Mayor Eric Garcetti has been in office for little more than a month, and already he's starting to lose some of that new-mayor glow. One of his first acts in office was to undertake a review of the city's departments, asking all general managers to reapply for their jobs and submit memos detailing their departments' successes and shortcomings.
In his inaugural address, Garcetti vowed to do this process in public, so that citizens "can hold our feet to the fire." But today, Garcetti's office refused to make those memos public, arguing that disclosing a candid assessment of the city's operations would not be in the public's interest.
Here's what Garcetti said in his inaugural address about the review process:
"And at every step of the way, you, the people of Los Angeles, can hold our feet to the fire, and see that we're meeting our goals, and making L.A. the city you need and deserve it to be."
Taking him at his word, the L.A Weekly and other news organizations filed a request last month under the California Public Records Act for the memos submitted by each general manager.
The mayor's office took the full 10-day window allowed for a response, and then took an additional 14-day extension in order to consult with the departments. Finally, Rich Llewellyn, the mayor's chief legal adviser, issued a two-paragraph response today claiming that the requested memos are "personnel records," and that they would disclose the city's deliberative process.
"(T)he public interest served by not disclosing the records clearly outweighs the public interest served by disclosure of the records," Llewellyn wrote.
"We are conducting a real process," said Yusef Robb, the mayor's spokesman. "This process isn't about putting on a show... This is a real, sober and serious analysis."
And so what happened to the part about holding Garcetti's feet to the fire "every step of the way"?
"Mayor Garcetti has exercised transparency at a heretofore unseen level and will continue to do so," Robb said.