If you've heard it once, you've heard it a hundred times since last year. We're just about to have a ratepayer advocate for the DWP, it's just around the corner. Well, according to what the citizens committee said back in December, it IS around the corner. They expect to have a name to announce this week or next, with committee and city council hearings to follow.
So what has happened since the last time we all paid attention to the Office of Public Accountability?
Well, the citizens committee has met at least a few times. It's sort of impossible to find their records on the city of L.A.'s website, but there aren't many anyway; state law allows them to meet in closed session to interview and consider hires for the job of ratepayer advocate.
Sacramento-based headhunters Ralph Andersen and Associates consulted consumer groups, the Office of the Ratepayer Advocate at the CPUC, TURN (The Utility Reform Network), and Public Citizen. They talked to Bank of America, Caltech, McKinsey, Occidental, Orrick, Herrington and Sutcliffe, the Central City Association, the Chamber of Commerce, and several public finance firms, among others.
They also made a glossy brochure (see below), explaining that "The OPA, operating with a small technical and administrative staff, will perform periodic rate proposal reviews, direct analytical support, issue and present public reports on findings, and, equally important, respond to public inquiries on rate related matters." It includes pages on the ideal candidate's qualifications, with a specific requirement that the candidate have...
…substantial executive level experience, ten (10) years or more of senior level experience, with a strong emphasis on financial expertise and organizational accountability. With a proven track record of success, top candidates will have achieved recognition through a progressively responsible career path. Preference may be given to candidates with direct and applicable experience dealing with the utility industry, energy sector, rate setting, and/or financial management in a dynamic setting. Career history must also include a verifiable track record of success with recognition for exceptional integrity and unquestionable ethics.
According to this recruiting document, the office will have at least $1.05 million dollars for the first year. The woman or man who gets the job will get $185,017 to $229,867 plus benefits and maybe some relocation.
Besides all that, the city has passed some ordinances that outline how to remove the ratepayer advocate from the position, say for misconduct, malfeasance or other disciplinary reasons. So now that that's done, we're really almost there….right?
You can read the whole brochure below.