Rumors are floating around City Hall that Rita Robinson will be stepping down as General Manager of the LADOT to take a high-level position with L.A. County. While nobody who discussed the rumor with me wanted their name attached to this story, I can say that the sources are high enough up in the city bureaucracy to be credible.
However, since LADOT wouldn’t or couldn’t confirm this staffing change, let’s save the reviews of Robinson’s performance until we get the official word. In the meantime, it’s never to early to start talking about who could be a credible replacement/
The first person to answer the call was Joe Linton, the co-founder of the Los Angeles County Bicycle Coalition, who rather than suggesting an individual person suggested people “along the lines of,” Fred Dock, the head of Pasadena DOT and supporter of Complete Streets planning, Gil Peñalosa, of Bogotá, Colombia – champion of Ciclovía, and Timothy Papandreou, a former Metro staffer who now works at San Francisco MTA. If LADOT is looking to hire from within, they should look to some of their younger engineers who understand multi-modal planning such as Pauline Chan or Jay Kim.
Linton also pointed out that Robinson sits on the Metro Board as a Mayoral Appointee and Villaraigosa is going to have to replace her. Given his advocacy for many of Villaraigosa’s projects; Linton suggested that Denny Zane would be a suitable replacement.
The next call was to the LACBC who declined to get into specifics, but did encourage the mayor to look for someone that shares his values on green transportation, especially his new found commitment to bicycling.
After that was a call to L.A. Walks Founder and Chair of the City’s Pedestrian Advisory Committee who stated simply, “Janette Sadik-Khan or her clone.” Murphy noted that the NYCDOT Commissioner and Livable Streets Rock Star has local ties as a graduate of Occidental College and that now “is time to bring her home.”
The last person to answer the call was the 2009 Livable Streets Person of the Year Stephen Box, who sent the following statement:
As Ms. Robinson departs and in light of the City of LA’s budget crisis, this is a reasonable time to evaluate the future of the LADOT and to look for any benefits to be found from consolidating the LADOT into City Planning, Public Works, the LAPD and the Department of Finance. The City of LA’s budget crisis demands that the people of LA look for every opportunity to reduce redundancies and increase efficiencies, all while improving the delivery of City Services and balancing the budget.
He added over the phone, “Long Beach doesn’t have a DOT, and they’re way ahead of where we are.”
This isn’t the first time Box has discussed dissolving LADOT to save the city money and make it rum more efficiently. He’s written about it before at City Watch and has met with the Mayor’s Office and members of the Neighborhood Council Budget Committee.
We’ll have much more on this story after we get the official word from the Mayor’s Office, LADOT or Robinson herself. In the meantime, leave your suggestions for her future in the comments section.