It's been a bumpy start for the new L.A. city position of revenue manager.

The post was created two years through a city ordinance sponsored by then-Councilwoman Laura Chick after a report from then-City Controller Rick Tuttle concluded that the city was failing to collect some $50 million in business taxes and tens of millions in other revenues every year. Chick, who succeeded Tuttle as city controller in July, said at the time that the aim was to streamline the city's scattered revenue-collection efforts and make sure various departments were collecting revenues owed to them.

But Gary Lysik, who was hired in April as the city's first revenue manager, left three weeks ago. Officially, according to Department of Finance director Antoniette Christovale, Lysik left after "things didn't work out."

But sources inside City Hall said Lysik was fired because he was unable to get a handle on the city's immense collection problems.

Lysik could not be reached for comment, and Finance Department officials said they did not know if he has accepted another post.

Christovale said she is in the process of identifying candidates to replace Lysik. The question is whether there is anyone who can make sense of the city's revenue situation, especially with so many city departments using antiquated computer systems. Just one example: the city has yet to install an up-to-date computer system to track business taxes, even though it has known about the problem for almost a decade.

"We're very bad on collecting money that's owed us, and it goes way beyond business taxes," Chick said last week when asked about Lysik's departure. "There's long been an attitude that, 'It's not my money, so why make the extra effort?' And it's also why I authored the ordinance last year."

Riordan Aide's New Gig

Another aide to former L.A. Mayor Richard Riordan has opened up her own public relations firm.

Six months after former Riordan government liaison Stephanie Bradfield launched her own home-based public relations consulting business, former press aide Jessica Copen has hung out her own public relations shingle. Copen Communications, based in Santa Monica, plans to advise both public- and private-sector clients on public relations and crisis management issues.

"After the mayor's term ended, I took an extended vacation and now I'm ready to strike out on my own," Copen said.

Meanwhile, two other press aides to Riordan have landed other jobs: Ben Austin, Riordan's deputy mayor for communications during the administration's closing months, is now chief spokesman for newly elected City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo. And Peter Hidalgo, another Riordan press deputy, just got hired on to the public relations team at the Gas Co., the natural gas subsidiary of San Diego-based Sempra Energy.

Staff Reporter Howard Fine can be contacted at (323) 549-5225, ext. 227, or at

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