I've much criticized Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's penchant for hiring out-of-towners of dubious talent for critical city positions, thereby making key City appointments beholden to his wishes alone. It's reached stratospheric awfulness in the persons of Gloria Jeffs and Gail "GPS" Goldberg, but...
Here's the sad story on yet another Department head who needs GPS to get around town: Olga "GPS" Garay, head of Cultural Affairs.
"On my first 10 days working here last year, I got so lost I was practically crying," she says, turning down the jazz station she normally listens to. Typically, this is a story she tells on herself, not the least embarrassed. "I got one of those GPS things and I told it where I wanted to go. But nothing happened!"
She continues, straight-faced. "So I called the emergency GPS number and spoke to this guy," who couldn't believe she was talking to the device. She throws back her head and cackles: "I'm like a mental midget!"
It's hard to believe the town's current culture czarina could be even modestly effective without knowing the long history and cultural legacy of the Department itself, the Croton years, the Nodal years, the Maggie years, the inherent tensions with Rec and Parks, the diminishing role of the Cultural Heritage Commission, etc. It's hard to believe a cultural grants program could be run effectively, and not simply as the Mayor's personal slush fund, with an out-of-towner at the helm. But more and more, the City's Department of Cultural Affairs is becoming just that, with a department head who can only smile and say, "Who and how much, boss?" when shaping the City's cultural destiny.