CNS—The Department of Transportation’s ousted general manager submitted a letter Oct. 5 asking the City Council to overturn her termination, claiming she was dismissed without any warning or reason and was not given an opportunity to address her supposed shortcomings.
Gloria Jeff’s appeal was set to be discussed by the council on Tuesday. The 15-member council has until Oct. 26 to act. Ten votes are needed to overturn the termination.
Jeff was fired by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa Sept. 28, 18 months after he selected her to lead the city’s third-largest department.
In a letter addressed to Council President Eric Garcetti, Jeff said she met with Villaraigosa’s attorney Thomas Saenz and Chief of Staff Robin Kramer the day before she was fired.
The two told Jeff Villaraigosa wanted her to resign, and gave her until noon the next day to sign a proposed agreement that would have provided her one month of severance pay. Neither said why Jeff was being terminated.
“Mr. Saenz cryptically told her that he would provide information to her in a ‘private meeting’ if, and only if, she resigned and signed the release of all claims contained in the severance agreement,” according to the letter sent by Jeff’s attorney.
Jeff did not receive an annual performance review and Villaraigosa did not provide her with any negative feedback in response to an extensive report she wrote on her work with the department, which was submitted to Villaraigosa’s office in July, according to Jeff’s appeal.
However, mayoral spokesman Matt Szabo said “Gloria Jeff was notified by the mayor’s office on a number of occasions that her management of the Department of Transportation was deficient.”
General managers serve at the pleasure of the mayor, and Villaraigosa declined to say why Jeff was fired.
“I made a change. When you’re mayor of Los Angeles, you have a responsibility to insure that you have the best leadership,” Villaraigosa told reporters Sept. 28.
Councilwoman Jan Perry said she and Councilmen Bernard Parks and Herb Wesson, the council’s three Black members, met with a group of pastors Oct. 5 to discuss the termination of Jeff, who is Black.
“I think it’s unfortunate in that she was recruited, she had two master’s degrees from the University of Michigan and a pretty dynamic background,’’ Perry said. “I think she’ll be fine but this is part of a process that she is entitled to invoke and I believe that she has the right to do that.”
Jeff previously headed Michigan’s Department of Transportation for three years.
In that job, she was credited with doubling the level of state investment in local bridge repairs; developing an investment strategy to bring 90 percent of Michigan’s roads into good condition within a set time period; and improving roadways between Michigan and Canada.
Rita Robinson, general manager of the city’s Bureau of Sanitation, was nominated to replace Jeff as head of the Transportation Department, subject to approval by the City Council. Robinson is also Black.