Nicholas Tonsich, the president of the Los Angeles Harbor Commission, resigned July 2, the day after Antonio Villaraigosa was sworn in as mayor of the city.
Tonsich, an attorney who was a close political ally of ousted Mayor James Hahn, said he resigned out of respect to Hahn and to give Villaraigosa enough time to find a replacement before he officially steps down July 12.
Hahn appointed Tonsich, along with the other four members of the Harbor Commission. Villaraigosa is expected to replace most, if not all, of them.
Instead of the more traditional statement of thanks to Tonsich for years of service to the port, Villaraigosa responded to the resignation with the announcement that he will seek a criminal investigation of the attorney's business dealings.
The Los Angeles Times reported July 3 that Tonsich had recused himself on 20 votes while president of the Harbor Commission.
During the mayoral campaign battle between the two Democrats, Villaraigosa had charged that the Hahn administration was guilty of some corrupt deals. On July 5, the City Council passed a new ethics policy Villaraigosa said was necessary to clean up the city's business dealings.
In one of his last acts as mayor, Hahn on June 29 unveiled a 608-page set of recommendations on how to cut pollution at the Port of Los Angeles, the nation's busiest container port. Soon after taking office in 2001, Hahn had made a "no-net increase" pledge on air pollution at the port. The pledge said that no matter how much business volume through the port increased, pollution emissions would be capped at 2001 levels.
Throughout the Hahn administration, reducing pollution and making the port a good neighbor to residents in nearby communities often trumped business considerations in port deals. Last summer, the port became the first in the U.S. to equip a berth for shoreside electrical power in order to cut diesel emissions while in port.
When he unveiled the list of recommendations that was compiled by port, community, maritime and environmental representatives, Hahn urged his successor to continue with the plan and implement some of the programs.
Villaraigosa has not publicly said whether he will continue work on the "no-net increase" program.