The politically powerful head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s largest union has refused to cooperate with a city audit of two nonprofit trusts established to improve relations between management and labor at the city-owned utility.
City officials began trying to account for more than $40 million in ratepayer money poured into the nonprofits after The Times reported in September that the DWP had only scant information about how the money has been spent.
The nonprofits, the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, are co-run by DWP General Manager Ron Nichols and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 head Brian D’Arcy. At a meeting earlier this month, D’Arcy refused to turn over the institutes’ financial records for an audit planned by City Controller Ron Galperin, Nichols said.
On Tuesday, Nichols, who says he supports the audit, told DWP’s board of commissioners he is hiring an outside law firm to help resolve the deadlock and make D’Arcy turn over the nonprofits’ records.
Michael Fleming, one of five commissioners appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, was outraged. “We’re having to do this because one person has decided he simply can’t be honest and transparent,” Fleming said of D’Arcy. Fleming called the union leader a “bully who can’t face reality” and noted that DWP ratepayers would ultimately get stuck with the legal fees.
Commission President Mel Levine added, “It’s inconceivable to me that any member of the trust would not cooperate … it’s simple common sense that public funds should be transparent in terms of their expenditure.”