Several criticisms of Mayor Eric Garcetti and his office have been toned down or removed from the final version of a report on Los Angeles’ emergency response to the COVID-19 crisis, analysis by The Times shows.
The 220-page final report, prepared for the city by a $150,000 outside firm, found that there was never a formal discussion of who was in charge of the emergency operation, a misstep that led to a breakdown in coordination and communication conducted among the municipal offices. The earlier draft version of the report came to the same conclusion.
At the same time, both reports praise Garcetti, who “has acted swiftly and decisively on many fronts, often with innovative initiatives to protect the city and its people.” The response from city officials was described as “quick” and “cordial.”
But the final report clears up several criticisms noted in the draft, and in some cases eliminates phrases that were unflattering to the mayor’s office.
For example, the final report removed a reference to how several department heads who attended Garcetti’s weekly “cabinet meetings” told researchers that the meetings “often felt more like dictations than discussions.”
It also removed a sentence noting that there had been complaints from Emergency Management (EMD) staff that their work assignments were “politically motivated”.
The emergency operations activation after-action report was released publicly last week and approved by the municipal emergency services. The board forwarded the report to the city council without discussion.
The city hired CPARS Consulting Inc. to review the city’s emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help prepare for the next disaster. According to the report, the researchers conducted 31 group interviews with 153 city employees and representatives from partner agencies.
The Times last year reviewed the non-public draft report, which contained errors, an EMD spokesman said at the time. Nick Lowe, president and chief executive of CPARS Consulting, said last year that the final version was complete and that the company “stands by the integrity of each iteration of the report at the time it was prepared.”
The review period covered January 2020 to April 2021 and focused only on the city’s emergency management system, which includes the “structures in place to support and enable field operations, programs and services.”
For example, the report didn’t focus on the city’s immunization efforts.
In the final report, the “office of mayor” is deleted or changed in several cases. In one instance, the draft report stated that the EMD and its mission “were misunderstood by other departments, particularly the mayor’s office.” The final report states that other “city offices, departments, agencies and offices” misunderstood the EMD.
Likewise, the draft report states that “Mayor’s Office staff have expressed that they view EMD as polluted by process and bureaucracy, unresponsive, and lacking in creative solutions.” The final report says only that “many in senior positions” see EMD that way.
In several cases, paragraphs were added to the final report to counter criticism of the earlier draft.
Both reports note that the EMD said the mayor himself is not as involved in emergency preparedness as his predecessors.
The final version added that “this was not a sentiment shared by the mayor’s office, which felt that the mayor had been adequately involved in emergency preparedness given the other demands of his position and that the mayor’s office did much.” had happened.”
“Possibly the limited visibility of the mayor’s emergency preparedness measures influenced EMD’s perspective,” the final report reads.
CPARS Consulting’s Lowe said little was changed in the final report in terms of the “results and substantive analysis.”
He acknowledged that language was softened in parts of the final version and called the development of such reports a “balancing act”.
“You want the language to be direct and reflect the seriousness of the situation and also be strong enough to grab the attention of the right people who are responsible for making change happen,” Lowe said. “We don’t want these reviews to be swept under the rug. At the same time, the results must be communicated in a way that keeps those who can effect change receptive to the report’s findings and motivated to take action.”
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In all, more than 1,300 changes were made to the draft reports, many of them minor changes, according to The Times analysis of both drafts.
Lowe said requests for edits were submitted to him by the mayor’s office and other departments and agencies. “CPARS then autonomously decided on each application on a case-by-case basis,” he said.
Harrison Wollman, a spokesman for Garcetti, said the mayor made the decision to act decisively at the start of the pandemic.
“He chose to make Los Angeles one of the first cities in America to offer free testing, require masks, and build mega vaccination centers,” Wollman said. “Every crisis is an opportunity to learn lessons for the future, and the mayor knows this experience has prepared the city to better handle future emergencies.”
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-07-30/final-report-on-l-a-s-emergency-covid-19-response-softens-criticisms-of-garcetti-and-his-office Final report on L.A.’s emergency COVID-19 response softens criticism of Garcetti