LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — After a CBS2 hidden-camera investigation revealed LADWP workers taking long unsanctioned breaks even as the department raises rates, one of the workers identified in the videos has been found to have a criminal history.
One of those workers has been identified as DWP supervisor Isaac Chavez, who has worked for the department for 24 years, CBS2’s David Goldstein reports.
Chavez has been in trouble before. He was caught stumbling out of a DWP truck in 2012 after slamming into three parked cars. Police found two open bottles of vodka in the front seat of the truck and arrested Chavez on suspicion of DUI. He was later convicted of the charge.
The DWP said it took disciplinary action after the DUI, although it would not specify what those actions were. Chavez made about $165,000 in 2014.
“Appropriate action was taken. However, under city policy and state law, we are prohibited from providing more information,” the department said in a statement.
Other DWP workers caught taking long breaks in the hidden-camera footage were identified as members of the department’s IT workforce, who install high-speed fiber optic cables.
Local officials and government watchdogs said they’re concerned over the department’s seemingly lackadaisical approach to enforcing its break rules, even as rates are going up for customers. The department stipulates that employees should not take breaks early in their shifts. Workers are allowed two 15-minute breaks throughout the day, and 30 minutes for lunch.
Goldstein reported that some of the workers were taking breaks of an hour or more.
In March, the LA City Council voted for a 4.76 percent annual increase in DWP rates over the next five years in March. Part of the money will go toward upgrading the city’s aging pipe system. The typical single-family household in Los Angeles could see monthly electricity bills go up a total of $12 over five years.
“It’s not just a slap in the face to the council, it’s an insult to the community,” said Councilman Mitch Englander, who voted against raising DWP rates in March. “From a ratepayer standpoint, it’s criminal.”
Political watchdog Jack Humphreville agreed.
“If you figure the average DWP guy makes about $100,000 and then there’s another $50,000 in pensions and benefits. [If] they do it, you know, every week, that’s $1,500 to $2,000 of our money,” he said.