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Council to Try 6th Time to Pick City Manager
By Jorge Casuso
Editor's note: A previous version of this article stated that the City Council has met in special closed session six times in its search for a City Manager. The Council has met five times.
June 7, 2021 -- The City Council has two weeks to hire a permanent or interim City Manager or the decision could be taken out of its hands, The Lookout has learned.
The Council will try once again to fill the post on Tuesday evening after failing to make a decision at its fifth special closed-door meeting Saturday morning.
It has until June 22 -- when Interim City Manager Lane Dilg is scheduled to step down -- to hire a City Manager or consider appointing an Interim City Manager "to address any timing contingencies."
If the Council fails to make a decision, Dilg, who has held the post on an interim basis since April 2020, would choose her replacement, City officials said Monday.
"While unlikely, City policy outlines that the City Manager would appoint a temporary Acting City Manager if not named by the Council," City spokesperson Constance Farrell told The Lookout.
"Council, as a body, will have information to share publicly once a reportable action is taken," Farrell said. "We look forward to welcoming our next City Manager to Santa Monica."
The Council has met in special closed session on May 14, 15 and 23, and on June 2 and 5.
To hire a City Manager, the Council needs four of six votes after Kevin McKeown abruptly announced on May 26, in the middle of the decision-making process, that he would retire on Friday.
Traditionally, Council members strive to to cast a unanimous, or near unanimous, vote in what is widely viewed as their most important decision.
The Council has also managed in the past to maintain complete secrecy when conducting a search for top posts, especially that of City Manager.
During previous searches, the name of the chosen candidate has only been revealed when the Council's vote is reported in open session.
That secrecy was broken at the May 23 meeting when a speaker revealed during the public comment section that Montebello City Manager Rene Bobadilla is rumored to be a leading finalist ("Council Expected to Hire Montebello City Manager," June 1, 2021).
After the testimony aired live, the video was not linked on the City's video archive. It was subsequently posted after the Loookout published an article.
The leaked information prompted Mayor Sue Himmelrich to place an item on Tuesday's agenda directing staff to draft a "Code of Conduct and Ethics" for City officials ("Mayor Pushes for Ethics Code After Name of City Manager Finalist Leaked," June 4, 2021).
"It was very clear to me that the confidentiality of our closed session had not been maintained," Himmelrich said. "There's been little respect for these processes.
"We need the rules to be very clear, and we need to have a way of enforcing the rules," Himmelrich said.
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