By City News Service
The head of the Department of Water and Power, which is embroiled in a financial dispute with the city over a pair of union trusts, will resign at the end of the month, Mayor Eric Garcetti announced Thursday.
Ron Nichols, who has been DWP general manager for three years, will step down at the end of the month. In a letter to the mayor and other city leaders, Nichols wrote that the decision to step down “is my own and is for personal reasons.''
Added Nichols: “I was brought
in to lead DWP by the prior administration and I felt it important to stay on
board afterward to provide time for the new
Nichols said he does not have “specific plans for a future leadership role in the industry elsewhere'' to avoid potential conflict of interest.
Garcetti thanked Nichols and said he was “focused on continuing to reform the DWP to cut costs, improve customer service and increase transparency.''
Nichols's resignation came amid intense scrutiny into a pair of trusts that received more than $40 million in ratepayer money from the DWP. Even though Nichols sits on the boards of those trusts, he was unable to provide financial documents city leaders requested to determine how the money was used.
City Controller Ron Galperin is
conducting an audit into the financial activities of the trusts. Nichols
attended an initial meeting with Galperin and
and provided some materials.
City officials said the rest of the financial records need to be provided by the DWP employee union head, Brian D'Arcy, who has so far refused to turn over the documents. Galperin said he was issuing a subpoena to force D'Arcy to appear at an audit meeting and release the rest of the documents.
Nichols also presided over a troubled overhaul of DWP's 39-year-old billing and customer information system. Glitches in the initial months of the $162 million changeover resulted in incorrect bills being sent out, with some customers being charged several times more than they owed and receiving shutoff threats from the utility. Customer service call wait times also ballooned as people called in to fix their bills.