Delivered at September 27, 2022 Board Meeting.
I’d like to begin by acknowledging Hispanic Heritage Month, so good morning. September 15th is important because it marks Independence Day for Latin American countries including Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua. September 16th also marks Independence Day for Mexico and Chile. Accordingly we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month nationally from September 15th through October 15th.
Other than the relevance of this month to these countries, Hispanic Heritage Month is also an important time to recognize and celebrate the diverse histories, cultures, and extensive contributions that Hispanics have provided to our nation and to our Department.
This year’s theme is “Unidos: Inclusivity for a Stronger Nation” and I would like to also expand on that theme as inclusivity for a stronger LADWP. According to the U.S. Census Bureau there are over 62 million Hispanics in the United States today who continue to contribute to the advancement of our country and to the communities that they serve in industries like manufacturing, as small business owners, teachers, and many other professions.
Hispanic Heritage Month allows us to recognize their important achievements in the workforce, in education, culture, art, and even in the utility industry. In fact, many of the things that make Los Angeles and LADWP, the City and the municipal utility that we have today are due in part to the legacy of Hispanic leadership here in Los Angeles.
Jose Cristobal Aguilar was a three-term Los Angeles Mayor serving between 1866 and 1867. He was a strong proponent of keeping L.A.’s water system under municipal ownership rather than selling it off to be run by private interests. Without his foresight, L.A. would’ve lost control of its publicly owned water system, which today operates for the benefit of all LADWP customers.
This was also exemplified by Commissioner Reginaldo Francisco Del Valle, who was the longest serving LADWP commissioner in history, serving from 1908 to 1929. He was instrumental in many of the decisions that paved the way for the construction of the Los Angeles Aqueduct. One of the most important things he did was employ diplomacy and influence to maintain peace with stakeholders in the Owens Valley.
Today, up to 37 percent of the LADWP workforce is comprised of Hispanics and they help to further this Department in many of our operations. They represent 42 percent of skilled craft employees and 53 percent of service and maintenance, working hard, every day to help build a stronger L.A. And there are many Latino leaders who keep LADWP running and innovating to becoming stronger L.A.
So, it is with great pride that we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month as a diverse workforce working together toward a common purpose and goal of providing our customers with reliable water and power service. As we say, “Somos LADWP” or “We are LADWP.”
Thank you and I look forward to the various celebratory events this month, many led by our Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (or SHPE).