It is simply an abomination just how much time the press expends on attacking the DWP and its employees! Listen to the likes of David Goldstein of KCBS-TV and Jack Humphreyville (the self-righteous, self-serving businessman who appears to suffer from delusions of grandeur) and a viewer could easily come to believe that the entire lot of electrical workers in the Department are rotten apples, that DWP is out to rip off the rate-payer, that Governor Brown is in cahoots with a secret cadre of powerful forces to reduce California’s consumption of electricity (let alone water) at the expense of the consumer.
From Goldstein himself, there has been a recent barrage of telecasts showing the same footage with the same interviews pointing out the same supposed “derelict” workers—as if through these reiterations, we will be convinced that those few represent the whole of the DWP workforce. Good journalistic practice would dictate that when the work ethic of these (or any) technicians is being criticized, they should be offered the opportunity to explain the circumstances that have caused the inquiry in the first place.
Name me any profession—doctor, lawyer, engineer, fast-food clerk—and there will be those who are found guilty of remiss behavior and who ought to be retrained, penalized, suspended, and/or fired (depending on the transgression) because of their “malfeasance.” Of course, we must keep the occasional slouches accountable for their poor performance—but that policy applies to any job.
In my opinion, Goldstein’s broadcasts have not been “fair and balanced” for the DWP workers he attacks. Certainly, the vast majority of skilled workers (in every field of employment) do their work conscientiously and efficiently. They are reliable, adept, and dependable and often go above and beyond their job descriptions and assigned duties to fulfill the requirements of their respective jobs. Without question (in my mind), this applies to those employed by our electric and water utility.
Among the myriad procedures DWP employees perform, the vast majority do their work diligently, under difficult conditions, and often at risk of life and limb in an effort to complete what in many instances are dangerous assignments. It is truly regrettable, then, that too frequently the dedication and selflessness of these foot soldiers (who work for us, the consumer) are rarely recognized. These trained professionals routinely find themselves the object of ridicule as they are denigrated by wordsmiths who seem to have their own dubious agendas. We should conclude that the few backsliders within the Department do not define and ought not reflect upon the many outstanding, highly trained, and efficient employees.
It would have been nice if Goldstein had considered that some of these highly trained workers may be working 12-hour days and that if they don’t eat a meal soon after checking in, they may not get another chance for 6 or 8 hours. He might have considered that some installations, upgrades, or repair work must be done in a sequence and that if the early teams are legitimately delayed in completing their portion of the project, then successive teams will be pushed back and, therefore, individual workers might temporarily be found “standing around” when they are as eager as anybody else to get on with and finish their own work.
Many of these employees make up the teams who come into our homes (free of charge) to install low-flow toilets, water faucets, and shower heads; teams that test the porousness of insulation and weather-stripping and will replace and upgrade them if conditions demand it; people who install fire and carbon monoxide detectors; teams that replace dishwashers, washing machines, and refrigerators with energy-efficient ones and sometimes even install double-paned windows—and they do this while bringing an expertise and congeniality that are often not found when we hire independent contractors to do the same thing but charge us an arm and a leg.
Sadly though, workers like these, under other circumstances (such as a storm when the lines are down), are the ones who are faced with dangerous conditions that can severely injure them or, worse, take their lives. I think it is important that before we give ourselves (or others) permission to complain about the short-comings of the few, we must recognize the outstanding services provided by the many.
We must also insist that services (that are intended to fulfill the demands of a burgeoning population) be expanded with greater numbers of highly trained staff and that those services reach our various communities to increase energy efficiencies while lightening the tax-payer load. We must not forget that through training [as with the Home Energy Improvement Program (HEIP) in conjunction with the Utility Pre-Craft Training Program], career jobs will be created that will benefit and be a boost to our economy while, as a consequence, such employment will reduce the numbers of unemployed and underemployed in our respective communities.
City Council is, in fact, currently considering such issues which will affect each of us and, therefore, each of us should offer our input into how and when its conclusions will be made.
In the final analysis, let us neither encourage nor condone those who would unreasonably bash the people and departments meant to serve us. Instead, we must promote that which will benefit all of us. Those who thrive on a continuous flow of unwarranted criticism should not be lauded for their self-serving behaviors. After all, myopia is a type of ignorance we cannot afford. When we are enlightened consumers and voters, we must not allow this kind of behavior to perpetuate itself.