In a major reorganization move, John Tuite, the new administrator of the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, has eliminated four of the city agency's top jobs, clearing from its hierarchy several people closely associated with Tuite's predecessor, Edward M. Helfeld.
The elimination of the jobs along with the creation of four new high-level positions is the latest development in a yearlong reshaping of the CRA, which oversees urban renewal in the city. Helfeld resigned as administrator after a series of disagreements with the agency's commission culminated in a contract dispute last December.
Tuite, who was appointed in July, insisted Tuesday that his reorganization plan, announced in a memorandum early this week, was not dictated by the commission.
"There were no particular deals or agreements," he said. But Tuite did say that "the board indicated to me that there were ways in which the agency has not been performing as they thought it should."
Tuite also indicated that changes may be in store for the agency's Planning and Urban Design Department where he said "weaknesses" were revealed by an agency-wide assessment that he recently completed. The activities of that department represented a major bone of contention between Helfeld and the commission.
The four officials removed under Tuite's reorganization are, aside from the administrator himself, the ones most responsible for overseeing redevelopment work in the CRA's 20 project areas throughout the city.
In his memorandum Tuite said: "The changes I have announced are intended to strengthen and reinforce a fundamental reorientation of the agency toward project operations and tight budget controls."
Beyond that statement, he said Tuesday that the move was designed to give him a more direct hand in overseeing projects and to put an end to a pattern of confusing directives issuing from CRA project management teams.
"Developers dealing with different levels of the agency often got differing answers," he said.
The CRA officials whose jobs are being abolished include associate administrator Donald Cosgrove, the agency's No. 2 man who was the acting administrator from the time Helfeld left until Tuite's appointment. The other three losing their jobs are deputy administrators Raul Escobedo, David Lewis and Patricia Sterne.
Tuite said all four could reapply for new jobs he is creating as part of the reorganization.
The new jobs include those of chief deputy, chief of operations, senior project manager and director of public affairs.