As he seizes the reins of Los Angeles city government, Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday he expects to remove some general managers in the next couple of months.
“I think it would be unlikely that 100 percent of the folks would return,” Garcetti told reporters shortly before meeting with nearly 40 general managers, executive directors and chiefs who run the city’s major departments. He said he’s “not prejudging anyone.”
“I’m not saying that I’ve got a secret list,” said the new mayor, who took office July 1.
In a departure from his predecessors, Garcetti has asked each general manager to reapply for his or her job and to submit a memo by the end of the week detailing:
- The mission of the department
- Past achievements under his or her leadership
- Future goals and plans for the department
He wants GMs – including the police and fire chiefs – to focus on four areas:
- Economic development and job creation
- Increased efficiency through the use of improved technology
- Improved customer service
- Creation of a more sustainable and livable city
“He’s really looking at us to turn it up a notch,” said Planning Department director Michael LoGrande.
LoGrande contrasted Garcetti’s approach with that of his predecessor, former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
“Its definitely a change of pace and a different tempo,” he said of Garcetti. “One of the differences is that he wants a true look into city government to see how we can do our jobs better.”
During much of Villaraigosa’s two terms in office, L.A. faced deep deficits. Personnel Department general manager Maggie Whelan said the red ink had a big impact on how she did her job.
'Keeping our head above water'
“Most of us have focused on keeping our head above water, and keeping our departments running,” she said. “This is kind of a creative process that we are going through now.”
Garcetti said he has concerns with the operation of several city departments, including the Department of Water and Power, Fire Department and Recreation and Parks.
“Some of those concerns have been the result of cuts we have made,” he said. “So it's not just an issue of leadership. It’s a combination of resources and leadership.”
Garcetti said he wants city managers to establish numerical goals for their departments.
“If we are going to try to reduce unemployment – by how much? If we are going to try to reduce traffic times – by how much?”
The mayor said he intends to meet individually with each general manager and decide whom to keep over the next couple of months. With some exceptions, the city council can override the mayor with a two-thirds vote.
“I think members of the city council would be deferential to the mayor's decisions,” said Ed Johnson, spokesman for City Council President Herb Wesson. “The mayor should have the opportunity to have his own team."
It should be noted that the police chief serves five-year terms, subject to renewal by the police commission. The mayor appoints the commission. A vote by two-thirds of the city council may also remove the chief. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, however, remains popular with both Garcetti and the council.
Like many GMs, LoGrande is focusing on his memo to the mayor.
Asked if the memo was finished, the planning director smiled.
“No. But I did spend some time on it this weekend.”