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South Bay Digest

Torrance : Clerk Scorns Office Report

January 30, 1986

City Clerk Donna Babb this week called a consultant's report on the organization and management of her office a hoax, saying the report failed to recognize that the basic problem has been her lack of authority to dismiss her deputy.

The $5,000 study was ordered by the City Council last year after Babb requested the upgrading of one position and after Deputy City Clerk Dora Hong alleged that Babb used city money and staff members for personal and political purposes. The Los Angeles County district attorney's office is investigating the allegations.

The report, by Ralph Anderson & Associates of Sacramento, made 11 recommendations for improvements but only briefly mentioned tension created in the office by Hong's allegations.

The report even downplayed its own recommendations, saying most such reviews indicate "opportunities for improvement" but that the Babb study should "not detract from the fact that the office . . . has successfully provided a broad range of support services to the city, using improved delivery practices."

City Manager LeRoy Jackson said no action would be taken on the recommendations. Instead, he said, the report will be forwarded to the new city clerk who will be elected March 4. Babb announced last July that she would not seek reelection. Former Councilman Don Wilson is running for the office unopposed.

Among the recommendations:

- That the office be reorganized so the deputy is given more supervisorial responsibility over staff.

- That records be microfilmed and that word processing equipment be purchased.

- That taking minutes for other department and commission meetings be handled by those departments and commissions rather than by the city clerk staff.

- That internal communications be improved by more staff meetings.

Babb said that she agreed with some recommendations but that the real problem is that she is an elected official and her deputy is a public employee protected by Civil Service rules. She said that if problems develop between the two, there is nothing the city clerk can do to dismiss the deputy.

"You should be able to at least have someone you can trust," Babb said. "To have that division makes it an unreasonable expectation to deal with normal operations of the office."

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