NEW L.A. PORT CHIEF NAMED
LOS ANGELES - 12/14/05 - Looking to improve operations and enhance community relations, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has tapped Long Beach's veteran port administrator to be general manager of the Port of Los Angeles, reports the Los Angeles Daily News.
Geraldine Knatz, a 24-year employee of the Port of Long Beach and its managing director since 1999, would take over leadership of a Los Angeles city department that has been rocked by scandal and criticized for its relationships with the shipping industry and its neighbors.
She has been overseeing a $2.5 billion construction project at the Port of Long Beach.
"It was important for me to find someone who has the energy and the ideas we need to keep the [Los Angeles] port competitive and improve it environmentally as well," Villaraigosa said at a news conference near the harbor. "I was impressed from the start with Geraldine's energy and what she has done in Long Beach to provide such stiff competition for us."
If the Los Angeles City Council approves the appointment, Knatz would become the first woman to head a major US port.
She holds master's and doctorate degrees from the University of Southern California.
Her selection was recommended to Villaraigosa by the city Harbor Commission after a series of extensive interviews by a citizens committee.
"It feels like I'm coming home," Knatz said. "It is so exciting to be coming back where I started."
Knatz said she believes the Los Angeles Harbor, which competes with the Long Beach port for the title as the nation's busiest, can improve its service to the shipping industry, which has complained about long waits to unload cargo.
She also said she believes the port can reduce air pollution from its operations.
"I think we can get to a point where we reduce emissions here and go beyond the goal of no net increase in emissions," Knatz said.
Councilman Tony Cardenas, who chairs the council's Commerce, Energy and Natural Resources Committee overseeing the port, said he hopes for a quick confirmation.
"Geraldine brings good experience to the table," Cardenas said in a printed statement. "We look forward to seeing her work together with Long Beach and Los Angeles to reduce smog and congestion in the harbor."
The port is one of the major economic engines of the city, creating nearly 18,000 jobs and bringing in cargo valued at $122 billion a year.
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