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Did the press not act fast enough on traffic issues?

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Brady Westwater at the blog, LA Cowboy, asked some fair questions on his blog yesterday about the former head of the city’s transportation department, who was fired last week: “Why Did The Press TOTALLY Fail Us On The Gloria Jeff Disaster?” After some research, he found that “not a word was ever printed about her past” – if that’s true, Gloria Jeff is in the wrong business. Get this woman to a PR firm for disaster clients who need to stay out of media attention.

Whether your are a fan of the Mayor Villaraigosa - or not - even his harshest critics have to admit he has done a largely excellent job in his choice of department heads. Gail Goldberg as the Planning Director, Carol Baker Tharp & Bonghwan Kim as heads of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment - DONE - [LAist Note: some City Hall chatter says Kim is another insubordinate disaster actually] and Pouria Abbassi as head of the Los Angeles Convention Center are just some of his stellar choices, and each of them was enthusiastically endorsed by all the neighborhood council members on the interview panels. [snip]

And then when I met Gloria Jeff for the first time I was... stunned.

I do not know if I have ever met a more arrogant, self-centered person in my life. She made it clear from the moment she entered the room she had no interest in anyone other than herself - and less interest in what anyone else thought or had to say.

Westwater has a good point, not much was ever said about Jeff in mainstream media or even here on LAist. When Jeff was hired in 2006, traffic just didn’t seem to be a hot button issue like it is these days, where there are transit lifestyle blogs, an
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LA Times Bottleneck Blog and columnists from the MSM and alternative press honing in on the issue. We also thought, “traffic always sucked, you’ve gotta give the new person some room to work, right?”

We were very wrong. This issue is so hot button, it should never be overlooked. Any one in charge of our traffic needs to be fully transparent and communicative to the public. There is absolutely no reason why anything needs to be treated "classified" in a the way this city moves. To that end, the new department head, Rita Robinson, looks promising. City staff seems to already have better morale and she has told press that she will develop relations with Neighborhood Councils. Both good signs for week number one on the job. As for next week, we'll see about that.

Photo by pink fish13 via Flickr