Friday, February 23, 2007

Lisa Sarno Gets Million Trees - So Who Does The Neighborhood Councils Get As New Head Of DONE?

Rumors that Lisa Sarno, temporary head of the city agency that is supposed to assist, but which has ended up over regulating, neighborhood councils, was not going to remain at DONE after a new General Manager is appointed, have turned out to be true.

Neighborhood Councils' interim head leaving post

RICK ORLOV, Staff Writer

LA Daily News

The embattled interim general manager of the Department of Neighborhood Councils is stepping down to take the job of managing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's ambitious effort to plant a million trees in Los Angeles.

Lisa Sarno has been at odds with several leaders in the neighborhood council movement, and the decision Tuesday was welcomed by the chairman of the Congress of Neighborhood Councils.

"It's nice to see the mayor has listened to us," said Brady Westwater, who also serves on the Downtown Neighborhood Council.

"This is a good move for him and for her. Lisa has tremendous organizational skills. That was never her problem. Her problem was her inability to work with us in the neighborhood councils."

Villaraigosa aides said he expects to nominate a successor within the next several weeks.

Ken Draper, editor of CityWatch, a newsletter about the neighborhood councils, said he believed it was a good move for Sarno and the department.

"Hopefully, it will pave the way for a new direction and new attitude from the department," Draper said. "Lisa was generating a lot of division within the neighborhood councils. I think, now, the city is capable of creating a new mood."

Criticism of Sarno began almost from the moment she was named as interim general manager to replace Greg Nelson, who retired.

Nelson worked on the original plans to develop neighborhood councils and was seen as a tireless advocate on their behalf.

In recent months, Sarno had been criticized for her administration of the department, including a new requirement on how the neighborhood councils handle their money and hold their elections...

City Hall rumor also says the new GM will be appointed early next week - possibly as early as Monday and that the final choice has come down between two candidates, one of whom has a long history of supporting and working with neighborhood councils and the other of whom is a newcomer to any involvement with NC's and who has voiced support of giving DONE more power over NC's.

The first candidate is also rumored to have been the clear winner at both interview panels, giving NC's hope the Mayor will appoint a person who will make it possible for the NC's to closely work with his office in tackling the city's many problems.

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