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Government: She reopens a field office, names chief of staff and pushes for resources in her 2nd District on a busy first day in office.

April 04, 2002|PATRICK McGREEVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Wendy Greuel took the oath of office Wednesday for the Los Angeles City Council's 2nd District seat and moved quickly to address neglect that the east San Fernando Valley incurred because it has not had an elected representative for five months.

On her first day in office, Greuel reopened a long-closed council field office in the Sunland-Tujunga area, named a Valley resident with experience at City Hall as her chief of staff and asked the council to restore funding for economic development along Commerce Avenue in her district.

"It was a very busy first day," said Greuel, who sat through a three-hour council meeting before going to a public inauguration celebration in North Hollywood attended by Mayor James K. Hahn and many of her council colleagues.

The celebration was held at Fair Avenue Elementary School, one of the campuses that offers the LA's BEST after-school program, which Greuel helped create as an aide to then-Mayor Tom Bradley.

Greuel won election March 5 to the seat vacated in October by Joel Wachs, who resigned to head an arts foundation in New York.

Greuel was sworn into office by U.S. 9th Circuit Judge Harry Pregerson in front of about 500 people.

In her speech, she called secession a real possibility and warned that the city needs to improve services to the Valley.

"We can ignore the cries of the secessionists and invite a political war, or we can address their concerns once and for all," Greuel said. "We can win them over by acknowledging the problems and dedicating ourselves to solving them."

She proposed community meetings, audits of city programs and a blue-ribbon panel to determine whether each council district receives its fair share of city services.

During the City Council meeting at which she was sworn in, Greuel introduced a motion to recover $165,000 that initially had been proposed for economic redevelopment along Commerce Avenue in Sunland-Tujunga but later was reallocated for another project.

"I am asking for the funds to be reprogrammed back," she said.

During a secession debate on the council floor, Greuel asked her colleagues for support in trying to get more resources for the 2nd District.

Greuel, a Van Nuys resident, said that when she walked precincts before the election, "the issue for voters was streets and police services and public safety and fire, all those issues where they just want the services to be delivered."

To help her get the district's share of services, Greuel appointed City Hall veteran Claire Bartels as chief of staff.

Bartels is a former aide to Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, served as project manager for the Marvin Braude Constituent Service Center in Van Nuys and headed the Targeted Neighborhood Initiative program under then-Mayor Richard Riordan.

Greuel, 40, introduced Bartels during an open house Wednesday for a new council field office at 7747 Foothill Blvd. in Tujunga. The area's previous field office was closed before Wachs left office, and its reopening was a key promise during Greuel's campaign.

A former executive with the entertainment company DreamWorks SKG, Greuel said she was pleased to inherit Wachs' chairmanship of the council's Housing and Community Development Committee, a key panel for issues affecting her district.

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