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The State

Ex-Aide Had a Brusque Style

Edwards enjoyed the mayor's trust, but he had a tumultuous career at City Hall, overseeing three departments.

March 26, 2004|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

Los Angeles Deputy Mayor Troy Edwards' resignation Thursday ended a tumultuous career at City Hall, where elected officials and staff members described him as a smart but often brusque man whose rough-edged style and lack of government management experience hindered his work.

Edwards, 37, was one of Mayor James K. Hahn's closest and most trusted aides, and Hahn was one of Troy's closest friends at City Hall, a Hahn confidant said. Their relationship was forged during the two years Edwards served as Hahn's finance director for the 2001 campaign, helping his boss raise $5.7 million.

Hahn described Edwards as a longtime key advisor, and praised him for paving the way for improvements at the port of Los Angeles and Los Angeles International Airport.

"I told the mayor I want to do something different," Edwards said. "I was one of the first persons to be with the mayor on the campaign. You add that time and this time in office, and I have yet to have a break. I think it's time. I feel it. I feel like it's time to have a break."

After Hahn's election, the mayor assigned Edwards to oversee operation of the city's three biggest money-making enterprises -- airports, the port and the Department of Water and Power. Edwards' biggest role was to promote Hahn's $9-billion modernization plan for Los Angeles International Airport, which had become bogged down in opposition.

Some colleagues said Edwards, who had earned a living as a political fundraiser before City Hall, lacked the management skill and understanding of city bureaucracy to oversee three departments that generated more than $3.5 billion in revenues each year.

Former DWP Commissioner Kenneth Lombard said Edwards was smart but was faced with the difficult task of learning how to run the massive departments.

"His background did not give him a head start on that," Lombard said. "Troy had the best of intentions, but when you think about one person running all three proprietary departments.... I think he took on an impossible task."

Edwards may have been an effective fundraiser, said Los Angeles City Councilman Dennis Zine, "but do you know how to manage and administrate?"

Edwards had been stripped in the last year of his role at the Department of Water and Power, as well as commission appointments.

City Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, whose district includes LAX, said Edwards had often been deferential to her but arrogant and dismissive when dealing with her staff, resorting to profanity when addressing objections to Hahn's airport plan.

"Sometimes he was very tough to deal with. He was very brusque," Miscikowski said. "He would just say, 'This is the way it's going to be and that's it.' It was an inappropriate way to treat my staff."

Relationships became so strained that Miscikowski and Councilman Jack Weiss complained to Hahn last month. They accused Edwards of threatening to withhold city contracts from a firm if it did business with Rand Corp., which had criticized Hahn's LAX plan.

At the time, Weiss and Miscikowski said they were outraged and embarrassed by Edwards' behavior and questioned whether he should continue in his post.

Edwards, a Burbank resident, downplayed the complaints.

"While we have, on occasion, had substantive policy disagreements, I have found it a wonderful opportunity."

He said he had great respect for council members "and the role they play in representing the public."

Edwards grew up in Huntington Beach, and in 1988 earned a political science degree from Loyola Marymount University. He developed a reputation there as an adept fundraiser for campus causes.

Edwards worked as a fundraiser during Gray Davis' campaign for U.S. Senate, Davis' reelection as state controller and in John Garamendi's campaign for governor before spending eight years with the firm of political consultant Charlotte Dobbs.

"He has just got the gift of gab and he generally gets people to like him," Dobbs said.

Edwards played a key role in getting Hahn elected, helping the former city attorney beat a strong field of candidates.

"Troy was valuable to the campaign," said Kam Kuwata, a Hahn political advisor who worked with Edwards in 2001. "But people come and go and there is only one essential person -- that's the candidate."

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Times staff writer Noam N. Levey contributed to this report.

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