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L.A. Department Chiefs Proposal Placed on Ballot

February 04, 1988

The Los Angeles City Council voted Wednesday to place a proposed City Charter amendment on the June ballot that would make it easier to fire and discipline department general managers hired in the future.

The proposed Charter amendment, similar to one that voters have defeated three times in recent years, would remove the city's 31 positions for general managers and heads of bureaus from the Civil Service system.

The 8-4 vote followed an unsuccessful attempt by several council members to exempt five key general manager positions from the proposed amendment. The council majority, however, said that the Police, Fire, Water and Power, Airport and Harbor Department chiefs should be included.

Only future managers would be affected; present managers would retain Civil Service status, which provides job protection for most city employees.

Generally, the proposed amendment would establish an "executive service" in which the mayor and the City Council would have more flexibility in the hiring, firing and disciplining of department heads. If adopted by voters, general managers would all fall under identical hiring and firing provisions.

Currently, general managers can come under one of seven different systems, each with its own rules. In some cases, the council and the mayor have little authority over how a department head is disciplined.

City officials said Wednesday that the proposed procedures in the ballot initiative resemble those in effect in Houston, San Diego and Milwaukee.

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