Nichols exits but mystery of DWP non-profits persists

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City leaders hope the departure of General Manager Ron Nichols will help them solve the mystery of how $40 million in ratepayer funds was spent by two Department of Water and Power trusts created to improve labor relations. Nichols led one of trusts, and DWP union chief Brian D’Arcy heads the other. City officials have been stonewalled in their efforts to get information about the non-profits. Nichols also took heat for an expensive new billing system that’s been plagued by glitches. He says he’s leaving for “personal reasons.” The DWP has now churned through six general managers in less than a decade…Gov. Jerry Brown calls his proposed $155 billion budget plan a “measured” response to the state’s ongoing fiscal challenges. But some Democratic lawmakers are already indicating that the spending plan is too conservative at a time when the economy is on the upswing and revenues are exceeding expectations. The plan would increase general fund spending by eight percent, direct $10 billion more to schools and establish a $1.6 billion rainy day fund. Some Democrats are clamoring to restore more funding to education and social services. They say it’s been “raining” in California for years…oildrillingGov. Brown is rejecting calls for a tax on companies that extract oil in California. Billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer is leading the push for an oil severance tax. Steyer has said he’ll try to qualify an initiative for the state ballot if the Legislature fails to act. He won’t have the governor on his side. When asked about the issue, Brown told reporters “I don’t think this is the year for new taxes.” California is the only major oil producing state that does not have an oil severance tax…L.A. County Sheriff Lee Baca’s retirement might not be the end of his story at the agency. The L.A. Times reports that Baca is planning on becoming a reserve deputy – volunteering his time to patrol the county in a black-and-white. An aide says Baca would have clearance to patrol alone and make arrests. Baca announced his retirement earlier this week, saying he wanted to allow the department to recover from a series of scandals, including allegations that deputies brutalized inmates inside the jails…bondAnd finally, he’s not naming names – but a new memoir by a longtime CIA lawyer says Hollywood has had a “special” and long-lasting relationship with the spy agency. John Rizzo, former CIA general counsel, says studio executives, actors and producers have all taken part in CIA operations. He says the agency has used Hollywood figures to help with propaganda projects, and to report on meetings with heads of state and other officials. CIA agents have also posed as members of film crews, especially in countries where the agency has difficulty operating. Sadly, Rizzo says he’s not allowed to identify any Hollywood types who have worked for the CIA.