Doris (Dodo) Meyer will be replaced as Mayor Tom Bradley's longtime liaison to the San Fernando Valley as part of a shake-up intended to "bring in new blood and new energy," said Deputy Mayor Mark Fabiani.
Meyer, 65, will be replaced June 1 in the post she has held for 17 years by Richard Alarcon, 36, a lifelong Valley resident who called his appointment a "symbolic statement that we're not trying to preserve today, but we are looking toward tomorrow." Alarcon said Wednesday that he intends to use the position to give the Valley's growing ethnic groups fresh access to City Hall. The change was announced Tuesday while Bradley was in the Far East on a trade development trip. Also announced were changes of liaisons who served as Bradley's primary contacts with constituents in Hollywood, South-Central and West Los Angeles.
Fabiani downplayed the significance of Alarcon's Latino background but conceded "it adds to the mayor's reach. It'll enable him to deal with changes in the Valley."
Meyer, who moved from Encino to Santa Monica several years ago, became a virtual institution during her tenure and was often referred to as the Mayor of the Valley. Her new assignment will be to work on special projects as part of the mayor's downtown staff. Among other Valley projects she said she expects to continue to pursue will be developing the ArtsPark in the Sepulveda Basin.
Meyer said she was pleased with her new assignment. "It's a new opportunity. You can get stale after 17 years even if you are the Mayor of the Valley.
"Certainly, I will be a voice downtown yelling for the Valley. I see the changes as advantageous to the Valley. Now it has two voices in the mayor's office: Richard in the Valley and me downtown."
Alarcon has been a mid-level analyst in the mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning for the past three years, working on gangs and graffiti problems. His current pay is about $42,000, he said. Alarcon said his new salary had not been worked out and that he had "not been fully briefed" by the mayor's office about what he would be doing in the new job. Meyer was earning $56,104.
In his new post, Alarcon said he sees a chance to empower minority groups.
"I'm talking about access," Alarcon said during an interview Tuesday. "Groups complain about it, and some rightfully so, and I want to change that. Certainly ethnic groups are among those complaining."
Alarcon said he was unfamiliar with the land-use matters that are the meat-and-potato issues of the Valley's western and hillside communities.
"That's not my forte, but if I'm going to be effective I must be brought up to speed on these issues," he said.
Fabiani said Alarcon will be "the mayor's eyes and ears in the Valley. The biggest qualification for the job is to be able to get out of the office and get in touch with people and let the mayor know what's happening," he said.
Councilman Hal Bernson said he will miss Meyer but had little to say about Alarcon, whom he battled with in recent years over Bernson's efforts to clean up a decrepit complex of apartments in the Bryant-Vanalden area of Northridge inhabited by Latino immigrants. At the time, Alarcon was president of the Valley chapter of the Mexican American Political Assn., a group critical of Bernson's campaign.
"I think the mayor's trying to change his image and that's the point of all this," Bernson said. "It looks like they've picked a Hispanic because of the changing population base."
Aides in other Valley-based council offices said they were surprised by Meyer's departure. "She was the Valley," said one aide.
Alarcon lives in Sepulveda with his wife, Corine, an insurance agent. He has four children. He has been a city employee for eight years. He worked in the mayor's office briefly in the early 1980s, was an analyst in the personnel department and moved back to the mayor's Office of Criminal Justice Planning. In 1989, he took a leave from his City Hall duties to coordinate the mayor's reelection campaign in the Valley.
In the other job shifts announced by the mayor, South-Central coordinator Tavis Smiley will be replaced by Gary Boze, 30. Lily Lee, 25, will succeed Hollywood coordinator Lloyd Raikes. West Los Angeles coordinator Valerie Fields will be replaced by Bradley deputy press secretary Lydia Shane, 32.