LA WATCHDOG - Another scandal is threatening to envelop the Department of Water and Power just as the sham sue-and settle litigation involving the botched 2013 rollout of Customer Information System appears to be ending. Well almost.
In late October, four current and former DWP employees sued the Department, alleging, among other things, that Cynthia McClain-Hill, the President of the DWP Board of Commissioners, retaliated against them when they exposed sexual harassment, expense account abuse, and questioning a no bid, sole source contract awarded to her friends and political allies.
In the meantime, there is an engineering, capital-intensive, and rapidly changing enterprise with over $5 billion in annual revenue and 12,000 employees serving 4 million Angelenos that must be managed.
One of the most important tasks is appointing a new General Manager because the current GM, Marty Adams, is retiring in February.
The City must also appoint a new Ratepayer Advocate because Fred Pickel is retiring after serving for eleven years of looking after our interests. Thank you.
The Department is embarking on an $86 billion project to have the power system rely on 100% renewable energy sources by 2035 even though the last 10% to 20% is prohibitively expensive.
The Department is planning to develop a multibillion facility to recycle over 200 million gallons of wastewater a day into drinking water by 2035 (our fourth aqueduct), although the time frame will most likely be extended.
Both the water and power systems have ambitious multiyear, multibillion dollar programs for repairing, maintaining, and upgrading their infrastructure, ranging from distribution mains and aqueducts to utility poles and transformers.
All this will lead to a tripling of our water and power rates over the next decade (if we are lucky) which will not be well received by cash strapped Angelenos and commercial and industrial customers.
DWP cannot afford the distractions of another scandal, especially one involving McClain-Hill which will become very personal as the media and the lawyers investigate these allegations and the other employees mentioned in the Superior Court complaint. Other employees may come out of the woodwork.
For the good of the Department, City Hall, and all Angelenos, McClain-Hill should have the decency to resign rather than drag DWP through the mud once again. If not, Mayor Bass should send her packing.
Well almost. New York attorney Paul Paradis, the primary outside culprit in the sham sue-and-settle lawsuit, was sentenced to 33 months in prison, but not before he fired a departing shot at former City Attorney Mike Feuer. Paradis claimed, based on information provided by the FBI, that Feuer lied to the Grand Jury and was aware of the legal shenanigans. Feuer denies the claim even though it happened on his watch. See Scandal Happened on Mike Feuer’s Watch.
According to the Los Angeles Times, this fiasco cost Ratepayers $120 million.
The State Bar is still investigating the role of other attorneys (including McClain-Hill) in this fiasco, assisted by Paradis, the main culprit.