California taxpayers are, once again, at the mercy of a union official who scoffs at the an audit of two non profit trusts he heads. Jack Dolan has the story in the Los Angeles Times.
The politically powerful head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s largest union has refused to cooperate with an audit of two nonprofit trusts established to improve relations between management and labor at the city-owned utility.
City officials began trying to account for more than $40 million in ratepayer money poured into the nonprofits’ accounts over the last decade after The Times reported in September that the DWP had only scant information on how the money has been spent.
The nonprofits, the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, are co-run by DWP General Manager Ron Nichols and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18’s business manager, Brian D’Arcy. At a meeting last week, D’Arcy refused to turn over the institutes’ financial records for an audit planned by the city controller, Nichols said.
On Tuesday, Nichols, who says he supports the audit, told the DWP’s board of commissioners that he was hiring an outside law firm to help resolve the deadlock and make D’Arcy turn over the records.
“I’m unaware of any specific inappropriate use of the trust fund money,” Nichols told the board, “but I don’t agree with the stiff-arm approach that has been taken by the union members of the trusts.”
Michael Fleming, one of five commissioners appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, called D’Arcy a “bully who can’t face reality” and noted that DWP ratepayers would ultimately get stuck with the additional legal fees. “We’re having to do this because one person has decided he simply can’t be honest and transparent,” Fleming said of D’Arcy.
Commission President Mel Levine said, “It’s inconceivable to me that any member of the trust would not cooperate…. It’s simple common sense that public funds should be transparent in terms of their expenditure.”
D’Arcy did not respond to a request for comment Tuesday afternoon.
Last month the commissioners asked City Controller Ron Galperin to audit the nonprofits after union leaders promised but failed to produce their own audit of the groups’ spending.
On Tuesday Galperin called on the union to stop “playing games” and warned that he would send subpoenas to anyone who has information about the group’s finances — including banks — if the union didn’t turn over records by Jan. 8.
“It’s outrageous, it’s inexcusable,” Galperin said. “What they’re doing is simply costing the city money and time when we know what the result is going to be, we’ll get the information.”