The Wednesday morning after the election was a reawakening for the city.
I normally would have grabbed the Times and the News, poured a bowl of Cheerios and settled down to my morning ritual of consuming the latest local developments between mouthfuls of those little toasted Os (for the record, General Foods is not one of my clients).
However, the printed media was not going to cut it that morning; only the internet would do. When it comes to election results, you can’t beat electrons.
It was a brand new day with the potential of offering a new beginning.
Two of the most important offices of the city – mayor and controller – would soon be filled by competent individuals.
There is no guarantee Eric Garcetti and Ron Galperin will work any miracles and put the city back on track, but smart people usually find a way to move things in the right direction.
Here are my words of advice to them:
In most organizations, the CEO and CFO work as a team. Could you imagine the chaos if it were otherwise? But that’s what we have had in Los Angeles, and it needs to change.
Eric Garcetti pledged to make the general managers re-apply for their jobs. It would be a good idea if he involved Galperin in the process. The city controller-elect has a wealth of private sector experience that could be helpful in evaluating the potential of the managers.
Likewise, Galperin should involve Garcetti in establishing audit priorities. Between Garcetti’s knowledge of the city’s bureaucracy and Galperin’s analytical abilities, there is a better chance of targeting areas with the highest potential of value for the audit hours.
Communication was not the strong point of the last administration. Neither Villaraigosa nor Greuel were effective at educating the public about the issues. Sound bites and press releases without elaboration do little to raise awareness or motivate citizens to sound off to their respective council members. Garcetti in particular should borrow a page from Kevin James’ play book. During the campaign, James said he would have conducted regular public outreach through the media if he were elected. What better way to explain what the barriers are to implementing sound public policy? Why should the public have to wait for the City Council to wheel and deal behind closed doors and then face a fait accompli for whatever decisions are made?
The LAUSD was a hot topic during the campaign. My advice to Garcetti – saving the city is a full-time job. Avoid the temptation to involve yourself in the schools, especially when the power rests with the school board. Keep a dialog with the board and provide moral support to activist groups led by parents, but do not take a hands on approach. If the city fails, so will the schools.
The future of the city will largely depend on labor negotiations. Neither Garcetti nor Galperin sold their souls to the public unions; both won impressive victories regardless. Stand firm and fight for the best deal for the citizens. You have the political capital. The most important role Galperin can play in this process is through disclosure of the financial consequences of various wage and benefit scenarios. The public must know what the ramifications are of possible deals before they are cut.
I look forward to following our new officials as they navigate through treacherous rapids in order to reach calm waters.
My best wishes to both of them.