Neither a contentious email project nor reduced IT staffing and budget ultimately took out the city of Los Angeles chief technology officer.
It may, in the end, have been the local television news.
Randi Levin, general manager of the city’s Information Technology Agency, resigned Friday after after KCBS-TV Channel 2 reported that her husband owed back rent to the Department of Water and Power (DWP). Her husband, Maurice Levin, did not pay $56,000 for a plot of city-owned property he rents in North Hollywood, reported The Los Angeles Times.
According to a DWP statement, Maurice Levin stopped paying rent because he thought the amount was too high. In June, DWP sent Maurice Levin an eviction notice, and now the city has filed a lawsuit seeking payment.
Maurice Levin is listed as the founder of Jurassic Garden, a nursery in North Hollywood, Calif., that sells drought-tolerant plants and other rare flora.
“When you’re being screwed by someone who holds all the marbles, you fight back and you say, ‘No, this isn’t fair.’ And I will show you documentation,” Maurice Levin said on camera to the KCBS TV reporter.
This is not the first time in 2012 the Levin family has faced public scrutiny. In April, Randi Levin was accused by KCBS-TV of pulling strings to help her husband get his car back after it was impounded.
Randi Levin did not address either allegation in her resignation letter, but wrote that she looked forward to spending more time with her children and returning to the private sector. Government Technology’s efforts to reach her for comment were unsuccessful.
A former vice president of NBC Universal, Randi Levin was named the general manager of the Los Angeles Information Technology Agency in 2007.
Levin brought private-sector instincts to her new job. She earned a reputation in the IT community as a gutsy pioneer, but she also had a knack for attracting controversy — especially when Levin made Los Angeles the first big U.S. city government to move its email system to a cloud-based product. Unlike other Gmail implementations of its kind, Los Angeles never fully rolled out the solution. The city’s police department — about half of L.A.’s government workforce — were never migrated to the new system. From the start, the project became entangled in City Hall politics after some users expressed concerns about security.
Colleagues close to Levin intimated that the Gmail project soured her outlook on public service. So it was only a matter of time before she returned to the private sector.
Her husband’s troubles appear to have sped up her job search.
Matt Williams was previously the news editor of Govtech.com, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines. He also previously served as the managing editor of TechWire, a sister publication to Government Technology.2