Mayor Eric Garcetti revamps L.A. Fire Commission

Mayor Eric Garcetti's changes to the board that oversees the L.A. Fire Department follow similar shifts at the city's police and airport commissions.
(Susannah Kay / Los Angeles Times)

Mayor Eric Garcetti continued his shake-up of city government Thursday, replacing four of five members on the civilian board that oversees the Los Angeles Fire Department, an agency he has identified as needing significant reform.

One of the departing commissioners will be shifted to a new role as special advisor to the mayor, an unpaid position charged with guiding the ongoing overhaul of the department’s ailing dispatch network and computer systems.

The changes follow similar shifts at the city’s police and airport commissions announced earlier this week, where all but two of the sitting members were replaced.


New to the city Fire Commission are: Jimmy Hara, a physician at Kaiser Permanente; Andrew Glazier, an executive at a local affiliate of AmeriCorps; Delia Ibarra, a business litigator who served in President Clinton’s administration; and Jimmie Woods Gray, a retired teacher named by Garcetti, then a city councilman, to the board that redrew Los Angeles Unified School District’s political boundaries in 2011.

The only holdover is Steven R. Fazio, the head of a dry-cleaning business based in the San Fernando Valley.

Fazio contributed $1,300 to the campaign of Garcetti’s opponent in this year’s mayoral race, City Controller Wendy Greuel. After the election he supported Garcetti by giving $10,000 to the new mayor’s transition fund. Glazier, Ibarra and Woods Gray each contributed money to Garcetti’s campaign for mayor, city records show.

Departures include the board’s president, Genethia Hudley-Hayes, and attorneys Casimiro U. Tolentino and Andrew Friedman.

Reassigned to the new role in the mayor’s office is Commissioner Alan J. Skobin, who emerged as a critic of Fire Chief Brian Cummings last year after fire officials admitted to misstating response times, making it appear rescuers arrived faster than they actually did.

Skobin, who has clashed with the chief at public meetings, helped lead the task force that investigated the errors and championed the development of a new data analysis unit, modeled on a highly touted LAPD team.


His appointment suggests that Garcetti, who has made improving City Hall technology a key goal, will continue changes supported by Skobin.

“Our work at the Fire Department will be focused on reducing response times and making sure our department is cutting edge,” Garcetti said in a statement announcing the new board.

Many of the LAFD’s problems have been attributed to the department’s often outdated technology. Members of the city Fire Commission, the county’s Civil Grand Jury and the City Council have called for a sweeping overhaul of the department’s systems.

After the department’s admission of faulty data, an independent analysis by The Times found delays in processing 911 calls and summoning the nearest medical rescuers from other jurisdictions, as well as wide gaps in response times in different parts of the city.

Garcetti has yet to decide if he will retain Cummings, who has struggled to restore confidence in his leadership of the 3,500-employee department.

During his campaign, Garcetti criticized the chief’s leadership, questioned the reasoning behind a hotly debated ambulance staffing change, disagreed with a plan to restructure the agency’s 911 call center and asked the department to produce a multiyear “restoration plan” that has yet to materialize.

The commission appointments drew quick support from the head of the union representing rank-and-file firefighters, who has moved to establish better relations with Garcetti after supporting his opponent in the election.

With the changes to the fire board, Garcetti is continuing a tradition for newly installed mayors: removing the vast majority of commissioners and replacing them with their own people, most of them allies.

In 2005, not long after he took office, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa removed four of the five members on the city Police Commission. He also swept out most other appointees of his predecessor, James K. Hahn, including six of seven airport commissioners, and all five water and power commissioners as well of every member of the Board of Harbor Commissioners.

Times staff writer David Zahniser contributed to this report.