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Unfinished Business at DWP: Trusts Can’t be Trusted to Edwards

PERSPECTIVES-Brian D’Arcy (photo) lost his appeal to block the Los Angeles City Controller from auditing two non-profit trusts – the Joint Institutes for Training and Safety – who have received $40-million in ratepayers’ cash over 10 years and have nothing of value to show for it. 

Now, they have not actually spent all of it. The trusts have squirreled away a cash surplus of $11 million, enough to cover the inflated operating costs for almost three years.

A rainy day fund? That’s what D’Arcy and his minions want you to believe. DWP GM Marcie Edwards appeared to be satisfied with that and other underwhelming responses noted in the progress report she issued about reforms at the trusts. She offered no rebuttals, not even a hint of impatience, but then, what else would you expect from the person who referred to the half-audit Controller Galperin was allowed to conduct as “littered with accusatory innuendo and peppered with contradictory statements?”

So how are the reforms progressing?

Let’s start by saying none of what has been proposed is rocket science.

About the only definitive accomplishment was the trusts amending employees’ W-2s for gasoline reimbursements. It goes to show, even D’Arcy thinks twice about tangling with the IRS over unreported income.

How about eliminating no-bid contracts?

The Daily News reported:  “The trusts “strengthened” their informal policy and will use multiple bidders ‘as appropriate.’ DWP officials would not provide additional details.”

An award process is not difficult to explain. So why not share the policy?

The News went on to report, “The credit card practices were ‘reviewed and strengthened.’ DWP officials would not provide additional details.”

Pesky details.

Trust administrators would continue to be paid $220,000 per year. Not only are they grossly overpaid, they are responsible for programs duplicating or overlapping those offered by the DWP.

Forget about consolidating the two trusts and requiring annual performance reviews for the employees.

Edwards would make a lousy teacher. She would buy into “the dog ate my homework” excuse.

It is time for the city to replace Edwards as the one to track reforms. Appoint an individual from the private sector, independent of the utility. Someone not afraid to speak frankly. It need not – and should not – be a highly paid position. The individual could leverage off of the Ratepayer Advocate, the Neighborhood Council’s DWP working group, retired business people and local business schools.

The foot-dragging by D’Arcy is not going to end, so the city may as well take the gloves off.

There is only so much Controller Ron Galperin can do. Audits cost money and City Hall is unwilling to back him up and publicly push back to at least get the public incensed. There are probably many who do not have a clue as to how outrageous this overt diversion of ratepayer money is.

We need residents who will pressure officials to aggressively seek major concessions from the IBEW Local 18 in the next round of labor negotiations, to insist they do not accept a dime of contributions from the union and to disavow any public campaigning the union may perform on their behalf. The mayor and City Council need to jump off D’Arcy’s high-speed money train.

(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as President of the Valley Village Homeowners Association. He blogs at Village to Village and contributes to CityWatch. The views presented are those of Mr. Hatfield and his alone. They should not be construed to represent the opinions of the VVHA or the residents of Valley Village, individually or as a group. He can be reached at: phinnoho@aol.com.) Edited for CityWatch by Linda Abrams.

–cw

 

CityWatch

Vol 13 Issue 87

Pub: Oct 27, 2015