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Department of Perrier and Power?

March 13, 1994

The curious spending habits of the Department of Water and Power are again under scrutiny, as well they should be. This time, City Controller Rick Tuttle is refusing to cut a $75,000 overtime check for retired DWP general manager Dan Walters until the City Council reviews the matter. The disputed compensation is the latest example of ill-conceived practices at the city-owned utility--for which the taxpayer gets the bill.

Waters retired in February after a controversial tenure as general manager, a $165,000-a-year post. The same day he retired, he was "demoted" to assistant general manager. The voluntary demotion allowed Waters to collect on the comp time he had accrued before taking the top job. He could not collect the money while general manager because the position is exempt from overtime.

The very odd practice, questioned just last week in a report on the city's rising overtime costs, is allowed under an agreement between the DWP and the Management Employees Assn. In 1990, another retiring general manager, Norman E. Nichols used a similar demotion to collect $27,000 in overtime.

Waters is no stranger at making the most of feeding at the public trough. Under his leadership the DWP was taken to task for spending abuses, including pricey catered meals for supervisors, during last fall's employee strike.

The Waters case again raises nagging questions about management at DWP. It's hard to have confidence in government that allows such outrageous stuff.

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