After funneling $40 million in ratepayer money to two vaguely defined and publicly unaccountable nonprofits over the past 10 years, the Board of Water and Power Commissioners on Tuesday finally said: No more.
The newly appointed commission voted to cut funding for the Joint Training Institute and the Joint Safety Institute until City Controller Ron Galperin completes an audit detailing how the shadowy nonprofits spent all those public dollars and what they have to show for it.
It's about time.
The Los Angeles Times reported in September that the DWP could provide little detail on how the institutes had spent the $40 million. The nonprofits are co-run by managers of the department and of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, which represents most of the utility's workforce. Given that it's ratepayer dollars being spent, you'd think an accounting would be readily available.
But two months later, the board of commissioners — which controls the purse-strings of the utility — still cannot get the information it is looking for. DWP General Manager Ron Nichols, who answers to the commissioners, serves on the Board of Trustees overseeing the institutes. But apparently even he doesn't have the financial documents and says he cannot "compel" the nonprofits to release them.