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Greuel trying to turn the tables on Garcetti and DWP union

April 18, 2013|By Kate Linthicum
  • Mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti in a debate this month at American Jewish University.
Mayoral candidates Wendy Greuel and Eric Garcetti in a debate this month… (Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles…)

Los Angeles mayoral candidate Wendy Greuel is turning criticism that she would be beholden to the powerful Department of Water and Power union back on her rival, Eric Garcetti, accusing him of doing the union’s bidding during a contentious 2009 ballot measure campaign.

At a debate in Sherman Oaks Wednesday night, Greuel alleged Garcetti agreed to help delay a public hearing on a report that raised questions about a solar-power ballot measure backed by the DWP union. The proposal, which ultimately was rejected by voters, would have encouraged installation of solar panels across the city, creating additional union jobs. Both Garcetti and Greuel supported the proposal, Measure B.

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Greuel cited an email Garcetti received from a Measure B campaign spokeswoman asking if Garcetti could delay a February City Council committee hearing on the report until after the March 3 election. Included on the email chain is Brian D’Arcy, the head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers  Local 18.

“Lemme see what I can do...” Garcetti responded in the email, a copy of which was provided to The Times by a political consultant who worked for the Measure B campaign and who is now advising Greuel. Elsewhere in the email exchange, Garcetti touted the tens of thousands of dollars he had raised for the union-backed campaign.   

Two days later, the Energy and Environment Committee hearing was canceled, hours before it was scheduled to begin, according to the city clerk’s office. The report was not considered by the committee until July.  

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“I ask my colleague," Greuel said at Wednesday's debate, "why did you prevent it from being heard?”  

Garcetti campaign spokesman Jeff Millman confirmed the email exchange,  but said Garcetti played no role in postponing the hearing. The chair of the committee, City Councilwoman Jan Perry, would have made the decision to cancel it, he said. 

“He never discussed it with Jan and nothing came from this,” Millman said. Millman added that the report had already been made public. Weeks before the scheduled public hearing, then-City Controller Laura Chick presented the report’s findings at a news conference, where she announced her opposition to Measure B.   

The report, which Chick wrote with an outside consultant, said there should have been "more rigorous and comprehensive analyses" of Measure B before it was placed on the ballot by the City Council and mayor. The report raised questions about the scale of the solar project, said it could face "significant challenges" and estimated the cost of installing the solar panels at $2.8 billion to $3.6 billion, not the $1.5 billion originally forecast.

Perry, who has endorsed Garcetti, said Thursday the hearing on the report was canceled because of scheduling conflicts, not political concerns. “This is stupid,” she said of Greuel's assertions.

Greuel’s criticism of Garcetti’s DWP union connections comes as she continues to face attacks from her rival, who claims the utility workers' union is trying to buy the election for Greuel. An independent committee largely funded by the union spent $2 million supporting Greuel and attacking her major opponents during the April primary campaign.

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kate.linthicum@latimes.com

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