The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Los Angeles:
DWP Fire Sale?

Jun 28, 2010

Austin Beutner, the new interim general manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP), says he wants to sell off some of the DWP’s most valuable assets, including its downtown headquarters, natural gas reserves in Wyoming, and an electric power plant.

Beutner claims the DWP is running out of money. Funny thing – this is the same excuse the DWP used for raising utility rates back in April. Only later did an audit by the city controller report that the DWP is sitting on a big surplus and shouldn’t have raised its rates. Never mind – the city council, which had approved the rate hike, let it stand, anyway.

In fact, the DWP, the largest publicly-owned utility in the U.S., is an enormous cash cow. The city politicians regularly dip into its surplus to pay for their pet projects – such as providing huge tax breaks to developers and speculators.

If the DWP does go through with the fire sale of its assets, it certainly won’t save the public any money. But it will hand over valuable property to private interests for their own profit – while the public pays more for worse service.