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Villaraigosa Names Transition Team Head

Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Antonio Villaraigosa announced Monday that the woman who ran former Mayor Richard Riordan’s City Hall staff will head his transition office.

The announcement came as Villaraigosa’s landslide victory over Mayor James K. Hahn last week continued to attract nationwide attention -- he appears on the cover of this week’s Newsweek magazine under the heading “Latino Power.”

Robin Kramer, 51, has a wealth of experience in Los Angeles city government and has also worked many years for private foundations.

She moved into a 15th-floor office in City Hall on Monday afternoon where the transition team will be located and said she plans to work 15-hour days between now and July 1, laying the framework for the Villaraigosa administration.

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“This is both an art and a science,” Kramer said.

Among her primary responsibilities will be figuring out how to sort through resumes pouring in from around the nation. Villaraigosa will be hiring scores of aides to run his mayoral office. He also has the authority to appoint nearly 300 commissioners and about 30 of the city’s department heads.

Kramer said the mayor’s office first must have the right structure and then must find the right people to work there: “very smart, capable people, on the bus, driving the same way.”

Kramer has spoken with Tim McOsker, Hahn’s chief of staff, about the transition, according to Hahn aides. On Monday, Hahn and Villaraigosa saw each other at a news conference to unveil plans for the Grand Avenue development. Hahn aides said the mayor pledged to do everything he could to ensure a smooth transition.

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Kramer’s admirers say that her experience and reputation make her a wise choice to help Villaraigosa with the daunting task of assembling an administration.

A former public relations executive, she served as chief deputy to former City Councilman Richard Alatorre, who said she is “well-organized, methodical and talented.”

“She understands government,” he said.

Riordan hired her in 1993 as a deputy mayor for community and legislative affairs. Her responsibilities included helping to heal fractured relations between the mayor and City Council. One observer dubbed her “the Miss Manners of City Hall.”

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She later was named chief of staff, leaving in 1998 to become a senior fellow at the California Community Foundation. Most recently, she worked for philanthropist Eli Broad’s foundation.

Kramer said Monday that she is studying how other cities have managed transitions between administrations.

The city may pay for the transition through a special fund that council members could vote to create as soon as today. It would allow for a total of $200,000 in contributions, with individual donations limited to $10,000.


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