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Top L.A. City Council policy advisor to retire

Los Angeles City Council

A key advisor to Los Angeles lawmakers announced Tuesday that he plans to retire after working in city government for nearly 30 years.

Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller has been the top policy advisor to the Los Angeles City Council for nearly a decade. In recent years, Miller has advised the council on an array of issues, including tax breaks for downtown hotels, negotiations for an NFL stadium and a possible tax increase to fix Los Angeles roads and sidewalks.

"There's not one policy that he hasn't touched," said Fernando Guerra, director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University. But "he was never one that wanted to take credit."

In a letter Tuesday to the City Council, Miller wrote that he had decided "it is time to move on to explore other interests and spend more time with my spouse and family." His last day will be Aug. 29.

Miller did not immediately return a call Tuesday seeking additional comment. In a statement, City Council President Herb Wesson called him "a wise counselor and a valuable resource to all of the council members" who would be missed.

Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs at Cal State Los Angeles, said the legislative analyst plays an important and extraordinary role helping deliver information to the council. That analysis can be crucial as the council weighs complicated decisions about development deals and city policies.

Some observers say the office has important limitations. Earlier this month, the Los Angeles 2020 Commission recommended creating a new office to give Angelenos an "honest score card" on how the city spends taxpayer money. Commission Co-chairman Austin Beutner questioned the independence of the chief legislative analyst, who is hired by the City Council, among other city offices that track spending and performance.

Guerra said the office isn't supposed to be independent. "They work to make the City Council work," he said. "A council member envisions a machine. But the CLA puts in all the gears and screws and bolts that make that machine work."

Miller began working for the city in 1985. In 1998, he became the executive officer for the chief legislative analyst, and wasoffered the top jobin 2005 after filling the position on an interim basis. In his letter, Miller said he had worked with five mayors and 57 council members during his career.

He said city leaders had made progress investing in affordable housing, helped transform the city through economic development and made difficult decisions to survive the economic downturn.

"There is, however, much still to be done and I will miss working with you to make those things happen," he wrote.

emily.alpert@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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