LADWP Commission insists on accountability for $40 million

ladwpcom10_16While Department of Water and Power officials gripe about having to spend money to clean up the Owens Dry Lake and other projects here, they are under the gun of their own Commission to account for spending $40 million through two trusts for reasons unknown.

At a meeting earlier this month, DWP Commissioners demanded an accounting of expenditures in two private trusts. The Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute spend more than $3 million of DWP ratepayers’ money every year, but it’s not clear on what. LA news media recently jumped on this issue. So did the LA City Controller and now DWP Commissioners. DWP management and employee union representatives are involved in these two trusts.

At last week’s DWP Commission meeting, DWP Genral Manager Ron Nichols said that the Trust Board agreed to hire an outside CPA firm for an audit. He

Commission President Mel Levine

Commission President Mel Levine

also said the LA City Administrative Officer is undertaking efforts to evaluate the two organizations.

President of the Water and Power Commission, Mel Levine, said, “We expect to know how this money is spent and we expect everything to be made public.” Levine said the people of LA deserve to know how the money is being spent. He said the Commission wants information on all payments of $5,000 or more and copies of checkbooks.

Nichols said the two trusts have conducted audits every year. Levine asked if they were made public. Nichols said not to his knowledge. Both the City of LA and DWP Commissioners have a big problem with the lack of transparency in the two organizations and the fact that they have spent $40 million of ratepayers’ money in thirteen years.

Commissioner Jill Banks Barad said the Commission wants to know exactly what these trusts do. She said, “$40 million may be just a blip in the budget of DWP, but it’s the perception. It’s ratepayer funds, and it’s a public relations disaster.”

Levine made a motion for all information requested by the November 19th commission meeting. A unanimous vote approved the demand.

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8 Responses to LADWP Commission insists on accountability for $40 million

  1. Jack Humphreville October 22, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    Between 2006 and 2010, the City of LA dumped over 1,600 employees on DWP along with unfunded pension liabilities of about $200 million.

    This issue surfaced when Jack Dolan broke the story in a front page article in The Los Angeles Times. But it is not an isolated issue. Rather it is part of pattern where City Hall is essentially looting DWP through the 10% City utility Tax, the possibly illegal $250 million transfer to the City’s treasury, the cost of 1,600 employees that were dumped on the DWP, and numerous “pet projects.”

    No wonder Ratepayers are upset.

    • Water Moccasin October 22, 2013 at 6:38 pm #

      Jack Humphreville meet Benett Kessler. You two should talk.

  2. Water Moccasin October 21, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    This is a “public relations disaster” because the Mayor turned it into one in his fight with the Union. He sat on City Council for ten years and didn’t do a thing until the Union parted ways with him. Sure this should be looked at, but so should the 200 million dollars City Hall saddled DWP with by not transferring pension money with employees transferred from other City departments.

    Now Sierra Wave puts their own tabloid spin on the story, comparing it with “gripes” about spending 1.2 billion plus on Owens Lake in roughly the same amount of time. I’m not saying that Owens Lake should not be taken care of, but Sierra Wave could do much more for the citizens of Eastern Sierra and LA by scrutinizing that budget as well. It all comes out to about 5,000 dollars a year per every resident of Inyo County. Of course cleaning up the dust benefits people globally, but shouldn’t we be concerned that as much of that money spent here as possible is supporting local workers and businesses? That every dollar is being put to greatest use on the Lake? That Great Basin and other entities have some other reasons to exist? The ratepayers of LA should be concerned if the 16% of their water bill is being used wisely on the lake and so should the Eastern Sierra.

    • Benett Kessler October 21, 2013 at 11:32 pm #

      Don’t know what you mean by transferring employees. I stand by our story as written.
      Benett Kessler

      • Water Moccasin October 22, 2013 at 6:34 pm #

        Benett Kessler meet Jack Humphreville. You two should talk.

        • Benett Kessler October 22, 2013 at 6:36 pm #

          I believe I saw Jack speaking to the DWP Commissioners when I watched their meeting online.
          Benett Kessler

    • Steve October 22, 2013 at 7:34 am #

      We all know the truth, it has been well documented. LADWP stole the waters of the Owens valley 100 years ago. And for the last 100 years have spent lots of money and time denying that LADWP did just that.

      We all know the truth, it is just that LADWP can’t handle the truth.

      • Paya October 22, 2013 at 7:52 pm #

        The truth is we are fixated on a 70 year period of history that keeps us from honoring our ancestors, or honoring those yet to be born. The “Owens Valley” was “named” by Europeans in 1845. These new tribes of settlers “stole” the land and water from those here before. This was done in the brutal, murderous and heartless way that humans have often played out since creation. This is well documented and well denied.

        To feel hurt that the “Owens Valley” was cheated by LA is similar to a hit man feeling hurt that a card shark “stole” his earnings.

        The water spirits are crying for us to honor that which flows through all creations and move on peacefully.


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