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Raises for bureaucrats? Are you kidding me?

Lopez While you're wondering which relatives to snip from your holiday gift list, our intrepid leaders at the L.A. Civic Center refuse to let hard times dampen the spirit of the season.

The L.A. County Board of Supervisors ordered a feasibility study on repairing and reopening the earthquake-damaged Hall of Justice in downtown Los Angeles. Lovely, except that I thought they were working on the feasibility of keeping the lights on in buildings that are already open for business. The last estimate on repairs for the Hall of Justice, by the way, was $100 million.

Not to be outdone, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's minions at the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power have approved a five-year package of raises for employees.


Yes. Raises, despite the deepening fiscal apocalypse known to members of the real world, and despite a warning of potential disaster for the utility's retirement system.

They live among us, these people.

Feel free, dear readers, to let them know what you think.

-- Steve Lopez

Comments () | Archives (69)

The public sector unions are bankrupting local government...how much of the taxpayers money goes into funding independent expenditures for political candidates? Case in point how much did the LAPD Protective League put into the losing cause of Essel in Council District 2?

While most of us are having to cut back, some in dramatic fashion, government workers having a sense of entitlement are as always, trying to pick our pockets. Unfortunately for them, these days all they may find is lint when they reach in to take another chunk of our hard earned money. Government employees should receive no higher pay or benefits than those offered in the private sector. We should contract out to private enterprise any and all functions (not police or fire protection, etc.) that can be adequately addressed outside the government model. We also need to vote into office folks that care more about their constituents than what political party they support!

To ProDWP,

It was the IBEW which turns the lights off during contract negotiations, such as the convenient accident in Toluca Lake. Nothing but extortion.

You have got to be kidding. No touch with reality. Instead of raises, take their pensions away , let them work to retirement then be on a federal retirement plan.

'Morning Steve:
Dang, with all the negative financial news, with the unemployment rate at almost record levels, why are ELECTED officials so oblivious to their constituents?

Greed? Stupidity? Arrogance?? Or, all three???

Stay vigilant and keep exposing their errors. We will then correct the situation(s) at the ballot box.

Mr. JR Flores

While I have no problem with raises, I would think a department as reviled as DWP would be more prudent when approving, and announcing such raises. It would seem that in such fiscally dire times as these, DWP would restrain themselves from expressing such unbridled urges for greed. Look, I firmly believe in the axiom of a "A hard day's pay, for a hard day's work", but is the work of some of their employee's really that hard? $68 - $97k for an executive secretary? $50k for a custodian?? $56k for a gardener??? This pay is certainly not commensurate with the pay of these same positions in other departments. What gives? I'm reminded of a line from a movie I once saw, where an old, grizzled character, skeptical of the verbiage spewing from the mouth of a government official, tells him, "Mister, that old dog just won't hunt".

This is the type of information that needs to be exposed and you are doing important work. Civil service salaries in many sectors are quite high but those being reported for DWP are indeed too high! Unfortunately at election time there is often not a significant choice of candidates and therefore this makes waiting until another election not seem like a viable path to significant changes. Giving exposure to what is taking place right now is the best that can be done and hoping that you continue to keep people informed and that the people respond and act on these outrages including Mark Ridley-Thomas' unneeded renovations is what needs to happen. In this technological age we should have more transparency, access, and voice to what is taking place from these government officials and less of their baffling bull. What kind of spin is going to be put on the "savings" to taxpayers when only a portion of the budgeted renovation costs were used. How long until there is another LA County supervisor election? answer - Too Long! I think things need to start changing now! Please keep up the good work.

Hey Steve, glad you finally found out the crazy salaries all those DWP workers make. I have a friend who is a DWP warehouse worker and he is making almost six figure with overtime (he told me he would make over six figures annauly if he were to take all the overtime that is available to him like a lot of his coworkers). How many warehouse workers make that much money?! Hell, I know MBAs that don't make that much. There is so much waste going on over there L.A. Times should really do an expose' on them.

And all these city council people and supervisors, most of them wouldn't be able to pull the salary they make if they weren't in government. I mean what would Gloria Molina and Ridely-Thomas do in the private sector to make their currently salariy given their educational skilll set? Bunch of jokers.


Speaking of the LADWP, City of Los Angeles, the County of Los Angeles, and Beyond:

The LADWP has ruined my good reputation, and lawful right to work without just cause. After proving my innocence or claim, IBEW, Local 18, to which I have been a long standing member did absolutely nothing to protect my good reputation and right to work, from the unproven, unearned, unwarranted and illegal actions of LADWP Supervision.

Be it 10th District Los Angeles Councilman Herb Wesson, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, the Los Angeles County 2nd District Supervisor Mark Ridley Thomas, for Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne "Brentwood" Burke, or for that matter, President Barack Obama, have done nothing to protect the lawful rights of truly law abiding U.S. Black men, women, and/or their siblings egregiously violated by the atrocities of government.

Furthermore I'm also a longstanding law abiding U.S. born taxpaying resident of the Los Angeles City 10th District, the 2nd Los Angeles County Supervisoral District, the State of California, and/or IRS Federal taxpayer.

Unfortunately, unethical and misguided, elected representatives, place more value protecting the rights of illegal immigrants, terrorists, Acorn advocates, Unions, lobbyists, subversive individuals and/or organizations, personal friends, wealthy business executives.......

......more so, than protecting the lawful rights of U.S. born Black men, women, their siblings, and/or other law abiding U.S. citizens.

If you receive a DWP rate increase ever again, print out this article and send it in the remittance envelope, instead of a check.

And if you EVER IN LIFE vote for an incumbent on the City Council (or for that matter, anyone endorsed by an incumbent), you deserve what you get. It's bad enough that Antonio VivaLaMecha actualy got re-elected...wake up, Los Angeles!!!

While DWP wages are 40% higher than other comparable city workers, adding over 10% to our power bills, and while this $150 million pay increase is advertised as saving Rate Payers $330 million, this is peanuts compared to the cost of DWP and IBEW constructing and installing 400 megawatts of in basin solar power as was envisioned by Measure B.

This Solar Scam will end up costing Rate Payers $2 to $4 billion EXTRA (yes EXTRA) on top of the already high cost of solar power. This will add another 10-15% to our power bills.

Furthermore, this scam will create significantly fewer jobs than if the work was done pursuant to competitive bidding and fixed price contracts using bonded private contractors and the skilled workers of the Building Trades.

DWP is the City’s General Fund largest source of cash and allows Boss D’Arcy and the IBEW to extract hundreds of millions a year, a portion of which finances political campaigns for the likes of Mayor Villaraigosa, Controller Wendy Greuel, Greuel wannabe Chris Essel, and Measure B.

No wonder we need a Rate Payers Advocate.

What is this "bonus" that is mentioned in the article? There are no "bonuses" coming to DWP employees. The check that employees will be getting this year is a concession check. They are receiving this check in lieu of a pay raise of 3.25%. This is a one time payment instead of their raise and is actually saving the department several millions of dollars over the next 5 years. This raise that will the employees are forgoing was a negotiated pay raise that was made 5 years ago in contract. This writer obviously needs to better research what he publishes.

Could someone at City Hall please explain to me why the street on Whitsett Avenue between Moorpark and Riverside (in Studio City) has been torn up for over two years now?

Every time I drive past the "construction" site, it's a virtual ghost town without so much as one orange vest within view.

I'd also be curious to learn more about the instantaneous "construction" site that seems to appear nearly every morning on the same stretch of Whitsett between Riverside & Magnolia.

I'm beginning to feel like William 'D-Fens' Foster, wondering if there's really anything wrong with the street.

Regarding your piece on December 9th: It's a shame about reductions in Times' reporting staff, because this is a disaster in the making that has been under-reported to the citizens of L.A. There is a polarization going on in City services, and while you can make a strong case that City workers are not efficient, those of us that are City workers see us as programmed to perform as we are directed--only with the dithering intervention of Council politics into the basic municipal government, the direction we get is a like a car wheel in the mud--the wheels spin but the car doesn't move forward. The bottom line is this--DWP generates its own money and it has been allowed to set up a completely independent salary and benefit scale from the rest of the City. Police and Fire are considered sacrosanct, and while they might abuse, who has the political will to tell them no? So they get what they need and most of what they want. For the rest, the Departments funded by the general fund, we are very close to meltdown. When you instantly retire hundreds or senior employees, you do get rid of the "deadwood," as the Mayor puts it, but you also get rid of the senior leadership that holds the institutional knowledge, and in short order that is a recipe for disaster. And the whole thing is orchestrated by our Mayor, who is truly leading this City into a much greater crisis than necessary because he knows politics, not governance. And politics requires money, which the unions have to give to willing politicians. The Council, obedient, self-serving puppies that they are, have only aided and abetted the problem. The economy hurt the City, but it didn't have to be as bad as it is. Every City employee, Mayor included, knew what is about to happen was coming over a year ago. The difference is the Mayor and the Council had a chance to minimize the damage, and they choose to play politics until the moment they drove it off the cliff.

I read all the comments today and i have just a few of my own. First be careful not to generalize. Unions are not bad sometimes their leaders are. The more money a union grunt makes generally raises everyones salary as all businesses have to keep up with pay and benefits. IF there is a lot of overtime out there it would be a good idea to hire more people to eliminate unemployment. Next politicians are not our LEADERS they serve us or at least they are supposed to. I have a really hard time with jaunting around the world when you should be here working Mr. Villaragoisa. If Mark Ridley-Thomas is spending that much money on his office I would just like to say it's not really his office it's our office and I wonder how he would feel if we all came by to see it. And finally not all politicians are bad, it just seems that way. Recall? Who would we replace them with? And the election would be at our expense. It might be cheaper to fix the ones we have.

So here's my personal favorite DWP story: When the '09 rate increases went into effect we received a water bill that was almost double the average bill for the previous year. Sensing something was amiss, I dug deeper and with the help of a very responsive Rates Application Supervisor, we found that the DWP had undersized our lot for the past 13 years, (we have a double lot that was tied together in 1948) thereby underallocating HCF's to tier one of our two-tiered water bill. We also have a submeter for the garden, which should have been billed at a higher allocation if the square footage had been correctly computed.
It did take some sleuthing to finalize the correction as they also had my SSN wrong for 13 years.
Nevertheless we were able to correct the error, the only catch being the credit we received is limited to a retroactive 36 month calculation, rather than the full 13 years we have lived at this address. Error clearly in their favor.
End of story? Not really. The next bill we received was for "$.00- No payment due at this time- Water delayed- will mail later."
Stay tuned.

You can sign a petition to get a proposition on the ballot that would cut city council members pay by 50 percent! Talk to your neighborhood council.

The city council and mayor are in office because of the union vote. It's no surprise they pass pay raises for the only people who show up to vote for them.

Yes, it is way overdue. "Just say no" was a naive try, and didn't work. The market wants drugs, and what the market wants it gets, due to human greed. Concentrate on consumption and underlying reasons instead.

I voted against this mayor because he did a poor job the first term. Let's be more courageous as voters, and kick out of office anybody who does not do a good job for us. Let's pay attention, to notice the job they are doing before the election flood of propaganda hits us the next time.

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