Gang Czar Elevated to Mayor’s Chief Of Staff


In a press release sent out late this morning,
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced that his departing chief of staff, Robin Kramer, will be replaced by the Reverend Jeff Carr, who has been heading up the mayor’s gang initiative. (The LA Times has a list of other staff replacements.)

Carr has been responsible for the programs that have gotten the mayor the best press of late, most specifically for the Summer Night Lights program, a simple but smart initiative that keeps 16 city parks in LA’s most gang-troubled neighborhoods open late and full of activities . Summer Night Lights runs only for nine weeks of the summer, but has been a justifiably big hit with communities, police and the press. (Hector Tobar’s recent LA Times article on SNL captures its mood and value perfectly.)

“…the idea behind the city’s Summer Night Lights program: If you distract troubled youths with wholesome things like basketball, outdoor movies and a well-lighted field, they’ll be less likely to start shooting one another.”

Okay, so good. But if Jeff Carr is moving to the front office, who’s going to run the gang programs, which the press release states will report directly to Carr.

UPDATE: I did speak to Carr’s office and was assured that a new head of Gang Reduction and Youth Development will be appointed—and soon.

A second question (albeit a slight more frivolous one): Departing chief of staff, Robin Kramer, while a strong personality, was rarely seen front and center in the press, whereas Jeff Carr has been anything but photo shy. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. It is simply an observation.) So what will happen now? Will Carr still be looking for photo ops or will he let the new gang czar have the on-camera face time that used to be his?

And one more thing: The head of the gang program has become a high profile and important city position— since it controls every penny of city gang violence prevention money.

It will be very interesting and instructive to see what direction this appointment goes. It will also be interesting to see if Jeff Carr will continue to set the direction for the gang initiatives (with the mayor’s approval), or whether a new gang czar will have some of his or her own freedom to shape and calibrate—and recalibrate— the programs as they move ahead.

In the meantime, congrats to Reverend Carr.

PS: LA TIMES editorial pages chief, Jim Newton,
has an insightful essay on Robin Kramer and her departure.


  • Jeff Carr and Hollywood Antonio will soon be at odds if Jeff gets into any of Antonio’s much lophoto opportunites.

    Jeff will need to have his teeh whitened to look as good as Antonio in front of the cameras.

  • Good post Celeste. Question I have is South LA has a lot of the Summer Night Lights programs in the area. all the housing projects have them as well and look at all the homicides and gang violence just in the last week and a half. From just July to August there’s been 30 homicides. Yet, you don’t see anything in the news but the blonde model every night who was killed by the millionaire boyfriend. Doesn’t seem to me the Summer Night Lights program has been successful this year. I would like to find out is it true the Summer Night Lights program is the same version Connie Rice started years ago at Nickerson Gardens and Villaraigosa is taking credit and renamed it??

  • This entire move was another example of the great City of Los Angeles political ass scratching bullshit game. Carr was selected and placed in a position to specifically turn around the city’s anti-gang programs – that was his so called primary mission for entering the political scene. They pumped him up as to having the so called “skills” to get the job done. That he was a religion man dedicated to saving lives. Total bullshit.
    Aside from shaking hands and giving inspirational bullshit sermons – he has done ZERO – CEROTE!
    The Mayor is part of a bigger picture of Los Angeles political ass scratching friends….

  • “The mayor also brought on Jay Carson, the spokesman for Hillary Clinton’s 2008 presidential bid. Carson has been working for billionaire Steve Bing, whose company hopes to develop a factory for the Italian rail car company AnsaldoBreda in downtown Los Angeles.”

    Can I say that the Mayor has great attributes to not only cheat on his wife and switch women – but his ass licking skills are at the top of the polictical game!!!!

    Look at this next one:
    “After a yearlong search, Villaraigosa finally selected a new budget adviser, picking a onetime chief of staff to Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina.”

    Gloria Molina just another stupid uneducated dog barking latina….that’s on the same baseball team with the Mayor’s Fortune 500 top latino ass lickers.

  • Janet, good point. I’ve been too focused on other things to give the homicide spike much focused thought as I don’t know what it means. But it has been woefully under covered.

    P. I too am more than a bit disgruntled by how the city’s gang policy has played out. I ain’t seeing much of anything other than the feel good Summer Night lights program. And what’s going to happen next week when the plug gets pulled?

  • What’s going to happen is that Janice Hahn, who was prominent at the news conference announcing these changes, will push again for her property tax for gang prevention programs.

    The programs she never had a specific plan for, essentially just said “trust us, we’ll put the money to good use.” Which is why Laura Chick advised against another tax the last time around, and NOW is an even worse time for more property taxes.

    But Janice will argue the “revenue stream” is needed to supplement the money now going just to certain gang reduction zones, which don’t include enough of the south bay, Venice, etc. Since there’s no chance of pulling more money out of the general fund for programs, she’s going to fight hard for this and with renters outnumbering property owners in this city, it will likely pass. I’m not disagreeing with the need for more programs IF they’re more efficiently administered, but what about looking at how the city attorney’s office is currently using its large funds allocted for this, and making sure existing programs are more efficiently administered and run. (And I KNOW you feel that Homeboy is a model of what works, and I agree.)

    Also, what about partnerships with the schools/ LAUSD and the new charter school administrators? I thought it was a shame, and penny-wise/ pound-foolish, when the West Valley Leadership Academy was forced to close for lack of funds. That was (? IS it closed for real this time?) a charter school which took kids who were already in gangs or “at risk” and with tough-love – emphasizing the love – not only got them through school, but into part-time jobs and a whole life-change. (You’ve written about them so you will know a lot more than I do.)

  • Homeboy is a great example of gang intervention partnering with school. Homeboy is a great example of gang intervention period, but yes, I would hope that more innovation in LA schools will mean more innovation in how the city approaches at-risk young people (gang prevention) and in-crisis young people (gang invervention) within a school setting.

  • First time reader, enjoyed your blog and the information that I have not seen in the major newspaper coverage. I look forward to “browsing” over again to this site. Keep up the good work.

Leave a Comment