Former City of Los Angeles staffers are super-famous for their seamlessly corrupt transitions between public service and the lobbying industry, so much so that we had to create a so-called revolving door ordinance to (very lightly) regulate the practice. As with so many of the rules putatively enforced by our beleaguered and underfunded Ethics Commission, though, this ordinance is widely ignored.
We’ve seen many examples of this revolving door phenomenon, for instance, Marie Rumsey moving from CD13 to the Central City Association in 2015, but I’m not aware of much information on what goes on when the door is opened and the former staffers prepare to step across the transom. Some light is shed on this phase of the process by a newly acquired email conversation from November 12 and 13, 2020, though.
The discussion is between registered lobbyist Dwayne Gathers and soon-to-be-former CD4 Chief of Staff Nick Greif. It also sheds light on the fate of an ousted CM’s staff, as they struggle with divided and dividing loyalties while deciding whether to submit their resumes to the new regime after their boss David Ryu conceded to Nithya Raman on November 6.
On November 12 Gathers forwarded around to various folks, including Greif, a Southern California Gas Company job announcement for a “governmental affairs manager.” This is industry jargon for a lobbyist, by the way. Gathers including a topical note with his forward:
Minutes later Greif forwarded Gathers’s note around to his buddies with a little note of his own, composed in his characteristically overbearing and intrusive manner: See below for a govt affairs opening with SoCal Gas. If anyone applies, let me know.
And apparently soon-to-be-former CD4 District Director Nikki Ezhari was on Greif’s distro list and was ready to rock, because just three hours later she had already applied for the lobbyist job and told Greif as much. There was some chit-chat about her resume and Greif asked Ezhari if she wanted him to also forward it to Raman’s transition team.
This put Ezhari in a difficult position, of course. Both she and Greif were slated to be out of a job just a few weeks from the time of writing. For Greif, a zillionaire, this wasn’t desperation time, but for Ezhari it may well have been. She had a needle to thread, and thread it she did: What do you think, I am not interested, unless it’s an absolute last resort?
And Greif, not a self-made zillionaire but a zillionaire’s son, seems used to the sorts of difficulties that arise when talking to the (relatively) impoverished masses, those who need jobs to buy food and shelter. He gives her permission to apply without betraying him and Ryu by applying for a job with the victorious enemy, Nithya Raman:1
Ezhari took her clue. After all, she surely had gotten used to this sort of thing. And thus, albeit with a theatrical show of disdain and absolutely not at all from hunger,2 told Greif that she would be applying, but not, of course, for any dirty little practical reasons: Nithya is policy and network heavy? Okay, might as well forward it, but completely as a last resort option.
She sure wasn’t alone, though, because the very next day Greif sent Raman staffer Jessica Salans a list of all Ryu staffers who wanted to apply for positions. The list included not only Ezhari, but a bunch of others as well. Greif, whose middle name isn’t gracious but maybe should be, even included a capsule biography, and here, in closing, is a transcription of these folks’s qualifications:
Isaac Burks — Recent office here covered the front desk and phoneline. [sic] Long city experience with a full career at LAFD followed by admin experience with several council offices.
Moniquea Roberson — Long time city hall employee with substantial funding processing and office management experience.
Natalie Pinedo — Talented staff member who started with us covering the front desk and became a case manager a year ago. Natalie would be a great choice for a field deputy or office manager / funding manager. Natalie may also be a good choice as a scheduler if she is interested. I can’t stress enough the importance of a strong scheduler :)
Nikki Ezhari — District Director. Tenured city experience with case work and constituent relations at a couple Council districts. Nikki brings both management experience and a lot of knowledge of the middle management folks at various departments who you need to know if you want to cut through the red tape on community issues.
Rachel Fox — Field deputy for Silver Lake / Los Feliz. My guess is you have heard of her stellar reputation in the neighborhood. Great candidate to consider for field district staff leadership.
Rob Fisher — Field deputy and community planner for the southern part of the district. Law degreee and planning experience. Great candidate to consider for planning or field district staff leadership.
- It’s possible that Greif’s confused and talking about the SoCal Gas job rather than the Raman job in his response. Zillionaires apparently find it hard to follow along when people who actually need their jobs are talking.
- This is in no way meant as a jab at Ezhari or anyone who has to work to eat, but at Greif and the kind of weirdo social mannerisms that his zillionaire aura spontaneously calls into being.