Mayor adds departments’ performance data to his website
Since the day he took office in July, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has pledged heightened accountability at City Hall.
For better or worse, facts began tumbling forth in the new “performance” section of the mayor’s website Tuesday, Garcetti’s 100th day in office.
Los Angeles sewers overflowed 125 times last year, up from 116 the year before.
Police reported more than 104,000 serious property and violent crimes last year, a drop from nearly 144,000 in 2005.
And a little more than 5.1 million shipping containers full of goods flowed through Los Angeles Harbor, a drop from 5.4 million the year before.
Much was missing. The website gave no information on traffic — no small matter in a city that is world-renowned for its clogged roadways. Clicks on “L.A. Zoo,” “Bureau of Street Lighting,” and “Recreation and Parks,” among other city sites, yielded “under construction” notices.
But Garcetti, who called the website a “work in progress,” set a 100-day deadline for himself to start releasing metrics on his administration. To mark the occasion, he invited TV news crews into the city’s traffic-monitoring bunker downtown, with video and computer screens covering the walls.
Garcetti vowed to release the troves of raw data used by the city to create the charts and graphics presented Tuesday, enabling tech developers to build smartphone apps and journalists to analyze the city’s performance.
“Whatever people want to see, I’m open to putting there,” Garcetti said. “I want to be very clear: We are not interested in putting statistics up that just make us look good. In fact, we are confident we will put up things there that don’t make the city look good. And that’s the point.”
It will take time to convince skeptics.
“This is a marketing website, not an open government website,” said Clay Johnson, a leading advocate of open-government data. “The difference is: open government websites don’t just have the PowerPoint deck slides that make you look good.”
The site’s omissions include details on the Fire Department’s emergency response times. The LAFD admitted last year to misstating 911 response times, making it appear that rescuers arrived faster than they actual did.
An independent Times analysis found delays in processing calls for help and summoning the nearest rescuers from other jurisdictions, as well as wide gaps in response times in different neighborhoods. Those shortcomings can’t be seen on the mayor’s website, where rescue times appear only as a citywide average.
Garcetti’s advisors created the site based partly on a rigorous performance review of nearly three dozen agency managers. The mayor said he expected to replace about a third of them. Garcetti has not yet made public most of his decisions, but a spokesman said Tuesday that Gina Marie Lindsey would remain as executive director of Los Angeles World Airports.
The evaluations of managers, Garcetti told reporters, included a “deep dive into each department” by him and his top staff as they try to foster a culture of change and excellence across the city’s 50,000-person workforce.
“We have too many managers and not enough leaders — too many people that the incentives for success have been, ‘keep your head down, keep things going,’ instead of innovate, move forward,” Garcetti said. “We don’t have enough disruptive forces in local government.”
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