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Former Paramount Pictures Executive Named to Top City Hall Post

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via Essel's campaign website

via Essel's campaign website
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa yesterday tapped Christine Essel to head up Los Angeles' redevelopment agency, which has helped bring the city major projects like Hollywood & Highland and smaller ones such as The Farmer's Kitchen. The former industry executive -- she served as Paramount's senior vice president of government and community affairs -- most recently lost a grueling campaign bid for Council District 2, which was won by Paul Krekorian and has served as a mayoral appointee on the Airport Commission and a gubernatorial one on the state's Film Commission. The choice has both garnered praise and criticism.

“I’ve seen her in action. She’s a business person, not a bureaucrat,” Gene Hale, chairman of the Greater Los Angeles African American Chamber of Commerce, told the LA Times. Echoing that sentiment was Carol Schatz, who heads up the powerful Central City Association (CCA) and has been a harsh critic of the city agency. “She will move this agency, which has drifted off course, in the right direction -- making it a job creator, not a job killer,” she told the Times. Essel chaired the CCA's board in 2007 and 2008.

Around the bloglasphere came the criticisms.

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"The appointment of Essel, thought by some to barely be able to read an ordinary spreadsheet, represents the Mayor's lack of interest in shaping the future of Los Angeles through redevelopment," opined the anonymous Griffith Park Wayist, who describes her as a "developer-doormat."

"Going with loyalty, I guess," said Kevin Roderick at LA Observed about Villaraigosa.

"Chris Essel's failed City Council campaign had come under harsh criticism for the tremendous amount of money raised through independent expenditure contributions by the [LADWP's union] IBEW and a donors list that featured nearly every special interest that feeds at the municipal trough or wreaks havoc in local communities," explained Joe B. at Mayor Sam.

Essel first must be confirmed by a mayor-appointed redevelopment board and the L.A. City Council.

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