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Mayor to name 'jobs czar' to head DWP

The key aide would not give up his oversight of 13 city agencies.

April 18, 2010|By Maeve Reston

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa plans to name First Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner as the interim head of the controversial Department of Water and Power, mayoral aides said Sunday.

Beutner, a former investment banker who was hired by the mayor to bring business to Los Angeles, will continue to oversee 13 city agencies after he becomes interim general manager. He replaces S. David Freeman, who stepped down last Monday after holding the job for six months.

The Times reported last week that Beutner, who makes $1 a year, was planning to take the job.

During a bitter feud over a Villaraigosa-backed rate increase, City Council members accused DWP officials of lying and threatened to exert control over the utility's budget and its board, changes that would require voter approval.

Tensions hit their peak when officials at the utility said they could not transfer a promised $73.5 million to the depleted city treasury after the council rejected their plan for a rate hike.

In a detente last week, the council once again approved a 4.8% rate increase that will go into effect July 1 for three months.

This time the DWP board, whose members are appointed by Villaraigosa, agreed to the council's terms.

maeve.reston@latimes.com

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