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Villaraigosa Addresses Council From His New Vantage Point

Times Staff Writers

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa paid his first visit Friday to City Council chambers since he won a landslide election against Mayor James K. Hahn.

The councilman, who will leave his 14th District council seat two years early, strode into the ornate hall fashionably late, about 11:15 a.m., as his colleagues gathered around him and clapped.

He shook hands, whopped council members on the back and even puckered his lips and planted a light kiss on the cheek of Councilwoman Janice Hahn, a frequent critic and the sister of the defeated mayor.

“It doesn’t matter if you voted for me or not,” he declared during a brief speech. “I understand that the role of mayor ... is to unite us,” he said, concluding that he feels blessed.

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City officials -- some perhaps anxious about whether they will keep their jobs -- swirled around him, shaking his hand, congratulating him and wishing him well.

Villaraigosa’s transition team, which is to set up Monday on the 15th floor of City Hall, will have some jobs to fill right away.

Public Works Board member Ellen Stein abruptly retired Friday from her $107,000-a-year position, creating an opening for one of the most coveted commission seats at City Hall.

Stein announced her plans to leave on Wednesday, the day after the election, but did not return calls to explain why.

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Hahn’s office declined to release her letter of resignation.

Stein is the wife of Ted Stein, the controversial figure who resigned as president of the city Airport Commission last year after he came under fire for contracting practices at the airport.

In addition, Gary Mattingly said Friday he plans to retire in mid-June as general manager of the Department of Fire and Police Pensions.

He said the decision is tied to his completion of 38 years with the city, not to the change of administrations.

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The department’s board has picked assistant general manager Mike Perez to take over as department head, but that appointment is subject to confirmation by the mayor and council.

Some officials said the confirmation might be delayed until Villaraigosa takes office.

Dominick Rubalcava, president of the Department of Water and Power Commission, said he would follow the protocol of turning in his resignation effective July 1 or on the date that Villaraigosa appoints a replacement.

But before that happens, the DWP Commission is moving quickly to take care of some unfinished business while the current administration is still in place.

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The panel has scheduled a special meeting for Tuesday at which it plans to approve a long-discussed policy that would have the agency generate 20% of its energy from renewable sources, including solar, wind and geothermal power, by 2017.

The goal has been one of Hahn’s top priorities, although Villaraigosa has promised to reach the 20% goal by 2010.

The proposed policy would allow the agency to levy a surcharge to cover some of the cost of renewable energy if it proved much more expensive than coal or gas.

“We’ve got to be ecologically responsible,” Rubalcava said.

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