Wednesday, November 07, 2007

L.A.'s Mister Green

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is pushing West L.A. Lawyer David Nahai to replace Ron Deaton at the helm of the LA Department of Water and Power--and the move isn't sitting well with some.

Get this straight, David Nahai is no match for Brian D’Arcy, the boss of the most powerful union in town, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18. The union represents 90 percent of the DWP’s workforce and pretty much owns the place, including management. D’Arcy will eat Nahai’s lunch. D’Arcy’s gone untamed by more powerful general managers and couldn’t be caged by two mayors. This guy’s got so much pull that he won an 18 to 30 percent pay raise for his workers during the transition from Mayor Hahn to Mayor Ambition. To this day, neither Hahn nor Mayor Ambition will say the raise went down on their watch. What we know for sure is that D’Arcy’s union fed $307,000 into Mayor Ambition’s campaign fund in 2005, and that ratepayers are now stuck with covering the tab for the stealth raise.

But LADWP has more problems than just those of its union. Reliability and rising rates are causing the City Council to call into question the department's management--both of which may put a roadblock in the way of Nahai's worthwhile green goals.