Originally posted at City Watch LA.
By Jack Humphreville.
Campaign funding IBEW Union Boss Brian d’Arcy is not receiving the proper respect he deserves from Mayor Eric Garcetti, Controller Ron Galperin, and the Board of Water & Power Commissioners. After all, Boss d’Arcy has invested almost $8 million over the last decade in the City’s political establishment, including at least 10 of the 15 members of the current City Council.
But unfortunately for Union Boss d’Arcy, he picked the wrong horse in the Mayor’s race.
On Tuesday, Ratepayer Elected Eric Garcetti directed DWP to engage a qualified consulting firm to benchmark DWP’s “labor costs and work practices” and to identify opportunities “to achieve greater efficiency and cost savings for the Ratepayers.”
At the same time, Boss d’Arcy is stonewalling the Garcetti appointed Commissioners and Controller Galperin in their efforts to account for the more than $40 million of Ratepayer money that has been poured into the Joint Safety and Training Institutes since 2000.
But Boss d’Arcy’s adamant opposition to these two reasonable requests begs the question, “What is he trying to hide.”
Plenty, as Bully Boss d’Arcy is allergic to sunshine.
The benchmarking study will reveal that Ratepayers are being overcharged by more than $250 million a year because DWP’s wages exceed those of other regional utilities by up to 40%, it has a Rolls Royce healthcare plan that does not require any employee contributions, and its pension plan is exceptionally generous for existing employees, even though it is short $1.8 billion (82% funded).
There are also the impacts of overly restrictive work rules, overstaffing (especially in customer and shared services), and inefficient construction work crews that are driving up the cost of renewable energy, the power reliability program, and the initiatives required by the Clean Water Act.
While the $4 million a year that is funneled to the Joint Safety and Training Institutes is “chump change” (a tenth of 1%) to the $4 billion revenue DWP, it is a significant source of funds to IBEW Local 18 as these two nonprofit entities support selected union employees, their benefits, and union administrative expense. This allows Boss d’Arcy to divert more cash to his political slush funds.
More importantly, these two vehicles allow Boss d’Arcy and his cronies to exert their influence over the DWP’s $115 million safety and training budget, the consequences of which are no doubt very costly to Ratepayers.
We trust that Garcetti, Galperin, and the Commissioners will be full steam ahead in pursuing the audit of the Joint Training and Safety Institutes. This would include any necessary legal actions to compel the release of the appropriate information. We would also expect the Board of Commissioners to demand that these two nonprofits return the $10 million in surplus cash now that the Commissioners voted in November to cut off any future funding.
DWP also has the opportunity to leverage off of PA Consulting’s excellent report of August 2012 where PA recommended extensive benchmarking of the Department’s labor costs, benefits, construction projects, renewables program, and outsourcing policies.
An integral part of reforming DWP is that Ratepayers and voters have a thorough understanding of Union Boss d’Arcy’s political clout with the City Council and his longtime friends, Council President Herb Wesson and Felipe Fuentes, the Chair of the Energy & Environment Committee which oversees DWP. This would include a comprehensive, but easy to understand ten year history of all the political contributions of IBEW 18 and its affiliates, including Working Californians, the slush fund that sponsored Measure B, Mayor Villaraigosa’s 2009 Solar Initiative, and Wendy Greuel’s recent mayoral campaign.
Mayor Eric Garcetti and Controller Ron Galperin, aided by legal opinions by City Attorney Mike Feuer, have stepped up to the plate, putting the interests of the Ratepayers before those of Bully Boss d’Arcy. But where is the City Council?
2014 will be an interesting year for Ratepayers as we will be asked to shoulder a four year, $1 billion increase in our water and power rates. It would be nice to know that the Mayor and the City Council will put the Ratepayers’ interests and wallets in front of those of City Hall, their cronies, and, most importantly, campaign funding Union Boss d’Arcy.