Politics, government and public life for Southern California

DWP union vows appeal of judge's audit ruling

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The powerful union that represents Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employees is digging in its heels in a high profile battle with Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Controller Ron Galperin.

Lawyers representing union leader Brian D’Arcy Tuesday vowed to appeal a ruling that allows the controller to audit two non-profits operated by the union and DWP management. D’Arcy leads the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18.

“We are confident the Court of Appeal will reverse the judgment,” said attorney D. William Heine, who represents D’Arcy. “The Controller does not have the authority to audit these joint labor-management trusts."

Heine argued an appeal would automatically place the judge’s order on hold. But in a statement, the city attorney said he would fight any effort to delay the release of the records. 

"I expect Mr. D'Arcy to comply with the subpoenas, and if he doesn't we will ask the court to find him in contempt," said City Attorney Mike Feuer.  "We will fight any effort by Mr. D'Arcy to delay the Controller's audit.  The ratepayers of Los Angeles have waited long enough to learn how their dollars have been spent."

Superior Court Judge James Chalfant signed an order clearing the way for an audit of the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, which were established through a collective bargaining agreement between the union and city to provide safety training to DWP employees.

The city has given the institutes more than $40 million over the past decade. Tax returns obtained by KPCC indicate institute leaders are spending more than $3 million a year on salaries, travel and office expenses.

“The Los Angeles City Controller has the authority … to perform an audit of the Trusts at any time to determine if the public money from the DWP is being spent legally, and for future reference by the City Council,” Chalfant said in his order.

Galperin had hoped to begin his audit in ten days.

D’Arcy has said he is not obligated to hand over financial documents because the trusts are private, non-profit entities. He also argues they've already conducted their own audit of the funds. D'Arcy has declined to release the results of that audit.

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