Hostile Working Conditions

From: Panchadsaram, Baskaran
To: Smith, Richard
Sent: 7/28/2004 3:51 PM
Subject: Hostile working environment in ORA

Dear Mr. Smith:
I have several issues to inform you about that bothers on a supervisor's lack of integrity and deceptive practices that could undermine the work of this Commission if it is not checked in time. The supervisor involved is Victor Chan of the LA ORA Water Branch.

On July 8, 2004, at 9:04 a.m. Mr. Victor Chan approached me and said that Maxine Harrison was looking for me and she wanted to know my whereabouts. I asked him to provide me with the exact date and time that Maxine Harrison came to him and asked about me, because I knew Maxine had no reason to ask for me or otherwise. However, Victor was not able to answer the simple question I put to him. He looked uncomfortable and this made me sensed hat something must be amiss as he refused to answer such a simple and straight forward question, combined with his demeanor that spoke volumes, despite the fact that he had no answer for my question.

It was later that I came to find out that indeed Maxine Harrison never looked or asked for me and she had never inquired from Victor Chan or anyone else for that matter about me or my whereabouts. It was then that it became very clear that Victor Chan was plainly lying and the reason why he had to lie about such is a mystery to me and I am asking the management of ORA to investigate this incident as this is not the first time he would deliberately lie to me, or about other staff, or to other staff. Victor Chan lying is an issue that ORA management must investigate and address immediately. I intend to file a grievance and also inform my Union about it to let them know of my Supervisor lying and that I have appropriately informed ORA management to conduct an investigation on the matter. I am not sure which other lies he has told ORA management or others about me, or other staff, but I do not think ORA's management condone a supervisor lying without addressing and dealing with such supervisor. I therefore expect this matter to be investigated by OR's management.

Unfortunately, this is the second time I caught him lying to me directly in my presence and I do not know how many of such lies I have missed. It is enough to make any honest person worry, therefore, it is of serious concern to me The first time I caught him lying to me and to one of my colleagues Mr. Mehboob Aslam was on January 29, 2004 regarding our participation in a settlement meeting with California American Water Company. He told both of us that he would call us to participate in the settlement meeting to discuss our portions of the staff report, after the preliminary details are discussed with the water company. He promised not to settle any of the issues raised by us in the report without our input. While we both were waiting, later in the day he told us that we would not be needed as he and Mr. Daniel Paige reached a settlement agreement with the company. He lied to us in order to deliberately keep both of us out of the settlement meeting. I am very concerned that this might be what he is told to do by ORA management, but I still for now doubt this, as the outcome of the investigation I have requested above would show whether he is acting on his own or if it is directives from ORA management
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It seems more than a coincidence that Victor Chan engages in lying blatantly in our face if he his acting on his own. Mr. Aslam would be more than happy to testify to the lie he told us in regard to Cal American. For my protection, this letter is being forwarded to outside parties so that they are aware of what is going on and if and when ORA conducts its investigation and results come out, such would be passed along too if it is not considered confidential. Otherwise, these lies stay as they are i.e. confirmed.

Victor Chan is a not a professional that can be trusted based on his penchant to lie, and as everyone in this ORA LA Branch should know, he is not fit for the supervisory position. I observed that he seemed to work fine with those staff he takes orders from. I thought it is a supervisor that is supposed to give the orders, but in his case, he takes it from some of the staff he is supposed to supervise. Maybe he does this in order to cover up his inefficiencies and his inability to supervise and coupled with the fact that he lacks the ratemaking and other technical knowledge required for the position. He could not even write the staff report as Mr. Paige had to fly down to Los Angeles with ratepayers' funds to come to Los Angeles to write the report Victor Chan should have written. This is not right, and sooner these would be exposed to all, outside of ORA.

I have worked 27 years for the California Public Utilities Commission and the Office of Ratepayer Advocates (ORA) and has not experienced such a supervisor who not only lacks technical know how of the rate making process, but also lacks basic interpersonal skills, communications and professionalism. Most staff members in the ORA Los Angeles section are not happy to work with him for the same reasons. By appointing him to the supervisory position, ORA management created a hostile work environment here in Los Angeles Section of ORA. Now ORA management knows that we have a supervisor on probation that engages in lies which ORA management needs to put a stop to, and not wait until this becomes a public embarrassment to ORA.

Furthermore, ORA is making a joke of this LA branch when it allows such unprofessional attitude to go unchecked, unless it is ORA's management directives he is following. However, I find that hard to believe, but whatever happened after this memo would confirm or disprove this. Otherwise, this calls for an immediate investigation. I will also like to point out that Victor Chan because of his lack of knowledge of ratemaking, when I write data requests for him to review before I send it out to the utility would deliberately change the name on it and put his name and send it out to the utility. However, when the utility have questions about the data request, he would be unable to answer their questions and on occasions I have had to work on weekends to bail him out. This is another way he lies through deception claiming to write data requests he knows nothing about, and when follow ups comes, he lacks the technical know-how to respond and then he comes back to me. I am tired of these deceptive practices from an ORA supervisor.

I find these behaviors unprofessional and it calls for ORA management to investigate the issues I have raised, and be rest assured I have documents or other staff to back up most of what I have written here. I look forward to hearing from you about these unprofessional conducts by a supervisor that lacks integrity that should not be here in the first place. I understand he tries to gain favor from Regina, but that should not preclude you from conducting a thorough investigation over the matters I have raised. If you have any questions please let me know, but, it should be in writing so that we all have a record of it.

As I have mentioned above, currently I am forced to deal with a very hostile working environment. As a result, it has seriously affected my health and I would appreciate it if you can something about this immediately. My poor health is of great concern to me, and that is why I have brought this to your attention so that remedial actions could be taken in the hope of addressing this hostile working environment in the LA ORA Water Branch. I hope you would address this soonest, and thank your for your expected cooperation on this matter.

cc: Personnel Manager Union Steward and other interested parties
Director, ORA
Executive Director President, CPUC