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L.A. port executive moves to DWP

October 20, 2009 |  6:16 pm
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has hired former state Assemblyman Wally Knox to become one of its top executives, just one week after a deputy mayor became interim general manager.

Knox will join the nation’s largest municipally owned utility Nov. 2, becoming its director of external relations — a post similar to one he held for the last six months at the Port of Los Angeles.

A harbor department spokesman said Knox left the port to avoid concerns about his wife’s work representing the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 68. “His wife is an attorney with the port pilots, so you can see where there would be a perceived potential conflict, and he saw it as that,” said port spokesman Phillip Sanfield.

Knox’s wife, Beth Garfield, works for the law firm of Holguin, Garfield and Martinez. According to its website, her firm also represents other longshore union locals.

The DWP has been seeing a changeover in recent weeks. Deputy Mayor S. David Freeman began work last week as the utility’s interim general manager, replacing H. David Nahai.  Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has promised a nationwide search for Nahai’s replacement.

DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo said Knox would oversee the utility’s interactions with state and federal agencies, the city’s elected officials and neighborhood councils.

Knox was one of Villaraigosa’s appointees on the DWP five-member board until April, when he was tapped for the port post. Weeks later, Councilwoman Janice Hahn sought to block the port from creating a new $205,000-a-year position for Knox.

Despite Hahn’s protests, Knox continued to work as a temporary employee of the harbor department. His job at the port was scheduled to expire in December.

-- David Zahniser at L.A. City Hall
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