LADWP still declines to comment on investigation

ladwpAt the end of August, reports began to circulate that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power had sent guards and others to all Owens Valley DWP offices to seize documents. Officials admit an investigation is going on but still decline to comment on any of the details.

In August, LADWP Public Information Officer Chris Plakos had said only that he could not address the reports and that it was “a personnel matter.” Reliable and informed sources have now revealed some details of what is apparently under investigation.

Sources say that two men, originally from the Owens Valley but now in supervisory positions in Mojave, were placed on administrative leave at the same time orchestrated strikes on each DWP office took place. Guards and others hit each office- in Mojave, Owens Lake, Lone Pine, Independence and Bishop – at the same time, asked employees to leave, locked the buildings down, and searched for documents. Employees were asked to sign statements that they would not talk.

Sources say that the employees on leave owned a major interest in a company, Kalmatron, that makes a concrete additive and that they were selling this product to DWP. The product was reportedly used in many of DWP’s numerous concrete projects. Conflict of interest was alleged.

Sources also said that one of the men used DWP workers to do private construction at DWP’s expense. Reports also said that DWP seized the keys, cell phones and vehicles of the two men before placing them on leave. Speculation points to amounts of money all together equaling in the millions, although DWP will not respond to this question.

Additionally, other informed sources say that hundreds of thousands of dollars in equipment and material are missing from the DWP Owens Dry Lake facility. Sources say the missing materials may have led to compromising building and maintenance standards there.

We had placed calls to DWP Director of Water Operations Mary Adams, who reportedly ordered the investigation, and to Public Relations Officer Joe Ramallo for a response to our information. Adams did not respond. We asked Ramallo if ratepayers and customers don’t have a right to know some details about the investigation. On Wednesday, Ramallo emailed that “This remains an internal investigation and as such we cannot comment on it.”


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10 Responses to LADWP still declines to comment on investigation

  1. Trouble October 31, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    That’s good journalism. The thieves rob the thieves.

  2. Jon November 1, 2012 at 7:19 am #

    Well, this is one side to the story….it will be interesting to see the results.

  3. LADWP November 1, 2012 at 4:38 pm #

    The LADWP cautions the public that information that is being circulated about the on-going internal investigation has not come from the LADWP. As a governmental agency, LADWP does not comment on internal personnel issues during the course of pending investigations.

    • Benett Kessler November 1, 2012 at 8:57 pm #

      If this is in fact from LADWP, why not say more to me when I contacted you. We made it clear that our information came from informed and reliable sources. We asked DWP some five times to comment or reveal more details about what has happened with ratepayers’ money involved in the utility and its operations.
      Benett Kessler

      • john Delgado November 4, 2012 at 2:13 pm #

        u go Girl… 🙂

    • Trouble November 2, 2012 at 5:20 am #

      Hey DWP- is there a “internal personnel issue” on why our valley floor is drying up and we’re coughing up your dust?

  4. Rhetorical? November 2, 2012 at 7:50 am #


    They’ve already answered your question. Do you not get it? Not commenting on pending investigations is a no brainer….

    Or is this the game where somebody gives an answer and you try to guess what the question was?

    • Benett Kessler November 2, 2012 at 10:53 am #

      Let me explain news reporting – LADWP, as I have said, has more power, control and influence here than any other single entity – land, water, jobs, leases to a wide spectrum of citizens and agencies.

      So, what they do is news. Allegations of theft or unethical or illegal taking of funds, equipment, etc. is news in any public agency. I have pressed DWP for answers or any detail.
      Before I reported the information that I had, I did want to give them an opportunity to comment. The allegations are serious.

      This is a well-recognized reporting technique. This allows us to reveal to the public, who have been clamoring for information on these happenings, what we know.
      In the final analysis, our philosophy of reporting and exercising the first amendment is “Tell what you know.”

      Benett Kessler

      • . November 2, 2012 at 11:06 am #

        I think you’ve misunderstood my point. I never took exception to your reporting nor did I say this wasn’t news.

        You were asking DWP why they would not give more information and they’ve clearly told you why. I just think you’re beating a dead horse. It’s pretty obvious that commenting on a pending investigation could compromise it. Asking them over and over again isn’t going to change that.

        Do you not understand why DWP declines to comment? It’s rudimentary.

        • Benett Kessler November 2, 2012 at 11:41 am #

          That’s not the point. Sure, they have a right and maybe an obligation not to comment – just like I have a right and an obligation to ask them.
          This is the news reporting process.
          Benett Kessler


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