Bass invites Garcetti staff to stay on through April

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Karen Bass has invited all employees in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office to stay in their jobs until April, according to a letter last week — an atypical move meant to stabilize the ship in an unusually short transition period.

New mayors regularly retain some staff from the previous administration, especially during the first few months of their administration, even as they appoint new deputy mayors and consider which directors-general to retain. But extending a package deal is unusual.

Though deputy mayors and other high-level officials were included in the invitation, Bass spokesman Zach Seidl said the new mayor is likely to fill many of those high-level positions with her own people well before April. He added that Bass is expected to appoint her chief of staff shortly, with several other high-profile names to follow.

“To maintain stability in the city government during this unprecedented three-week transition, the mayor-elect has asked staff to be available to continue working to ensure essential services continue,” Seidl said.

Bass faces a tighter schedule than her two most recent predecessors, both of whom knew the voting results shortly after polling stations closed and took office about six weeks later. But Bass’s race was not called until eight days after the election, as she was due to take office some 3½ weeks later.

The shorter window is an unintended by-product of the shift in voting methods: Angelenos has increasingly used mail-in ballots in recent years, which take longer to process and count.

The mayor-elect’s term of office officially begins December 12, although Bass may be sworn in on December 11.

“I am offering all active staff currently serving in the Mayor’s Office an opportunity of continued employment through April 22, 2023. This employment is optional and at will, and the Mayor’s Office reserves the right to terminate the employment of any person at any time resign,” Bass wrote in the Nov. 22 letter, adding that current employees could audit for permanent positions during the transition period.

Attached to Bass’ memo to employees was a lengthy letter from Garcetti, who lavished praise on the new mayor and called her decision to offer the four-month employment buffer an expression of her values ​​as someone “who recognizes the good work of other public employees.” ”

Garcetti also thanked Bass for “reassuring employees and their families that they will pay their bills, get their healthcare, and have a chance to pursue their careers just before the holidays.”

The two-term mayor declined to comment during this year’s mayoral race, but he appeared to support Bass retrospectively in his letter, saying he was “filled with great joy, optimism and relief” when the election was called for Bass .

“I can now confess that about 11 years ago I encouraged Karen to run for mayor in the 2013 election. …And when she said she wasn’t running, I decided to throw my hat in the ring and the rest, as they say, is history,” Garcetti wrote, nodding a nod to his election for mayor that year.

Several city officials said there was great concern about the short time between this year’s election and the inauguration. The Mayor’s Office has prepared briefings for Bass covering issues including advocacy priorities and fundamental processes such as: B. How the mayor signs a motion when it is submitted by the city council.

“In my experience, some members of the outgoing team remain with the new team,” said retired city official Rich Llewellyn, who served as Garcetti’s interim director in 2013. Llewellyn characterized the blanket offer of continued – albeit temporary – employment for all staff as somewhat unusual, but said he thinks it could be a beneficial move that will provide more continuity as Bass builds her team.

“People’s philosophies don’t usually differ dramatically” because the post is ostensibly a nonpartisan position mostly held by Democrats, Llewellyn said.

But Bass’ letter could also signal to critics that she is open — at least in the short term — to continued city policies being carried out by Garcetti, potentially frustrating campaigners who want immediate changes when it comes to homelessness or transportation.

Deputy mayors are particularly visible roles, serving as the public face of administration at events and, in some cases, acting as a liaison with city unions.

The latest public personnel list for Garcetti’s office lists seven deputy mayors, including Jose “Che” Ramirez, who works on homelessness policy. Over the past year, several of Garcetti’s longtime deputy mayors have left the company, including Jeff Gorell, former deputy mayor for public safety, and Nina Hachigian, former deputy mayor for international affairs.

A senior Garcetti official, who received the letter but asked not to be named, said several top employees had interviews or had job prospects and did not expect to stay. This person added that Bass’ invitation was a relief to lower-level officials.

“It was reassuring for middle and junior staff,” the official said. “You would be smart to do it. There is a lot of institutional knowledge and it is a very short transition period.”

Bass, who officially declared victory a little less than two weeks ago, has been relatively cautious about her transition plans. Bass campaign director Jenny Delwood was one of the key people in the transition effort, along with campaign policy director Joey Freeman, according to several people with knowledge of the situation. But the mayor-elect has yet to publicly announce members of her transition team.

Those announcements from the transition team will come this week, and a public job portal will also be released shortly, according to Seidl.

Garcetti and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa both took office ahead of a shift in the city’s election calendar, with their elections taking place in late May before taking office on July 1.

Garcetti publicly announced Llewellyn as his interim director about 10 days after his election and about a month before taking office in 2013 for a “back-to-basics” audio tour.

Eight years earlier, Villaraigosa took a very different path. Nine days after declaring victory in 2005, he announced an 81-strong transition team peppered with local leaders to set up his new government.

But Villaraigosa’s predecessor, Mayor James K. Hahn, faced a similarly narrow turnaround in 2001 – taking office less than a month after his election, thanks to a June election schedule of that year. Hahn appointed his interim director and new chief of staff in the days immediately following his election.

Bass has repeatedly said she will declare a homelessness emergency on her first day in office, previously identifying large homeless camps as her initial focus.

Since declaring victory, Bass has also met with members of the city council “to ensure the city is ready to prioritize its top priorities on day one to get homeless Angelenos indoors immediately and make Los Angeles safer and more affordable.” to do,” Seidl said.

Times contributors James Rainey and Dakota Smith contributed to this report. Bass invites Garcetti staff to stay on through April

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