Monday, March 23, 2015

Robert Fellner: City Report Confirms LADWP Pay Highest Among Peers Both Regionally and Nationwide

(Mod: Transparent California's Robert Fellner researched and wrote a blockbuster of an expose' about just how much more employees of the Los Angeles Department of Water & Power get paid than anyone else in their fields. In large part with money that is raised through utility taxes that are now at 10%, rates that dwarf most other cities. After this report came out Robert's phones started ringing, radio stations (including LA's KFI) wanted interviews, and life got very interesting. The report is called "Examining Public Pay in California: The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power," which you can access on the California Policy Center website here. The following article details some of the things that have happened since this all hit the Internet, including the bizarre sight of City of Los Angeles government officials who just can't quite seem to tap dance fast enough.) 

City Report Confirms LADWP Pay Highest Among Peers Both Regionally and Nationwide (link): Phase I of a comprehensive benchmarking report on the LADWP was just released.

The report itself confirmed a few things most ratepayers already know – that the LADWP’s payroll costs are dramatically higher than that of their peers, and their customer service is quite poor.


The report found that spending on customer service was below average for the power agency and above average for the water system; but both “continue to rank last among their peers in customer satisfaction.”

Several immediate action items were recommended, the first being recommendations to improve customer service. The others were focused on two additional areas the LADWP placed last in – high amounts of electricity lost in transit and lost revenue due to an inability to collect unpaid debts.

The report found positives too. While rates are very high on a national scale, they are in line with their regional counterparts. Obviously, the proposed rate increases in the coming years will impact this ranking. Reliability scored well and total costs were in the 2nd quartile compared to their peers, thanks to savings in areas such as in customer service and generation.

Unfortunately, the Mayor’s Office press release announcing the findings of this report appeared more concerned with highlighting the good, while omitting the bad. In fact, the release states that the LADWP ranked in the 1st quartile in operating costs, when in fact they were ranked in the 2nd. Not a word was devoted to their bottom scores in the items mentioned above or the enormous savings that could come from payroll reductions to a level that would match that of their peers.

As seen in the image below (bottom text is my own) if the LADWP were merely to reduce payroll expenditures to be in line with other utilities, let alone the massive savings from reducing pay to the market avg, they would save over $320M a year.


This is troublesome because it would suggest that the Mayor’s Office is more concerned with painting the LADWP in a positive light, as opposed to acting in the best interest of the ratepayers. Particularly given future rate increases are planned as early as this spring, ratepayers are in desperate need of an advocate that acknowledges these rate increases are mostly to support excessive LADWP pay.

Naturally, pay reductions should occur for all LADWP employees to a level that is less obscene when compared to their LA area counterpart. For example, the average customer service rep’s pay could be reduced to “only” 40% above the market average of $60k a year, as opposed to the current $72k avg.

Given the LADWP is overweight in the administrative sector and underweight in the customer service department, this would allow for both an improvement of operations and savings for the ratepayers at the same time by reducing administrative staff and replacing them with the less expensive, and more needed, customer service reps.

While it is likely an increase in hiring for customer service reps will occur, a reduction in pay or total administrative staff will be much more difficult. Unfortunately, this is exactly what is needed to reduce the growing burden on ratepayers – who need to make sure their interests are being put first by City Hall.

Anthony Portantino Asks Caltrans and Metro a Question They Won't Answer

(Mod: The SR710 Tunnel Study is missing an important report that Metro does not want the public to see. Metro and Caltrans cannot justify the $5.5 billion they claim it will cost to build this tunnel. Nor can they answer the simple question, "How much would this tunnel REALLY cost?" The letter the former Assemblyman wrote is below. If you would prefer to take this in by watching a video instead, click here.)


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

46 comments:

  1. That is why Mayor Harabedian needs to raise UUT taxes again. So we can have vibrant employees like the DWP.

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    1. My name is CoincidenceMarch 23, 2015 at 6:36 AM

      Pretty funny that LA Mayor Garcetti was endorsed by Sierra Madre Mayor Johnny. And with Garcetti continuing to enable this massive theft, Garcetti could give Johnny some pointers on how to raise Sierra Madre's Utility Tax. Fer damn sure.

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    2. Yes, but don't we need to attract and maintain quality employees? The DWP people never leave!

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    3. If only we had listened before Danny left.

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    4. Camillo Danny?

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    5. 8:45, are you under the illusion that Danny Castro was good at his job?

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    6. Nooooo. It was an attempt at irony. His front counter ole' on the camillo road hovels is a city tragedy.

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    7. 11:30, right you are. Castro spent most of his time defending his incompetence, and the rest, asking Elaine what to do.

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  2. $102,000 for being a plumber with LADWP?

    Lemme see, if I get this right it means a six-figure salary, AND a Platinum Pension AND a Cadillac Healthplan.

    Holy crap. Why would ya ever work in the private sector when you can suck up that kind of $$$ from the rate payers and taxpayers.

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    1. The hardest part of that job would be getting fired.

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    2. How many weeks paid vacation? 4 or 6 a year?

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    3. For you to have a pension of over 100K a year, it would be equivalent to having millions in assests in order to spit off that kind of cash every year. I don't begrudge reasonable pay but its become a scam on the taxpayers. We need to roll back the pay of the public employees.

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    4. Maybe it is a decision based on mood.

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    5. The amazing things that can be done with a double digit utility tax.

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    6. 6:58, you only (??) need $ 2,500,000 to get $100,000 of income if your assets generate 4% a year. OMG!!!

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  3. the thing that galls me the most is that these overt compensated employees take their overly generous pension money and then move out of California so that they are no longer contributing to the pool of tax money that feeds them and future retirees. Their attitude is: we fleeced you to get our money and to hell with the rest of you!
    Oh yes, and as an aside, how are the water pipes in LA? Seems to me they break a lot.

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    1. Only an idiot would pay CA taxes on that fat pension. Hello, Nevada, Arizona or Idaho!!

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    2. At $100,000+ pensions, it really is your own Private Idaho.

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  4. we do, that cartoon is Bruce, our own grand poobah of water.

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    1. He looks chill.

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    2. It's good to be King.

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    3. Was that drink made with Sierra Madre water?

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    4. I think it's Tom Love, taking a sip and pondering how best to eat his words from last year. You know, the ones where he announced at our city council that there was plenty of water?

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    5. What is best to serve with crow?

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    6. My name is CoincidenceMarch 23, 2015 at 6:49 PM

      You misunderstood. Tom Love said there was plenty of water. He just didn't say for how long!

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    7. "All you need is Love."

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  5. That is how it works in one party Los Angeles. The pols lavish money on the unions who the launder it and return some in the form of political donations. Sweet little system they got going.

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    1. Sounds like the Larry Torres' for PUSD Board strategy. Or is there an echo in here?

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    2. Amen 7:29. Who are the stupid people here? It's the taxpayer. time to wise up and just say NO!

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    3. I would love to see some election reform that includes stopping elections where people get dirty, like Torres and Sariganian did. Wish they both could have been disqualified. Their behavior as candidates shows them to be people I wouldn't want around kids.

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    4. Agreed 9:06. I wonder where the tipping point is?

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    5. The cost of being politically stupid is high taxes and corruption.

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    6. 9:10: It is apparent you have no idea what you are talking about. 50 lashes for you in the public square, and I get to administer the punishment.

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  6. A double whammy of taxpayer waste - millionaire municipal employees and 37 millions of dollars spent on an EIR for a project that hasn't been decided. So the EIR writing business is doing very well. Depressing.

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    1. That's a whole other topic I hope the Tattler gets into one day; the parasitic consultant industry.

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    2. Wherever there is tax money, there you find consultants.

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  7. I think this is what is meant by the word corruption.

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  8. Messina is one of the cabal of tunnel builders. So was Roger Snoble, once chief of Los Angeles' Metro, which got a lot of money for transit because of Measure R. His was the last great voice for the tunnel. Messina suggests Measure R provided some money for the tunnel, but the anti-710 activists say the tunnel was never mentioned on the ballot box. They say the measure was sold with the promise of more rail.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lionel-rolfe/the-persistent-dreams-of-_b_6873578.html

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    1. 15 years ago, or around that, Messina made a statement to the San Marino Tribune that it was only fair to share the cancer risks that came from too much traffic. It was along the lines of "We're suffering, and you need to suffer too."

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    2. Then she climbed onto her broomstick and flew away.

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  9. The Tattler just did a great report on the 710, including this youtube link, in which Portantino shows what a good politician can do.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7GPY97aOftc

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    1. Imagine, someone having the nerve to ask Caltrans how much the 710 Tunnel will cost. First of all it is none of our business, and secondly, how would they ever know?

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    2. Telling taxpayers how much of their money is going to be spent on something is not part of the process.

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    3. I have a knee jerk reaction against politicians - but when they take ethical stands like that, it forces me to rethink my attitude.
      I will check out Portantino's take on other issues. He's sure got my support on exposing the boondoggle waste around the 710.

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