DWP security guard triples $64,000 salary to $197,000 with OT, other pay

Today, Transparent California released 2014 public employee compensation data — complete with names, pay, and benefits — for 38 of Los Angeles County’s largest special districts, representing 95 percent of all Los Angeles County special district workers.

The data reveals that Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) security officer David Laser more than tripled his $63,944 salary with over $100,000 in overtime pay (OT) and an additional $32,686 in other pay, for total wages of $197,042.

The three highest OT payouts amongst LA county special district workers all went to DWP employees:

  1. DWP electric distribution mechanic supervisor Joseph Strafford: $225,459
  2. DWP steam plant maintenance supervisor Thomas Conner: $143,202
  3. DWP electric distribution mechanic supervisor Daniel Haerle: $140,648

Strafford’s $225,459 OT payout was the 5th highest out of the 2.35 million 2014 salary records currently on TransparentCalifornia.com.

The DWP did not provide benefits data on an individual employee level and, as such, are unrepresented amongst the top special districts with the highest average employee compensation packages.

LA County special districts

The three Los Angeles County special districts with the highest average compensation packages for full-time, year-round employees were:

  1. Water Replenishment District of Southern California (WRD): $172,949
  2. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California: $168,135
  3. West Basin Municipal Water District: $162,845

Click here to view this information for all 38 Los Angeles County special districts surveyed.

WRD’s highest average compensation package was, in large part, due to an average benefits cost of $60,958 per full-time employee — the highest of any district surveyed.

The three highest-compensated Los Angeles County special district workers were:

  1. Metropolitan Water District of Southern California general manager Jeffrey Kightlinger: $520,422
  2. Southern California Association of Governments executive director Hasan Ikhrata: $515,893
  3. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority chief executive Richard Thorpe: $485,990


In addition to Laser, DWP steam plant assistant Clayton Louie more than tripled his $59,255 salary to $178,685, with an additional $106,700 in OT and nearly $13,000 in other pay.

In total, nearly 1,200 DWP employees increased their salary by at least 50 percent with OT and other pay.

The average full-time, year-round DWP worker received $118,115 in wages.

While the DWP did not provide benefits data on an employee level, aggregate data obtained from actuarial reports suggests an average cost of nearly $50,000 per employee for retirement benefits. Additionally, the DWP spent an average $18,125 per employee on health benefits, according to the city controller’s office.

Medical and retirement benefits that cost 5 and 15 times more, respectively, than what the median private employer pays demonstrates why the public needs to receive complete compensation data, says Transparent California’s research director Robert Fellner.

“Largely shrouded from public view, the cost of government workers’ benefits has ballooned to unsustainable heights, crippling local agencies and burdening taxpayers.

The average full-time DWP employee, for example, is costing ratepayers an amount much closer to $185,000 than the $118,000 the pay-only data suggests.”

To view the entire dataset in a searchable and downloadable format, visit TransparentCalifornia.com

Compensation is defined as total wages plus the employer cost of retirement and health benefits. Full-time, year-round employees are defined as those receiving a salary equal or greater than the “annual salary minimum” reported.

To schedule an interview with Transparent California, please contact Robert Fellner at 559-462-0122 or Robert@TransparentCalifornia.com.

Transparent California is California’s largest and most comprehensive database of public sector compensation and is a project of the Nevada Policy Research Institute, a nonpartisan, free-market think tank. Learn more at TransparentCalifornia.com.

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