David Freeman and Raman Raj — agents of the IBEW far more than public servants — were fired once before from top jobs at the Department of Water and Power and must be fired again before the City Council gives them even one cent in rate increases.
They have both been accused of lying and deceit this week by Tony Cardenas, who has suddenly emerged as the City Council’s lone voice standing up for the public interest with penetrating questions and passionate statements of principle.
Both Freeman and Raj were put into the No.1 and No. 2 jobs at the DWP by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa — a failed leader who has engineered spectacular raises for already overpaid IBEW members under contracts that run from 2005 to 2014.
Like the mayor, they have now engaged in a naked attempt to blackmail the City Council into approving electricity rate hikes of more than 20 percent this year with blank checks to double and triple rates in the following few years.
Like the mayor, they have threatened to withhold $73 million in “surplus” revenue transfers to the general fund by manufacturing a financial crisis at the DWP that its own consultants have testified is not in “financial distress” and only needs a small increase to avoid a credit rating downgrade.
As Jan Perry takes up the rate hike demand today in committee, she should make it clear that lying will not be tolerated and blackmail will not be paid.
Freeman and Raj must go or there’s no deal. Anything less will inflame this issue and show to the city that the Council’s taking jurisdiction over this 800 percent quarterly increase in the catchall Energy Cost Adjustment Factor is just a pretense, a delaying tactic before the Council goes along with the full rate hike by summer.
Freeman brought Raj aboard because he was an IBEW ally when Richard Riordan was mayor.
When Riordan figured out who Freeman really was, he fired him.
Not long after Raj was fired too after the DWP.”spent $3.3 million settling employee accusations that the utility had condoned racial discrimination — and interfered in efforts to investigate those complaints,” according to the LA TImes.
“The allegations prompted the DWP to hire an outside law firm, which concluded that one high-level official, then-Assistant General Manager Raman Raj, had shielded union employees from disciplinary action and discouraged employee complaints. The firm recommended that he leave for the good of the agency.”
Two years ago, Villaraigosa, at the behest of IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy, made it a condition of appointing David Nahai as General Manager that he bring back Raj as Chief Operating Officer at a salary of $247,000.
Several months later, after approving rate hikes of 25 percent, the DWP Commission awarded Raj with an extra $152,000 toward his pension even as questions were being raised about the utility’s contracting with a former client of Raj’s.
These two men have compromised the integrity of other DWP managers with their machinations and deceits and destroyed whatever trust the public has in the city’s utility.
Council members now in these troubled times must decide whether they are the side of the residents and businesses of LA or on the side of the profiteers at the public expense.