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Letters

Who’s Down With DWP? I’m a left-leaning 25-year reader of the Weekly and an 18-year employee of DWP and member of Local 18, and I must say I am a bit shocked that you got the whole issue so wrong [“DWP’s Salary Shock,” July 29–Aug. 4]. The whole thing would have fit perfectly in a Republican anti-labor rag like the Daily News. The DWP has always been an easy target, as a lucrative public utility. Traditionally there were bloat and waste that always needed to be looked at. Blue-collar workers would be the first to grant you that. I enjoyed your article a few months back about the Joint Labor Management Safety and Training Institutes. I don’t know why we need them either. Sometimes you have to hold labor bosses’ feet to the fire too. But this is not a backroom, shady construction boondoggle or a waste of millions on a PR contract. This is about hard-working men and women getting a decent cost-of-living increase in a time when labor is in a tougher spot than ever. Local 18 has always been in the vanguard in wage increases because DWP is a lucrative enterprise for the city. You talk to most any cop, fireman or other city worker, and they’ll have a much better grasp on this than your writer. If you look at it from a historical perspective, there have always been articles like this, bemoaning this same issue. Mostly when the Times remembers its anti-labor legacy, or when the Daily News pretends to do a little muckraking from a right-wing slant. Some people just can’t stand to see blue-collar union people make a decent living and have a piece of the pie. Other departments are always glad when their contract negotiations come up after Local 18/DWP’s because they know they’ll get a better deal. Julie Butcher took city management at their word? I think I’m starting to see the problem. What should she tell the mechanic who is making comparatively less than his brothers across the street? She should say she’ll try to do her job as well as Brian D’Arcy does his. She should say she’s not going to talk to any more reporters for a while.

Bob Pemberton Saugus

Jeffrey Anderson’s article on the salary discrepancy between DWP and all other departments shows what we at Public Works have been fighting for 20 years. In the Department of Engineering/Survey Division alone we have lost many trained employees to them. Morale is at an all-time low. The lowest entry position in DWP Survey Division made more than a Survey Supervisor at Public Works due to higher salaries and blanket overtime. Public Works has been treated like a poor stepchild. All general fund money goes to Police and Fire. No wonder the sewers and streets are in such disrepair. Street Services paving crews are resurfacing streets with no engineering plans and no surveying. The Public Works Department needs to fix things right, and in order to do that, needs to have more than skeleton crews that are salary-discriminated against. One area Anderson neglected to mention is that DWP gets a better retirement percentage. At 30 years of service they get 69 percent of salary. Public Works gets 64 percent.

Anonymous Los Angeles County

Alternative Solution As a thorough reader of two L.A. dailies, I must thank L.A. Weekly and Celeste Fremon [“The Short, Violent Life of Baby Suzie,” July 15–21; “Who Could Have Saved Baby Suzie?” July 22–28] for providing the only clear account of events leading to this calamity. The LAPD should step back and consider. L.A. is not a war zone. When a psychotic endangers life, talking is the weapon of choice. You are not chicken if you back away from a violent confrontation and let the suspect get hungry and thirsty. It is better to pay patient cops overtime than incinerate a house, and the SLA rebels inside it, as happened three decades ago. LAPD spokesman David Gascon appears not to agree. When the wacked-out suspect wounded one officer shooting blindly through a wall, revenge took over, not common sense. Gascon says they had to advance to the fatal outcome. No; as we chess players know, retreat is often the best move. Let them rethink just how to handle domestic violence calls in the future to rule out catastrophic outcomes. Then hire some psychiatric technicians who know how to talk to crazies in several languages. Because our sick society is sure to keep on producing them.

Anthony Saidy, M.D. Los Angeles

Aww shucks I never cease to be surprised by the quality of the arts coverage in the L.A. Weekly. Not only was I enchanted by Alan Rich’s description of the special joys of Mozart at night at the Bowl, but I was moved by David Thomson’s tribute to Gavin Lambert [“Mainly About Gavin,” July 29–Aug. 4]. Such wonderful writing almost never appears in our city’s newspaper of record.

Paul Norwood Mt. Washington

Credit Where It’s Due In last week’s theater feature on Pera Palas, the actor playing older Orhan was misidentified. Apollo Dukakis played that role.

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