Study Faults DWP ‘Customer Service’

March 19, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power ranks poorly in customer service when compared to comparable utilities, and spends less in that area, according to study findings released Tuesday by Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office.

The study, conducted by PA Consulting, compared the operations and costs of the department against those of other utilities and concluded the DWP should increase spending on customer-focused programs.

Garcetti said the study highlighted the DWP’s customer service struggle, “reinforcing our work to hire 190 customer service representatives since April 2014 to drive call hold times down to under five minutes.”

“Under our new leadership at the DWP, we are changing the culture to focus more on customer service, because that’s what our customers deserve,” he said.

The study gave favorable rankings for the utility’s spending levels and reliability.

“I am very pleased with the initial results of this study, which will help us find and achieve real cost savings and greater efficiencies within LADWP’s operations,” said General Manager Marcie Edwards, who was hired about five months after the department rolled out a revamped billing system and started experiencing major problems.

The study has two more phases. The next phase will focus more closely on customer service, power distribution, energy loss and expenses that go uncollected. The third phase will look at ways to improve the DWP’s operations, such as cutting back on energy loss and uncollected expenses.

The study was released a week after a state audit found that the troubled 2013 rollout of DWP’s billing system could wind up costing ratepayers more than $200 million.

The system launch resulted in some customers receiving wildly inflated bills and others receiving no bills at all.

The state audit found that as of November, the utility was still trying to collect more than $681 million from customers for past-due bills. DWP officials said only about $245 million of that amount is attributable to the new billing system.

Councilman Felipe Fuentes introduced a motion Tuesday requesting that the state auditor and the DWP ratepayer advocate give reports to the City Council about the billing system’s problems.

He also asked the DWP to report on how soon the state auditor’s recommendations could be adopted.

“It is my expectation that the information revealed by the state audit and the ratepayer advocate’s analysis will continue to improve the management of the utility and restore the trust expected by our residents and ratepayers,” Fuentes said.

He added that residents and the City Council “are eager to get this matter resolved, once and for all, so we can finally focus our efforts on modernizing and maintaining our aging infrastructure to make room for a growing, robust Los Angeles.”

Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced earlier this month that his office filed a lawsuit against the accounting firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers, which the city hired to implement the DWP billing system.

Feuer alleges the company misrepresented its level of experience handling such a system, costing the city “millions” of dollars. But Daniel J. Thomasch, an attorney for PwC, called the lawsuit “meritless,” contending it was a “transparent attempt by the DWP to shift blame away” from the utility.

Garcetti Inicia Recaudación Para su Reelección como Alcalde en 2017

March 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

El Alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti, ha comenzado a recaudar fondos en su carrera hacia la reelección en este cargo, según informó el miércoles la página web que anuncia la campaña.

La oficina de comunicación del alcalde aseguró el miércoles a Efe que el funcionario “sólo presentó los documentos” para iniciar dicha recaudación.

Sin embargo, no se ha producido aún un anuncio oficial al respecto más allá del titular “Eric Garcetti para Alcalde 2017” que aparece en la página de campaña.

La Comisión de Ética de Los Ángeles recibió este lunes los documentos necesarios para que el demócrata comience a recibir fondos y donaciones, según informaron medios locales.
El alcalde, que todavía no ha cumplido dos años en este puesto, fue elegido en mayo de 2013 gracias al apoyo del 54% del electorado, derrotando en una feroz lucha a Wendy Greuel, exadministradora financiera de la ciudad que aspiraba a convertirse en la primera mujer alcalde de Los Ángeles.

Durante las primarias en 2013, Garcetti, nieto de mexicanos, logró el respaldo del 48% de los votantes latinos y el 40% del voto judío, un apoyo que fue determinante para su elección como alcalde.

De cara a las elecciones de 2017, el voto hispano sería también decisivo para este demócrata que sustituyó en 2013 a Antonio Villaraigosa, el primer alcalde latino de la ciudad.

A los 42 años, Garcetti se convirtió en el alcalde más joven de la historia moderna de Los Ángeles y en el primer judío en ostentar este cargo.

El nombre de Garcetti surgió como un posible candidato para suceder a la senadora Bárbara Boxer, demócrata por California, quien anunció hace poco que no buscaría la reelección en 2016. Pero el alcalde rápidamente calló los rumores, diciendo que le encanta ser alcalde y esta “comprometido con el trabajo aquí”.

Él también ha sido mencionado como un posible candidato a gobernador para reemplazar a Jerry Brown, pero Garcetti no ha dado ninguna indicación de que esté considerando tal oferta.

Garcetti Files Paperwork for Re-election

March 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Having shunned a chance to run for U.S. Senate, Mayor Eric Garcetti has quietly filed paperwork to seek re-election in 2017.

Garcetti filed re-election paperwork on Monday with the city Ethics Commission, according to the panel’s website. The filing allows him to begin fundraising for the campaign.

Garcetti’s name surfaced as a possible candidate to succeed Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who announced earlier that she would not seek re-election in 2016. But the mayor quickly shot down the rumors, saying he loves being mayor and is “committed to the work here.”

He has also been mentioned as a likely candidate for governor to replace Jerry Brown, but Garcetti has not given any indication that he is considering such a bid.

The Los Angeles Times also noted that Garcetti had launched a “bare-bones” campaign website at www.ericgarcetti.com. The site contains a biography of Garcetti and a link to make donations.

L.A.’s History Available on Single Website

February 26, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Information about Los Angeles’ historic, cultural and architectural landmarks are now available on a single website thanks to a collaboration between the city and the Getty Conservation Institute, city officials announced Tuesday.

Mayor Eric Garcetti joined Getty executives to unveil www.HistoricPlacesLA.org, which features an interactive map to the city’s architecturally and historically significant districts, bridges, parks, gardens, streets and buildings.

“This system unlocks Los Angeles’ rich cultural history and puts it in the palm of anyone’s hand,” Garcetti said. “HistoricPlacesLA will enrich and enlighten visitors and Angelenos alike and will encourage people to truly explore our streets and be conscious of the history around us.”

Officials said the site was set up as a resource for policymakers, property owners, developers, visitors, students, history and architecture fans and other stakeholders.

The website includes information collected through SurveyLA, a partnership between the city and Getty to identify significant sites around the city, and will be continually updated.

Garcetti Sees Progress in Labor Negotiations

February 12, 2015 by · Leave a Comment 

Even as city workers rallied at job sites around the city to protest what they call cuts to municipal services, Mayor Eric Garcetti insisted Tuesday there has been recent progress in labor negotiations with employee unions.

“I feel we’ve made great progress last week at the table. There’s been real progress on substantive issues, and we’re going to continue there,” Garcetti told City News Service.

Garcetti and other city leaders have said they are seeking no raises, increased employee contributions to health-care costs and other concessions from the coalition of city employee unions, whose labor agreements expired in July.

“And I hope that’s communicated to members,” Garcetti said, referring to the progress he said the city is making wit the union, adding that the city “will manage in a fiscally responsible way and through any job actions.”

“We’re going to make sure that the workplace rules are enforced. People expect that city employees will do their jobs,” he said. “I have great faith in our city employees to do that.”

He would not say whether the city has made any headway on union concessions, but said “for the first time in weeks” there has been “real progress.”

“We still have a long ways to go, but … it’s not at a standstill, which it was for a long time. There’s actual movement now,” he said.

He added that the city is still not “out of the woods,” and even if “the economy is coming back, we still have more expenses than we have revenues, so we have to think creatively about how to save money.”

Garcetti’s comments came as Fix L.A., a group affiliated with the unions, is organizing protests with workers at more than 60 job sites.

Picketers, some waving giant Band-aids or wearing outfits festooned with trash at the City Sanitation Yard and the Dockweiler Beach Youth Center, alleged that the city has failed to adequately maintain city sanitation trucks, which could break down and become a public safety threat. They also contended that bad Wall Street deals have leached money from city coffers that could have been used to clean up storm drains.

“We have a strong message that we want the city to not pay the bank, to put that money back into the community, the residents of Los Angeles, and we hope the mayor will work with us on that,” wastewater sanitation worker Simboa Right told City News Service.

Protesters also picketed at the Los Angeles Zoo, Los Angeles International Airport, Department of Transportation building and Public Works offices to express their dissatisfaction with city leaders.

Eric Garcetti Defiende su Primer Año como Alcalde en Los Ángeles

July 3, 2014 by · Leave a Comment 

Al cumplir un año como alcalde de Los Ángeles, Eric Garcetti defiende sus avances en la creación de empleos y disminución de la criminalidad, mientras la ciudadanía le pide proyectos mayores que impulsen el área metropolitana.

El alcalde ha destacado su iniciativa de “volver a lo básico” y ha promovido su logro en el aumento de los permisos para obras de construcción que han crecido de $1.100 millones en octubre de 2013 a $3.500 millones en abril pasado.

Asimismo, el gobierno argumenta la mejora en la creación de empleo, que según la Proyección Anderson de la Universidad de California Los Ángeles (UCLA) ha disminuido de 10,9% cuando Garcetti comenzó su mandato a 8,6% al final de mayo pasado.

Según la administración, los delitos violentos y contra la propiedad han disminuido el 6,9% en el primer semestre del año en comparación con el mismo periodo de 2013.

Para Michael Woo, decano del Colegio de Diseño Ambiental de la Universidad Estatal de California Pomona, el lema de Garcetti ha servido para mejorar la eficiencia de la alcaldía y comenzar a devolver la confianza de los residentes en su líder, en una ciudad donde menos del 25% participó en la elección del alcalde.

Sin embargo Franklin D. Gilliam Jr., decano de la Escuela Asuntos Públicos Luskin de UCLA, denominó como “algo menor” la insistencia del alcalde en su trabajo administrativo, al participar recientemente en un foro de la universidad.

Así, centrada únicamente en proyectos que los críticos califican de menores como el parcheo de huecos en las calles o la recuperación del río de Los Ángeles, la gestión de Garcetti aparece pálida en megaproyectos.

El anuncio realizado el jueves de la aprobación de un proyecto para crear un tren ligero que una varios puntos importantes de la ciudad con el aeropuerto de Los Ángeles, quizá pueda ser el comienzo de la etapa de crecimiento que le piden al alcalde.

Garcetti clasificó el proyecto, discutido desde hace cerca de 40 años, como “un paso crucial para construir el aeropuerto de clase mundial y el sistema de transporte de clase mundial que nuestra ciudad, de clase mundial, se merece”.

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