Dramatically shifting gears in the search for a new chief administrative officer, Los Angeles County supervisors voted Tuesday to stop looking and instead rehire David Janssen for the rest of the year. The move came as Supervisors Zev Yaroslavsky and Don Knabe introduced a motion to let voters decide next year whether to change the position’s title to chief executive officer and give the post more power. If supervisors approve the motion next week, voters would get the chance in June 2008 to approve a formal charter amendment that would give the CEO the power to hire and fire department heads. The amendment would also require department heads to report directly to the CEO and would establish a clause that guarantees the five-member Board of Supervisors not interfere with the CEO. “Shielding bureaucrats from accountability is a disingenuous attempt to replace elected representatives with a puppet who is not held accountable to taxpayers,” Antonovich said. “It’s a power grab and I would rather have open government and elected officials making decisions in the open than have a puppet behind closed doors calling all the shots.” Knabe said the proposal is not new and would not be an elected county mayor or executive position, which Yaroslavsky had originally proposed. Knabe said most counties in California have strong chief administrators who have the authority to hire and fire department heads. “This proposal represents good public policy for Los Angeles County. In any major business, division heads do not report directly to a corporate board of directors. They report to a CEO who in turn reports to that board. “In the same way, county department heads should be held accountable to a single person, and the Board of Supervisors should hold a single person accountable. This plan provides a clear and efficient chain of command and accountability.” Elected department heads – the sheriff, district attorney and assessor – would be exempt from the plan. Janssen, who retired Jan. 16 from his $242,000-a-year job, was recently rehired for $20,176 per month under a 120-day contract. He will be rehired under another 120-day contract in the next fiscal year, beginning July1, if a replacement has not been hired by then, Yaroslavsky said. The county will launch a new national recruitment effort. Yaroslavsky said he believes the new powers the board may grant the CAO will help in recruitment and improve county government services. [email protected] (213) 974-8985 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! The county has struggled in recent months to hire a new CAO. Some have said the county’s structure of five supervisors with equal authority may be complicating the process. The board has offered the job to two candidates – one who rejected it outright, and the other who changed his mind after accepting it. “The purpose of this is to set-up a process immediately that transfers a considerable amount of authority to the CAO,” Yaroslavsky said. “We want to get the culture of the organization changed as quickly as possible. “This is a two-pronged attack. It’s an immediate ordinance change that empowers the CAO far beyond where he’s empowered now to hire and fire department heads \ And in the long-term, a charter amendment which transfers authority to hire and fire directly to the CEO without having to submit to the board for approval.” Supervisor Michael Antonovich said the proposal is a step backward for responsible government.