LA WATCHDOG-The long tentacles of campaign funding IBEW Union Bo$$ d’Arcy were evident on Wednesday as the management of our Department of Water and Power was unable to provide its Board of Commissioners with the requested forensic audit of the Joint Safety Institute and the Joint Training Institute because of the IBEW’s stonewalling tactics in providing DWP with the necessary financial and operational information.
Later that afternoon, managers from DWP were in front of the Energy and Environment Committee to report back on work rules, work practices, and side agreements between the DWP and the IBEW as well as a plan to benchmark DWP’s operational performance and to achieve operational efficiencies in its water, power, and joint systems operations.
However, DWP’s management was stymied by a cumbersome bureaucracy as a committee consisting of DWP, the City Administrative Officer (the “CAO”), the City Council’s Chief Legislative Analyst, and the Ratepayers Advocate was formed “to get a handle on” at least 75 work rules and practices that had been summarized by the Department.
Furthermore, the CAO recommended that issues relating to “compensation, salary inequities, premiums, overtime, supplemental pay provisions and codes, and working rules” be handled by the Joint Labor Management Resolution Board that would then be under the direction of the Executive Employee Relations Committee, a secretive group that consists of the Mayor, Herb Wesson and three other Council Members that meets behind closed doors.
Interestingly, there was no mention by the CAO of DWP’s Cadillac health care plan that costs the Department almost $150 million a year, or more than $17,000 a year for each employee, a 50% to 70% premium to other City workers.
Unfortunately, DWP management is in a very difficult position because the City Council is beholden to Bo$$ d’Arcy because of his $6 million in campaign contributions over the past decade. He also has a multimillion dollar war chest that is fueled by over $10 million a year in IBEW dues and other fees.
The imperial Bo$$ d’Arcy has also threatened to strike the DWP, holding the City hostage to his unreasonable demands, a prospect that scares the daylights out of our spineless Elected Elite.
Nevertheless, contrary to the wishes of the Bo$$ and the recommendations of the CAO, the Ratepayers (and the Ratepayers Advocate and the Controller) have a right to complete transparency, where we have a through and complete understanding of the Joint Safety and Training Institutes as well as the details involving restrictive work rules that cost us hundreds of millions every year, the $250 million IBEW Labor Premium, and the Cadillac health care plans.
We also have the right to demand that DWP conduct a thorough benchmarking of its operations so that it can improve the efficiency of its water, power, and joint systems operations.
Rather than waiting for IBEW to hand over the information on the Joint Safety and Training Institutes, DWP’s management and the Ratepayers Advocate should push ahead and do its own analysis of these two Institutes that have been the beneficiary of over $40 million of Ratepayer money since 2000. This would involve analyzing the tax returns since their inception and interviewing its employees that have participated in the safety and training sessions.
DWP should develop its own full and complete analysis of its restrictive work rules and practices, its health care plans, and its labor premiums so that they can be disclosed to the Ratepayers, the Ratepayers Advocate, its Board of Commissioners, the Controller, and the rest of the City bureaucracy.
At the same time, the Department must also develop a system where it has the right to evaluate the performance of its workers, a right that was surrendered 30 years ago by one of the Department’s less than qualified General Managers. This interesting fact was disclosed in the Energy and Environment Committee as a result of probing questions by its members.
Over the next year, we are going to hit with significant increases in our water and power rates. And contrary to the wishes of campaign funding IBEW Union Bo$$ d’Arcy and the recommendations of the CAO, we have an absolute right to know that our hard earned money is being used efficiently.
(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: [email protected]. Hear Jack every Tuesday morning at 6:20 on McIntyre in the Morning, KABC Radio 790.)
Vol 11 Issue 85
Pub: Oct 22, 2013