Department of Water and Power General Manager Ron Nichols has resigned amidst controversy over two organizations that he and the DWP Union Chief co-managed for the past three years. Those groups spent $40 million over ten years with no explanation on how the money was spent and what was accomplished in spite of demands by the DWP Commission and City officials.
The Union Chief, Brian D’Arcy has failed to turn over financial records of the controversial organizations and reportedly failed to show up at a meeting of auditors this week.
According to the Los Angeles Times, in spite of demands from the DWP Commission and others, Nichols “has been unable to produce records showing how two nonprofit trusts created to help improve relations with the utility’s largest union have spent more than $40 million in ratepayer money over the last decade.” The Times also reported that Nichols has struggled with a new $162 million computerized billing system that sent out as many as 70,000 late or inaccurate bills in recent months.
LA Mayor Eric Garcetti was quoted as thanking Nichols for his service and said he is focused on reform of DWP. Nichols was the sixth general manager of DWP in five years. He played a vocal role in attacking the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District with several lawsuits over the Owens Dry Lake. Under Nichols’ watch, DWP also sued Mammoth Community Water District to try to claim Mammoth’s creek rights. Mammoth ended up paying DWP $3.4 million now and $2.4 million more over 50 years in a settlement.
Mayor Garcetti will now proceed to find a new DWP General Manager, reportedly outside the organization.