On March 25, Circling the News offered readers a quiz about the L.A. Department of Water and Power to see if they could understand why some of their bills have risen astronomically since 2013.
- There was a class action lawsuit because of overcharging by the DWP in 2016. True or false.
- That lawsuit was thrown out because of corruption. True or false
- The City voted in 2016 to raise DWP rates, placing them in three tiers. True or false.
- Ratepayers received a new charge to their bills in 2016, the PAC. True or false.
- The City sued Pricewaterhouse Coopers for a bad billing system for DWP but withdrew the suit when the PwC lawyers discovered that City Attorney Mike Feuer had orchestrated the class action lawsuit. True or false.
- TRUE. There was a class action lawsuit because of overcharging by DWP. The City Attorney’s Office under Mike Feuer selected Antwon Jones as the “figurehead” for the lawsuit and even provided him with attorneys from the City. That was settled in 2017 (and subsequently thrown out). Totally corrupt, this scheme came out when Feuer (City) sued Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC).
- TRUE. Once it was uncovered that the City had “rigged” the class action lawsuit, Judge Elihu M. Berdoe fined the City $2.5 million and a new class action lawsuit is underway with discovery. The new attorney filing against the City is Brian Kabateck.
- TRUE. The DWP routinely transfers eight percent of its annual revenue to the City’s general fund (usually around $250 million). In March 2016, the City Council passed ordinance 84133, which approved increased rates fixed by the DWP, including a three-tier system and a Power Access Charge, both of which were new.
- TRUE. (See above.)
- TRUE. The city accused Pricewaterhouse Coopers of giving them a “bad” billing system. Unfortunately, California’s state auditor said that the City rolled out the system too soon. PwC, under law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, took the City to court and unearthed many of the dealings. This resulted in the FBI raiding DWP offices in July 2019. Once the investigation was underway, the City dropped the lawsuit against PwC.
Residents are being charged more for DWP bills. At least eight percent of that money is going to the City. Legal challenges continue and lawyer fees continue to eat up taxpayer dollars. Circling the News contacted City Controller Ron Galperin to ask how much money has been spent on legal fees over this debacle. CTN was referred back to the City Attorney, who so far has not commented.
Next up: Eck, et al. v. City of Los Angeles, a new class action lawsuit that many residents have never heard about. It was not settled in favor of lowering rates.
Who is our contact person at DWP?
Good question. Deborah Hong is the LADWP public relations specialist–but I’m not sure after reading all of the stories and lawsuits that DWP has the rate-payers best interest at heart. It’s also not in the City’s best interest to change anything.