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CEO of huge L.A. County pension fund ousted amid tensions and questions

The chief executive of Los Angeles County’s massive pension fund has been ousted, following a closed-door meeting earlier this month.

The reason for termination of Lou Lazatin, who served as chief executive of the Los Angeles County Employees Retirement Assn., wasn’t announced publicly.

But her attorney said that she was “cut off at the knees” by male colleagues.

Steven Rice, chief counsel of the association, known as LACERA, declined to elaborate about the action.

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“The boards thank Ms. Lazatin for her service to LACERA and wish her well in her future endeavors,” according to a statement from Rice, who is leading the association in Lazatin’s absence. “Beyond the Boards’ action, it is LACERA’s policy not to comment further on personnel matters.”

Lazatin, a former hospital executive, had led the association since November. It has roughly 165,000 current and former county employees as members and pays out more than $3 billion annually in benefits to retirees.

LACERA has already launched a national search to replace Lazatin.

Hints of the tensions surrounding Lazatin first surfaced publicly in late May, when an agenda for a joint meeting of the association’s investment and retirement boards mentioned possible discipline or dismissal of the chief executive.

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Because personnel matters were discussed, it was a closed session. Details about the decision, including a breakdown of the roll-call vote, remain confidential.

However, Lazatin’s attorney, Mira Hashmall, said Friday that one disagreement involved Lazatin’s approval of travel expenses for some board members — and suggested that it was a pretense to mask conflict over other issues, including her gender.

“She was at the helm of an organization with a predominately male leadership team,” Hashmall said in a written statement. “When she began implementing her vision of transparency and financial accountability, she was cut off at the knees.”

Lazatin, 63, was terminated as chief executive effective June 7.

The La Cañada Flintridge resident came to the job at LACERA after serving as chief executive at the Shriners Hospitals for Children in Los Angeles.


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