John Cádiz Klemack
The head of LA’s water and power utility stepped down on Thursday, a day after city officials threatened legal action against the department over the spending of ratepayers' money. Ron Nichols said his resignation is for personal reasons. John Cádiz Klemack reports from Downtown LA for the NBC4 News at 5 p.m. on Jan. 9, 2014.
The head of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will step down at the end of January, according to the LA mayor's office.
Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the departure Thursday in a news release.
Read: Ron Nichols' Resignation Letter
"I thank Ron for his service to our city as head of a department that serves every L.A. resident and business," Mayor Garcetti said in the statement. "I'm focused on continuing to reform the DWP to cut costs, improve customer service and increase transparency."
The resignation comes amid controversy, including complaints from customers who said they were overcharged on monthly bills after the introduction of a new billing system. In a letter to the mayor and other city leaders, Nichols said the decision to step down "is my own and is for personal reasons."
The department also is under scrutiny over a pair of trusts that received more than $40 million in ratepayer money from the DWP. Even though Nichols sits on the boards of those trusts, he was unable to provide financial documents city leaders requested to determine how the money was used.
City Controller Ron Galperin is conducting an audit into the financial activities of the trusts. Nichols attended an initial meeting with Galperin and and provided some materials.
City officials said the rest of the financial records need to be provided by the DWP employee union head, Brian D'Arcy, who has so far refused to turn over the documents. Galperin said he was issuing a subpoena to force D'Arcy to appear at an audit meeting and release the rest of the documents.
"I was brought in to lead DWP by the prior administration and I felt it important to stay on board afterward to provide time for the new administration's transition," he wrote.
Nichols said he does not have "specific plans for a future leadership role in the industry elsewhere" to avoid potential conflict of interest. His letter to Garcetti mentioned several accomplishments during his three-year tenure as head of the utility.
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