Index
Sunday
May032015

L.A. CITY HALL: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, nonprofit trusts, Controller audit, response/reaction: "Garcetti's DWP Director Stands Up For Union Boss Brian D'Arcy" .... 

***Following up on most recent earlier item noted here (Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Controller audit, nonprofit trusts)....

* LA Weekly:  "Garcetti's DWP Director Stands Up For Union Boss Brian D'Arcy" - From the Weekly:

On Thursday, L.A. City Controller Ron Galperin issued a long-awaited audit of two training institutes at the Department of Water and Power. The audit followed 18 months of wrangling with Brian D'Arcy, the head of the union that represents DWP employees, who had fought bitterly to withhold the records of the two institutes, which are jointly run by the union and the DWP.

Now that they're finally out, you can see why he wanted them kept secret. Galperin's auditors found lax controls over travel expenses, contracting and credit card purchases. Auditors could not find a receipt for a $1,353.88 expenditure at Prime Steakhouse in 2011. The auditors also took issue with a two-day "Safety Summit" at the Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Resort in Oxnard, which cost $25,000. The list goes on.

But it's hard to tell whether this will lead to serious changes, because the DWP doesn't appear to agree with the findings. Marcie Edwards, who is Mayor Eric Garcetti's appointee to run the utility, has already rallied to D'Arcy's defense. In a letter to Galperin appended to the end of the report, Edwards and D'Arcy jointly rebuke the audit as "littered with accusatory innuendo and peppered with contradictory statements."

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Edwards and D'Arcy were much more receptive to another report on the institutes, issued Thursday by the City Administrator's Office. That report was much milder in its tone and findings. . . . . . . .

In their response to that report, Edwards and D'Arcy wrote that they appreciated the CAO's input and agreed with the recommendations. Since Edwards and D'Arcy control the institutes more or less autonomously, their response is what matters.

Garcetti is Edwards' boss, and in theory he could direct her to implement Galperin's recommendations. But in his own statement, Garcetti did not indicate any intention to do that. He did thank Galperin for his work making the institutes more transparent, and left it at that.

In a separate statement, Edwards and DWP Commission president Mel Levine said ............

Sunday
May032015

SACRAMENTO: Governor Jerry Brown, "behested payments" to charities: "Gov. Jerry Brown's charirites raking in cash through 'behested payments'" ....

* San Jose Mercury News:  "Gov. Jerry Brown's charities raking in cash through 'behested payments'" - From the MN:

Just because Gov. Jerry Brown has already run his last election campaign doesn't mean wealthy contributors can no longer find a way to his heart.

In this year's first three months, donors directed by the governor gave more than $2.73 million in tax-deductible contributions to two charter schools Brown helped launch as Oakland's mayor. That's almost as much as in all of 2014, when Brown vetoed a bill that would have made modest reforms to these "behested payments," so called because they are given at the behest of an elected official. If Brown, a master of the practice, keeps up this pace, he could triple his payments from 2008, his most lucrative year.

Top donors include a tribal casino . . . . . . . .

The crush of contributions comes as Brown no longer needs campaign donations: Term limits prevent him from running for governor in 2016, and he still has about $19.6 million left over from last year's re-election campaign. The governor doesn't personally benefit from these payments, but he clearly appreciates them -- and it's that gubernatorial goodwill that wealth special interests want. 

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Behested payments have been around for a long time but grew tremendously in the past decade, in large part because of Brown ......................

Sunday
May032015

SACRAMENTO: Senator Bob Hertzberg, clout and deal-making experience, tax overhaul proposal: "Former Assembly speaker returns with ambitious tax overhaul" ....  

* San Francisco Chronicle (AP):  "Former Assembly speaker returns with ambitious tax overhaul" - From the Chronicle:

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — His nicknames include Huggy, Herztie and Hugsberg, child-like monikers that when combined with his freshman status in the state Senate might make it seem Bob Hertzberg is a back-bencher. In fact, the Democrat is a major California political player with more than four decades of experience. The former Assembly speaker has returned to the Capitol after a 12-year hiatus, bringing his clout and deal-making experience. His mere presence stoked rumors of a challenge to the Senate leader though Hertzberg dismisses any rivalry.

He held a lucrative law career and traveled the world, but he said he missed serving. "From a business and a political perspective, I've never stopped thinking about politics and public policy," Hertzberg said, adding, "I've learned how important California is to the rest of the world. I really understand it. I've built relationships all over the place. And the biggest change is me."

His opening proposal is an ambitious tax overhaul. It centers on expanding California's sales tax to more services, while lowering the state's 7.5 percent base rate to as little as 4 percent. He also calls for doing away with local add-on taxes. It would generate billions of extra dollars that he says the state could use to fund schools, local government and the university systems while providing tax credits to protect the poor. He also wants to reduce the corporate tax burden on small businesses, which he says would encourage entrepreneurship.

His pitch is timely as Democrats who have a majority in the state Legislature look for revenue to replace Gov. Jerry Brown's soon-to-expire tax, Proposition 30. The state has billions in surplus this year but still faces a challenging budget cycle because a complex education funding formula may force lawmakers to cut other programs.

Hertzberg's plan reflects the San Fernando Valley Democrat's penchant for big ideas ......................

Sunday
May032015

MORNING MEMOS: CPUC, former pres. Michael Peevey, commentary (Dan Morain), "A shakedown by any other name"; Sacramento, editorial, "Legislature should accept ruling that calendar entries are public records"; legal, "Witnesses in 'maternity tourism' cases charged with fleeing U.S."; education, "OC Execs Top List of Biggest Educator Pensions in State" ....

***Various items this morning from across the spectrum of politics and/or public policy....

* Sacramento Bee (Dan Morain):  "A shakedown by any other name"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Witnesses in 'maternity tourism' cases charged with fleeing U.S."

* Voice of OC:  "OC Execs Top List of Biggest Educator Pensions in State"

* Daily News (editorial):  "Legislature should accept ruling that calendar entries are public records"

 

Sunday
May032015

POLITICS/EDUCATION: Los Angeles Unified School District, charter school group, $$$ food contract awards: "LAUSD charter group gave food contract to an employee's firm" ....

* Los Angeles Times:  "LAUSD charter group gave food contract to an employee's firm" - From the LAT:

A Los Angeles-based charter group awarded food-service contracts worth millions of dollars to a company partially owned by one of the schools' high-ranking employees, a state investigation has found.

The probe involved Jacqueline Duvivier Castillo, who is the director of business and development for PUC Schools and a part-owner in Better 4 You Meals, a company that has provided food to the charter group for the last five years. Investigators said the charter failed to demonstrate that the contract was "awarded properly despite the apparent conflict of interest."LA

Late Saturday, the charter organization said in an email to The Times that Duvivier Castillo would no longer be an employee of PUC. "This move will allow her to focus on her business full-time and will remove any perception of conflict with our schools," the PUC statement said. "While we in no way believe that Ms. Duvivier influenced our decision-making process, full disclosure and transparency are of utmost importance to us as an organization."

The state Department of Education, which released emails and documents about its investigation to the Los Angeles Times under the California Public Records Act, also found: .....................