Little things do mean a lot, perhaps because they are so easily overlooked because they are so little — like how the City Council has created a “Personnel and Animal Welfare Committee” because animals and people equate in their corrupted minds.
On Tuesday, the members of that committee — Paul Koretz, whose dim-witted initiatives have always put animals first; Dennis Zine, whose double-talking initiatives have always put himself first, and Richard Alarcon, the indicted lone wolf who cares not a bit for people or animals — will consider a series of gimmicks to hire more people or pay those on the payroll more despite the city’s dire economic condition
The mayor says he desperately needs two more senior project coordinators for the Disability Department. The Fire Department needs to pad the paychecks of three top deputies by an additional $145,730 next year despite the sharp cuts in services to the public.
And then there’s the kicker: Department of Water & Power General Manager Ron Nichols has cut a deal in the name of “parity” with IBEW union boss Brian D’Arcy to pay 10 “protective coating” painters $1.03 an hour more so they will be at the same pay level after their fifth step increase as those classified as painters “B” who get $40.49 an hour.
The cost to ratepayers is a paltry $21,506.40 a year, though you can roughly double that when benefits are thrown in and triple it when overtime is added.
But $80,000 a year in base salary before spectacular benefits, health care and pensions for painters?
That’s a lot of money for painters whether they only do protective coatings or protective coatings and other paint jobs.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the mean pay for painters in the LA market is $18.33 an hour or $38.120 a year. That’s 20 percent more than they earn in the Houston market and 20 percent less than in New York.
But it’s roughly half of what the DWP is paying, which may raise the question of how do you get a job as a DWP painter or anything else at the nation’s largest utility — surely a rich area of investigation for Wendy Greuel if she really wants to show she’s qualified to run this city.
Of course, DWP salaries are off the table for Greuel who loves all that IBEW money when running for office.
And it’s off the table for Ron Nichols whenever he has his hand out for rate hikes of 10 or 20 or 30 or 40 percent. It’s former general managers, the council, the mayor who signed off on all those deals that put DWP workers in a class by themselves and keep giving them lucrative sweetheart contracts.
Nothing he can do about it, says Nichols. Well, there’s something he could do about this $1.03 an hour for protective coating painters. The red paint is now on his hands.
It’s just a small thing but it tells you white your rates are soaring. It tells you who really runs the nation’s largest municipal utility.
But it doesn’t end with the DWP. Painters throughout the city are paid $70,000 on up and they too have costly benefits and pensions. Look it up and search for other common jobs.
Little things mean a lot and what they mean in this case is we are paying way too much for city services and getting way too little, less and less every year.
The fault, dear friends, is not in our stars, but in ourselves, that we are underlings.