DWP union chief Brian D'Arcy

Brian D'Arcy, business manager for Local 18, an affiliate of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), is photographed at their Los Angeles headquarters. (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times / May 30, 2013)

Brian D’Arcy, leader of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s largest union, failed to appear at a meeting Wednesday morning to begin explaining how more than $40 million in ratepayer money was spent by two nonprofits he co-manages.

City Controller Ron Galperin is attempting to audit the nonprofits -- the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute -- following a Times report in September that showed the city-owned utility had only scant information on how the money has been used.

The organizations, created to improve relations between the city-owned utility’s managers and unionized workers following a series of contentious job cuts in the late 1990s, are run by D’Arcy and DWP General Manager Ron Nichols. They are funded with proceeds from ratepayers' electricity and water bills.

Nichols showed up at the meeting Wednesday morning, but D’Arcy, who has been thwarting public officials’ attempts to track the money for months, did not appear.

D’Acry did not return a telephone call requesting comment Wednesday afternoon.

The Times made a formal request under the California Public Records Act for the institutes’ financial records in August, but the union refused to provide any documents, contending the nonprofits are not public agencies. DWP managers claimed they had only limited information about how the money had been spent. Both sides refused to describe the nonprofits' day-to-day activities.

Limited records provided by the DWP show the nonprofits have spent about $1 million a year to pay the salaries of a few of the trusts' top executives: The Joint Training Institute's administrator was paid $212,236 in 2012, the records show. Jon Pokorski, another top administrator and the union president, was paid $171,361 in 2012.

Federal tax forms filed by the nonprofits offer only broad summaries of the organizations' outlays, including more than $360,000 spent on travel from 2009 to 2011 and nearly $2.4 million spent on "other."

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Twitter: @jackdolanLAT

jack.dolan@latimes.com