On Tuesday, some of Los Angeles County's most prominent labor and community leaders were out demonstrating in support of a troubling idea: that the public has no right to know how public money is spent. Transparency, apparently, is not so important in Los Angeles government.
The labor leaders joined a rally of
But the publicly funded nonprofits have operated with no accountability or transparency, and it's unclear what they have done with the money. Has it been well spent or wasted? Has safety been enhanced or are these merely slush funds? City Controller Ron Galperin sought to audit the nonprofits, something that is specifically allowed in the agreements that created them. But IBEW Business Manager Brian D'Arcy has refused to turn over the documents, even after an L.A. Superior Court judge ruled that the controller has the authority to perform the audit and ordered the documents released. Instead, D'Arcy appealed and a judge stayed the lower court's order.
This is the issue that organized labor has chosen to rally around? This fight isn't about collective bargaining rights or about the welfare of workers, who unquestionably deserve effective safety and training programs. It's about transparency and the principle that city leaders must ensure public money is spent properly.
The fact is, the mayor, City Council and Board of Water and Power commissioners have failed to oversee the trusts since they were created in 2000 and 2002. It was only after The Times reported on the trusts in September that city leaders asked for an accounting, which has been repeatedly stonewalled by the IBEW. Now, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, which controls the purse strings for the utility, is exploring whether it can legally stop the annual $4-million payment to the nonprofit institutes until an audit is completed.