For nearly two decades, ratepayers of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have pumped nearly $4 million a year into a pair of nonprofits created to improve employee training and safety at the city-owned utility.
The nonprofits paid top utility managers and union leaders six-figure salaries and provided plush expense accounts but never demonstrated they had much impact on either training or safety. When city leaders demanded financial records after a Times investigation of the nonprofits in 2013, union leaders went to court in a bid to keep the information secret.
Mayor Eric Garcetti, who campaigned on a promise to rein in costs and improve customer service at the DWP, is pointing to the elimination of the nonprofits as a key win for ratepayers in the new five-year contract he has negotiated with the DWP’s largest union.
But the annual savings from disbanding the nonprofits is more than offset by the estimated $56 million in raises and other perks union members would receive each year under the proposed contract, leading critics to question whether it’s such a good deal.