Villaraigosa's chief of staff says he will step down [Updated]
Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's chief of staff, Jeff Carr, announced Wednesday that he is stepping down from his post, the latest sign of turbulence to hit the mayor’s office during his second term.
Carr, who has held the post since 2009, is expected to leave later this summer. Shortly before noon, Carr held a meeting to inform members of Villaraigosa’s staff that he was leaving.
Carr, 47, was hired with much fanfare two years ago, with supporters of Villaraigosa promising that a reshuffling of the executive ranks would make the office more effective. Those moves came after months of criticism that the mayor lacked focus and follow-through.
That move was followed by more instability.
Carson left after one year.
Five months after Carr and Carson were named, Villaraigosa attempted another reboot, hiring former investment banker Austin Beutner as his "jobs czar," giving him the formal title of first deputy mayor. Beutner stayed 15 months, announcing in April that he was exploring a run for mayor when Villaraigosa is termed out of office in 2013.
At least two high-level members of Beutner's business team, located on the 13th floor of City Hall, stayed less than a year.
[Updated at 1:41 p.m. July 6: Carr's rise in the mayor’s office had been rapid. An ordained minister with experience directing youth programs for low-income children, he was tapped in 2007 to become the mayor's "gang czar," working to revamp programs in neighborhoods hardest hit by crime.
Carr said Wednesday he had no job lined up but expected to return to the nonprofit sector. He downplayed the notion that there had been instability in the Villaraigosa circle, noting that he had been a deputy mayor for two years before being elevated to chief of staff.
“There are always transitions in any administration. People come and go, in and out of government,” he said. “Some of that’s good.”
During his tenure, Carr had managed scores of mayor staffers and a handful of department heads, as well as worked with the mayor to confront a major budget crisis. Reviews of that work have been mixed.
In a statement, Villaraigosa said he was “incredibly grateful” to Carr and thanked him for providing “dedicated and tireless leadership,” particularly on the creation of the Summer Night Lights youth recreation program.
But one source close to the mayor said Villaraigosa had been seeking a change at the top and felt it was time to bring “greater cohesion” to his management team.
“The mayor's got two years left. He's got a lot of stuff he wants to do,” the source said. “It just felt like there's enough time left to get the house in working order better, to finish strong.”
A second person familiar with the departure said that late last week members of Villaraigosa’s staff went to Carr to express concerns about his management style. That person, like the first source, refused to be named, saying the mayor had not provided the authorization to discuss the staffing changes.
Carr denied that such an incident occurred and said Villaraigosa was happy with his performance. He said summer was a good time to leave because City Hall slows down during that period.
“I was always probably a short-term government guy, given my background and experience,” he said.]
-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall
Photo: Jeff Carr at City Hall in downtown Los Angeles on Oct 14, 2010. Carr announced Wednesday he will step down as Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's chief of staff. Credit: Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times