Is Big Labor Keeping The L.A. Water Dept. From Replacing Old Pipes?
The water main that broke near UCLA last week was ninety years old, which isn't unusual here in the City of Angels. The only things more common than fault lines running under this city are ancient water pipes. It's a situation that even the mayor admits isn't going to get better soon.
As is typical with bureaucracies, the problem is blamed on a lack of money. As is also typical with bureaucracies, it is really more a problem of prioritization and budgeting than available funds.
From the Wall Street Journal article linked above (emphasis mine):
The DWP blames a lack of money, but consider its labor costs: According to the Los Angeles Times, DWP workers in 2012 earned on average $101,237, which is 50% more than other city employees and 25% more than those at comparable public and private utilities. Many earn more than half their salaries in overtime—perversely because of the need to make emergency repairs. During the first six months of 2013, workers grossed $77 million in bonuses and overtime.
Then there's the $40 million the city last year discovered had been diverted to two trusts jointly controlled by the union and utility managers. The DWP recently spent $162 million on a new electronic billing system that overcharged more than 60,000 rate payers and resulted in bank overdraft fees.
Like many cities, Los Angeles has underinvested in public works as its priorities have changed to finance transfer payments and government employees instead.
What we have here is a situation that is waiting to literally and figuratively just waiting to blow up in their faces. Sadly, like the other municipal and state governments that are rushing headlong into financial oblivion because they're run by Democrat Big Labor cronies, they may not do anything until everything explodes.