Garcetti staffer picked as fire department watchdog

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(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The Los Angeles Fire Commission today appointed a mayoral staffer as the fire department’s official watchdog, the mayor’s office announced today.

Sue Stengel, an attorney and policy director in Mayor Eric Garcetti’s and Antonio Villaraigosa’s administrations, was picked by the commission to serve as the Los Angeles Fire Department’s independent assessor.

Stengel replaces Stephen Miller, who was ousted by the commission in October. The position was created through a 2009 voter-approved ballot measure to provide oversight of the department and to help legal costs to taxpayers stemming from employee harassment and discrimination lawsuits.

The appointment, approved unanimously by the commission, comes after Fire Chief Brian Cummings — whose tenure was marred by the revelation the department had been falsifying its response times — announced his retirement in October. Garcetti also replaced all but one member of the fire commission soon after becoming mayor last summer.

Garcetti, vowing to reduce response times and change the department’s “culture,” said Stengel will bring a “wealth of experience” and “play a crucial role in reforming the department.

Prior to serving as the policy director on policing and crime policy in the mayor’s office, Stengel worked in two inspector generals’ offices monitoring the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation and the Los Angeles Police Department.

Stengel also worked as a public safety deputy in former Los Angeles City Councilman Jack Weiss’s office and as a public defender for the county.


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