Counting Blessings The Valley Industry and Commerce Association held its annual awards event, handing out its Robert E. Gibson Corporate Award for Excellence to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power. That’s right, the same DWP that recently “found” several billion dollars in debts on its books, and was so bloated in recent years that it had to eliminate 2,000 positions through attrition, severance packages and layoffs to survive under deregulation. VICA President Bonnie Herman said there was no mistake in naming the DWP as the recipient of its corporate excellence award, which is named after a prominent San Fernando Valley banker. “This award is first and foremost a recognition for contributions to the community,” said Herman. “The DWP was a founding member of VICA in 1949 and has served the residents and businesses in the San Fernando Valley well through the years.” Besides, Herman said, many of the problems now facing the DWP come from conflicting directives over the years from politicians and regulators, not the DWP’s management. The featured speaker at the gala dinner, Assembly Speaker Antonio R. Villaraigosa, D-Los Angeles, managed to sidestep the whole issue of the DWP in his address. Instead, Villaraigosa gave a heartfelt nod to his own version of the American dream in a rambling speech that began with the importance of politeness and ended with his personal pledge to make a difference. In between, Villaraigosa managed to remind the group assembled that he had been raised by a single mother and kicked out of college before he landed in government. “No place else could a guy like me get elected,” he said.