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California Briefing / LOS ANGELES

DWP to review conflict policies

September 05, 2008|David Zahniser

The Department of Water and Power commission will meet today to review a new conflict-of-interest policy, following complaints about the agency's handling of its No. 2 executive.

The DWP wrote the policy after council members raised questions about Raman Raj, the utility's chief operating officer, who was hired last year after representing at least five DWP contractors as a private consultant.

The Times reported this year that the DWP was moving to approve or extend contracts with Raj's former clients. "If that issue had not happened, [the policy] would not be on the agenda now," said DWP board President Nick Patsaouras.

Patsaouras sent an e-mail last month to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa threatening to quit the panel but was talked out of it. Since then, he has said the Raj flap had nothing to do with his attempt to resign.

The DWP proposal calls for a more rigorous screening process to determine whether any employee has a conflict during any part of the agency's contracting process. When a DWP employee has such a conflict, he or she will fill out a form and formally be isolated from that process, according to the proposal. "It sounds like they're on the right track," said Councilwoman Jan Perry, who criticized the lack of a formal policy in recent months.

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