Utility bills rank right up with taxes as something we all like to complain about; computer billing problems have increased the public’s ire at the LADWP. Candidate Tamar Galatzan used her incumbent status to try to connect with the voters during the last LAUSD Board meeting by blasting the city’s utility company. She correctly pointed out that the District should not be charged the same rate as large commercial customers. Unfortunately, she did not back this complaint with a plan to force the utility to offer the district better pricing.
While it is true that often you will not receive something unless you ask for it, the act of asking is rarely enough, especially when dealing with a behemoth of a bureaucracy that rivals the LAUSD for ineffectiveness in customer service. It is time for the district to use its leverage as the second largest school district in the country to demand price concessions. This should be accompanied by a threat to reduce the district’s use of DWP energy if the rates are not reduced.
The district is comprised of “over 900 schools.” This provides a lot of rooftop square footage and the opportunity to install solar panels in an area that has “sunshine over 300 days a year.” If the LAUSD’s rates are as high as Ms. Galatzan maintains, it should be relatively easy to find alternative energy companies who can install systems at a cost guaranteed by contract to save them money. If savvy enough, they could turn these systems into a revenue stream by generating extra energy that can be sold to the grid, especially during the summer months.
The NBC4 investigation that found that the LAUSD had not fixed the problem of lead contaminated pipes and water fountains also exposed another cost savings opportunity. As a “stop-gap measure,” the district “requires every school to flush--or run--every fountain ‘a minimum of 30 seconds’ before school each day to flush out lead deposits that build up overnight.” While this has to be done to protect students, it is also a waste of human and water resources. The fact that it has to be done during our severe drought when residents are being told they must conserve, is almost a criminal act. Therefore, the district must make immediate steps to implement a permanent solution that should have been at least seven years in the making.
- Candidate Tamar Galatzan, April 2007
“A lot of my colleagues on the board keep telling me, ‘Tamar we understand that your schools don’t have a lot of money...they’re really struggling, they have bake sales in order to buy toilet paper.’”
- Incumbent Tamar Galatzan, November 2014
Tamar Galatzan has now been on the Los Angeles Unified School District’s Board of Education for over seven years and she is now part of the status quo. If all she can offer after all this time is complaints and excuses, what makes her think that she can do any better in a third term?