As he assumed his new post this month at age 28, some might have said that L.A. City Council President Alex Padilla is young and relatively inexperienced in the ways of City Hall.

But those voices may be quieted by Padilla's hiring of Pat Gobler as his liaison to the rest of the council. Gobler was an aide to former Council President John Ferraro's for more than 30 years longer than Padilla has been alive. For the last eight years, she was his chief of staff. During all those years, she earned the reputation of being uncannily accurate in her ability to count votes and was generally acknowledged as having one of the keener political minds in City Hall.

Meanwhile, in the next couple weeks, Padilla is expected to exercise what is probably his most important power as council president: committee assignments. The jockeying for the top committee posts is more intense than it has ever been, thanks to term limits and so many new members.

Because of its high profile position in the wake of the L.A. Police Department's Rampart scandal, much of the speculation has centered on the chairmanship of the Public Safety Committee, a post currently held by Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski. Word around City Hall is that when Miscikowski figured she did not have the votes to become council president herself, she turned over her votes to Padilla because she hoped he would allow her to keep that committee chairmanship.

But another councilmember is rumored to be interested in the post: newcomer Dennis Zine, a one-time motorcycle cop who was a top official with the Police Protective League before his successful run for council.

Republican Official Named

After an exhaustive search, the California Republican Party, which is headquartered in Burbank, has named Ryan Erwin as its chief operating officer. Erwin is currently executive director of the Nevada Republican Party.

A couple weeks ago, the Business Journal reported that the California GOP had taken the unusual step of retaining the Century City search firm of Korn/Ferry International to conduct its search. The Korn/Ferry team, led by managing partner Robert Wagner, took six weeks to complete its work.

"With the Republican Party so split between conservatives and moderates, one of the things we looked for was a candidate from outside who would not take bullets from either wing of the party," Wagner said. "Not only did Erwin fit that bill but he also is close enough to California to keep track of what's going on in state political circles."

Erwin now has what many consider to be a tall order: turning around the state Republican Party.

Search for Chamber President

One search done, another one under way: the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce this month hired Korn/Ferry to broaden its search for a new president and chief executive. The previous president and chief executive, Ezunial Burts, left this past winter as the chamber was searching for ways to expand its membership base and become more of a force in the community. Former Bank of America executive Tom Decker is holding the post as interim president and chief executive.

So why the five-month delay in going to an outside search firm? Korn/Ferry's Wagner said that such a delay is not unprecedented. Usually an organization with a large board like the L.A. Chamber prefers to take a few months to get all suggestions for candidates that come from inside before hiring a search firm, he said.

Staff Reporter Howard Fine can be contacted by phone at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227 or by e-mail hfine@labusinessjournal.com.

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