Which may have been the whole point of hiring her.
The first indication of buying a palette of damaged goods may have been the remoteness of Jeff to the City of Los Angeles. Most successful careers, if they go in any direction, go city/state/federal---in coming to LA, Ms. Jeff's went fed/state/city.
Her duties in the Clinton administration were far from the kind of duties that a City traffic chief gets: she was concerned with Interstate highways and commerce, ironically the precise roads that were off-limits to her purview in Los Angeles.
In Michigan, she took a state job that saw her fixing bridges and tunnels; things in Los Angeles that have been worked on ceaselessly since January 17, 1994. Things we basically already have wired, down to streetlighting.
No, the problem in LA as described by the last Mayor's race has been traffic congestion, and there was absolutely nothing on Jeff's c.v. that anticipated success with mitigating that.
Which is why, I think, Jeff was played as a bit of a stooge by Team Antonio.
With someone like Jeff in charge of the City's transit flows, it was easy to work at cross-purposes to her. The plan of Antonio's advisers has always been to hand the City over to developers, to make it more and more dense, to make it feel like a place it should never aspire to be, a congested, overpriced, oversaturated urban theme park. Antonio promised to make traffic better---but to do so while increasing density is impossible. So why not hire someone on which to pin the blame for traffic problems mid-term?
The dismissal of Jeff has been portrayed many ways: impulsive, racial, a question of competence. But I think it was none of those things; I think the very seeds for it were sewn when she was hired. Despite the voter's demand that traffic become better, Team Antonio knew which way the City was going to go---more congested, more dense, more bifurcated by class---and picked someone who didn't have a hope in hell, given her expertise in other areas, of making it any better.
Gloria Jeff wasn't incompetent, nor overpaid (on either end of her tenure), nor was she the wrong color. She was like an allergist who was asked to heal a dangeous foot problem. It looks like a doctor's a doctor, except to other doctors---and Gloria Jeff never was a traffic doctor, nor was she intended to be. Don't blame the allergist, blame the Chief of Staff who hired her.
Labels: a guy in la