Mayor Eric Garcetti announced today his most interesting appointments so far. Kevin James, the conservative candidate in the mayoral primary who lost then joined liberal Team Garcetti, gets one of five plum spots on the Board of Public Works. That is a powerful board within the City Hall bureaucracy that oversees some key city services, but more significantly is the only board that pays a full-time salary, about $134,000 a year. Other city commissioners serve essentially as volunteers. James finished third in the primary for mayor after being seen as the only real alternative to Garcetti and Wendy Greuel for Republicans and other conservatives. James leveled harsh criticism at Garcetti during the race then fully embraced him in the runoff. His positions on illegal immigration and other issues while a right-wing talk show host on AM radio proved to be controversial with many voters.
In addition to James, Garcetti also named former Villaraigosa deputy mayor Matt Szabo, who lost his bid to succeed Garcetti as the councilman from the 13th district, to the public works board. Ex-assemblyman Mike Davis and veteran political aides Monica Rodriguez and Barbara Romero round out the new board. They have to be confirmed by the city council. Bios below.
The bigger appointment from Garcetti's point of view is former Pasadena mayor Rick Cole in the newly created position of Deputy Mayor of Budget and Innovation. Cole has been the city manager of Azusa and Ventura and writes a lot on the subject of cities and urban administration. "He's someone with a proven ability to both conceive of innovative solutions and deliver results," Garcetti said in a statement. "He will be a critical asset to my agenda of balancing the budget and making City Hall work better."
Here's the full release with bios.
Mayor Eric Garcetti today announced the appointment of Rick Cole as Deputy Mayor of Budget and Innovation and that he is appointing Mike Davis, Kevin James, Monica Rodriguez, Barbara Romero, and Matt Szabo as Commissioners of the Board of Public Works.
"I'm excited to appoint Rick Cole as Deputy Mayor for Budget and Innovation," said Mayor Garcetti. "He's someone with a proven ability to both conceive of innovative solutions and deliver results. He will be a critical asset to my agenda of balancing the budget and making City Hall work better."
"The team Mayor Garcetti is putting together is laser-focused on the right drivers, not only to better serve the residents and businesses of Los Angeles but also to be a model for revitalizing public service," said Cole. "I share his passion for achieving financial sustainability -- and being accountable for delivering tangible results worthy of a great city."
Cole most recently served as the interim chief operating officer to the Local Government Commission, a non-profit based in Sacramento. He has also served as Mayor of Pasadena and City Manager for the cities of Azusa and Ventura. His work to balance budgets, revitalize neighborhoods, and improve government operations are widely renowned.
As Deputy Mayor of Budget and Innovation, Cole will balance the city budget and develop and implement new tools and solutions to make government more cost-efficient, faster, and more responsive. He will oversee Mayor Garcetti's Chief Technology Officer, Chief Sustainability Officer, and Performance Management Unit. He will also oversee departments including the City Administrative Officer, the Office of Finance, the Information Technology Agency, Personnel, Employee Relations, the Los Angeles City Employees' Retirement System, and the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pensions.
Mayor Garcetti also announced his appointees to the Board of Public Works.
"Our Department of Public Works is a key priority of mine because it delivers core city services that make our neighborhoods work," said Mayor Garcetti. "I will collaborate closely with the Board to deliver more services for less money, improve customer service, and strengthen our infrastructure to improve life for L.A. families and attract businesses."
Former State Assemblymember Mike Davis represented the 48th District from 2006 to 2012 and served as Vice Chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus and Chair of the Select Committee on Rail Transportation. Prior to assuming office, he served as a Senior Deputy Supervisor for Los Angeles County Supervisor Yvonne Brathwaite Burke and as District Director for Congresswoman Maxine Waters during her tenure in both the California State Assembly and US Congress.
Kevin James is an attorney, radio host, and former candidate for Mayor of Los Angeles. James began his legal career at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher and later joined the United States Department of Justice to work as an Assistant United States Attorney in Los Angeles. James has spent many years donating his time and legal expertise to local charities serving neighborhoods throughout Los Angeles, including the AIDS Project Los Angeles, of which he was Co-Chair of the Board of Directors.
“I'm proud to be working with Mayor Garcetti to make sure taxpayers get their money's worth and the street maintenance and other public works they deserve," James said.
Monica Rodriguez is an executive for the California Association of Realtors (C.A.R.) where she is responsible for the strategic development and implementation of political fundraising and philanthropic housing initiatives, including a workforce housing trust fund to support affordable housing. She served as Community Affairs Manager for Mayor Richard Riordan, as an aide to Councilmembers Mike Hernandez and Richard Alarcon, and as Chief Deputy to School Board President Caprice Young.
"I am honored and look forward to working with Mayor Garcetti and my colleagues to lead a Department of Public Works that is customer service oriented and results driven," said Rodriguez. "We can make a real difference identifying new and innovative ways to serve Angelenos with expert delivery of the basics.”
Barbara Romero is Chief of Urban Projects and the Watershed Planning Division for the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority. In her tenure at MRCA, Romero was instrumental in the development of the 10-acre Vista Hermosa Park, the first natural park in downtown Los Angeles. In addition, Romero is a member of the Los Angeles Planning Commission and served as a Field Deputy for State Senator Richard Polanco, a Team Leader for Los Angeles Conservation Corps (LACC), and a Community Organizer for the Roosevelt High School Healthy Start Program.
"By focusing on sustainability and efficiency, Mayor Garcetti and I aim to improve our neighborhoods and our city's bottom line so our kids can enjoy a healthier and more prosperous Los Angeles," said Romero.
Matt Szabo was Deputy Mayor and Deputy Chief of Staff to former Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa where he focused on budget and financial policy, labor relations, and legislative affairs. He has also served as the City Council representative to former Mayor Richard Riordan, legislative director to City Councilwoman Wendy Greuel, and press secretary for City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo.
“I am grateful for the opportunity to continue my service to the people of Los Angeles," said Szabo. "Public works is the bread and butter of city service and central to Mayor Garcetti's back-to-basics agenda. I'm committed to helping this administration do the basics better and will work hard everyday to ensure efficient, effective delivery of city services to create healthier neighborhoods for families and businesses."
The Board of Public Works Commissioners are the chief administrators of the Department of Public Works which plans and executes public projects including street and streetlight maintenance, graffiti removal, curbside garbage collection, and the design and operation of infrastructure projects ranging from bridges to wastewater treatment plants.
Board of Public Works Commissioners require City Council confirmation.
LA Observed photo of James and Garcetti during the 2013 mayoral runoff campaign