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NEW ANIMAL SERVICES CHIEF OK'D ACTIVISTS PROTEST STUCKEY'S LACK OF EXPERIENCE.

Byline: Rick Orlov Staff Writer

Despite vocal protests from animal activists, the Los Angeles City Council voted Tuesday to hire a Maryland bureaucrat to head the troubled Animal Services Department.

Guerdon Stuckey, 49, was named to the $151,986-a-year job although he has no experience in animal welfare issues. Animal rights activists who have picketed the homes of Mayor James Hahn and Stuckey's predecessors vowed to continue their protests.

His appointment, on a 14-0 vote, came the same day the council confirmed Kim Day as general manager of the Department of Airports, earning $230,491 a year. She also was approved 14-0, with Councilman Greig Smith absent.

Day has been acting head of the proprietary department for 13 months and oversaw the adoption last month Hahn's $11 billion modernization plan for Los Angeles International Airport.

Stuckey said that in the weeks since his nomination, he has tried to reach out to animal rights activists.

``I flew out here on my own dime with my wife to meet with people and get to know the people in the rescue community,'' Stuckey said. ``I have been very proactive and meeting with a good number of groups. And, I can assure you, they are not all pro-Stuckey fans, that's for sure.''

Although Stuckey was selected from a group of 70 applicants by a selection panel, animal rights activists criticized his lack of experience in that area.

``Guerdon Stuckey knows nothing about animals, nothing about progressive policies to advance animal services,'' said Pam Ferdin of the Animal Defense League, which has been involved with numerous demonstrations against Hahn and Animal Services officials.

``When we see other credible candidates being ignored, who have the leadership and the skills necessary to take this department into the 21st century, we cannot rest. Mayor Hahn had his chance to bring in professional management and instead he turned his back on the humane community.''

Deputy Mayor Doane Liu defended the process used by Hahn, saying the criteria for the post and Stuckey's recommendation came from those who long have been active in animal matters.

Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa, who is challenging Hahn for mayor, closely questioned Liu over the process used to hire him and set his salary.

``We did an extensive background check, developing our own sources, and they all gave Mr. Stuckey excellent recommendations,'' Liu said, adding extra steps were taken in looking into his background because of the sensitivity of the job.

Hahn has said he wants the city to establish a no-kill policy at animals shelters in the next few years, but critics have said he is not moving fast enough.

Over the past several months, masked demonstrators have protested at Hahn's home in San Pedro as well as at fund-raisers on his behalf. Protesters also staged demonstrations at the home of acting general manager Sharon Morris and former general manager Jerry Greenwalt.

In comparison, the appointment of Day sailed through with little controversy.

Day assured council members she is committed to meeting with neighbors around LAX, in the speedy development of a master plan for Van Nuys Airport and in encouraging greater use of airports throughout the region.

Rick Orlov, (213) 978-0390

rick.orlov(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 10, 2004
Words:532
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