You know, in addition to the pattern of spending-to-the-brink-of-bankruptcy, the problem with living in a union-controlled state like California is that there is very little accountability.
Since taking office in June, however, the mayor of Los Angeles has been asking some questions of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers and, up until now, the IBEW bosses have given him the proverbial finger.
Here's the back story:
In Los Angeles, the taxpayer-funded Department of Water and Power has negotiated a contract with the IBEW that requires the City to fund two trusts to the tune of more than $40 million since 2000.
Known as the Joint Safety Institute and the Joint Training Institute, according to KPCC, both have "the same trustees, same accountant, the same address and phone number."
In 2011, the most recent tax return available (see below), the Joint Training Institute's included $348,000 on salaries and $46,000 on office expenses. Another $631,000 was spent on reimbursed administrative expenses and $663,000 was spent on unknown expenses.
That same year, the second trust, the Joint Safety Institute, spent more than $128,000 on its salaries and $69,000 on office expenses. Combined, the institutes spent about $140,000 on travel in 2011. And records show both entities are paying $23,000 a year to rent space at the DWP lot. It's unclear how many employees each of the trusts employ.
All of this, apparently, has not escaped the attention of L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti's administration.
For months, the city's controller, Ron Galperin, has asked for financial information only to be rebuffed by the IBEW.
After months of the IBEW bosses thumbing their noses, Galperin's office said enough is enough.
On Monday, Galperin's office announced it is preparing a subpoena for the records.
"If you receive and spend public money, then it's a simple principle of transparency," said Galperin at an afternoon news conference with Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Attorney Mike Feuer. "We need to know how that money has been spent. We also need to know whether we're getting a good return on that investment."
Needless to say, the IBEW and its attorneys disagree.
Rather than show up for a Wednesday morning meeting called by Galperin to discuss the trusts' finances, an attorney sent the controller a letter stating the entities are not public and therefore do not have to make their financial records available. The letter cites an opinion from the state Attorney General that determined the trusts are not subject to the open meeting requirements of the Brown Act.
The city's administrative code "does not provide the controller the authority to audit JSI and JTI because the trusts are not, by any stretch of the imagination, 'charged' with 'safe-keeping or disbursement of public money or securities,'" according to the letter.
Apparently, like other unions in other union-controlled states, the IBEW believes that it does not owe the public any disclosure on how it spends taxpayer funds in union-controlled California.
"Truth isn't mean. It's truth."
Andrew Breitbart (1969-2012)
Cross-posted at LaborUnionReport.com