LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Mayor Eric Garcetti began his second week in office today by telling top city officials to reapply for their jobs.
Garcetti gathered nearly 40 of the city’s general managers and executive directors, including the fire chief, into a large meeting room to discuss their future with the city. Those summoned ran the gamut from City Administrative Office Miguel Santana to the general manager of the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument.
Just before the private meeting, Garcetti told reporters this will be the “most important meeting of my first month in office.”
“I think you have two times in office when you really make an impact — when you promise what you will do and when you hire the people who will do it,” he said.
Garcetti added that while he is not keeping a “secret list” of those he wants in or out of office, he expects he will need to replace a few of people he met with today.
“It will be unlikely that a hundred percent of the folks will return,” he said.
Garcetti is asking each department head to submit a “memo” describing how they would “jumpstart the economy,” make the city “more sustainable,” make use of technology and “create a culture of customer service.”
Garcetti said he will pay particular attention to the job performances of fire Chief Brian Cummings, Department of Water and Power General Manager Ron Nichols and Department of Recreation and Parks General Manager Jon Mukri, though he noted some of those department heads have also been dealing with the fallout of budget cuts.
The entire review process could take about 18 months, Garcetti said.
“I want ... people to have a sense of excitement. If they don’t have a sense of excitement about this place, then they probably shouldn’t be here,” he said.
”This is an opportunity for people — even those people who have accomplished great things — to ask, 'What is the next step in my life? How can we go even further by taking the department to the next level?’ If you’re not constantly reinventing, then you have what we have here, which is too many places in stasis.”
Garcetti complained that many of the city’s programs and methods of doing things are outdated. and he wants city officials “across the board” to be “thinking about being a cutting-edge city again.”
“I think Los Angeles was known for that,” he said. “Few people would be hard-pressed to say Los Angeles City Hall is now cutting edge.”
Even though the charter has, for a couple decades now, allowed the mayor to directly fire and hire department heads, Garcetti said he would be the first new mayor who, upon assuming office, is putting each department head on notice.
“You look at most chief executives, whether it’s at a business or a nonprofit — and certainly in government, the president or governor comes in and assesses his or her own cabinet and makes sure the right people are in place to lead” the departments that handle city services, he said.
Nearly all department heads answer directly to the mayor. The exceptions are the police chief and the Housing Authority president, but Garcetti said he still has indirect authority because he appoints the commissioners who hire them.