THE FIGHT FOR GOOD GOVERNMENT IN LOS ANGELES — ROUND TWO
For the past 19 years, Angelenos have been misled, hoodwinked, and cheated. It all began with the election of Mayor Richard J. Riordan. He knew before he took the Oath of Office that the City’s “weak mayor” Charter wouldn’t let him implement his Managers Must Manage plan. He lied. He was sworn in. And he quickly began trashing the Charter he’d promised to uphold.
Riordan’s first action was to degrade the Board of Civil Service Commissioners. In doing that, he violated Charter Section 101, which vested the Board with rule-making power. Moreover, he ignored four court decisions cited in that Section that amplified the Board’s rule-making power.
Riordan also trampled Charter Section 102, which required that all rule changes be printed for distribution by the Board, and published in the official paper. Section 102 also required that the public be given 30 days to obtain copies of all such changes before they become effective.
And when he downsized the Board and usurped its powers, Mayor Riordan violated Charter Section 114. That Section provided that “the Board shall investigate the enforcement of this Article and its rules, and the conduct and action of the appointees in the classified civil service of this City.”
Obviously, Mayor Riordan was not greatly burdened by his promise to uphold the City Charter.
As a successful venture capitalist, he’d been openly critical of civil service. It was his view that a part-time Board could simply not hold department managers accountable.
Under the Riordan Paradigm, the Board would have no oversight responsibility. Department managers would be given more power; within limits, they’d be expected to operate their own agencies, and they’d be accountable only to the Mayor’s office.
For his first seven years in office, Mayor Riordan was busy setting up and defending his Managers Must Manage plan. Simultaneously, he was working to get a new City Charter approved by the voters. His hope was that the new Charter would look more like his plan, less like civil service.
Well, the City’s new Charter was approved by the voters on June 8, 1999. It would become effective on July 1, 2000. But to Riordan’s bitter disappointment, the new Charter retains an active, semi-independent Board of Civil Service Commissioners.
With one year left before he’d be termed out, Riordan insisted that the new Charter allows the City to ignore two Sections listed under the heading “PERSONNEL DEPARTMENT”: Section 540, Powers and Duties of the Department; and Section 541, Board of Civil Service Commissioners.
It may sound like a bad joke, but both of Boss Riordan’s successors, Mayor Hahn and Mayor Villaraigosa, embraced the New Paradigm! And like the Boss, they refused to explain how the people of Los Angeles benefit when the Charter the voters approved is trampled — when the City’s civil service system is routinely violated.
The current Mayor, Antonio R. Villaraigosa, has about one year left before he’s termed out. But before he leaves, he must be held to account for his seven-year record of corrupting the City’s civil service system. Villaraigosa has previously ignored questions that must now be answered:
— With the civil service system dismantled, who enforces the personnel-related provisions of the Charter, and the rules of the Board of Civil Service Commissioners?
— With the Board of Civil Service Commissioners degraded, who determines if new rules are needed, or existing rules need to be amended to comply with Federal regulations?
Contact this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.