Wednesday, March 22, 2006

General Managers: "Seeya"

The City Charter approved in 1999 gave the Mayor the power hire and fire the city's department general managers with only the consent of the City Council. (This is why there was an issue with Mr. Stuckney just a few weeks ago.)

Rumor had it - which has since been confirmed - that the General Manager over the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment (DONE) would be the next to go. It's the Mayor's prerogative to fire, but I hope he at least set and communicated his expectations to the Hahn-appointed GM, Greg Nelson, before deciding to relieve him of his duties. That is only fair. Rumors are also swirling that the Mayor asked for Greg to retire... or told him to. This was supported early on when the new Asst. GM Lisa Sarno was hired at what many believe to be the suggestion of the Mayor's office. She'll probably take over the department. What will happen then with City's Neighborhood Councils will be interesting to see, especially with the Neighborhood Council Review ("912") Commission getting revved up in the next few months.

Political replacements of key department heads in the beginning of a term is not new, though. In fact, it was this very Department, DONE, in which Greg Nelson has led for the past four years that then-Mayor Hahn made a large political move by replacing "departing" GM Rosiland Stewart with the enthusiastic Nelson. This wasn't the first and won't be the last. So far, Mayor Villariagosa has hired 4 new GMs for the Department of Transportation, the Department of Animal Services, Los Angeles World Airports, and the City Planning Department. Now, besides the interim head of the Community Redevelopment Agency, there's one more position to add to the head posts that need to be filled: DONE.

But if you recall, it was Hahn to brought in a new Police Chief in Bill Bratton for then-Chief/now-Councilman Bernard Parks. He brought in Margie Reese from Houston for Adolfo Nodal. Hahn also brought us early on Gary Lee Moore as City Engineer, Wayne Tanda as GM of LADOT (since replaced), Bill Robertson as Director of Street Services, Alvin Blaine for General Services, Jon Mukri (from General Services) to the Department of Recreaction & Parks, and 2 other GMs for Animal Services (as said, since replaced).

So, to Margie, Bill, Jon, Alvin, and Gary: look out! You're doing what you have to do, but one thing in city government holds true: politics outweighs the value (or job performance) of the individual. Since it's up to the Mayor, remember: it's not personal; it's political!

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