New CAO powers get final OK

first_imgUnder the plan, Janssen will oversee all 39 departments except the sheriff, district attorney, assessor, fire department, county counsel, auditor and executive office. But a “nonintrusion” clause in the ordinance drew controversy for preventing any supervisor or his or her staff from directly ordering department heads to take certain actions. Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said Janssen’s office did not take action last year after it received a letter revealing that overcrowding at the Coroner’s Office had gotten so bad, bodies had to be stacked. “It wasn’t until I summoned the coroner before us that we finally got the issue resolved,” Antonovich said. “If the CAO didn’t take a leadership role in that situation, why would we expect a different reaction under this proposal?” But Janssen said such incidents have been isolated. Overriding concerns about bogging down Los Angeles County in bureaucracy, the Board of Supervisors gave final approval Tuesday to an interim ordinance that gives the CAO more power. After the 3-1 vote, Chief Administrative Officer David Janssen will now oversee most county departments and will be given expanded authority to hire and fire department heads. The plan allows Janssen to interview and select proposed department heads, or recommend ones for termination. The board will vote whether to accept or reject those recommendations. If voters approve a proposed charter amendment, which could go on the ballot in June 2008, the ordinance will become permanent and the CAO will have the power to hire and fire department heads without board approval. “Every person that lives in a city in California lives with divided responsibilities between the executive and administrative branches,” Janssen said. “Either you have an elected mayor or a strong city manager. It appears to work very well. No one is cut out of the process.” But La Crescenta resident Robert Thomas expressed concerned about the change. “I don’t want you to create a buffer zone … ,” he said. “I think it’s very significant that I can come to you regarding issues concerning unincorporated areas. And this buffer zone will cost millions of dollars, money the unincorporated area needs.” In May, Janssen is expected to outline how much it will cost to add deputy CAOs and other staffers to his 512-employee office. The deputy CAOs will oversee clusters of departments. Grace Andrus, president of the Crescenta Valley Town Council, said adding another level of bureaucracy will not improve services in unincorporated areas. “You are elected to represent the people,” Andrus said. “Don’t just pass the buck.” [email protected] (213) 974-8985160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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