Ratepayers are mad as hell after Controller Ron Galperin’s financial audit of the Joint Safety and Training Institutes revealed that we have been ripped off by IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy for tens of millions of dollars. This audit revealed bloated salaries, credit card and expense account abuse, prohibited payments to DWP employees to conduct training sessions, and no bid contracts totaling millions.
The City Administrative Officer’s performance and operational evaluation revealed an inefficient organization without adequate management, oversight, controls, policies, and procedures. As a result, the CAO’s report outlined 36 recommendations, all of which have been agreed to by DWP and the IBEW. This includes appointing an executive director and developing a plan for a money saving merger of the institutes.
The CAO’s report indicated that the Institutes provided some value, including servicing as a catalyst and focal point for training and safety and an incubator for “researching, developing and implementing programs relatively quickly to address specific issues or concerns.”
Because of the lack of adequate controls and performance metrics, there is no way to determine how much bang for the buck the ratepayers received for their $20 million that was funneled to the two nonprofit trusts over the last five years.
We have a right to be mad as hell as the Joint Safety and Training Institutes have squandered over $40 million of ratepayer dollars over the last 15 years without any accountability. But our wrath should not be directed at DWP and its management, but rather at the city council which has provided air cover for IBEW union boss D’Arcy and his shenanigans. But this is not surprising as at least ten members of the city council have received campaign contributions from the IBEW and its cronies. The other members are whipped into shape because they fear that D’Arcy will use the IBEW slush funds to finance the election campaigns of their opponents.
This kowtowing to D’Arcy was evident in the delays leading up to the release of Galperin’s audit. It took over a year from the Los Angeles Times front page expose in September of 2013 for the city council to approve a limited five year audit of the trusts, and another six months before the financial review was completed. This included a two month delay because D’Arcy was concerned that the audit was too comprehensive.
Furthermore, previous general managers and other senior members of management were told by then-Mayor Villaraigosa and selected members of the city council that the Joint Safety and Training Institutes were off bounds and none of their business.
Rather than bury the reports of the controller and the city administrative officer, the city council and the Energy and Environment Committee, led by D’Arcy acolytes Wesson and Fuentes, respectively, should hold comprehensive, open and transparent hearings so that ratepayers and voters can develop a better understanding of what happened to the ratepayer money that was funneled to the trusts over the last five years.
The trusts would need demonstrate that they are efficient and why they should not be shuttered, especially given that the department spends over $100 million a year on safety and training.
The trusts would also be required to discuss the timetable for implementing the 36 recommendations that IBEW and DWP have approved.
Ratepayers deserve a full accounting of what happened to their $40 million that was laundered by the Joint Safety and Training Institutes. Without a full disclosure, the Mad as Hell Ratepayers will vent their fury November 2016, when the city, LAUSD, the county and the state want us to approve massive increases in our taxes.
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee, The Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, and a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler Classifieds — www.recycler.com. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org)