DWP GM resigns

DWP General Manager Ron Nichols

DWP General Manager Ron Nichols

Department of Water and Power General Manager Ron Nichols has resigned amidst controversy over two organizations that he and the DWP Union Chief co-managed for the past three years. Those groups spent $40 million over ten years with no explanation on how the money was spent and what was accomplished in spite of demands by the DWP Commission and City officials.

The Union Chief, Brian D’Arcy has failed to turn over financial records of the controversial organizations and reportedly failed to show up at a meeting of auditors this week.

According to the Los Angeles Times, in spite of demands from the DWP Commission and others, Nichols “has been unable to produce records showing how two nonprofit trusts created to help improve relations with the utility’s largest union have spent more than $40 million in ratepayer money over the last decade.” The Times also reported that Nichols has struggled with a new $162 million computerized billing system that sent out as many as 70,000 late or inaccurate bills in recent months.

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti was quoted as thanking Nichols for his service and said he is focused on reform of DWP. Nichols was the sixth general manager of DWP in five years. He played a vocal role in attacking the Great Basin Air Pollution Control District with several lawsuits over the Owens Dry Lake. Under Nichols’ watch, DWP also sued Mammoth Community Water District to try to claim Mammoth’s creek rights. Mammoth ended up paying DWP $3.4 million now and $2.4 million more over 50 years in a settlement.

Mayor Garcetti will now proceed to find a new DWP General Manager, reportedly outside the organization.


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9 Responses to DWP GM resigns

  1. Ted January 10, 2014 at 3:46 pm #

    Don’t let the revolving door hit you in the butt.

  2. Philip Anaya January 10, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    Even without knowing this man, even without fully comprehending the responsibilities of the Management of the LADWP, not even understanding the 6 figure pay check, I am thinking that resignation would not be my voluntary bail out. I hate to say it but Mr. Nichol’s decision to resign might have been the best decision that he has made, in his tenure as head of the LADWP. Most probable, however, is the fact that he may been handed his resignation and not a moment too soon. The management of the LADWP needs a total shake up and down and questions of the relations to the Owens Valley are to be answered with the choice of Mr. Nichols’s replacement. DWP could have made better decisions this past year in the Owens Valley truth be told. Mr. Nichols can’t be held responsible for the drought but the management of the operations should have considered for instance diminished snowpack into this year. If the Valley had not been previously sucked dry, not had unresolved mitigation issues. not had emptied lakes and ditches, not had a dust mitigation issue at Owens Lake with their failed litigation attempt to define clean air, then maybe there would be some groundwater in the Valley to share, some water in South ,Sabrina ,Crowley ,Grant Lakes to send south. for our neighbors in LA. Bite my tongue, how could a scenario like that have ever occurred , DWP being good stewards of the resource and Owens Valley willing and water to share.
    It is easy to rag at the DWP and gloat about the failure of it’s leadership,
    but it does little to resolve big problems and issues that need attention. I wish success to Mr. Garcetti on finding leadership that can truly lead the DWP and it’s Owens Valley Operations into the next 100 years. That’s not going to be easy at all.

    • Desert Tortoise January 10, 2014 at 10:23 pm #

      This had absolutely nothing to do with anything happening up here. The DWP and it’s major union had been funding two so-called non-profit organizations to the tune of some $40 million over the years. The City Attorney was demanding records of how the money was spent. Being a city employee the DWPs GM is on the hook to obey what the City Attorney tells him to do. Meanwhile, the leader of the union, Brian D’Arcy has refused to turn over even one document and threatened to sue the DWP’s GM personally for a very large amount of money if he complied with the City Attorney’s demands.

      As a result, Mr. Nichols basically told LA to FOAD and left. Sometimes no job is worth the headaches.

  3. Trouble January 11, 2014 at 12:31 am #

    Hey maybe Rusty and Ron can form their own little union.

  4. allen berrey January 11, 2014 at 12:02 pm #

    I got to know Ron Nichols in the mid-1980s, when I was going to law school in Sacramento; I thought then and believe still that he is a good man.

    That said, what is missing from this article is an important fact, as reported in the January 9, 2014 edition of the Los Angeles Times:

    “But on Thursday, DWP board [of commissioners] president [U.S. Representative Mel] Levine told The Times that [DWP union business manager Brian] D’Arcy had threatened to sue Nichols personally if he made the [union’s two non-profit’s financial] records public.

    ‘Here’s a guy who was told by his colleague ‘you breathe a word of the information the mayor wants and I’ll sue you.’ That’s a hell of a position to be put in,’ Levine said.”

    In my view, the real culprit here is D’Arcy, not Nichols. Mr. Nichols stepped into, and is the victim of, an ugly, ongoing, internecine Los Angeles political war; I don’t blame him for bailing.


  5. Desert Tortoise January 11, 2014 at 1:32 pm #

    I don’t know how LA is able to recruit any thinking person for that position. It has been a revolving door for a long time now. Mr. Nichols outlasted his immediate predecessors but to succeed in that position requires as much and perhaps more political skill than engineering and organizational accomplishments. I would not expect anything to change drastically with any new GM.


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