Tue, Apr

Who Will Be the Next DWP General Manager?


LA WATCHDOG - Mayor Karen Bass announced that her office has retained Korn Ferry, an internationally recognized executive search firm, to conduct a nationwide search for a new General Manager for the Department of Water and Power because Marty Adams is retiring on February 1 after 39 years of service, including last four as General Manager and Chief Engineer.

This is an excellent decision by Mayor Bass, especially given the turmoil in the management ranks caused by Board President Cynthia McClain-Hill and her attempt to micromanage the department and her retaliation to complaints about her expense account abuse, charges of sexual harassment, and the authorization of sole sourced contracts.

As a result of this turmoil, McClain-Hill is expected to announce her resignation at the Tuesday meeting of the Board of Commissioners.

Hiring a “headhunter” is very common, both in the private and public sector.  In 2010, Mayor Villaraigosa retained an executive search firm based on advice by Interim General Manager Austin Beuter.  As a result, the Department hired Ron Nichols, an experienced utility executive and consultant, who became the best GM in the last 20 years.  He was open and transparent, especially when it came to rate increases, worked with the many constituencies, and treated employees and ratepayers with respect. 

The Department is a complex, engineering centric, customer-facing organization with over $6 billion in annual revenue, assets of $35 billion, debt of $20 billion, and 12,000 employees serving four million Angelenos who demand reliable and affordable water and power.

The Department also has some very ambitious goals, including its plan for the power system to rely on 100% renewable clean energy by 2035 and developing a water recycling system to provide about 40% of our drinking water by 2036.   At the same time, service needs to be affordable, reliable, and equitable.

The next decade will be one of significant changes in both the water and power systems, requiring the investment estimated to be in the range of $100 billion. This is why we need an independent experienced executive who can build a management team that can execute these ambitious plans and at the same time work with the political establishment and respect the Ratepayers. 


(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate.  He can be reached at:  [email protected].)

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