Politics, government and public life for Southern California

DWP Commission allows trusts to hire internal auditor

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There have been lots of questions about public money given over the past dozen years to two trusts jointly operated by the Department of Water and Power and its labor union. Now, politicians may finally be getting some answers. 

But not the public. 

The Board of Water and Power Commissioners agreed unanimously Wednesday to allow the Joint Safety Institute and Joint Training Institute to select an auditor to review their books, something that already happens on an annual basis. The final audit will not be made public. 

Mayor Eric Garcetti has previously called for complete transparency of the groups' finances. Controller Ron Galperin had started the process of collecting documents for a financial review. He said decision by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to use its own auditor "won't pass the smell test."

"I urge IBEW to stop playing games," Galperin said. "IBEW should accept the call for a truly independent audit -- such as one by the Controller’s Office, or one of the roughly two dozen firms we have vetted on our pre-approved list."

Over the course of about 12 years, the twin trusts have received more than $40 million from the DWP for various training and safety programs. 

"This might just be a blip in the budget of the DWP, but it’s the perception that is out there and these are ratepayer funds. This is a public relations disaster not only for the DWP but for (the union) as well," said Commissioner Jill Banks Barad, according to the Daily News

DWP General Manager Ron Nichols and Brian D'Arcy of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18 are two of the trustees for the groups, which have tax-exempt status. 


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