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Port of LA Slammed by City Councilmembers

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The Gateway Fountain in San Pedro | Photo by Francheskastein via Flickr

The Gateway Fountain in San Pedro | Photo by Francheskastein via Flickr
At today's city council session, members vented to a Harbor Department official as they quizzed him on a new $205,000 position. At the heart of the issue, Councilmember Janice Hahn wanted to know why in this economy, when yesterday the group approved a potential 400 employee layoffs, why the Harbor--at Mayor Villaraigosa's insistence--is asking for a new highly paid position.

"This doesn't seem right to me," Hahn said, also noting her disappointment in other aspects of the department's failure to serve the public. "You spent $14 million building a fountain and now you're not operating it when I believe is at high peak tourist hours of the day," she explained after witnessing this happen last Sunday while cruise ships brought tourists to the city.

Councilman Dennis Zine complained about the department's waterfront development, which seemingly have lacked since they first introduced plans years ago. "I've been to the port a few times recently... as far as the appeal for the public to visit, there is no appeal for the public to visit. The restaurants are either shabby or non-existent."

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Councilman Bill Rosendahl called the proposal an "insult" because it didn't make its way through the Harbor committee, but exclusively in the personnel committee. The position, which was ultimately rejected after a long debate, would focus on grants and oversee two already filled and highly salaried--over $100,000--department managers in public affairs and intergovernmental operations. The creation of the position will go back to the drawing board and will likely be reintroduced to the council in upcoming months.