which will use it for mitigation lands when its project in the Antelope Valley is approved. According to Allen, "As this parcel is part of the area the State originally identified as the best place to preserve poppies, this is very good news. The State was only able to purchase some of the recommended area at the time the Preserve was founded."

I followed up via email with five quick questions for Kate:

How would a motorsports racetrack have affected a nearby poppy reserve?

The main concern was the noise, and the belief that it would keep away visitors. In a random survey of visitors 85% stated that their visits to the reserve would significantly decrease and 50% stated that they would never come again if a racetrack were built nearby. Another concern was air pollution - both dust and emissions during construction and from racing. An additional concern was that the required change in zoning of the parcel from residential to commercial would be the start of more development around the Poppy Reserve. 

Why should people care about poppies?

The California Poppy is the state flower. Many areas where it once blanketed the hillsides have been built over. It is a beautiful wildflower and worth the effort of saving it. Many other wildflowers are also found on the Poppy Reserve, so it is not just about preserving poppies.

Other than the developer, who proved the biggest opposition on this issue?

Racing enthusiasts who wanted to have this facility built. They claim there is a shortage of places to race because several racetracks have closed.

Now that we know the opposition, who stepped up and did the hero's work; individuals or supporting organizations?

Most of the work was spearheaded by a small group, a coalition of members of PR/MDIA (Poppy Reserve/Mojave Desert Interpretive Association), Sierra Club, the Antelope Valley Environmental Group (AVEG) and individuals. The group never really adopted a name. Dean Webb, program chair of the AV Sierra Club Group, played a key roll in first alerting us to this threat and beginning the process of organizing a group to oppose it. Margaret Rhyne, who is president of PR/MDIA was the main force; and her husband Phil was instrumental in contacting residents around the proposed racetrack site and getting several of them to write letters and come to hearings to testify. (This is a rural area, houses are far apart and set far back from their property lines, it is not easy to contact residents).

Best guess; how solid does the land mitigation deal appear to be?

The mitigation is dependent on AV Solar Ranch One being approved. They are the ones buying the land. There is not much opposition to this solar project - it is PV and being built on previously disturbed land.

"Close Contest" not so much

As of November 22, 2010, 6:16 p.m.

Kamala D. Harris (Dem)   4,352,280   (46.0%)

Steve Cooley (Rep)          4,298,699   (45.5%)

Monday, November 22, 2010

DWP Raterpayer watered down by City Council

Presser from the Rudy Martinez for CD 14 campaign follows. Thinking there is more than a note of truth to it, and Martinez actually has enough money to mount an actual campaign rather than just a run for office, which makes the race interesting.
-----------

COUNCILMEMBER HUIZAR DENIES REAL ACCOUNTABILITY TO RATE PAYERS

LOS ANGELES, CA (November 20, 2010) – In what proved to be one of the most critical votes the Los Angeles City Council has faced in years, Councilmember Jose Huizar denied Department of Water and Power (DWP) rate payers real accountability over the DWP by casting the decisive vote in favor of a watered-down Charter Amendment instead of the stronger reform measures backed by seven other council members and DWP reform advocates. If approved by voters in the upcoming March 8th municipal elections, the amendment would create a weak and disempowered Office of Public Accountability (OPA) for the DWP.

“This vote provided a bright light between the real reformers and those who support the proposed ballot measure. The final language is disappointing.” said Jack Humphreville via the CityWatch site.

The City Council held a series of public hearings to obtain community feedback on the proposed OPA. Community members were lead to believe that the final language for the ballot measure would include elements of oversight over the finances, management and operations of the DWP.

The current diluted and ambiguous language of the ballot measure reads as follows:

"The role of the OPA shall be to (1) promote efficiency and effectiveness of the department; (2) provide a centralized focus on ratepayer protection and consumer complaints; and (3) provide independent analysis of department actions, particularly as they relate to water and electricity rate actions. The OPA shall advocate against excessive rates and shall provide expert advice on rate actions and strategies which most economically accomplish the City's policy goals and protect the department's long-term interests."


“Jose Huizar chose to place the demands of the Downtown special interests above the interests of the residents of CD 14 and DWP rate payers all over Los Angeles,” said Eric Hacopian lead consultant to Rudy Martinez campaign. “His betrayal will be fully noted on March 8th by Council District voters when the voters are given the opportunity to vote for true reformer like Rudy Martinez who will bring real change to Los Angeles City Hall.”

Al Bundy does Wilshire

Tom LaBonge and his tightly-clutched compensation factor are photographed with a few friends by LA Observed photographer Judy Graeme before the Great Los Angeles Walk on Wilshire this past Saturday.

What an embarrassing dumb-ass.

Council passes road closure near Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Unbound reports that the City Council voted Friday to close a section of Mulholland Drive near the Hollywood Sign under questionable circumstances.  The City cites mischief and tomfoolery while Hollywood Unbound questions the legality.

Residents have been complaining about tourists and teens trespassing, hanging out, cruising, drinking, and building illegal bonfires in the area for decades. So why now?  Since this is a Tom LaBonge motion, one has got to figure the election has something to do with the timing.

There is precedent as the street at Deronda and MulHolland Hwy has been closed for some time. All of these streets are very narrow in the area. And just to remind readers in this post 9-11 world, the area around the Hollywood Sign is a Homeland Security site.


View Ledgewood and Mulholland in a larger map

Saturday, November 20, 2010

For Your Thanksgiving Checklist...



Hey, we all know you're going to spend a lot of time and money on Thanksgiving preparations for the family.
They're worth it.

While you're at it, how about spending a few minutes this year on Emergency preparations for the people (and pets) you love so much?

From FEMA:

Have Disaster Supplies on Hand
  • Flashlight and extra batteries.
  • Portable battery-operated radio and extra batteries.
  • First aid kit and manual.
  • Emergency food and water.
  • Nonelectric can opener.
  • Essential medicines.
  • Cash and credit cards.
  • Sturdy shoes.
http://emergency.lacity.org/epdpi1.htm
http://www.fema.gov/hazard/earthquake/eq_before.shtm

Friday, November 19, 2010

Thursday, November 18, 2010

While We're At It.....

Being deliriously happy over L.A. County's single use grocery bag ban, I couldn't help but wonder, since we're on a "roll," what else can we ban? Here's my list for your consideration...

1) Let's ban smog.

*cough* We must get over our addiction to it. It's killing us. Perhaps a big warning sticker should go on the side of all pre-2000 vehicles.

2) Let's ban mean people.

40 years of watching the Grinch every Christmas and we still haven't gotten voluntary compliance. Time for a law.

3) Let's ban the phrase "thrown under the bus."

If actually throwing someone under a bus is a capital offense, using this phrase in daily conversation should at least be a misdemeanor.

4) Namecalling.

What, are we all still in third grade now? Namecalling is a trick used by simpler minds to distract us from intelligent discussion. Let's not fall for it, let's get over it. State your point, not your prejudice.

5) People making phone calls.

Behind me. In line at the grocery store. Oh, oops, I thought you were talking to me, but instead I see you're yelling into your new iPhone. I'm surprised you need a satellite connection at all.

Snake pic of the day

Griffith Park last week, near a public water fountain.  Click image to enlarge.

Be careful out there! The snake, I mean. Be careful little snakey. People will try to kill you before you can begin to explain why you deserve to be there.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Harris still in the lead

As of November 17, 2010, 11:42 a.m:

Kamala D. Harris  (Dem)    4,199,742    46.0%
Steve Cooley  (Rep)           4,169,096    45.6%

Conan blimp buzzes Tonight Show studio

Video shot by yours truly in beautiful downtown Burbank over NBC Studios on Monday evening. Heh.

video

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Board of Sups bans plastic bags


The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors took matters into their own hands today, passing a measure to ban plastic bags from stores that recently failed at the state level.

The LA Times says:  
The vote was 3-1, supported by Supervisors Gloria Molina, Mark Ridley-Thomas, and Zev Yaroslavsky, and opposed by Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich. Supervisor Don Knabe was absent.

The ban, which will cover nearly 1.1 million residents countywide, is to the point: “No store shall provide to any customer a plastic carryout bag.” An exception would be made for plastic bags that are used to hold fruit, vegetables or raw meat in order to prevent contamination with other grocery items.

If grocers choose to offer paper bags, they must sell them for 10 cents each, according to the ordinance. The revenue will be retained by the stores to purchase the paper bags and educate customers about the law.
Personally, I save these darned bags and use them all the time at home. So I'm inconvenienced.... but I'll live. Obviously the greater environmental issue takes precedence.

Now, where can I find some very small trash bin liners for free?

With Strategists Like These, Who Needs Opposition?

I will happily grant you that, had Prop. 23 passed, I would have joined a boycott of oil companies Valero and Tesoro along with all the other elderly, white environmentalists like myself.

Thankfully, Prop. 23 got squished like a bug in the baby’s room. However, if it had won, given the scope of these multi-billion dollar Texas oil companies and the depth of my personal bitterness, I really don’t think I’d direct a boycott letter to the local Valero gas station cashier who sells me chips and diet soda and asks me if I want my car washed on an overcast day.

Not so for the strategists of the failed Prop 23 campaign. Got this email today. Here they go, a-organizin’.....


"Dear Mr. Cameron:

I am one of the millions of taxpayers who supported Proposition 23.

I will NOT be purchasing your extended version of 'Avatar' because of your $1 million donation to the campaign opposing the Prop. 23 effort to relieve our economy of the costly AB 32 global warming tax.

You have stated that, 'we're going to have to live with less,' while you yourself own three houses in Malibu totaling 24,000 square feet, a 100 acre Santa Barbara ranch, a stable of exotic cars, a fleet of submarines, a yacht and a Humvee firetruck.

I am NOT willing to live with less. But I will be living WITHOUT your extended version of 'Avatar' thanks to your support of imposing job losses and higher prices on the rest of us."

Whew, I’m sure glad I’m not James Cameron!

Have to imagine that a protest of this size against purchasing a third Blu-Ray edition of the director’s cut with additional minutes served up with a computer chip to attach to your frontal lobe for a true 3-D experience is really gonna impact somebody’s bottom line.

Probably not Jim Cameron’s.

Maybe his dry cleaners.

A couple questions for the grassroots organizers here:

“Have you seen Avatar?”

"If so, who did you root for?"

“You do realize that, in the Avatar movie, the tall blue fangy people are fighting for their lives against a Military Industrial Complex only interested in money, right? I mean, it’s not like they’re interested in inter-galactic job creation or anything.”

“Have you heard of Jim Cameron before? Perhaps you've heard of his ego? What about any of the other small, personal movies he’s made like, say, ‘Titanic’ or ‘The Terminator’?”

And finally...

“Aren’t you a little embarrassed?”

Ah, well....

With LaBonge's help, DWP stripping Solar Rebate for itself

Anything DWP brings out the absolute worst in CD 4 candidate Tom LaBonge, likely because it was the DWP that employed him prior to joining City Hall. In any fight between the public and the DWP, it's clear where his loyalties lie.
----------------

Killing Solar Energy Hopes for LA -- The Battle to Reform the DWP

By Ron Kaye on November 12, 2010  

The problem seriously ignorant people like Tom LaBonge often have is they think everyone is as uninformed and ill-informed as they are and that no one is smart enough to understand what they're really saying in their torrent of mostly meaningless words.

Two-faced guys like Dennis Zine have a different problem. They think they can double-talk and flip-flop and sell out and nobody pays enough attention to notice.

Then, there's the passionate environmentalist and ultra-liberal Paul Koretz who cares so much about green energy he called for a compromise that would give the DWP most of what it wanted when it drastically cut rebates for rooftop solar installations even as he led the fight to take jurisdiction and overturn the policy.

The Council debate Friday on taking jurisdiction under rule 245 was almost as crazy as the DWP Commission's Nov.  2 decision to cut rebates by a third and then half and then 80 percent over the next three years.  .

There was the devious Zine demanding to know why anyone would challenge the DWP when the rogue utility is doing such a great job and LaBonge proposing the DWP abandon rooftop solar on homes and businesses and put all its efforts into greening public buildings.

Both men are hoping to get their hands on the vast amount of cash IBEW  union bully Brian D'Arcy can throw their way, an immediate concern of LaBonge's who faces a tough re-election campaign in March.

The is just one battleground in a larger war that pits then entrenched interests of the DWP which are being protected by Interim GM and First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner against aroused and increasingly well-informed citizenry with the toadies and stooges on the City Council caught in middle looking for whatever cover they can find.

The decision Friday sent the solar rebate policy to the Energy and Environment Committee led by Jan Perry, who is one of the few who has shown the courage to actually stand up to the power of the DWP so it will be interesting to see what comes back to the Council.


The specific reason for the DWP action is simple if incomprehensible: It's too successful.

In 2007, California's Million Solar Roofs Law took effect, requiring the DWP to commit more than $30 million a year to funding a significant part of the cost of solar installation.

DWP provided only an average of $25 million a year since then for rebates of up to 35 percent of the cost and created a modest 23 megawatts of rooftop solar energy, tiny fraction of less than 1 percent of the city's power usage.

But solar is hot now and people with money to burn want it, in no small part because of the 30 federal tax credit, so the DWP has 1,500 applications for rebates worth more than $100 million and create 35 megawatts of solar power.

Since the DWP only budgeted $17 million for rebates this year, the solution the geniuses came up with was to virtually eliminate the whole program.

That doesn't sit well with the booming local solar energy installation industry which is creating more jobs than any other part of the economy in these hard times and sees what the DWP is up to as a deliberate attempt to kill the private solar industry.

The other side of that coin is that the DWP and D'Arcy have fought every effort to spur a private solar industry, preferring to keep the jobs inside the DWP where salaries and benefits are so spectacular and the IBEW gets a nifty percentage from every worker to help elect officials who do their bidding or destroy those who get in their way.

A decade ago, the DWP launched the largest solar initiative in U.S. history but thanks to the IBEW and gross mismanagement failed to built enough solar to power a suburban block.

A year ago, the IBEW launched its own $3 billion rooftop solar initiative, the Measure B boondoggle rejected by voters after a vigorous grassroots campaign against the $1.5 million spent by the union. Measure B was supposed to build 400 megawatts of solar with all the work being done by the DWP and IBEW.

That's what this is all about, why Zine opposed taking jurisdiction, why LaBonge wanted to keep solar installations in the hands of the DWP/IBEW by using the money from the Million Solar Roofs Law only on pubic buildings, why Koretz was looking for a weak compromise.

The real war that has been building since the mayor was foiled in his effort to get a 28 percent rate increase last spring will come to a head on Tuesday when the Council decides on a series of DWP reform measures to go on the March ballot.

The IBEW launched its attack this week on all reforms with full-page ads in the Times and Daily News claiming the Council is "rushing to place major changes to the Department of Water and Power on the March ballot without a thorough public discussion. While reform is needed, this proposal has had too little deliberation and too little public input."

Actually, there has been a great deal of public input about creating a fully independent Rate Payer Advocate and putting independent citizens with expertise on the Board of Commissioners instead of the lackeys who do the bidding of the nation's self-styled "greenest mayor in America.".

But it's far from clear that the Council has listened to the public input, preferring to look for ways to water down these proposals out of fear of a fight with the IBEW.

We'll see on Tuesday whether any of the 15 Council members deserve to hold public office.