Mixer: iPads, Ports and Power

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The price-tag for a 173-acre Port of Los Angeles freight terminal upgrade has doubled in just four years, from $245 million to $510 million. And the design changes that ballooned the cost were made without the knowledge of the LA City Council. Despite council concerns, members ratified the revised costs.

So the question is whether this represents a complete lack of accountability. Who is the person, or people, who just kept spending money before its even approved?

Apparently, there was information about those design changes — and how much more it was going to cost — but it was never given to city officials or council members. And is there a connection between these added costs, the missing information and the resignation of Geraldine Knatz, the city’s Port Director?

The LA Department of Water and Power has cut off funds to two affiliated nonprofits after questions surfaced about how they spent more than $40 million in ratepayer money. These groups were supposed to improve relations between management and labor after a series of job cuts in the late 1990s.

DWP head Ron Nichols and the head of DWP’s biggest employees union, Bryan D’Arcy, are co-chairs of this. And there is still little information about how any of that money was spent. Meanwhile, today, D’Arcy accused the DWP of sending out inaccurate bills because of a flawed software system that’s been in place since September.

Once again, the LA Unified School District is acknowledging that its campaign to equip every student and teacher with an iPad will cost more than they first disclosed.

The latest revelation involves licensed software.

District officials say English and math curriculum on the district’s iPads will expire after three years.

The LA Times reports that it will cost between $50 and $100 each year, per iPad, which could boost expenses by as much as $60 million a year. Which begs the question: Aren’t we paying more for these iPads for teachers and kids than we would for, say, ourselves at the Apple Store or Best Buy?

David Zahniser reports for the Los Angeles Times, and Hillel Aron for LA Weekly, and they both joined us.