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Longtime Villaraigosa advisor to step down at City Hall

July 30, 2010 |  3:14 pm
One of Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s most veteran advisors is stepping down, marking another departure from his administration.

Deputy Chief of Staff Jimmy Blackman, who oversees the mayor’s schedule and his interactions with other politicians and government agencies, has notified Villaraigosa that his last day will be Aug. 13.

The departure is the latest in an administration that has been dramatically reshaped over the last year. Since August 2009, Villaraigosa has hired investment banker Austin Beutner to be his “jobs czar,” a post that has authority over roughly a dozen city agencies. The mayor elevated “gang czar” Jeff Carr to be his chief of staff, created the post of chief deputy mayor for Jay Carson and elevated spokesman Matt Szabo to a position with more involvement in the city budget.

Blackman said Friday he has not lined up another job at this point. “I will always remain loyal to Mayor Villaraigosa,” Blackman wrote in prepared statement to The Times, “and proud of our accomplishments over the years.”

As someone who dealt with the mayor’s schedule, Blackman also was one of the officials who helped arrange the mayor’s appearances at special events, such as Dodgers and Lakers games. Villaraigosa’s free events are now the subject of an investigation by the city Ethics Commission and an inquiry by Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley into whether free entry to games and concerts should have been disclosed as gifts.
Villaraigosa said he was performing official duties at those events and did not have to consider the free tickets as gifts under state law. Asked about the controversy, Blackman said in an e-mail: “I am not a part of any inquiry into this issue, nobody has asked to speak with me about it, and it has absolutely nothing to do with my departure.”

Blackman was one of the four people who originally made up Villaraigosa’s E-Team, or executive team. The other three -- Chief of Staff Robin Kramer, Deputy Chief of Staff Marcus Allen and Senior Counsel Thomas Saenz -- have already left.

Blackman worked for Villaraigosa for 12 of the last 13 years, including during the mayor's stints in the state Assembly and on the Los Angeles City Council.

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall