Investigative

Investigation Reveals Lineman Drinking On The Job

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David_Goldstein_08062010 David Goldstein
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LOS ANGELES – Our undercover investigation found a man making nearly $100,000 a year — money coming from the pockets of DWP ratepayers — chugging down a Bud Light on the job.

It has been two months since we exposed DWP linemen drinking and driving in their trucks. Now we caught a lineman again, this time an employee for a company called Asplundh.

On their helmets the slogan reads, “safety first.”

Asplundh is contracted by DWP to provide manpower and equipment to replace some of the city’s aging power poles and cables. Company officials say these men are hired to work exclusively on DWP projects. Their paychecks funded by ratepayers.

At 11:53 a.m. on June 18, we watched a lineman during a lunch break from his job in South L.A. With a hidden camera we followed him inside a convenience store. Inside he went directly to the beer section where he pulled out two 24-ounce cans of Bud Light.

In plain view he then walked over and placed the cans on the counter, while paying the cashier — not trying to hide them from anyone else in the store.

He then left and went to a barbecue restaurant to get some take-out food.

From there he parked on a quiet street. He did not know that we were watching, as he ate his food — and drank the beer.

In five big gulps, he downed one 24-ounce can of Bud Light, the equivalent of two regular size cans of beer.

When he finished, he opened the passenger door, then closes it and pulled away — driving the big truck down the street after downing the beer. On the curb he left behind the crushed can that he tossed out the passenger door.

A few minutes later he had on his vest and “safety first” helmet and was back at work.

We caught up with him a few weeks later.

“My name is David Goldstein with CBS 2 News. Can I talk with you a second? Can I show you some video we got of you drinking a big Bud Light, sitting in the truck on DWP time? Can I show you that video?”

He didn’t want to look at the video and had nothing to say.

“Can you stop and talk with me for one second? How do you explain that especially after the investigation we did with DWP? And the guys drinking and driving and you sitting in the truck downing a big Bud Light and then, by the way, tossing it out on the street?”

Company officials say they have a zero-tolerance policy with drugs and alcohol, even on a lunch break. So we came down to their local headquarters in Orange County to show them the video tape.

Regional Safety Manager Hal Lindsay looked at the tape.

“Well it’s very disturbing to see,” Lindsay responded.

He said it violates company policy and admits it puts people in danger.

“Being impaired, possibly putting himself at risk, putting his co-workers at risk and putting the public at risk for driving that vehicle after consuming that beer,” Lindsay said.

DWP released a statement to us saying, “Asplundh management has assured us they are taking appropriate actions as warranted. We expect all contractors to enforce a strict code of employee conduct that fosters safety.”

“You want to look at the video?”

Asplundh officials say the man resigned after we tried to get some answers. But to us, he wasn’t saying a thing.

“How do you explain that after the investigation we did on DWP drinking? You’re on ratepayer time and you’re drinking a can of Bud Light in your truck, while the ratepayers are paying for that?”

He just drove away.

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