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Councilwoman Perry calls campaign spending a ‘ridiculous tantrum’ by DWP union's president

February 10, 2011 |  5:20 pm

Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry said Thursday that the more than $100,000 worth of spending on behalf of a rival of Councilman Bernard C. Parks by the union that represents city utility workers amounts to a “massive, ridiculous tantrum” by the group’s president, Brian D’Arcy.

D’Arcy, the head of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18, clashed with Parks last year over a proposed ballot measure that would have allowed the City Council to assert greater control over the retirement benefits earned by Department of Water and Power workers, who have an independent pension system. When that proposal was discussed in late October, workers from D’Arcy’s union packed the City Council chambers to protest and the idea was shelved.  

At a luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles Current Affairs Forum on Thursday, Perry said it was unfortunate that other members of the City Council are “afraid” of D’Arcy.

“I’m a little tired of people being intimidated,” said Perry, who represents part of downtown L.A. and South Los Angeles. “I don’t take well to that kind of behavior. And it needs to stop.”

Perry is a strong ally of Parks, who is running for a third term on the City Council in the March 8 election. As the city's budget chairman, Parks has repeatedly expressed concern that pension costs for city workers are becoming “unsustainable.” By 2015, pension costs for the city’s public safety employees and civilian employees will account for a third of the city’s general fund budget.

D’Arcy recently formed an independent committee to support one of Parks' challengers, Forescee Hogan-Rowles, a former commissioner on the DWP board. D’Arcy's union, which represents about 8,600 DWP workers, and another IBEW local have contributed at least $350,000 to the independent committee so far. They have spent more than $110,461 on radio and television ads, and other costs, according to City Ethics Commission records.

Perry argued that the independent spending on Hogan-Rowles' behalf was D’Arcy’s way of “acting out” against “an individual who has been consistent in trying to move the city to solvency even when others don’t want to, or just don’t have the fortitude.”

D’Arcy’s union was among the first to back Hogan-Rowles, whom he called a “trailblazer.”

Asked to respond to Perry’s comments Thursday, D’Arcy said in a statement that his union wants to “let voters know that Forescee Hogan-Rowles understands what it takes to get people working again” and is seeking to publicize her work as the chief executive of a South Los Angeles-based nonprofit where he said she “helped small businesses succeed by providing loans where big banks wouldn't, so local entrepreneurs could grow and create jobs.”


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-- Maeve Reston