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Riordan Wants Tarzana Man Removed From Commission


Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan on Tuesday asked for the removal from the city Animal Regulation Commission of a Tarzana man who was involved in an embarrassing bottle-throwing incident at a public hearing--as the intended target of the bottle.

A Riordan spokeswoman said the mayor asked the council to remove Commissioner Russ Cook from the panel because it would "be in the best interest of the commission" and would improve the "spirit of cooperation" in the department.

Riordan press deputy Noelia Rodriguez declined to elaborate, but city officials have said privately that Cook has a long history of feuding with commissioners and Animal Regulation Department employees.

Last month, Cook and fellow Commissioner Gini Barrett got into a squabble during a public meeting that ended when Barrett shouted an obscenity and flung an empty water bottle at him. But the bottle missed Cook and hit newly elected Commission President Steve Afriat on the arm.

Cook could not be reached for comment.

Afriat said Cook has been difficult to work with and has been unwilling to help manage the department. "He's not only been combative at commission meetings but with staff, making it a difficult place to work," he said.

To complete the two years left in Cook's term, Riordan has proposed reappointing Commissioner Mimi Robins, an animal rights advocate from Van Nuys who had planned to resign.

Although Riordan appoints the members to all 250 city commissions, all appointments and removals must be approved by the City Council. The council's Public Safety Committee is expected to consider Cook's removal in two weeks.

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