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L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa bids top advisors farewell, promotes anti-gang czar in staff shake-up [Updated]

August 27, 2009 | 12:10 pm


Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced a major shake-up of his administration this morning, bidding farewell to two high-level advisors and elevating his anti-gang czar to the top policy post.

Villaraigosa announced the departure of Chief of Staff Robin Kramer, who has run the mayor’s shop since he took office in 2005. Replacing her will be the Rev. Jeff Carr, who has won praise for staging the Summer Night Lights recreation program in high-crime neighborhoods.

Mayor2 Kramer, who also worked for former Mayor Richard Riordan, informed the mayor two months ago that she planned to leave, officials said.

Also leaving is Dan Grunfeld, who spent the last two years as Villaraigosa’s No. 2 policy advisor. Grunfeld, who was one of two deputy chiefs of staff, plans to work for a private law firm.

The mayor also brought on Jay Carson, the spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. Carson has been working for billionaire Steve Bing, whose company hopes to develop a factory for the Italian rail car company AnsaldoBreda in downtown Los Angeles. The city’s effort to complete that deal has not been consummated.

Villaraigosa said Carson would recuse himself on matters involving his former employer.

Villaraigosa added that the city’s financial troubles — he and the City Council continue to grapple with a $530-million revenue shortfall — would “require new creative thinking.”

“We need this kind of leadership right now because we’re going to have to do more with less,” Villaraigosa said during his news conference at City Hall.

Supporters of the mayor have billed the shake-up as a way to invigorate his office two months into his second term, allowing him to focus more directly on top policy priorities such as schools, job creation and the environment. Some have complained privately that the mayor has moved too slowly in addressing the budget crisis and on filling policy positions.

After a yearlong search, Villaraigosa finally selected a new budget adviser, picking a onetime chief of staff to Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. [Updated at 3:45 p.m.: The budget adviser is Miguel Santana.] The mayor is also searching for a new in-house lawyer and a new deputy mayor for public safety — positions that are viewed as critical to finding replacements for a departing fire chief and police chief.

-- Phil Willon and David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall

Photo (top): Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa holds a press conference to announce the appointment of Jay Carson, left, as chief deputy mayor and Jeff Carr, right, as the mayor's chief of staff. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Photo (bottom): Jeff Carr speaks with reporters at a press conference as Jay Carson, right, looks on.  Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times