How Good is the City’s Deal with Brian D’Arcy? As Good as the $40 Million Details

LA WATCHDOG-On Tuesday, the City Council offered up a 13 point plan to settle the high profile spat between Controller Ron Galperin and IBEW Union Bo$$ d’Arcy over the use of more than $40 million of Ratepayer money that was funneled by our Department of Water and Power to the Joint Safety and Joint Training Institutes since 2000.  

At a subsequent press conference, Controller Galperin, Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Herb Wesson, DWP General Marcie Edwards, DWP Board President Mel Levine, and a gaggle of Councilmembers endorsed the proposed plan and the need for greater transparency. 

On Wednesday morning, the City Council authorized the City Administrative Officer, in consultation with the City Attorney, to negotiate a deal to end the litigation and permit the distribution of our $4 million pursuant to the proposed 13 point plan. 

On Wednesday afternoon, IBEW Union Bo$$ d’Arcy issued the following, not so subtle statement: 

"Today, the City Council took an important step to protect the interests of DWP's more than 8,000 workers, the Trusts that exist to protect those same workers through safety and training initiatives, the contract that saves the city billions of dollars that we supported less than a year ago and allows the Department to move forward and focus on issues like it's aging infrastructure.    

There is still much work to do including negotiating a detailed Letter of Agreement, but we are confident that there are solutions that result in the desired outcome.   

We support the lawful principles expressed in this proposal and look forward to working with the City Council to resolve these issues, support their action today and are committed to working to solving the many challenges the department continues to face." 

While backroom negotiations between all the parties involved have fortunately progressed beyond the courtroom, we all know that the devil is in the details of the Letter of Agreement, especially when the members of the City Council and the IBEW have agendas and goals that may not be in the best interests of the Ratepayers and their wallets.  

That is why the Letter of Agreement and any related documents must be made available to the Ratepayers Advocate and the media so that they, along with the Ratepayers, have ample time to review and analyze the proposed arrangement.  In other words, there should be no rush to judgment as there was with Proposition A (the permanent half cent increase in our sales tax) in 2013 and Measure B (Mayor Villaraigosa’s Solar Initiative) in 2009. 

For example, while the 13 point plan calls for Fiscal and Performance Audits for the last five years, the audit period should be from the inception of the two trusts since the IBEW’s greatest need was when its membership and dues income were adversely impacted by the downsizing of the DWP’s workforce in and around 2000. 

The audits must be forensic in nature, where the Controller and the City Administrative Officer have “unfettered access” to any and all documents and personnel. 

The final audits and all the related documents must also be made available to the Ratepayers Advocate, the media, and the Ratepayers at the same time they are given to the City Council and the DWP Board of Commissioners so that we have open and transparent hearings.   

What is most interesting is that the City Council, after doing nothing for almost 11 months, has jumped into the fray, no doubt as a result of campaign funding Union Bo$$ d’Arcy’s threat to void the recent labor agreement between the DWP and the IBEW if the $4 million payment is not made by the DWP to the two nonprofit Institutes.  


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Furthermore, the City Council realized that as long as this $40 million cover up was front page news, it would be a massive distraction and taint any efforts later this year to implement a sizeable increase in our water and power rates that are already burdened with taxes, hidden fees, the IBEW Labor Premium, overstaffing, unfunded pension liabilities, pet projects, and environmental pork.  

While the efficacy of the Joint Safety and Training Institutes is very questionable given DWP’s $120 million budget for safety and training, the 13 point plan is a good beginning where the disbursement of escrowed funds is predicated on the receipt of a clean audit. 

But we must demand complete transparency of the process, beginning with the negotiation of the Letter of Agreement.  And, most importantly, we need to keep a careful eye on the City Council to make sure they are working for us and not Union Bo$$ d’Arcy, A reasonable concern given that at least ten of its members have received campaign contributions from the IBEW slush funds. 

 

 (Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, The Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:  lajack@gmail.com. Hear Jack every Tuesday morning at 6:20 on McIntyre in the Morning, KABC Radio 790.) 
-cw

 

 

 

CityWatch

Vol 12 Issue 66

Pub: Aug 15, 2014