Getting to Work

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City Clerk June Lagmay administers the oath of office to Warren Furutani, who is accompanied by his wife, Lisa Abe Furutani. (Photo by MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

Rafu Wire and Staff Reports

Former Assemblymember Warren Furutani was sworn in as a member of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works on April 3 at City Hall.

The oath of office was administered by City Clerk June Lagmay. Furutani was accompanied by his wife, Lisa.

Earlier in the day, the City Council unanimously confirmed Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa’s appointment of Furutani to fill the vacancy left by the resignation of Andrea Alarcon, daughter of City Councilmember Richard Alarcon, in January. Furutani is expected to serve out the remainder of her term, which expires on June 30, 2014. It is a full-time, $127,000-a-year position.

Furutani, 65, has been in public service for some 40 years, including 25 years as an elected official on the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education, on the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees, and in the State Assembly, where he served from 2008 to 2012. Rather than seek a third term representing the 55th Assembly District, he unsuccessfully ran last year against Joe Buscaino for the 15th District City Council seat vacated by Janice Hahn, who is now a member of Congress.

Furutani said at the time that he had no plans to run for another office. Villaraigosa, who supported Furutani’s council bid, announced the appointment last month.

Councilmember Paul Krekorian said he observed Furutani “up close and personal” while the two were colleagues in the Assembly. “This is a man who has built things … overseen large investments in infrastructure development and construction … been a steadfast environmentalist who has used that passion to improve our investments in public works.”

Councilmember Alarcon said Furutani’s role as “an activist on environmental issues and community organizing issues specifically related to public works” was “probably the most prominent reason” the mayor selected him.

“We have an advocate here who, based on his political activism throughout his lifetime, will provide us with eyes on the public works commission as to what the community is thinking,” Alarcon said.

Furutani told the council that over the years, “I’ve worked with several of you. We’ve enjoyed relationships.”

He added that he is excited to serve on a board that gives him a chance to serve the public and where “literally, the rubber hits the road.”

Andrea Alarcon announced she would be seeking “professional help and treatment” in November after her then-10-year-old daughter was found unattended at City Hall around midnight Nov. 16, while she was drinking at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Little Tokyo.

Alarcon was already facing drunken driving charge in San Bernardino County at the time, and the LAPD opened a child endangerment investigation, though she was never charged in that case.

The other board members are Capri Maddox (president), Valerie Lynne Shaw, Jerilyn Lopez Mendoza and Steven Nutter. The board, which is the city’s only full-time, non-elected policy-making body, functions as the general manager for the Department of Public Works, which is responsible for delivering basic services, such as maintaining the city infrastructure, including bridges, roadways, sidewalks, sewers, street lights and waste water treatment plants. 

In addition to these functions, the board manages the construction, renovation and operation of public facilities. With approximately 5,500 employees and an annual budget of more than $1.8 billion, the Department of Public Works is the third-largest municipal agency.

The board holds public meetings on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 9:30 a.m. in City Hall, Room 350, 200 N. Spring St., Los Angeles.

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