The Influence of the Los Angeles “Oligarchy” on the Governance of the Municipal Water Department, 1902-1930: A Business Like Any Other or a Public Service?

Fionn MacKillop

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

Abstract

The municipalization of the water service in Los Angeles, in 1902, was the result of a (mostly implicit) compromise between the political, social and economic elites of the city: the economic elite (the «oligarchy») accepted the idea of municipalizing the water service, and helped the Progressive politicians and citizens to put an end to the franchise of the private LA City Water Co, a corporation obsessed with financial profitability: a return of «100 cents for every dollar invested» was how William Perry, the CEO, used to sum up his company's activity, and this very often led to under-investment and the construction of a network of relatively modest scope and efficiency. The «oligarchy» accepted to partake in the municipalization on the condition that the water service remain a «healthy business proposition», self-sustainable as far as investments and operating costs were concerned …
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication2004 Annual Meeting, Le Creusot, France
PublisherThe Business History Conference
Publication statusPublished - 2004

Publication series

NameBusiness and Economic History On-Line
PublisherThe Business History Conference
Volume2

Keywords

  • water
  • electricity
  • networks
  • governance
  • los angeles
  • Urban regime

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