Politics, government and public life for Southern California

DWP union, City Hall fight continues while court considers LA's power to audit

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The battle between L.A. City Hall and the union that represents the Department of Water and Power will continue as an appeals court considers whether the city's controller has the authority to audit public funds given to two private groups. 

At the heart of the fight are two non-profits, the Joint Training and Safety institutes, that are entirely funded by public money from the DWP. The groups have received more than $40 million over the past decade. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Controller Ron Galperin have made an issue of auditing these funds, which are paid to the union under contracts approved by the Los Angeles City Council. 

The boss of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Brian D'Arcy, will not have to comply with a judge's order that he turn over financial records — at least for now. An appellate court is considering Judge James Chalfant's decision that the financial documents be provided to the controller. 

The controller's office had requested that D'Arcy testify at City Hall Tuesday morning, despite the pending appeal. 

"The Controller's effort to force the trusts to comply with his subpoenas and to submit to his unauthorized audit while the court considers the appeal not only violates the stay but is nothing more than additional political posturing," D'Arcy said. 

The City Attorney's office said it would fight the appeal to withhold the documents.

"I am extremely disappointed that Mr. D'Arcy continues to flout the law and deny the ratepayers the transparency they deserve," said City Attorney Mike Feuer. "All along this dispute has been about one thing, informing our ratepayers about how 40 million of their dollars have been spent. We will continue to advocate for Los Angeles ratepayers in the Court of Appeal." 

The two non-profits are jointly operated by the DWP and its union. Last month, the trustees representing the DWP sued their union colleagues for allegedly freezing them out of the decision-making process. 

The city has until May 19 to respond to the Court of Appeals. 

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