Bass asks Garcetti staff to stay until spring

With a three-week transition, LA mayor-elect aims to “maintain stability”

Karen Bass with 200 N Spring St
Karen Bass with 200 N Spring St (Getty)

In with the new chief, and stay in with the old staff.

Los Angeles Mayor-elect Karen Bass has invited all of the staff in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s office to remain at their desks through April, the Los Angeles Times reported.

The move to extend the status quo in the Mayor’s Office is meant to steady the ship during a short transition period.

“To maintain stability in city government during this unprecedented three-week transition, the mayor-elect has asked staff to be available to continue working to ensure vital services continue,” Bass spokesman Zach Seidl told the newspaper.

Bass is expected to name her chief of staff soon, with some other senior names to follow. The incoming mayor will likely appoint many high-level positions, from senior staffers to deputy mayors, well before April.

She faces a tighter timeline than her two most recent predecessors, who both knew voting results shortly after the polls closed and took office about six weeks later.

The mayor-elect’s term officially begins on Dec. 12, though Bass might be sworn in on Dec. 11.

“I am extending an opportunity for continued employment up to April 22, 2023, to all active employees currently serving in the mayor’s office,” Bass wrote in a Nov. 22 letter to Garcetti staff, adding they could interview for permanent jobs during the transition.

“This employment will be exempt and at-will, and the mayor’s office retains the right to terminate the employment of any individual at any time.”

Bass emerged as the victor in a hard-fought race against billionaire developer Rick Caruso, who’d sunk $100 million into the mayoral race.

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The first woman elected mayor of Los Angeles vowed to “hit the ground running” to tackle homelessness on her first day on the job – saying she would immediately declare a state of emergency to address the crisis.

Bass’ memo to staffers came with a lengthy letter from Garcetti, who praised the incoming mayor and called her decision to offer the four-month employment buffer a reflection of her values as someone “who recognizes the good work of other public servants.”

The two-term outgoing mayor appeared to offer a retroactive endorsement of Bass, saying he was “filled with great joy, optimism and relief” when the election was called for the victor backed by Democratic leaders.

The Bass letter could also signal to critics that she’s extending city policies — at least in the short term — carried out by Garcetti, potentially frustrating activists who want immediate changes when it comes to homelessness or transportation.

Deputy mayors have visible roles serving as a public face for the administration, either at events or acting as a liaison with city unions, according to the Times.

Garcetti’s office lists seven deputy mayors, including Jose “Che” Ramirez, who works on homeless policies. Over the last year, several longtime Garcetti deputy mayors left, including Jeff Gorell, former deputy mayor for public safety, and Nina Hachigian, formerly deputy mayor for international affairs.

One senior Garcetti official who received the letter but declined to be named said several top staffers were interviewing or had jobs lined up and didn’t expect to stay. The person said the invitation from Bass came as a relief for lower-level officials.

“It was reassuring for mid-level or junior staff,“ the official said. “They would be smart to do it. There’s a lot of institutional knowledge and it’s a very short transition period.”

Dana Bartholomew