The Mixer: Hollywood grows up, DWP employees sit out (with pay)

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This week, the Mixer searched low and high to get to the truth. We went to the depths of a city utility, where some people took advantage of a disability rule to take extra paid sick time. We went high in the sky, as in skyscraper, to talk about density, and whether Hollywood needs to be taller for its current role.

Hillel Aron joined us from the LA Weekly, and so did Kate Linthicum from the Los Angeles Times.

Newly sworn-in Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti is beginning discussions about a contract with LA Department of Water and Power employees. Both sides are kicking the tires on a contract that would hold off on a raise for the next three years, and then ask them to pay a portion of their health care.

And some say he’ll be well-charged with negotiations because of the latest revelation that a 32-year old rule at the DWP allows employees to take paid sick pays past their 10-day cap. In the most serious cases, hundreds of employees took as many as 20 extra days off.

Thousands of DWP workers took advantage of the rule, costing the utility (read: ratepayers) $35.5 million.

It’s the latest in a series of revelations about generous worker benefits at the agency. Their salaries far exceed those of other city workers and their union played an outsized role in bankrolling the recent mayoral election.

Meanwhile, elsewhere at City Hall, the Los Angeles City Council this week gave the go-ahead for the Millennium Hollywood project. Two skyscrapers (35- and 39-stories) will be built, despite vocal objections from a host of community groups.

Opponents wanted the council to delay its vote, saying there were questions about whether the project would be built in an active earthquake fault zone.

Council members said more geo-technical studies would be required before any final building permits for the project are issued. Our journalists on the show agree that this story is far from over.

We also welcomed the (soon-to-be) newest member of the Los Angeles City Council. Nury Martinez won Tuesday’s special election, beating opponent Cindy Montañez for the sixth district seat. That seat was vacated by Tony Cardenas, who was elected to Congress.

Martinez, however won’t be sworn in for a few more days.