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.
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.
Los Angeles County
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
Anthony Saidy, M.D.
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.