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Deputy L.A. mayor tapped to lead DWP

S. David Freeman, the mayor's environment czar, would earn $6,250 a week at the utility even as it pays former general manager H. David Nahai $6,292 a week in a controversial contracting agreement.

October 07, 2009|David Zahniser

The panel that oversees the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power voted Tuesday to name Deputy Mayor S. David Freeman interim general manager.

The commission, whose members are appointed by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, voted to hire Freeman at $6,250 per week -- $325,000 annually. Meanwhile, the agency will also pay former General Manager H. David Nahai, who announced his resignation Friday, $6,282 per week.

Nahai's three-month contract drew strong words from City Councilman Dennis Zine, who called on DWP officials to explain their actions to the council. Zine said it was "absolutely absurd" to pay two executive salaries in such difficult economic times.

Under the proposed agreement, Nahai would be on call for DWP officials at his current salary through Dec. 31, earning nearly $82,000. Nahai has not responded to requests for comment since Friday.

Commission President Lee Kanon Alpert defended the consulting contract, saying such agreements are typical in large agencies. But he amended comments he had made earlier this week, saying keeping Nahai as a consultant "is not a Lee Alpert decision."

Those comments only added to the mystery surrounding the consulting plan. On Monday, the mayor's office described the Nahai contract as a decision for the commission. Tuesday, Alpert said the commission had no power to negotiate or vote on the contract. He said the contract had been brought to his attention but did not say by whom.


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