Today’s News: DWP staff is getting unlimited sick days; Lawsuit raises heat on Calderons; Activision freedom

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DWP generosity. When most people use up their allotment of sick days, they either go to work or don’t get paid. But that’s not so at the L.A. Department of Water and Power.

The L.A. Times reports that a 32-year-old DWP policy allows workers at the public utility to take off unlimited sick days beyond the agency’s 10-day cap, and still get paid.

Since 2010, DWP workers have taken more than 103,000 extra sick days – the equivalent of about 415 years, at a cost of more than $35 million. One senior accountant averaged 49 extra sick days between 2010 and 2012. A security guard averaged 43 extra sick days during that time.

Under the sick leave policy, a doctor’s note is not required to verify an illness that results in excessive absences.

DWP Executive Director Ron Nichols says some workers appear to be abusing the policy. But he defended the DWP workforce. He says employees average 4.4 sick days per year, about the same as the national average. L.A. Times

Water web. A Southern California water district at the center of an FBI investigation into State Sen. Ron Calderon has sued a contractor for overcharging it by nearly a million dollars. The agency’s managers say the move is a first step toward reestablishing credibility with ratepayers. Pacifica Services Inc. provides engineering and consulting services for Central Basin Municipal Water District, which serves customers in eastern L.A. County. The politically-connected company has received millions of dollars from the water district over the years and has given generously to water district officials. Last month, federal prosecutors served a search warrant at Central Basin to get information about the agency’s contracts, including those with former Assemblyman Tom Calderon, the brother of Ron Calderon. L.A. Times

Voting rights. An L.A. Superior Court judge says Palmdale’s at-large method of electing city council members dilutes the influence of minority voters, which is a violation of the California Voting Rights Act. More than 54 percent of Palmdale residents are Latino and nearly 15 percent are African American. There’s only one Hispanic on the five-person city council and no black members. The judge said voting in Palmdale Council elections is “racially polarized.” City officials are vowing to appeal. AP

Filner scandal. Four more women have come forward, bringing to seven the number accusing San Diego Mayor Bob Filner of making unwanted sexual advances. Meantime, The San Diego County Democratic party has joined the chorus calling for the 70-year old former Congressman to step down. The latest accusers are identified as a retired Navy rear-admiral, a dean at San Diego State University, the head of the Ports Tenants Association and a businesswoman. Fox News

Activision buyout. Video game maker Activision-Blizzard is going independent. The Santa Monica company behind such titles as “Call of Duty” and “World of Warcraft” announced this morning that is has reached an $8.2 billion deal to separate from parent company Vivendi. Activision’s 2008 merger with Vivendi’s video game publishing unit established the company as the largest in the industry. A group of investors led by long-time Chief Executive Robert Kotick will control the company. Vivendi will retain a 12 percent stake. New York Times