CNS – Two city councilmen called last Friday for a measure to be placed on the March 2009 ballot to hire an independent monitor to oversee the Los Angeles Fire Department. Councilmen Jose Huizar and Jack Weiss co-authored the motion to create an independent assessor, similar to the Los Angeles Police Department’s inspector general, a position that was approved by voters in 1995.
“The independent assessor will ensure that the reforms Chief (Douglas) Barry is trying to implement are strictly adhered to and to inform the public if they’re not,” said Huizar, chair of the Audits and Governmental Efficiency Committee.
“We need to put the focus back on the important work our firefighters do on a daily basis,” he said.
An audit released by City Controller Laura Chick in January 2006 detailed the LAFD’s culture of hazing and inappropriate behavior toward women and minorities. The fire department has also gained unwanted attention from discrimination lawsuits, including the case of Tennie Pierce, a firefighter who claimed his colleagues fed him dog food mixed in spaghetti. Weiss, chair of the Public Safety Committee, said hiring an independent assessor could help the department avoid similar incidents.
“Accountability and oversight help prevent discrimination and lawsuits in the fire department, and with a new independent assessor, the city will save taxpayer money and ensure that discipline is handled appropriately whenever it is necessary,” Weiss said.