Listen Live on  
 

96.7 KISS FM

Austin's #1 Hit Music Station
 
 

Judge rules LA can audit DWP trusts

 

LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge has cleared the way for City Controller  Ron Galperin to audit two trusts linked to the Department of Water and Power  employee union in order to see how an estimated $40 million in taxpayer money  was spent.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge James Chalfant denied a request by the  International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 18, which represents DWP  workers, and union chief Brian D'Arcy to block subpoenas issued by Galperin's  office in January.

``This is all about knowing where your money went,'' Chalfant said. ``I  don't see how the city controller doesn't have that authority.''

Chalfant wrote in a tentative decision -- which he later finalized --  that Galperin has the authority to ``perform an audit of the trusts at any time  to determine if public money from the DWP is being spent legally, and for  future reference by the City Council. The subpoenas also are valid, and the  petition, styled as a motion to quash, is denied.''

The subpoenas demanded that the Joint Safety Institute and the Joint  Training Institute furnish financial documents as part of an audit being  conducted by Galperin's office in response to questions raised over whether the  funds were properly spent.

Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey's office also is  investigating the trusts.

Galperin's subpoenas order D'Arcy to appear for an audit interview and  to provide ``support documents'' for expenses made on salary, training  workshops, travel and conference, office and other items listed in the trusts'  general ledger and tax forms.

D'Arcy, who has refused to turn over the documents, contended that the  trusts are independent of the city and are not required to open their financial  books to the controller.

The Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute, which were  formed to smooth relations between DWP workers and management, have received  about $4 million annually from the DWP's coffers over the past decade.

The trusts are governed by a board made up of both union and DWP  representatives and the money is supposed to be spent on worker safety and  training.

D'Arcy's attorney, D. William Heine, argued that the DWP representatives  on the board know if the monies are being used properly. He also said the  agency's general manager, not the city controller, should conduct any probes  into allegations of misuse of funds.

Heine said there also is no evidence the City Council supports  Galperin's subpoena efforts.

But Assistant City Attorney Valerie Flores said the job of looking after  the trust funds is indeed delegated by the City Council to the controller.

``The City Council has decided it wants the controller to follow the  funding,'' Flores said. ``The laws of the city allow the controller to monitor  and safeguard the funds.''

Flores said such authority by the controller does not conflict with the  City Charter.

Chalfant denied a request by Heine to put a stay on his order pending an  appeal. The judgment becomes final April 22.

City Attorney Mike Feuer called the judgment a ``terrific result for the  ratepayers of Los Angeles who are about to receive transparent analysis of  where their dollars have gone that they've deserved for a long time.''

Galperin added, ``Today is an important victory for transparency and an  important step in holding accountable those who think they are above the law.  What we have is a judge who agreed with us, thankfully, that ratepayers of the  city of Los Angeles have a right to know how money has been spent in these two  trusts.''

D'Arcy has 10 business days from the finalization of the judgment, or  until May 6, to submit the subpoenaed documents, Feuer said.

 

Recommended Stories

*