Friday, January 26, 2007
CLC Supervisors Respond to Comments on Reorganization
By TINA BAY, Staff Writer
A group of attorneys from the Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles has taken issue with children’s deputies for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors over comments reportedly made at a Jan. 18 meeting they were not invited to attend.
In a Jan. 22 letter, supervisors of CLC’s largest unit expressed displeasure over the fact that they were not included in an hour-long meeting at which deputies raised concerns about the organization’s operations.
While CLC’s chairman of the board Edward Lazarus and Presiding Juvenile Court Judge Michael Nash were invited to and did attend the meeting, the letter stated, “neither one of them, as relative outsiders, are in the best position to give the board an accurate picture of the changes that have taken place at CLC since the resignation of the organization’s Executive Director, Miriam Krinsky.”
No representative of CLC’s four-lawyer interim management was present at the meeting.
A spokesperson for Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky told the MetNews that the meeting, like all meetings of the children’s deputies—board staff members who meet informally on a regular basis to discuss children and family issues impacting the county—was publicly noticed.
But in the letter, CLC1 supervisors Nancy Aspaturian, Jenny Cheung, Danielle Combs, Barbara Duey, Diane Iglesias, Jeanine McKelvey and Princess V.F. Ramey nonetheless said they were “surprised and distressed” to hear of the gathering.
The five-page letter recapped the history of CLC’s restructuring process and enumerated recent steps taken by the interim director team after the resignation last month of former Executive Director Miriam Krinsky.
Krinsky several years ago initiated the reorganization of CLC, which since its inception in 1990 had operated as three independent legal units, each functioning as a separate law firm for the purpose of enabling the representation of clients with conflicting interests. Krinsky’s plan, which was supported by Nash, provided for the gradual consolidation of the three units into one unified direct legal services organization.
Restructuring was initially an attractive idea because it would have purportedly led to enhanced statewide and national visibility for CLC, which represents more than 80 percent of the nearly 30,000 children under the jurisdiction of the dependency court, the letter stated.
However, it continued, due to Krinsky’s neglect, the unplanned implementation of the restructuring resulted in problems with essential operations including case transfers, staff and attorney recruitment and case oversight.
The supervisors took responsibility for low staff morale, attorney vacancies, and the continuing logistical challenges of the restructuring that occurred during Krinsky’s tenure, but said they were now in a position to bring about many of the positive changes they had long been “agitating for.”
“These changes will take some time,” the attorneys asserted. “The problems did not occur overnight and will not disappear overnight.”
“We want the Board to know that the situation has already improved, and will get better,” they said, listing numerous changes made by CLC’s interim director team.
For example, CLC immediately ceased the practice, initiated under Krinksy’s leadership, of hiring new attorneys and investigators on a “contract” basis only, and also converted the 16 “contract” lawyers on staff to full-time regular employees, the authors said.
Additionally, all three units of CLC have been filling the vacancies left by the departure of lawyers amid the turmoil of restructuring, they added.
Another change cited was a recent agreement reached with the labor union representing CLC employees to improve the salary structure for all of CLC’s non-management investigative staff.
The supervisors noted that those who “decry and disparage” the steps currently being taken by CLC management comprise a small minority of the organizations staff.
Lazarus indicated that he had read the letter but declined to comment for publication.
Copyright 2007, Metropolitan News Company