Fred Pickel was approved by the City Council Wednesday for reappointment as the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s watchdog and ratepayer advocate, one day after a council committee opted not to recommend that he be subjected to a formal job review, as one councilman had sought.
Councilman Paul Koretz has been heavily critical of Pickel’s tenure, but no other council members voiced any similar concerns. He was approved for reappointment on an 10-1 vote without any discussion.
Koretz cast the lone dissenting vote, as he also had in a 4-1 tally during Tuesday’s meeting of the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee.
The committee did move to keep Koretz’s motion under discussion and explore the items it called for, which includes a more clear definition of the role and a full performance review, which Koretz said would apply in five years when the job is filled again. He also said he hoped the discussions that would be continuing in the committee would impact how Pickel approaches the job.
“He is knowledgeable and capable, so with some direction he could be a better ratepayer advocate and director of the Office of Public Accountability than he has been in his first term,” Koretz told City News Service on Tuesday.
Pickel’s reappointment still needs to be approved by Mayor Eric Garcetti.
Pickel, a longtime energy industry consultant, was appointed in February 2012 to be the official watchdog of the LADWP. Since his five-year term expired, he has been working on a month-to-month contract.
He defended his performance at Tuesday’s committee meeting, arguing that he had helped “achieve rate reductions of at least $3.3 billion over the tenure of this period” along with other positive actions.
Councilman Mitch O’Farrell said Pickel’s tenure had been “exemplary.”
Pickel was recommended for reappointment by the Citizens Committee for the Selection of the Executive Director of the Office of Public Accountability, which is made up of appointees of the mayor and some City Council members. Following the recommendation, Koretz introduced the motion calling for Pickel to be subjected to a formal job review covering his tenure.
Tony Wilkinson, chair of the search committee, told the Energy, Climate Change and Environmental Justice Committee that the panel he headed did not do a formal review of Pickel’s tenure because the charter and the ordinance as it currently stands does not call for it. He also argued that the committee had found Pickel to be the most qualified of the 31 candidates who applied.
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