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Garcetti allies sue for access to financial records of DWP nonprofits

The newest board members of two troubled Department of Water and Power nonprofits are suing the utility's union boss, claiming he has refused to hold meetings or give them access to records showing how the groups have spent more than $40 million in ratepayer money.

Richard Llewellyn, counsel to Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Michael Fleming, a Beverly Hills philanthropist -- both of whom were appointed to the nonprofits' boards in February -- filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on Thursday.

They're asking a judge to force Brian D'Arcy, head of the utility's largest labor union, to meet with them before the utility makes its annual payment, roughly $4 million, to the nonprofits in July.

"They need to take their place at the table to make sure the ratepayers' money is not misspent," said Garcetti spokesman Jeff Millman.

The nonprofits, the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, are co-administered by representatives from the union and DWP management. They have been at the center of a widening political and legal battle between city officials and D'Arcy since The Times reported in September that the utility could not account for the groups' spending, or explain in detail what they do.

The nonprofits were created in the early 2000s after a contentious round of job cuts at the city-owned utility. They were charged with improving labor-management relations.

In January, City Controller Ron Galperin issued civil subpoenas demanding detailed records of every expenditure by the nonprofits over the last five years. He also demanded a chance for his auditors to interview D’Arcy under oath.  

D'Arcy fought the subpoenas in civil court, but on Tuesday Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ordered him to comply within 10 days. D'Arcy's attorney announced that he would appeal the decision and seek a stay of the order, potentially adding months to the fight.

If Garcetti's allies get to take their places on the nonprofits' boards, they could potentially access the records much sooner. Garcetti, Galperin and City Atty. Mike Feuer have all demanded a full public accounting of the spending.

A D'Arcy spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Thursday evening.


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