A Tale of Two — or Three — Mayors

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It’s fitting that I should refer to a column by an Irishman on St. Patrick’s Day, isn’t it? It is also appropriate that the topic for today is being “green.” Above is a poor link – but the best I could find – to today’s piece by Doug McIntyre in the LA Daily News. In it, he identifies a likely motive for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s latest call for customer fee increases at the LA Department of Water and Power. That motive is to further the political aspirations of the Mayor – aspirations that many believe culminate in a Pennsylvania Avenue address.
For a Democrat with such aspirations, it is imperative to have a record that can be supported by the political “base” of the Party – in this case, environmentalists. The stated purpose for the rate increase at DWP is to increase the amount of “green” power generation. Villaraigosa is going to have a tough time if his political opponents can cast him as one of the biggest polluters in the world, due to less-than-Irish-green practices at DWP. To solve Villaraigosa’s political problem, the customers of DWP must pay the price.
This is nothing new. A quarter century ago, Los Angeles mayor Tom Bradley had his sights set on the Governor’s mansion, but he faced a similar less-than-green label. The Hyperion Wastewater Treatment Plant was putting more waste into the Pacific Ocean than any other city in the western hemisphere. Bradley could never become governor with that on his record.
Just a couple days ago, the City of San Diego was granted yet another waiver from installing “secondary” treatment for its wastewater facilities. They have been receiving such waivers for decades – just like Los Angeles had been, until Bradley’s run for governor. Is secondary treatment really necessary for ocean discharges? Not in my opinion. And, apparently, San Diego has been able to convince regulators that it’s not necessary, too. In doing so, they have saved hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars. But secondary treatment was definitely necessary for Bradley, if not for the environment. So he embarked on a program that has cost close to a billion dollars of taxpayer money – not to spare the environment, but to make himself look “green.”
How well did it work out for Tom Bradley? Well, despite spending so much of your money, he never made it to Sacramento. A couple years after Bradley’s unsuccessful run, our governor was Pete Wilson – the mayor of … San Diego!
Will Villaraigosa repeat history by spending taxpayer dollars to embellish his “greenness,” only to fail in his political adventures anyway? I wish I didn’t have to pay to find out.

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