Sierra Wave Media

Eastern Sierra News for June 22, 2024






How much did it cost to send lawyers and staff to Bridgeport?

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power recently sent two attorneys, one staff person and outside consultants to Bridgeport to gripe about the Air Pollution Control District budget. They particularly criticized APCD’s expense of $25,000 for computers and an ATV to work at the Owens Dry Lake.

At the last Town Council meeting, Mammoth Town Councilman John Eastman brought up the DWP grumbling. Eastman now chairs the APCD Board. He said the DWP group complained about money they have spent to clean up the Owens Dry Lake and that 27% of their ratepayers are under the poverty level.

Eastman said he reminded the DWP lawyers that they are the ones spending all the money. He said that they had filed five lawsuits against APCD on the dry lake and lost all of the past suits. He also said because they violated a deadline on dry lake dust clean-up, they had to pay $6.5 million as a negotiated penalty. In comparison to all of that, Eastman indicated, a $25,000 necessary expenditure doesn’t look like much.

The LADWP group said the computers and ATV should’ve gone out to bid. APCD Director Ted Schade said the District has the right to designate sole sources for some equipment purchases if they justify it to their Board.

DWP also griped about the APCD attorney and said the Board should go out to bid for the cheapest lawyer! Schade said their attorney, Peter Hsaio  does cost $750 per hour but is one of the best environmental attorneys in the state and “has never lost a single issue with DWP.” Schade also pointed out that DWP hired six lawyers against the APCD’s one. Schade said, “They spend more than we do, and they have lost.”

The other LA complaint at that meeting was that they contend that Caltrans relocation of the old Highway in the 1950s destroyed vegetation and created the Keeler Dunes and blowing dust.

The bottom line of the LA-APCD encounter, according to Schade, was that LADWP objects to what he called the “general cost of government. They don’t want us to pay employee benefits, health care, office rent or gas.” Schade said, “They caused the dust problem, so they have to pay. In California,” he said, “the polluter pays.