Nahai separation sounds messy *

hdavidnahai.jpgIn the media follows to Friday's exit of DWP chief H. David Nahai, the L.A. Times noted that his "support within Villaraigosa's office had eroded dramatically, and Brian D'Arcy, the head of the DWP's powerful employees union, had stopped speaking to him." In the Daily News, Rick Orlov reported that Nahai "has been in conflict with the Board of Water and Power Commissioners, with commissioners - speaking on background - saying relations had deteriorated to the point that there was little trust on either side." Nahai was president of the commission before campaigning to get the high-paying general manager job following the illness of GM and City Hall powerhouse Ron Deaton. Nahai came with no expertise running a big operation or a municipal utility, but he did come with an environmental agenda and the mayor's ear. His fans and enemies had different takes on Friday's news:

  • "He was the whipping boy, and in the end, the fall guy for failure -- something made easy because his arrogance is even greater than his intelligence," posted Ron Kaye, Nahai's most vocal critic and political opponent. Kaye also spotted that the DWP intends to give Nahai a paid consulting contract as part of whatever deal he cut to leave.
  • "It's disappointing that two such strong environmental leaders couldn't work better together," said Heal the Bay President Mark Gold, a fan who referred to new interim DWP boss S. David Freeman.

Noted: Back in 2007, Alan Mittelstaedt predicted in CityBeat that "D'Arcy...is going to eat David Nahai's lunch at the Department of Water and Power."

Further noted: A former very senior editor of the Los Angeles Times was disappointed in the paper's Friday reporting on Nahai. Via Friday email:

At 12:10 today you reported on david nahai's resignation under fire as dwp boss, and noted speculation that s. david freeman would replace him.

At 2:24 pm today, rick orlov in the daily news posted his report covering the resignation and the freeman speculation on the daily news web site.

By mid-day the story was getting prominent play on KNX news radio, with the Freeman speculation included.

At 5:45 pm today, i went to the l.a. times web site, curious to see their take on the events, especially freeman's return (he is a fascinating character whom i followed with some interest while at the times).

I found NOTHING about the Nahai resignation on the long summary of all "local" news stories deemed by the Times to be worth reading. (The list was topped by Roman Polanski promising to pay his young lady $500,000 and followed by 3 ucla lads reportedly beating and stabbing other lads. Pretty impressive reporting efforts, I'd say).

But I did not give up. I entered David Nahai's name in the search engine. It listed several stories in which he appeared (the first dated Feb. 18 and the most recent Sept. 22). The Sept. 22 story had to do with DWP transmission lines. No story appeared about his resignation. The search engine DID ask me if I meant "David Gahan." What the hell is that about?

I entered "DWP" in the search engine. The most recent story was a Sept. 28 piece on water mains breaking. Nothing on the Nahai resignation.

I entered "David Freeman" in the search engine. The most recent story was a Sept. 15 piece on a Kern County land purchase.

I entered "S. David Freeman" and got the same results.

So much for the new and improved LATimes.com.

* Re-further noted: There was an entry on L.A. Now at 12:14 Friday afternoon — it's still there. "It was the second item on the home page for hours," Assistant Managing Editor David Lauter emails. "Not sure why your correspondent had so much trouble finding it; judging by the web traffic, many thousands of users had no trouble at all."

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