RON KAYE EXCLUSIVE - It started a little over a month ago with a tip that came from inside the Department of Water and Power: Raman Raj is still on DWP payroll.
It was hard to believe. Raj was summarily fired as chief operating officer in February by the new General Manager Ron Nichols. How could they still be paying him $22,075.38 a month, already amounting to nearly half his $264.904.56 annual salary?
It was unthinkable.
After all, here was a guy who had been fired once before by the DWP. That was a decade ago after he was blamed for a costly series of lawsuits involving harassment, discrimination and retaliation. An investigation into what had gone wrong found Raj had given Brian D'Arcy, the powerful IBEW union boss "too much influence in the management" of the utility and shielded union employees from disciplinary action. Raj could not be trusted to "act in the department's interest," if it conflicted with his own...
Yet, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa ordered Raj rehired in 2007 in the No. 2 job and put him in charge of day-to-day operations under inexperienced General Manager David Nahai, a lawyer with expertise in environmental issues who had been DWP Commission President.
Much despised by those who worked for him, Raj - backed by D'Arcy who for years has virtually run the DWP - clashed with Nahai to the point the mayor hired a management psychologist to intervene and make an oral report to him. A short time later, Nahai was forced out and David Freeman, who as DWP GM in 1999 had originally hired Raj, was put in charge of the utility once again.
In the tortured history of the DWP over the last 13 years, these three conspiratorial figures - D'Arcy, Freeman and Raj - stand out for the failure of their leadership, their failure to achieve the goals of cleaner energy and water and for the waste of the public's money.
It has taken a while to find out what Raj's status is but late Friday afternoon, chief spokesman Joseph Ramallo emailed:
"In response to your question regarding whether Raman Raj is on disability, please be advised that he is." (The rest of Ron Kaye’s exclusive here).
(Ron Kaye is the former editor of the Daily News and founder of the Saving LA Project. He can be reached at [email protected])
Vol 9 Issue 67
Pub: Aug 23, 2011